The Kremlin is open to a one-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control treaty, but not on the terms the White House has proposed, according to a widely translated Russian-language statement from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
“I have a proposal, namely: to extend the existing Treaty without any conditions for at least a year in order to be able to conduct meaningful negotiations on all parameters of the problems that are governed by agreements of this kind,” Putin told senior Russian officials on a video conference posted online Friday.
That appeared to complete the collapse the “gentleman’s agreement” between Putin’s and Trump’s governments touted earlier this week by Marshall Billingslea, the White House’s top nuclear arms control negotiator and the U.S. point person for New START talks.
In a webcast address Tuesday, Billingslea, called on the arms control community to publicly back the White House’s drive to condition a New START extension on a verifiable freeze in deployment of all nuclear warheads, even those not covered by the bilateral agreement.
Robert O’Brien, the U.S. national security adviser, clarified in a public meeting on Friday that the U.S. was seeking a one-year extension in exchange for the warhead freeze.
The Obama-era New START treaty limits the U.S. and the Russian Federation to 1,550 deployed strategic warheads on a mixture of 700 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers.