VLADIVOSTOK: Maintaining the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is a prerequisite for continuing the strategic security talks between Russia and the USA, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with a Russian newspaper. Our stance is that before we find ways to develop dialogue on maintaining strategic stability under new conditions, we have no right to lose New START. We cannot afford this luxury, he said.
The minister also noted that the US offers to include China in the negotiation process, not mentioning its allies with possession on nuclear weapons. China has made its position clear on this matter several times: they have no intention of doing it. They are citing the non-comparable nuclear potential of Russia, the US and China. However, the US continues to mention China as a possible participant of upcoming talks that may save New START, without mentioning its allies, the UK and France, which are also nuclear states, he said.
The Russian-US New START treaty took effect in 2011. Under its terms, either party shall reduce its strategic offensive arms in such a way that by the end of a seven-year period following the moment the treaty takes effect, it should have no more than 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched missiles and heavy bombers, 1,550 warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM and SLBM launchers and heavy bombers.
The treaty shall stay in effect for ten years (up to 2021) unless it is replaced by another agreement by that moment, or it can be prolonged for no more than five years (until 2026) by mutual consent. Lately, Moscow repeatedly urged Washington to avoid delays in prolonging that treaty, which it described as a gold standard in the field of disarmament. On July 31, US National Security Advisor John Bolton stated that the treaty is unlikely to be prolonged, however, he added that Washington has not made any decisions on the matter yet.