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28 Feb, 2023 07:28

Moscow outlines conditions for unfreezing nuclear deal

The US must reconsider its anti-Russia policies before New START can be resumed, Ambassador Anatoly Antonov warns
Moscow outlines conditions for unfreezing nuclear deal

Russia’s decision to suspend New START, the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty with the US, was the right response to Washington’s anti-Russia policies and its violations of the deal, Moscow’s ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Monday.

Commenting on Washington’s criticism of the move, Antonov accused the US of shifting the blame. He noted that “Washington has launched and dragged its European allies into a large-scale hybrid war against Russia,” while openly stating that its goal is “to inflict a strategic defeat on our country.”

“At the same time, as if nothing has happened, it insists on the inspection of our bases, which store strategic nuclear weapons. These are the same bases that have been attacked by Ukraine with the help of the Pentagon,” the envoy stated.

Antonov accused Washington of substantially violating the central provisions of New START. He said the US had “illegitimately” withdrawn submarine-launched ballistic missile systems and heavy bombers from the deal’s counting rules after declaring them incapable of carrying out nuclear missions following “a procedure not agreed upon with Russia.”

“Our inspectors have never been given the opportunity to verify the results of the ‘conversion,’” Antonov explained.

Against this backdrop, the ambassador described the decision to suspend participation in New START as “the only right one under the circumstances,” adding that Moscow still complies with the quantitative limitations imposed by the treaty.

“To create the conditions for a return to full-scale operation of New START, Washington must reconsider its hostile anti-Russian policy,” he asserted.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow had “suspended its membership” of New START, saying the West had denied Moscow’s requests to inspect Western nuclear facilities in accordance with the treaty under formal pretexts.

The president also noted that NATO members were demanding access to Russia’s strategic facilities, despite the fact that the deal was signed only by Moscow and Washington.

New START was originally signed in 2010 by then-US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev. It was aimed at halving the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers deployed around the world. Under the treaty, both countries were supposed to allow the other side a limited number of inspections per year to verify compliance with the agreement. Unless extended, the treaty was set to expire in 2026.