İrem UZUN -TDO- The U.S. and Russia are on the verge of an arms-control deal that would freeze the number of nuclear warheads on each side and extend the New START agreement for a year, Trump administration officials said Tuesday. "We expect Russia to empower its diplomats to do the same," the U.S. officials said in a brief statement.
The two countries seek a way to keep the New START alive past its expiration date in February 2021. The deal limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles, and bombers. With both Moscow and Washington leaving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) last year, the New START is the only major accord on nuclear weapons still in place between the rival powers.
The United States last week rejected a Russian offer to unconditionally extend the pact for one year, saying any proposal that did not envisage freezing all nuclear warheads - both strategic and tactical - was a “non-starter”. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement on Tuesday suggested that the two countries’ positions had moved closer. “Russia is proposing to extend New START by one year and is ready together with the United States to make a political commitment to ‘freeze’ the number of nuclear warheads held by the parties for this period,” the ministry said. In a statement, the U.S. State Department welcomed Russia’s offer, saying it appreciated Moscow’s “willingness to make progress on the issue of nuclear arms control.”