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US proposes arms control deal with UK, France, Russia and China

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, US, November 10, 2022. (Reuters photo)

The United States national security advisor to President Joe Biden has proposed multilateral arms control efforts with the UK, France, Russia and China.

“We have stated our willingness to engage in bilateral arms control discussions with Russia and with China, without preconditions,” Jake Sullivan said while addressing the annual meeting of the Arms Control Association (ACA) on Friday.

He added that the US is eager to “compartmentalize” the atomic issue from other relations with Russia and China.

“Establishing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was a huge moment. Not only for our own national security. But for the security and stability of the world,” he said.

“And as this group knows well, it was one of the first steps that would help slowly usher in an era of responsible arms control and nuclear deterrence measures,” he stated.

“An era where nations could compartmentalize the issues of strategic stability, even if they couldn’t cooperate on much anything else,” he noted.

Sullivan also said the United States would abide by the nuclear weapons limits set in the New START treaty until its 2026 expiration if Russia does the same. 

He stated that the US also seeks to engage the “P5” – the nuclear-armed permanent members of the UN Security Council – in multilateral arrangements.

“For example, formalizing a missile launch notification regime across the P5 is a straightforward measure that is simply common sense. It’s a small step that would help reduce the risk of misperception and miscalculation in times of crisis,” Sullivan said.

He said it could build momentum towards further measures, such as “establishing crisis communications channels among the P5 capitals,” and committing to transparency in nuclear matters, among other things.

Biden’s top aide said the US is willing to abide by the core limits set by the New START treaty “as long as Russia does.”

"While claiming to suspend New START, Russia has also publicly committed to adhere to the treaty's central limits, indicating a potential willingness to continue limiting strategic nuclear forces through 2026. We agree," Sullivan said.

"It is in neither of our countries’ interests to embark on an open-ended competition in strategic forces and we are prepared to stick to the central limits as long as Russia does,” he said.

"Rather than waiting to resolve all of our bilateral differences, the United States is ready to engage Russia now to manage nuclear risks and develop a post-2026 arms control framework."

Russia said it has concluded that the United States has been in violation of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, accusing Washington of being in non-compliance with its provisions and of trying to undermine Russia's national security.

The Russian foreign ministry has called on Washington to refrain from actions that would prevent Russia’s return to New START, which was signed in 2010 and extended until 2026. 

Under the treaty, Russia and the US committed to deploying no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads, which accounts for 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads, and a maximum of 700 long-range missiles and bombers.

Russia also said it is not opposed to resuming participation in the New START should the US policy change.

Russian President Vladimir Putin already said his country would be suspending the treaty adding that no one should have dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed.

Putin accused the West of being directly involved in attempts to strike its strategic air bases.

The US had previously accused Russia that it was not in compliance with the New START treaty.

The US and Russia remain the world’s largest holders and developers of nuclear weapons, followed by Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and the Israeli regime, which has not declared its possession of nuclear warheads but does not deny having them. The regime does not allow any international inspection of its nuclear facilities either.

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