All news

US absolutely ready to quit New START, but keeps considering all options — paper

The US side keeps insisting on Beijing’s participation in the deal, despite its refusal

WASHINGTON, June 10. /TASS/. The United States is absolutely ready to quit the bilateral New START treaty with Russia on further reduction of strategic offensive arms, but is still keeping all the options on table, The Washington Post reported citing own sources in the US administration.

The New START treaty will expire in February in Washington and Moscow fail to agree on extending it.

"We are absolutely willing to walk away. But I would temper that by saying that in fact all options are on the table," the paper quoted a senior US presidential administration official as saying.

Chinese issue

The US side keeps insisting on Beijing’s participation in the deal, despite its refusal. China’s arsenal of strategic offensive arms is several times less than that of Russia and the United States.

"What I don’t agree with, and what I think is a very dangerous Cold War mind-set, is to argue that the Chinese have to be allowed to reach strategic nuclear parity with the United States and Russia before we can undertake meaningful arms control," the paper quoted Marshall Billingslea, US President Donald Trump’s new special envoy for arms control, as saying in an interview in May. "That would mean that we are in fact in the midst of a three-way arms race."

According to The Washington Post, it is yet unclear how the US administration plans to persuade China to engage in the talks. According to Billingslea, he counts on Moscow in that regard, because Russia has long endorsed multilateral arms control treaties and closer ties with China.

The paper said that US authorities’ claims that China had tested a small-yield nuclear weapon, can become a start of a campaign to push Beijing to negotiate.

"Eventually they [China] are going to decide that they don’t like having all of this aired in public, the details of what they are doing on the secretive buildup," a senior Trump administration official told the paper on the condition of anonymity. In his words, the administration would "mobilize world opinion against them if they don’t negotiate with us" and is considering "plenty of other options to incentivize participation."

Billingslea, in turn, reiterated that the New START expires next February.

"There is the ability to extend it. But again, it’s the wrong framework for the future," he said in an interview in May. "The right framework for the future is a trilateral approach that has at its heart effective verification."

On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said it was hardly possible that more participants join arms control agreements any time soon, but Russia would welcome developments of this kind. He added that Russia saw no readiness for trilateral arms control talks on China’s part, and does not expect this stance to change in the near future.

New Start Treaty

On April 8, 2010, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and US President Barack Obama signed the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) following negotiations in Prague, another document on limiting nuclear arsenals, the prospects for which were discussed back in 1997. The document called for the reduction of up to 1,550 nuclear warheads, up to 700 units of intercontinental ballistic missiles, ballistic missiles, submarines and heavy bombers. The document entered into force on February 5, 2011, and on February 5, 2018, the parties announced the fulfillment of their obligations.

Currently, the sides are looking into the treaty’s fate. New START will remain in force until 2021, unless replaced with another agreement sooner. It can also be extended, but only for 5 years (until 2026). Of late, Moscow has repeatedly urged Washington to stop dragging its feet on the deal’s extension, calling it a "golden standard" in arms reduction.