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Trump administration pressing Russia on nuclear weapons treaty concessions ahead of election

Trump administration pressing Russia on nuclear weapons treaty concessions ahead of election
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The Trump administration is pressing Russia on nuclear arms treaty concessions. 

The administration is threatening Russia with the possibility of extending one of its remaining nuclear weapons treaties between the countries if Moscow does not commit to U.S. demands before the Nov. 3 election, CNN reported.

Washington and Moscow have deliberated for months over negotiating the renewal of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), with Russia saying it wants a five-year renewal, while the U.S. is reluctant without additional commitments from the Kremlin.

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"What we have suggested to the Russians in terms of the way ahead is — in our view precisely that the Russians have a choice to make," Marshall Billingslea, the top Trump administration nuclear negotiator, told CNN. "But they may find the price of admission goes up after November."

While administration officials have expressed confidence in their negotiating strategy, some experts are unsure Russia would buckle under the pressure of Washington.

"The Trump administration is playing a risky game of chicken with the New START treaty, which has proven to be effective, which both sides are complying with and which is essential for U.S. and Russian national security," said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association.

"They can see the polls," Kimball said. "Why should they say yes to something right now when Trump may be out of office and they think they know the Biden administration will agree to an extension and follow on talks?"

Democrat Joe Biden is leading Trump in national and swing-state polls, though the margins in most swing states are tight.

Biden has said that he would sign the renewal of the New START if he is elected president.

The deadline for the extension is Feb. 5, 2021.