Joe Biden’s administration extends the New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Washington, Feb 3 (AFP/APP): US President Joe Biden’s administration Wednesday extended the New START nuclear treaty with Russia by five years, saying it hoped to prevent an arms race despite rising tensions with Moscow including over its imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

One day before the treaty was set to expire, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was extending New START by the maximum allowed time of five years. “President Biden pledged to keep the American people safe from nuclear threats by restoring US leadership on arms control and nonproliferation,” Blinken said in a statement.

“The United States is committed to effective arms control that enhances stability, transparency and predictability while reducing the risks of costly, dangerous arms races.” Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on legislation extending the accord on Friday, meaning that the treaty — signed by then-president Barack Obama in 2010 — will run until February 5, 2026. The last remaining arms reduction pact between the former Cold War rivals, New START caps to 1,550 the number of nuclear warheads that can be deployed by Moscow and Washington.

Former president Donald Trump’s administration tore up previous agreements with Moscow and unsuccessfully sought to expand New START to cover China, whose nuclear programme is rapidly growing but remains a fraction of the Russian and US arsenals. Late-term talks broke down as the Trump administration insisted on tougher verification and said the treaty should do more to address so-called tactical weapons — the type that Russia could use in hot spots near its borders, a more likely scenario than a long-range attack on the United States.

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