WASHINGTON: The United States and Russia have agreed to resume holding meetings under the New Start nuclear arms reduction treaty that have been paused since February, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday.
Price said the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC), the mechanism for implementation of the treaty – the last remaining arms control agreement between the world’s two largest nuclear powers – will meet “in the near future.”
Russia in August suspended cooperation with inspections under the treaty, blaming travel restrictions imposed by Washington and its allies over the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but said it was still committed to complying with the provisions of the treaty.
Noting those restrictions don’t prevent Russian inspectors from conducting inspections, Price said that we hope that the meeting of the BCC will allow us to continue with those inspections.
New START, which took effect in 2011, caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy, and the deployment of land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.
In January 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to extend the treaty for five years, until 2026.
Until now, Moscow and Washington were each allowed to conduct just under 20 mutual inspections per year under the treaty.
The BCC, which is meant to meet twice a year, last met in October 2021, shortly before Russia began moving forces to its border with Ukraine.
Price said Washington hoped for “a constructive session,” but did not specify the date or location for the meeting.
Russian newspaper Kommersant said earlier on Tuesday the resumed talks may take place in the Middle East, adding that Moscow no longer saw Switzerland, the traditional venue, as sufficiently neutral after it imposed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.__Pakistan Today