The extension of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is not just a formality but also requires Washington’s response to some of Moscow’s questions, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov told reporters on Monday, TASS reported.
"I sincerely hope that the New START’s fate won’t be the same as that of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, given that it is due to expire in 2021. We have repeatedly said that we are ready to discuss the prospects of prolonging it for another five years. But there is no clear answer from Washington so far," the Russian diplomat said.
According to the ambassador, "we may certainly hope that there is still time" to extend the treaty. "However, the less amount of time that remains, the greater the risk of facing a situation when for the first time in over the past 50 years there won’t be any legal restrictions on nuclear potentials. This scenario is extremely dangerous amid the general crisis in bilateral relations and the collapse of the arms control arrangement," Antonov stressed.
"I would like to recall that the New START’s extension is not just a technical formality, which can be sorted out within one or two weeks," Antonov said, explaining that serious problems should be ironed out. "The US side should fully alleviate Russia’s concerns," he stressed.
The envoy explained that this refers to the so-called US strategic arms re-equipment. "Washington’s announcement that it had reached the required levels of armaments that are subject to control was not thanks to a real reduction but also due to the US unilateral exclusion from the tally of its strategic armaments, which it declared as re-equipped, but we cannot confirm this as the treaty demands," he said.
Russia is meeting its commitments in the sphere of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, Antonov stressed. "Our proposals on settling the problem with the INF Treaty and preserving the New START accord remain on the table. I’m strongly convinced that the opportunities of resuming an equal professional dialogue have not been exhausted," he stated.
"But we won’t chase anyone. We will wait until our partners are ready to hold an equal and substantive dialogue with us on this crucial topic for the entire world. All our proposals are on the negotiating table," he noted.
The New START treaty, which came into force in 2011, gives the parties seven years to reduce their weapons. The document limits each side to no more than 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers.
The treaty had been set to remain in effect for ten years (until 2021) unless a new document is signed to replace it. The document can also be extended for no more than five years (that is, until 2026) by mutual agreement of the parties. Moscow has repeatedly urged Washington not to delay its decision on the possibility of prolonging the treaty, calling it the "gold standard" in the field of disarmament.