Putin Proposes Yearlong Extension Of Nuclear Pact With US

  • Putin Proposes Yearlong Extension Of Nuclear Pact With US

Putin Proposes Yearlong Extension Of Nuclear Pact With US

The United States is open to the possibility of an extension of the New START nuclear arms control treaty beyond its expiration based on understandings reached in recent negotiations with Russian Federation.

A person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press Friday that US and Russian negotiators have agreed in principle to continue freezing their nuclear warhead stockpiles in a bid to salvage the New START.

But the United States national security advisor, Robert O'Brien, said he had already proposed a one-year extension to Russian Federation - with the condition that both nations freeze warhead work during that period.

Putin on Friday proposed to extend the existing treaty without any conditions for at least one year to allow for substantive talks, instructing Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to get a quick USA answer to the offer.

"I have a proposal - which is to extend the current agreement without any pre-conditions at least for one year to have an opportunity to conduct substantial negotiations", Putin said at a meeting of his security council, according to a Kremlin statement.

Putin's Friday offer was Moscow's latest attempt to break the impasse in negotiations over the treaty extension.

He also noted that Moscow wouldn't accept the US demand to have intrusive verification measures like those that existed in the 1990s when inspectors were positioned at missile factories.

Earlier, similar statements were made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who said Russia's military was ready to consider nuclear-capable Avangard hypersonic glider and the new Sarmat ICBM as potentially being subject to the new START treaty.

In 2010, Washington and Moscow signed the New START, which stipulates the limits to the numbers of deployed strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems by both. The New START, the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty in force between the two nuclear superpowers, will expire on February 5, 2021.

It is the last treaty between the countries imposing restrictions on the growth of the world's two largest nuclear arsenals after the USA pulled out of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty previous year.

OBrien said the USA has made a relatively straightforward proposal that we extend New START for a year and that the Russians cap their nuclear warhead number for a year, but added that negotiating with Russia is never easy. Billingslea has since said the US would agree to a mutual freeze of nuclear arsenals. William J. Perry, who served as defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, said Thursday, prior to Putin's latest remarks, that the US freeze idea may be a "domestic political gambit" ahead of the November 3 election.

The top United States negotiator, Marshall Billingslea, suggested in a tweet later Friday that talks between the two countries were over.

"But his Russian counterpart in the talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, dismissed the allegations of reaching the agreement in principle as wishful thinking" on the USA part, emphasizing that sharp differences remained and Moscow wasn't going to sign a deal on the US terms.

Lavrov's pessimistic view contrasted with recent statements from USA diplomats, who said that Moscow and Washington were close to a deal.

The US has been reluctant to extend the agreement without a set of preconditions, some of which appear to be out of Moscow's reach.

With the treaty expiring next February, Putin suggested extending it without imposing any conditions. But given where the two sides are, we think it's wise for President Trump to say yes to Putin's offer for one year unconditional extension.