Russia ready to accept US proposal to extend nuclear pact, Washington prepared to meet ‘immediately’

Russia ready to accept US proposal to extend nuclear pact, Washington prepared to meet ‘immediately’
Tuesday's 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. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 20 October 2020

Russia ready to accept US proposal to extend nuclear pact, Washington prepared to meet ‘immediately’

Russia ready to accept US proposal to extend nuclear pact, Washington prepared to meet ‘immediately’
  • The US said it was prepared to meet immediately with Russia to finalize the agreement
  • Russia has agreed to a one-year extension but resisted a broader cap on warheads until Tuesday.

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


Iran deal architect among veterans named for Biden State Department

Iran deal architect among veterans named for Biden State Department
Updated 16 January 2021

Iran deal architect among veterans named for Biden State Department

Iran deal architect among veterans named for Biden State Department

WASHINGTON: The lead US negotiator of the Iran nuclear accord and a battle-tested hawk on Russia were named Saturday to top posts at President-elect Joe Biden’s State Department, signaling a return to normal after Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency.
Wendy Sherman, who brokered the Iran accord under Barack Obama and negotiated a nuclear deal with North Korea under Bill Clinton, was named as deputy secretary of state.
Victoria Nuland, a former career diplomat best known for her robust support for Ukrainian protesters in the ouster of a Russian-aligned president, was nominated under secretary for political affairs — the State Department’s third-ranking post in charge of day-to-day US diplomacy.
Biden said that the State Department nominees “have secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory.”
“I am confident that they will use their diplomatic experience and skill to restore America’s global and moral leadership. America is back,” Biden said in a statement.
The State Department team will work under secretary of state-designate Antony Blinken, whose confirmation hearing will take place on Tuesday on the eve of Biden’s inauguration.
Blinken said that the State Department team, with women and ethnic minorities in prominent positions, “looks like America.”
“America at its best still has a greater capacity than any other country on earth to mobilize others to meet the challenges of our time,” Blinken said.
The optimism comes amid rising doubts about US leadership in Trump’s waning days after his supporters ransacked the Capitol on January 6 to try to stop the ceremonial certification of Biden’s victory.
Under outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a staunch defender of Trump, the United States has aggressively challenged Iran and China, robustly backed Israel and toyed with improving ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while also imposing sanctions on Moscow.
Sherman’s nomination marks another clear sign that Biden wants to return to the accord under which Iran drastically slashed its nuclear program in exchange for promises of sanctions relief.
Trump exited the deal in 2018 and imposed sweeping sanctions in what many observers saw as an unsuccessful attempt to topple the Shiite clerical regime.