US President Joe Biden’s administration has reportedly accused Russia of violating the last remaining nuclear weapons treaty between the two countries by blocking on-site inspections.
The US State Department made the allegation – marking the first US claim that Moscow breached terms of the New START treaty – in a report sent to Congress on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported. The report also claimed that Russian officials had rejected US requests to hold a meeting to address compliance concerns.
“Russia’s refusal to facilitate inspection activities prevents the United States from exercising important rights under the treaty and threatens the viability of US-Russian nuclear arms control,” the State Department said in a statement to Reuters.
The conflict may add to concerns that the world’s two largest nuclear superpowers may no longer be able to work together on nonproliferation goals amid deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow. The Kremlin said earlier this month that US-Russian relations were probably at an all-time low and offered no hope of improving as Washington intervened against Moscow in the Ukraine crisis.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warned last week that a nuclear arms race will ensue if New START is allowed to expire in 2026, as scheduled, without being replaced. New START, which then-Presidents Barack Obama and Peter Medvedev signed in 2010, replaced the soon-to-expire Treaty of Moscow and called for halving the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers emplaced around the world.
Russia has a “clear path” for resuming compliance with the treaty, and the US stands ready to collaborate with Moscow on fully implanting the deal, the State Department said. In November, the Kremlin canceled New START talks that had been scheduled to take place in Cairo. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said there was no possibility of resuming negotiations while the US was continuing to arm Ukraine.
“The US intends to supply even more weapons to the conflict region, in which the Russian Federation is directly involved,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at the time. “That is, they will supply all these weapons, they will encourage the Kiev regime to cause even more bloodshed, they will allocate money for extremist activities that are carried out under the auspices of these delusional people. And we will sit with them at the same table and discuss issues of mutual security with them, including those in their interest?”
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