US Responds to Russia’s Suspension of New START Treaty by Revoking Nuclear Inspectors’ Visas

OSLO, Norway (AP) — The Biden administration is responding to Russia’s suspension of the New START nuclear treaty, announcing Thursday that it is revoking visas for Russian nuclear inspectors, denying pending requests for new monitors and rescinding clearances standard for Russian aircraft to enter United States airspace.

The State Department said it was taking these and other actions in response to Russia’s “continued violations” of New START, the latest arms control treaty between the two countries, which are currently at odds with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The United States is committed to fully and mutually implementing the New START Treaty,” he said. “Consistent with this commitment, the United States has adopted legal countermeasures in response to the Russian Federation’s continued violations of the New START Treaty.”

The department said visa revocations and denials of applications, as well as the United States’ decision to stop sharing information about the status or location of missiles and telemetry data about test launches with Russia, were in accordance with international law because of Russia’s actions.

The United States will, however, continue to notify Russia when it conducts test launches, he said, adding that the steps it was taking were reversible provided Moscow returned to compliance with the treaty.

Russia suspended its participation in New START in February in a decision the United States called “legally invalid”. Immediately afterwards, Moscow reduced its adherence to the agreement.

Authorizing inspections of weapons sites and providing information on the placement of intercontinental and submarine ballistic missiles and their test launches are essential elements of New START, which then-Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev , signed in 2010.

In March, the United States announced that it and Russia had stopped sharing biannual nuclear weapons data. The United States had said it wanted to continue this sharing, but stopped after Moscow informed Washington that it would not share its data.

Although it was extended shortly after President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, New START has been strained by Russia’s war in Ukraine and has been on life support since the President Russian Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia will no longer comply with his demands.

The treaty limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. The agreement provides for extensive on-site inspections to verify compliance.

Inspections remained inactive in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Talks of resuming them were supposed to have taken place in November 2022, but Russia abruptly called them off, citing US support for Ukraine.

The State Department said Russia had been informed of the countermeasures in advance and also indicated that Washington was still interested in keeping the treaty alive.

“The United States remains ready to work constructively with Russia to resume implementation of the New START treaty,” he said.

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