Biden proposes 5-year extension of nuke treaty with Russia

President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House. — AP
President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House. — AP

Washington - He also asked the intelligence community to look closely into Russia’s cyberattacks, alleged interference in the 2020 election and other actions



By AP

Published: Fri 22 Jan 2021, 9:19 AM

President Joe Biden has proposed to Russia a five-year extension of a nuclear arms treaty that is otherwise set to expire in February, the White House said on Thursday.

Biden proposed the extension even as he asked the intelligence community to look closely into Russia’s cyberattacks, its alleged interference in the 2020 election and other actions, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

Russia has said for some time that it would welcome an extension of the New START treaty, which limits the number of US and Russian strategic nuclear weapons. The Trump administration made a late bid to extend the treaty, but its conditions were rejected by Russia.

US allies, particularly in Europe, are sure to applaud Biden’s proposal, which also provides an early signal of his intent to pursue arms control.

Psaki noted that a five-year extension is permitted by the treaty and it “makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial as it is at this time”.

She called the treaty, which is the last remaining arms control pact between Washington and Moscow since the Trump administration withdrew from two others, “an anchor of strategic stability between our two countries.”

Despite the extension proposal, Psaki said Biden was committed to holding Russia “to account for its reckless and adversarial actions,” such as its alleged involvement in the Solar Winds hacking event, 2020 election interference, the chemical poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and the widely reported allegations that Russia may have offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon’s chief spokesman, John Kirby, said allowing the treaty to lapse would have weakened US understanding of Russia’s nuclear forces.

“Extending the treaty’s limitations on stockpiles of strategic nuclear weapons until 2026 allows time and space for our two nations to explore new verifiable arms control arrangements that could further reduce risks to Americans,” he said. “And the department stands ready to support our colleagues in the State Department as they effect this extension and explore those new arrangements.”

Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan was to convey the extension proposal to Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, on Thursday afternoon, according to one official familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private diplomatic conversations.

The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads.


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