White House wants to engage Russia on nuclear arms control in post-treaty world

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is ready to hold talks with Russia without preconditions on a future nuclear arms control framework, even if it adopts countermeasures in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to suspend the latest nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will make clear the Biden administration’s desire to discuss building a new cadre during a speech at the Arms Control Association on Friday, two senior officials say administration who previewed the speech on condition of anonymity.

Putin announced in February that he was suspending Russia’s cooperation with New START treaty provisions for nuclear warhead and missile inspections amid deep tensions between Washington and Moscow over the ongoing invasion of Russia. Ukraine by Russia. Russia, however, has said it will abide by treaty caps on nuclear weapons.

Officials said Sullivan would stress that the United States remained committed to joining the treaty if Russia did, but would also “signal that we are open to dialogue” on building a new risk management framework. nuclear once the treaty expires in February 2026.

Officials have said the Biden administration is willing to stick with warhead caps until the treaty expires. Determining the details of a post-2026 framework will be complicated by US-Russian tensions and China’s growing nuclear power.

China now has about 410 nuclear warheads, according to an annual survey by the Federation of American Scientists. The Pentagon estimated in November that the number of Chinese warheads could reach 1,000 by the end of the decade and 1,500 by around 2035.

The size of China’s arsenal and Beijing’s willingness to engage in substantive dialogue will impact the future posture of US forces and Washington’s ability to reach a deal with the Russians, officials said. .

US-China relations have been strained by the US shooting down a Chinese spy balloon earlier this year after it crossed the continental United States; tensions over the status of the self-governing island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own; US export controls aimed at limiting advanced semiconductor equipment from China; and other friction.

The White House’s pressure on Moscow over nuclear arms control comes a day after the administration announced new countermeasures to Russia’s suspension of its participation in the treaty.

The State Department announced on Thursday that it would no longer notify Russia of any updates on the status or location of “treaty items” like missiles and launchers, that it would revoke U.S. visas issued to Russian treaty inspectors and crew members and that it would cease providing telemetric information on test launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Earlier this year, the United States and Russia stopped sharing biannual nuclear weapons data required by the treaty.

The treaty, which then-Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed in 2010, limits each country to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers and provides for on-site inspections to verify compliance.

Inspections have been dormant since 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.

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