White House Official: Trump To Seek Extension Of New START Arms Treaty With Russia

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – May 22, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/new-start-arms-treaty-russia-trump-united-states/30627011.html)

A top U.S. official said President Donald Trump was expected to seek an extension of the New START treaty with Russia, a major nuclear arms agreement set to expire next year.

National-security adviser Robert O’Brien’s May 21 comment came the same day that the Trump administration announced it would move to withdraw from another security treaty, called Open Skies.

File Photo of ICBM in SiloU.S. officials said Washington would pull out of the 35-nation Open Skies accord, which allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, due to what they said were Russia’s violations.

Trump signaled, however, that the United States would consider remaining a signatory to Open Skies under certain conditions.

Signed by Washington and Moscow in 2010, New START caps the number of warheads and delivery systems in each country’s arsenal. It also includes rigorous on-site inspection provisions, which supporters of the treaty have cited as one of the main arguments for extending it.

‘Good-Faith Negotiations’

The agreement will expire in February unless the two sides agree to extend it by five more years.

Asked by Fox News if the United States would pull out of New START, O’Brien said no.

“We are going to enter into good-faith negotiations with the Russians on nuclear arms control,” he said.

But. while Russia has agreed to an extension, the Trump administration has called for a new treaty that would include China.

China, whose nuclear arsenal is a fraction of the size of Moscow’s and Washington’s, has said it was not interested in participating in such talks.

During a May 7 phone call between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House said “the United States is committed to effective arms control that includes not only Russia, but also China.”

The announcement to withdraw from the Open Skies treaty was the latest move by the Trump White House to pull the country out of a major global accord.

Last year, the United States unilaterally exited from of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.

[featured images are file photos]