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US may prolong New START Treaty for control of Russia’s nuclear potential, say experts

The experts also did not rule out Washington’s refusal to prolong the treaty

MOSCOW, October 1. /TASS/. The United States is unlikely to extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) but Washington may take this step for the sake of control of Russia’s nuclear potential, Russian experts said at a disarmament conference on Tuesday.

The conference titled ‘New Vector’ was organized by the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund and also involved US experts.

"The New START Treaty is advantageous for the US. It allows exercising total control of the current state of our country’s nuclear potential and register any changes," Chief Researcher of the International Security Center at the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations Vladimir Dvorkin said.

"That is why, Americans may quite consider extending the New START Treaty until 2026 for the sake of their own interests," the expert noted.

This view is shared by Senior Researcher of the Department of Defense and Political Research at the Institute for US and Canadian Studies, Russia’s former Chief Military Representative at NATO Valentin Kuznetsov. The expert believes that the New START Treaty is a cornerstone accord in the Russian-US dialogue.

"Our relations are currently in a crisis state. Both sides need to work seriously and the New START Treaty is the document, which should be used as the basis. It can be said that this is the only thread we have retained in the arms control sphere," he stressed.

The experts also did not rule out Washington’s refusal to prolong the New START Treaty. Under this scenario, the US will be building up the number of nuclear charges, they said.

"Then, the balance of forces between our countries will be seriously disrupted," Dvorkin said.

However, a different scenario is also possible in the absence of the treaty’s prolongation, the expert went on to say. "It is quite probable that the United States and Russia will not be noticeably building up the number of missiles with warheads and will only be carrying out their modernization. In this case, the balance of forces will be preserved and the sides will even possibly return to negotiations in several years," he explained.

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 Treaty’s possible prolongation.