MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed on Friday that Russia and the United States extend their New START arms control treaty that expires in February for at least a year without imposing any conditions.
The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) accord, signed in 2010, limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that Russia and the United States can deploy. [nL8N2H5387]
A failure to extend the pact would remove all constraints on U.S. and Russian deployments of strategic nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, fueling a post-Cold War arms race and tensions between Moscow and Washington.
Putin, speaking at a meeting by video link with Russia’s Security Council that was broadcast on state television, said the treaty had worked effectively until now and it would be “extremely sad” if it were to stop working.
“In this regard, I propose… extending the current treaty without any conditions for at least a year so that meaningful negotiations can be conducted on all the parametres of the problems…” he said.
Russia and the United States, which has called for China to be included in the arms control treaty, have appeared at odds over extending the pact despite several months of talks.
On Wednesday, Moscow denied U.S. assertions that the two sides had reached an agreement in principle.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Vladimir Soldatkin; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Jon Boyle and Tomasz Janowski)