US, Russia say they are meeting nuclear arms treaty limits

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The United States and Russia said separately they’ve met the Monday deadline of a nuclear arms treaty between the two countries that President Trump once called a “one-sided deal.”

The New START Treaty, which took effect in 2011 after being negotiated by the Obama administration, required both countries to draw down to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads by Feb. 5, 2018.

“The United States completed its reductions and achieved these limits in August 2017,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Monday. “The Russian Federation has repeatedly stated its commitment to the New START Treaty, including meeting the central limits, and we expect our upcoming data exchange under the treaty to reaffirm that commitment.”

In its own statement Monday, the Russian foreign ministry said it has “fully complied” with the treaty. It also accused the United States of complying with the treaty by reconfiguring systems so that Russia “cannot confirm” whether they are incapable of delivering nuclear weapons instead of reducing its arms.

“The Russian Federation confirms its adherence to the New START Treaty, while insisting that the United States continues a constructive search for mutually acceptable solutions to the matters concerning reconfiguration and the removal of strategic arms from the total count as well as any other issues that may arise between the parties under the treaty,” the ministry said.

In addition to the limit on deployed nuclear warheads, the treaty required both countries to draw down to 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and 800 deployed and nondeployed launchers.

As of September, the United States had deployed 660 Minuteman-III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), Trident-II submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and B-2A and B-52H heavy bombers, according to a State Department fact sheet released Monday. It had 1,393 warheads on deployed intercontinental ICBMs, SLBMs and deployed heavy bombers, and 800 deployed and nondeployed launchers of ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers that month.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said that as of Monday, it has 527 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers; 1,444 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers; and 779 deployed and nondeployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and heavy bombers.

To verify compliance, the United States and Russia will exchange data on their nuclear arsenals “within the next month,” Nauert said in her statement.

Last year, Trump derided New START as one of the “bad deals” made by former President Obama, saying it was “one-sided.”

“Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal,” Trump said at the time. “We’re going to start making good deals.”

Monday’s deadline to comply with the reductions in the treaty comes days after the Trump administration released its Nuclear Posture Review, which focuses heavily on Russia. The new policy calls for expanding U.S. nuclear capabilities, with an eye on countering Russia’s growing nuclear power.

The report, released Friday, alleges that Russia is building a “large, diverse and modern” set of systems capable of being armed with nuclear or conventional weapons.

“These theater- and tactical-range systems are not accountable under the New START Treaty, and Russia’s non-strategic nuclear weapons modernization is increasing the total number of such weapons in its arsenal, while significantly improving its delivery capabilities,” the report says.

In Monday’s statement, Nauert said the United States “remains committed” to arms control efforts and “will continue to fully implement” New START.

“The United States will continue to fully implement the New START Treaty and remains committed to working with others, including the Russian Federation, to create the conditions to support the ultimate goal of the global elimination of nuclear weapons,” she said. “The New START Treaty remains a critical component for supporting global non-proliferation efforts and strategic stability between the United States and the Russian Federation.

“Through implementing the New START Treaty, the United States continues to demonstrate its commitment to fulfilling its arms control obligations, including under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”

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