The US State Department informed Congress on Tuesday that Russia was not complying with the last remaining nuclear treaty remaining between the two countries, The Washington Post reported. According to the daily, Russia refused to allow American inspectors into nuclear weapons facilities, an obligation under the remaining treaty known as New START, which was renewed for five years in February 2021.
“Russia’s refusal to facilitate inspection activities prevents the United States from exercising important rights under the treaty and threatens the viability of US-Russian nuclear arms control,” the State Department said in a statement on Tuesday. It added that “Russia has also failed to comply with the New START treaty obligation to convene a session of the bilateral consultative commission in accordance with the treaty-mandated timeline.”
Further, according to The Washington Post, the State Department called on Russia to return to compliance by allowing inspectors onto its territory, as it had done for more than a decade, and by agreeing to hold a session of the commission, in which officials could discuss issues related to the treaty and nuclear arms control. In August, Moscow and Washington are working on removing obstacles to resuming inspections under the New START arms control treaty, with some issues already resolved. “The inspection activities under the New START Treaty have indeed been suspended since early 2020 by mutual agreement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are working closely with our American colleagues within the framework of the New START Bilateral Consultative Commission to remove organizational and technical obstacles to resume inspections,” the Russian embassy said in a comment to the Newsweek media outlet on the current situation on arms control. The Russian embassy said some issues have been resolved but by no means all of them. It also said that the treaty expires in 3.5 years and that the remaining time to work out an agreement is ‘extremely short’.
“Any interaction on arms control matters must be conducted on an equal basis, with due consideration for mutual concerns and interests,” the embassy added. The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, also known as the New START Treaty, enhances U.S. national security by placing verifiable limits on all Russian deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons. The New START Treaty entered into force on February 5, 2011.
Under the treaty, the United States and the Russian Federation had seven years to meet the treaty’s central limits on strategic offensive arms (by February 5, 2018) and are then obligated to maintain those limits for as long as the treaty remains in force, according to the US State Department. Both the United States and the Russian Federation met the central limits of the New START Treaty by February 5, 2018, and have stayed at or below them ever since. It is expected to last until February 5, 2026, having been extended in 2022.