Moscow / Washington (dpa) – Russia and the US have agreed to renew the new nuclear disarmament startup treaty after the Kremlin announced.
Corresponding diplomatic notes were exchanged on Tuesday, the Kremlin announced in the evening after President Vladimir Putin made a phone call to his American colleague Joe Biden. Both parties had previously stated their willingness to extend the last disarmament agreement, which expired at the beginning of February, for another five years.
The Russian parliament is now waiting for the relevant documents and will immediately begin the ratification process, said head of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, Leonid Slutsky. The Duma is ready to go to work at any time.
The new start-up treaty on the limitation of nuclear weapons would have expired in a few days. The agreement, which went into effect on February 5, 2011, limits the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the US to 800 carrier systems and 1,550 operational warheads each. It had been closed for a period of ten years and had the option of an extension. Had it not been renewed, there would have been no agreement for the first time in decades setting limits on the number of strategic nuclear weapons. Russia and the US together own about 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
The administration of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, was unable to reach an agreement with Moscow on an extension after months of tough negotiations. Immediately after Biden’s swearing-in, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs proposed on Wednesday to extend the contract unconditionally for another five years. Shortly afterwards, it was announced that Biden was also ready for such an extension.
Before taking office, Biden had stated that the treaty was an “anchor of strategic stability” between the US and Russia and could provide the basis for new arms control deals. The Pentagon last week stressed that an extension would serve the defense of the United States. The Americans would then be much safer. One cannot afford to lose the tools for inspections and reporting obligations. An extension to 2026 would also give both parties ample time to explore new arms control deals.
Russia had spoken out early on in favor of an extension of the current treaty and warned against an arms race if it failed. Russia is ready for cooperation based on the principles of equality and mutual balancing of interests, it said on Wednesday.
According to US media, the Trump administration had pushed for the “freezing” of nuclear warheads in both countries to be included in the treaty. The original version only defines the limit on the number of operational warheads. In addition, the previous US administration had sought a multilateral agreement with China’s participation. Beijing has so far refused to negotiate its growing nuclear arsenal.
The danger of a war that also involves nuclear weapons was considered significantly higher during Trump’s tenure than in the past three decades. One of the reasons for this was the end of the INF treaty to abandon medium-range nuclear weapons systems on land.
The US rescinded the agreement in the summer of 2019 with the support of their NATO partners, believing that Russia has been violating it for years with a medium-range system called 9M729 (NATO code: SSC-8). The INF treaty prohibited both parties from producing, testing and owning ballistic missiles and cruise missiles on the ground from a distance of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.