Putin Offers US Nuke Pact Extension 12/06 06:28
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Thursday to immediately extend the
only remaining nuclear arms reduction pact with the United States, but a senior
U.S. official said Washington wants a broader deal involving China.
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Thursday to
immediately extend the only remaining nuclear arms reduction pact with the
United States, but a senior U.S. official said Washington wants a broader deal
Speaking at a meeting with military officials, Putin said that Russia has
repeatedly offered the U.S. to extend the New START treaty that expires in 2021
but that it hasn't heard back.
"Russia is ready to extend the New START treaty immediately, before the
year's end and without any preconditions," he said.
The pact, which was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and then
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550
deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. The treaty,
which can be extended by another five years, envisages a comprehensive
verification mechanism to check compliance, including on-site inspections of
each side's nuclear bases.
Its expiration would remove any limits on Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals
for the first time in decades.
Arms control advocates have argued that the failure to extend the pact would
be highly destabilizing at a time when Russia-U.S. relations have sunk to the
lowest levels since the Cold War.
Putin and other Russian officials have repeatedly voiced concern about
Washington's reluctance to discuss the treaty's extension.
"Our proposals have been on the table, but we have got no response from our
partners," Putin said.
In Washington, a senior Pentagon official suggested the Trump administration
is not interested in an immediate extension and sees no rush anyway as New
Start doesn't expire until Feb. 2021.
John Rood, the undersecretary of defense for policy, told a Senate committee
that the administration's main priority is getting Russia and China to agree to
begin negotiations on a broader arms treaty to supplant New START.
"If the United States were to agree to extend the treaty now, I think it
would make it less likely that we would have the ability to persuade Russia and
China to enter negotiations on a broader agreement," Rood said.
In an apparent bid to encourage the U.S. to extend the treaty, the Russian
military last month showed its latest hypersonic weapon to U.S. inspectors. The
Defense Ministry underlined that it demonstrated the Avangard hypersonic glide
vehicle as part of transparency measures under the New START.
Putin unveiled the Avangard in 2018 along with other prospective weapons,
noting that its ability to make sharp maneuvers on its way to a target will
render missile defense useless.
New START is the only remaining U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty
after both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range
Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty earlier this year.
The U.S. said it pulled out because of Russian violations, a claim the
Kremlin has denied.
Putin reaffirmed Russia's pledge not to deploy missiles banned by the INF
treaty until the U.S. and its allies do so.
"Russia isn't interested in unleashing a new arms race," he said.