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article imageUS and Russia making progress in New START talks

By Ken Hanly     Oct 8, 2020 in Politics
President Trump's envoy for arms control, Marshal Bllingslea said in a tweet that a meeting Monday brought important progress towards achieving a new nuclear arms agreement between the US and Russia.
New arms control talks between Russia and US resumed Monday
Earlier reports about the negotiations in Helsinki indicated that things were not going well as the US demanded what Russia thought were unreasonable concessions. However, a Trump administration official told the Wall Street Journal that the two sides were actually making progress and could very well agree on the framework for a new treaty soon.
Bilingslea said after the Monday talks: “This is the first time the US has heard concrete proposals from the Russian Federation. We have an agreement on the way forward in terms of form. Where we have a lot of work to do is in terms of substance.”
The New START treaty
The New START treaty limits the number of nuclear warhead each of Russia and the US can have deployed. It will expire in February of next year. Russia has offered to expand the treaty for a further five years without any preconditions. However, the US has been demanding that Russia agree to a framework for a new treaty in exchange for a temporary renewal of New START.
Reported US demands
A Trump administration official claimed that the new framework demanded by the US would include a politically mandatory agreement that each side freeze the number of nuclear warheads. However, earlier reports say that the US also demanded increased verification, and a commitment from Russia that China would be involved. Given that China has very few nuclear armaments compared to Russia or the US it is unlikely to agree to join with the other two countries unless it reaches a more equal footing in terms of its nuclear arsenal. Russia maintains that any tripartite agreement with China would need to be separate from the New START agreement or its replacement.
In a recent interview
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said:“We have not taken and do not intend to take any steps to bring China into these talks, something we have told our American colleagues on multiple occasions.”
Russian statement
Recently, Ryabkov who is also arms control negotiator said that the two sides were far apart on key issues: “We are not going to buy this extension of the New START at any price, especially not at the price which the US wants us to pay.” Ryabkov's statements came just after Billinglea had threatened Russia saying that the price to extend the treaty would go up if the Moscow did not agree to the terms of the extension before the US election. However, Russia could very well put off any agreement as polls indicate that Trump could very well lose the election to be held in early November.
Should the New START agreement expire with no extension or new agreement there will be no limit on how much the US and Russia can add to their nuclear arsenals.
More about New START talks, US Russia relations, Nuclear treaties
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