“All Russia needs to do is allow inspection activities on its territory, just as it did for years under New START, and meet in a session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission,” the department said in a statement on Tuesday. “There is nothing preventing Russian inspectors from traveling to the United States and conducting inspections.”
The allegations of noncompliance come months after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend the Ukrainian territory that Russia has illegally annexed. Western leaders later said the threat level appeared to have been reduced.
The demise of New START would mark the near-total collapse of the nuclear nonproliferation architecture that the United States and the Soviet Union, and then Russia, built through the 1980s and 1990s.
At the start of the Biden administration, the United States agreed with Russia to extend the treaty for five years, or until February 2026. But relations between the two powers have sharply deteriorated since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
Regular inspections required by the treaty have not been held for at least three years, at first due to the coronavirus pandemic, but later because of worsening relations between Moscow and Washington.
In August, Russia suspended American inspectors’ access to its nuclear arsenal, though the Kremlin asserted it was still committed to complying with other treaty provisions, Reuters reported.
That month, President Biden said he was willing to negotiate a new arms control deal to replace New START upon its expiration, but he expressed doubt that Moscow would be a “willing partner” as it wreaked devastation throughout Ukraine.
Russia unilaterally postponed a meeting with U.S. officials about the treaty in November. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the meeting was canceled, “taking into account the extremely negative situation in Russian American relations that was created by Washington.”
The New START Treaty, which was signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, regulates the number and nature of nuclear arms each power may deploy. It also outlines mutual inspections and regular data exchanges on warheads and delivery mechanisms. It includes an agreement to notify each other about the status of some ballistic missiles.
The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately return a request for comment late Tuesday.
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