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US, Russia reach deal extending nuclear arms treaty for five years

US, Russia reach deal extending nuclear arms treaty for five years
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Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Biden administration to evacuate Afghans who helped US l Serious differences remain between US and Iran on nuclear talks l US, Turkish officials meet to discuss security plans for Afghan airport Biden administration to evacuate Afghans who helped US Putin accuses US of organizing 2014 Ukraine coup MORE on Wednesday said the U.S. has reached a deal with Russia to extend for five years a key nuclear arms treaty, an agreement that comes days before the treaty was set to expire.

Blinken said in a statement that the extension of the New START nuclear arms treaty — through Feb. 5, 2026 — reduces the risk of a deadly arms race and allows the U.S. close inspection of the Russian arsenal and restrictions on its missile programs.

“The New START Treaty’s verification regime enables us to monitor Russian compliance with the treaty and provides us with greater insight into Russia’s nuclear posture, including through data exchanges and onsite inspections that allow U.S. inspectors to have eyes on Russian nuclear forces and facilities,” the secretary said.

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The treaty, which first entered into force in 2011, puts strategic caps on both U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons arsenals as well as allowing inspections on both sides to ensure compliance.

Blinken said the U.S. will work over the next five years to extend the parameters of the treaty to address all of Russia’s nuclear weapons while also pursuing arms control with China to reduce its nuclear arsenal.

The Trump administration had earlier called on including China in the extension of the New START treaty but was rejected by Beijing. Those efforts were seen as hampering talks with Moscow to extend the treaty before former President TrumpDonald Trump Pence said he's 'proud' Congress certified Biden's win on Jan. 6 Americans put the most trust in their doctor for COVID-19 information: poll OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Biden administration to evacuate Afghans who helped US l Serious differences remain between US and Iran on nuclear talks l US, Turkish officials meet to discuss security plans for Afghan airport MORE left office.

The extension on Wednesday was welcomed by NATO, saying the treaty contributes to “international stability” and is an important step in the effort to address nuclear threats.

Yet the international alliance also raised the warning that the extension of the treaty does not eliminate threats posed by Russia.

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“Even as the United States engages Russia in ways that advance our collective interests, NATO remains clear-eyed about the challenges Russia poses. We will work in close consultation to address Russia’s aggressive actions, which constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” the council said in a statement.

The successful extension of the nuclear arms treaty marks a rare area of cooperation between the U.S. and Russia at a time of heightened tension between the two countries.

“Even as we work with Russia to advance U.S. interests, so too will we work to hold Russia to account for adversarial actions as well as its human rights abuses, in close coordination with our allies and partners,” Blinken said.

The Biden administration has said it is reviewing a host of bad actions by Russia and weighing how the U.S. will respond, including responding to Russia carrying out a massive cyber hack of government agencies and private companies, reported Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan and interference in domestic U.S. elections.

The U.S. is also weighing actions against Moscow over the attempted assassination by chemical weapon of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny and has spoken out that his subsequent arrest and sentencing in a Moscow-court is “politically motivated.” The U.S. has further condemned the arrest of thousands of Navalny’s supporters who are protesting against his detention and government corruption.