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UN chief urges Russia, US to salvage INF, extend New START

February 25, 19:48 UTC+3 GENEVA

"We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War," Antonio Guterres said

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© AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

GENEVA, February 25. /TASS/. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on Moscow and Washington to preserve the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and agree on the extension of the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, known as the New START Treaty.

"I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved," Guterres said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that the demise of that accord would make the world more insecure and unstable, which "will be keenly felt in Europe." "We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War," he said.

Guterres also urged the US and Russia to extend the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and explore the possibility of further reducing their nuclear arsenals. "I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called New START Treaty before it expires in 2021," he said.

The UN chief recalled that the treaty "is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals" and that its inspection provisions "represent important confidence-building measures that benefit the entire world."

"I urge Russia and the United States to use the time provided by an extension to the treaty to consider further reductions in their strategic nuclear arsenals," he said.

Guterres recalled that the bilateral arms control process between Russia and the US "has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years."

"Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one-sixth of what they were in 1985," the UN secretary-general pointed out.

INF and New START treaties

The INF Treaty signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington has accused Russia of violating the treaty on numerous occasions, but Moscow strongly dismissed all accusations and expressed grievances concerning Washington’s non-compliance.

On February 1, US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the suspension of Washington’s obligations under the INF Treaty starting on February 2. Washington is determined to withdraw from the Treaty in six months' time unless Russia returns to "real and verifiable" compliance.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was suspending the treaty as well. He handed down instructions to refrain from initiating talks with Washington on the issue and stressed that the US needed to show readiness for an equal and substantive dialogue.

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers. The new START Treaty obliges the parties to exchange information on the number of warheads and carriers twice a year.

The new START Treaty will remain in force during 10 years until 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. It may be extended for a period of no more than five years (that is, until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent. Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the issue of extending the Treaty.

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