Putin proposes year-long extension of nuclear pact with US
Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday made a strong call to save the last existing nuclear arms control pact between his country and the United States, proposing to extend it at least for one year.
Putin's statement comes amid conflicting signals from Russian and U.S. diplomats about the fate of the New START treaty that is set to expire in February unless Moscow and Washington agree on its extension.
Speaking at a meeting of his Security Council, Putin said that it would be extremely sad if the treaty ceases to exist without being replaced by another fundamental document of the kind.
All those years, the New START has worked, playing its fundamental role of limiting and containing an arms race, he noted.
The New START treaty was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The pact limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance.
After both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year, New START is the only nuclear arms control deal between the two countries still standing.
Russia previously offered its extension for five years without any conditions, while the U.S. administration pushed for a new arms control agreement that would also include China. Moscow has described that idea as unfeasible, pointing at Beijing's refusal to negotiate any deal that would reduce its much-smaller nuclear arsenal.