The United States is ready to forge new disarmament and arms control agreements with Russia before the New START treaty expires in 2026, a senior US administration official told reporters on Tuesday.
"We are flexible on the timing and format of agreements. It could be more comprehensive; it could be agreements that cover different pieces at different points in time. So, this is not necessarily a circumstance of waiting until New START is expired to do something," the White House press service quoted the official as saying in a conversation with reporters en route from Brussels to Geneva.
Geneva will host a bilateral meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden on Wednesday, TASS reports.
The official said that unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, the incumbent US leader will not insist on China’s involvement in disarmament talks.
"Ultimately, we are going to need to have a sustained conversation with China on arms control-related issues. But the President has made clear that, at the outset, a bilateral discussion between the two biggest nuclear powers in the world is the way to start," he said.
Russia and the United States signed the New START Treaty in 2010. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect and thereafter each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) 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.
Moscow repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the prolongation of the Treaty it described as the golden standard in the area of disarmament. However, the administration of previous US President Donald Trump said it would not extend the Treaty in its current form, calling it a bad deal. Washington also insisted that China be invited to sign the Treaty as well but Beijing turned down the idea.
On January 26, Moscow and Washington exchanged diplomatic notes on an agreement to extend the New START Treaty. In a telephone conversation, Russian and US Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden expressed their satisfaction over this fact. Later in that day, the Russian president submitted to the State Duma (the lower house of parliament) a bill on ratifying the agreement on the five-year extension of the New START Treaty until February 5, 2026. Putin signed the bill into law on January 29.