President Joe Biden (L) and President Vladimir Putin.
WASHINGTON –The Biden administration has extended a crucial nuclear weapons treaty with Russia for five more years, America’s top diplomat announced Wednesday.
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, was set to expire this week. The agreement is the sole arms control treaty in place between Washington and Moscow following former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty.
“President Biden pledged to keep the American people safe from nuclear threats by restoring U.S. leadership on arms control and nonproliferation,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday. “Today, the United States took the first step toward making good on that pledge when it extended the New START Treaty with the Russian Federation for five years.”
Similar to the INF treaty, New START limits the nuclear arsenals of Washington and Moscow. The United States and Russia own the lion’s share of the world’s nukes.
“The New START Treaty’s verification regime enables us to monitor Russian compliance with the treaty and provides us with greater insight into Russia’s nuclear posture, including through data exchanges and onsite inspections that allow U.S. inspectors to have eyes on Russian nuclear forces and facilities,” Blinken said.
The secretary of State added that the U.S. had assessed that Russia was in compliance with its New START Treaty obligations since the inception of the agreement in 2011.
“The United States will use the time provided by a five-year extension of the New START Treaty to pursue with the Russian Federation, in consultation with Congress and U.S. allies and partners, arms control that addresses all of its nuclear weapons,” Blinken said in a statement.
Blinken also added that the Biden administration will work to pursue arms control “to reduce the dangers from China’s modern and growing nuclear arsenal.”
State department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Wednesday that the Biden administration will “remain clear-eyed about the challenges that Russia poses.”
“Even as we work with Russia to advance U.S. interests so too will we hold Russia to account for its reckless and its adversarial behavior,” Price said.
Price also said that the five-year extension gives the U.S. “time and space to talk about the broader strategic stability elements” that stems from the arms control agreement.