The United Nations (UN) stated that Russia and the United States should begin negotiations on replacing the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) as soon as possible. The statement was made by Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, after the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons on Friday, August 26. Her remarks came as Russia has temporarily suspended a provision of the 2010 START treaty that enabled the US and Russian inspectors to visit each other’s nuclear weapons installations.
“I think Russia and US should start negotiations on an agreement that would come to replace START as soon as possible. We know it’s valid until 2026. So they need to agree at least until it expires,” she stated, as per news agency TASS.
Earlier in 2020, the mutual inspections were put on hold as a safety measure owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, on August 8, the Russian Foreign Ministry gave another justification for why Moscow is reluctant to resume them. It stated that the decision to not resume inceptions has been taken as US sanctions restricted the visit of Russian inspectors to Washington.
Both nations working on resuming inspections under START treaty: Russia
However, The Embassy of the Russian Federation to the US, on August 21, stated that both nations are exploring the possibilities to resume inspections under the treaty. It further mentioned that concerned authorities of both nations are making all efforts to find solutions to organisational and technical challenges so that inspections can resume.
“We are working closely with our American colleagues within the framework of the START Bilateral Consultative Commission to remove organisational and technical obstacles to resuming inspections,” the embassy added, as per TASS.
It should be noted here that the START treaty places restrictions on delivery methods and caps the number of deployed strategic warheads at 1,550 for both nations. The treaty was further extended for five years in February 2021. Moreover, it remains the only arms control agreement between the US and Russia, and its inspection and verification provisions are widely seen as essential to fostering mutual trust and averting nuclear error.