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U.S. and Russia Extend the ‘New START’ Nuclear Disarmament Treaty to 2026

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Russia and the United States today extended the last nuclear disarmament treaty in force between the two powers, New START, for five years, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“On February 3rd, the Russian Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow exchanged diplomatic notes concerning the completion of the procedures necessary for the enforcement of the New START extension agreement (…),” Russian diplomacy said in a statement.

Russia and the United States have extended the treaty, signed in 2010 in Prague by then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama two days before its expiration.

A failure in the negotiations would have left the world without any international treaty on strategic arms control for the first time since 1972.

“This key mechanism for maintaining strategic stability is preserved and its functioning ensured on a strictly reciprocal basis by limiting the nuclear arsenals of the two countries,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Russia and the United States reached an agreement on January 26th on a five-year extension of the treaty. The next day the Russian Parliament unanimously ratified the law to extend it on an emergency basis, and two days later Russian President Vladimir Putin signed it into law.

Since Russia and the United States have opted to avail themselves of the automatic five-year extension that the treaty provided for, the extension of New START is done without “any amendments or additions.”

“Considering the special responsibilities that Russia and the United States have as the world’s largest nuclear powers, the decision taken is important, as it ensures the necessary level of predictability and transparency in this field, while maintaining a strict balance in the interests of both countries,” Moscow added.

New START, which includes a stockpile inspection system, reduces the number of nuclear warheads by 30 percent, to 1,550 per country.

In addition, it limits to 700 the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, those deployed on submarines and strategic bombers equipped for nuclear armament.

It also reduces to 800 the number of launchers for intercontinental missiles, submarine launchers for ballistic missiles and strategic bombers equipped for nuclear armament, whether deployed or not.

Russia has expressed its willingness to open new negotiations on strategic armaments that would include its new hypersonic weapons, unique in the world and capable of overcoming the U.S. anti-missile shield, according to Putin.

Offensive and defensive weaponry, whether carrying nuclear warheads or conventional payloads, would also be on the agenda.

In this sense, Moscow said it hoped that the understanding reached with President Joe Biden’s Administration to extend the New START “as a pillar of international security” would allow “leaving behind the trend towards the dismantling of arms control and non-proliferation mechanisms (…).”

In any case, Russia is ready to work in this direction, assured the department headed by Sergey Lavrov, who urged the United States to respond “constructively” to Russian initiatives in the field of disarmament.

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