WASHINGTON, October 20. /TASS/. The United States is ready to hold a meeting immediately with Russia to finalize the agreement to extend the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), spokesperson for the US State Department Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Tuesday.
"We appreciate the Russian Federation’s willingness to make progress on the issue of nuclear arms control. The United States is prepared to meet immediately to finalize a verifiable agreement. We expect Russia to empower its diplomats to do the same," she said.
Earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported that Russia’s willingness to jointly freeze nuclear arsenals with the US will make it possible to reach a New START extension by a year in the coming days, citing its sources in the US administration.
It is expected that US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea will inform NATO allies Tuesday about the status of talks with Russia.
On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow is ready to freeze nuclear arsenals along with the US for a year in case the New START is extended by the same period and if there are no additional demands from the US.
On October 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed extending the treaty by at least a year without any additional conditions. According to him, this additional time gives room for meaningful talks. However, the US then rejected this proposal.
Moscow and Washington signed the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms in 2010. Under its terms, either country must reduce its strategic offensive arms in such a way that at the end of the seventh year following its entry into force and later on their overall number should not exceed 700 units of deployed inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and heavy bombers, 1,550 warheads and 800 operational and non-operational missile launchers and strategic bombers.
The treaty was concluded for a period of ten years (until February 5, 2021). It can be replaced by a follow-up agreement before the deadline expires, or prolonged for no more than five years (until 2026) by mutual consent.
Moscow urges Washington to refrain from procrastinating on the treaty’s extension, because in its opinion it is the "gold standard" in the field of disarmament.