US, Russia agree to extend ‘New START’ nuclear arms treaty


An article from Deutsche Welle (reprinted by permission)

The United States and Russia “agreed in principle” to extend the New START  arms treaty by five years, the Kremlin reported on its website Tuesday following a phone call between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Obama and Medvedev signing the START treaty in 2010 (Source: White House photo)

A Kremlin description of the call between the two leaders  said they had both “expressed satisfaction” that diplomatic notes had been exchanged earlier Tuesday confirming that the treaty would be extended,

Putin had submitted a draft bill for the extension to the Russian Parliament, the Kremlin statement added. The extension doesn’t require approval from lawmakers in the US. 

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Deadline approaching 

The White House did not immediately confirm the Kremlin’s remarks, however, press secretary Jen Psaki said the two leaders agreed to have their teams “work urgently” to iron out the details of the extension before the treaty’s expiration date, February 5. 

The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart at the time, Dmitry Medvedev.

The treaty limits each party to 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers. 

It also envisions a rigorous inspection regime to verify compliance. 

The last nuclear arms control agreement 

Biden had indicated during his presidential campaign that he favored extending the treaty, and Russia has long proposed its extension without any conditions or changes. 

However, negotiations to extend the treaty were stalled by the administration of former US President Donald Trump, which insisted on tougher inspections for Russia and for China  to be included, which Beijing refused. 

During Trump’s term, the US withdrew  from a separate nuclear weapons control agreement with Russia, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF)  treaty, making New START the last  remaining nuclear weapons control treaty between Russia and the US.