US President Joe Biden plans to extend a key nuclear arms control treaty between the United States and Russia for another five years, according to the White House. The New START treaty signed for a 10-year period in 2011 to limit the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals is due to expire on February 5, but the Biden administration is seeking to keep the pact alive.
"The President has long been clear that the New START treaty is in the national security interests of the United States.
And this extension makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial as it is at this time," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing on Thursday.
Arms control experts had warned that allowing the treaty to lapse could end all restraints on deployments of US and Russian strategic nuclear warheads and the delivery systems that carry them, potentially sparking a nuclear arms race and further exacerbating
Daryl Kimball, the director of the Arms Control Association, described the move as "the common sense, no nonsense, adult decision." "The New START Treaty is essential for US and Russian security, it's the only treaty left regulating the world's two largest nuclear arsenals," he told CNN “President Biden’s offer signals a welcome return to serious diplomacy that provides a path to a safer and more secure future for all,” said Derek Johnson, CEO of Global Zero, an advocacy group for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said the treaty limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 and deployed strategic delivery systems to 700.
It also restricts the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers that deliver them.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin, which had already expressed a desire to renew the deal, said on Wednesday it remained committed to extending the pact and would welcome efforts promised by Biden to reach agreement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has long sought an unconditional five-year extension of the treaty, but the administration of former President Donald Trump wanted to strengthen verification provisions and broaden the treaty to cover other Russian arsenals, including conventional, space and cyberspace.
The landmark treaty had banned all land-based missiles with the range up to 5,500 kilometres.
Russia said it had not breached the accord and believed the US planned to abandon the deal as part of its plan to develop its own sophisticated missiles.
Following the US move, Moscow also declared the formal end of the arms control treaty