O'Brien calls Putin's new nuclear treaty offer a 'non-starter'

Clay Curtis
October 17, 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday proposed that Moscow and Washington extend for a year and without any conditions New START, the two nations' last major nuclear arms accord.

A person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press Friday that USA and Russian negotiators have agreed in principle to continue freezing their nuclear warhead stockpiles in a bid to salvage the New START.

The Chinese are so busy building nuclear warheads and building their military that theyre not interested", he said during a webinar hosted by the Aspen Institute, adding that the U.S.is "prepared to go forward with a U.S. -Russia arms control deal. "I have a proposal: to extend the existing Treaty without any conditions for at least a year in order to be able to conduct meaningful negotiations on all parameters.so as not to leave our countries and all states of the world without such a fundamental document".

Putin's Friday offer was Moscow's latest attempt to break the impasse in negotiations over the treaty extension.

Trump administration officials have asked the U.S. military how long it would take to load existing nuclear weapons onto bombers and submarines if the treaty is not extended next year, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) accord, signed in 2010, limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that Russian Federation and the United States can deploy.

The terms of New START meant both nations could actively deploy a maximum of 1,550 active nuclear warheads. The New START Treaty is now set to expire in February 2021.

Together with the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, New START was considered a centrepiece of superpower arms control.

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Democrat Joe Biden, who was vice president when New START was negotiated during the Obama administration and ratified by the Senate, has said he would not hesitate to agree to Putin's original proposal for a five-year extension of New START.

President Donald Trumps national security adviser Robert OBrien said Friday that, with Beijing stonewalling offers to join the talks, Washington is now ready to strike a deal with Russian Federation.

The top Russian diplomat also noted that Moscow wouldnt accept the USA demand to have intrusive verification measures like those that existed in the 1990s when inspectors were positioned at missile factories.

"It may well be that they don't get back to us", O'Brien said Friday.

"But his Russian counterpart in the talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, dismissed the allegations of reaching the agreement in principle as wishful thinking" on the USA part, emphasizing that sharp differences remained and Moscow wasn't going to sign a deal on the US terms.

Days earlier, Mr. Lavrov said that while he does not see a future for the agreement with the US, talks will continue.

On Wednesday, Moscow denied U.S. assertions that the two sides had reached an agreement in principle.

Besides the inclusion of China, Washington's insistence to have tactical nuclear weapons and new weapons covered by New START or its replacement has been another issue in the talks, said Kashin. He said that the situation remains critical as the treaty is going to expire.

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