MOSCOW: Russia said Tuesday it’s ready to accept a US proposal to freeze the number of nuclear warheads and extend the two nations’ last arms control pact for one year.
The statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry marks a shift in Moscow’s position after Russia and the US rejected each other’s offers regarding the New START treaty that expires in February.
The ministry noted that it’s ready for a deal if the US does the same and doesn’t put forward any additional demands, the statement read.
The US said it was prepared to meet immediately with Russia to finalize the agreement, the State Department said on Tuesday.
“We appreciate the Russian Federation’s willingness to make progress on the issue of nuclear arms control,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. “The United States is prepared to meet immediately to finalize a verifiable agreement. We expect Russia to empower its diplomats to do the same.”
The New START treaty was signed in 2010 by then US 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, the New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries.
Russia has offered its extension without any conditions, while the Trump administration initially pushed for a new arms control agreement that would also include China.
It recently modified its stance and proposed a one-year extension of the 2010 treaty, but said this must be coupled with the imposition of a broader cap on US and Russian nuclear warheads. The cap would cover warheads not limited by the New START treaty.
Russia has agreed to a one-year extension but resisted a broader cap on warheads until Tuesday.
* With AP and Reuters