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Russian diplomat cautions not enough time left to draw up replacement for New START

Russia is ready to hold talks with the US on the issue of control of new weapons that do not fall under the strategic arms reduction treaty New START, the diplomat stated
Russian Foreign Ministry Anton Novodrezhkin/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry
© Anton Novodrezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, November 1. /TASS/. Russia and the United States won’t be able to shape a full-fledged substitute for the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) before it expires, Deputy Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Vladimir Leontyev said on Friday.

"There is a challenging and unclear situation with the prospects of extending the New START. It’s evident that given the time left [the treaty expires on February 5, 2021], we won’t be able to draw up any full-fledged document to replace it," the diplomat cautioned during a discussion at the Valdai International Discussion Club on the future of strategic nuclear weapons within the US-Russia-China troika.

The diplomat recalled that the sides had been holding talks on New START for nearly a year, although this was not a difficult agreement but "a simplified version of a previous treaty." "There are no new principal issues in it. However, now some issues arise, which require a very serious preliminary groundwork at an expert level," he noted.

Control of new arms beyond New START

Russia is ready to hold talks with the United States on the issue of control of new weapons that do not fall under the strategic arms reduction treaty New START within the framework of consultations on strategic stability, Vladimir Leontyev stated.

"We believe that the new systems, technologies and weapons can and should be discussed, but this requires appropriate platforms. As for the United States, this can be discussed within the framework of the strategic dialogue," he commented.

Leontyev explained that certain questions existed regarding three types of new weapons — the multipurpose ocean system Poseidon, missile system Kinzhal, and unlimited range nuclear-powered cruise missile Burevestnik.

"There is no chance of including these systems in the treaty whatever the political will on both sides, because the treaty concerns only inter-continental ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. If anything else is to be included, half of the treaty will have to be rewritten and official amendments made," Leontyev said.

He pointed out that if both sides eventually agreed to do that, Russia would have a lot to add to the New START.

"The Americans are aware of this. For this reason there have been no proposals for amending the treaty to this day," Leontyev claimed, adding that in his opinion no amendments would be proposed before February 2020.

The New START Treaty came into force in 2011 for a period of ten years, unless it is replaced by a new treaty before 2021. Also, it may be prolonged by no more than five years (up to 2026) by mutual consent.