Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov described as inadmissible Washington’s proposal to freeze Russian and US nuclear arsenals at the current level in exchange for extending the Russian-US New START treaty on further reduction of strategic offensive weapons.
"This is an unacceptable proposal," the diplomat said, answering to a TASS request to comment on the initiative, voiced earlier in the day by US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea.
Speaking at a video conference, organized by the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, Billingslea said his country was ready to extend the New START if both states agree to a limitation or freeze of their nuclear arsenals, TASS reports.
"We are, in fact, willing to extend the New START Treaty for some period of time, provided that they, in return, agree to a limitation or freeze on their nuclear arsenal. We are willing to do the same," he said. "We have proposed a compromise: agree with us to freeze, and we will extend the New START for some period of time."
"We are ready to strike this deal, we could strike it tomorrow, in fact, but Moscow is going to have to show the political will to do so as well," Billingslea added.
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) 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 will remain in force for 10 years, until 2021, unless it is replaced before that date by a subsequent agreement on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. It can also be extended for no longer than 5 years (that is, until 2026) by the parties’ mutual consent.
Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay prolongation of the treaty it describes as the gold standard in the area of disarmament.
In an interview with the Financial Times in late June 2019 Russian President Vladimir Putin said that once this treaty ceased to exist, "then there would be no instrument in the world to restrict the arms race."