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Not extending New START treaty would be ‘tragic mistake’ — ex-Pentagon chief

February 11, 4:25 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

"The treaty calls for equal numbers of weapons and a verification process that, if anything, is harder on Russia than the U.S.," a former US secretary of defense said

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WASHINGTON, February 11. /TASS/. A former US secretary of defense and a leading expert on nuclear security, William Perry, said rejecting Russia’s reported offer to extend the New START treaty would be a "tragic mistake."

"President Trump’s reported comments that New START is a 'bad deal' and favored Russia is simply wrong," Perry told Politico. "The treaty calls for equal numbers of weapons and a verification process that, if anything, is harder on Russia than the U.S."

The comment came in response to media reports that the issue of extending the treaty was raised in a phone conversation between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. According to media reports, Trump called the treaty a "bad deal" and rejected the Russian president’s suggestion to extend it. However, White House spokesman Sean Spicer later said the president took a pause in the conversation to confer with his advisers.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the reports, saying that "We told everything we believed was necessary after the telephone conversation. I have nothing more to add."

When asked about the prospects for extending this treaty after it expires, Peskov said. "That depends on the stance of our American partners and will require contacts on that score, so I would not outline any stances now. We had a break in the dialogue on strategic security issues, so we need some kind of updated information on the [the parties’] stances against the backdrop of this break."

The ten-year Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), signed by the Russian and US presidents in Prague on April 8, 2010, took effect on February 5, 2011. The treaty stipulates that both countries should cut the number of deployed strategic delivery vehicles to 700 units and reduce the number of installed warheads to 1,550.

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