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US still open to extending New START Treaty, notes expert

© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS
At the same time, the expert ruled out the possibility of signing a new deal instead of the New START Treaty

MOSCOW, June 17. /TASS/. Both Russia and the United States are still interested in extending the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty), Leading Researcher at the Institute for USA and Canadian Studies, ex-Chief of the Main Staff, former First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Missile Force, retired Colonel-General Viktor Yesin told TASS on Monday.

"Of course, the dismantling of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty considerably complicates the possibility of extending the New START Treaty… The dismantling of the INF took place amid the loss of trust between Russia and the United States in their observance of the provisions and the procedures of this Treaty. A legitimate question arises: is it worth extending the New START Treaty, if both sides are inclined towards breaching the accords reached earlier? However, the possibility of extending the New START Treaty still remains because each side still has interest in prolonging it," the expert said.

Mutual interest

Russia is interested in limiting the US possibilities for building up its strategic nuclear potential. This will give a possibility to avoid an arms race with Washington. At the same time, the US military is interested in the preservation of control over Russian strategic nuclear armaments because from 2021 Russia will launch the serial production and deployment of such promising strategic offensive weapons as the Avangard and Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles, improved nuclear-powered submarines armed with ballistic missiles like Borei-A subs and upgraded Tu-160M2 strategic bombers with the renewed nuclear armament, the expert explained.

"These strategic nuclear weapons fall under the New START Treaty and, therefore, are subject to on-site control by US inspection groups, if the Treaty remains in force," the expert went on to say.

"As the Pentagon believes, this will allow them to get an extremely important idea about what Russia is doing in the field of strategic nuclear armaments. Besides, there are no plans to deploy new strategic nuclear armaments in the United States by 2026, which makes the extension of the New START Treaty even more attractive for the US military," the expert noted.

"If we take these interests into account, a hope remains that the New START Treaty can be prolonged for another five years," the expert stressed.

Any new deal?

The expert ruled out the possibility of signing a new deal instead of the New START Treaty.

"The Russia-US relations have deteriorated to such an extent that there is no hope in this regard," he pointed out.

"Mutual sanctions, which the Americans are going to step up, are exerting an extremely negative effect. Amid the incessant Russophobia in the United States, the relations between the heads of state will be worsening," the expert said.

Even if US President Donald Trump spoke for concluding a new Treaty, the US Congress would hardly allow him to do this," the expert pointed out.

"That is why, the sole possibility for keeping control of strategic nuclear armaments is to extend the New START Treaty by using its article 14," the expert said. "It [article 14] does not require approval by the legislative authorities for that. It will be enough for the US and Russian governments to exchange corresponding diplomatic notes," the expert stressed.

New START Treaty

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) was signed in 2010 and it 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 (i.e. until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent.

Moscow has numerously called on Washington not to delay the issue of the possibility of prolonging the Treaty, characterizing it as a gold standard in the sphere of disarmament. However, in late October 2018, a spokesperson for the US White House warned that the American administration would hardly agree to extend the New START Treaty. Bilateral consultations on this document are traditionally held behind closed doors.