Russia and the US show progress in nuclear negotiations

Talks between the United States and Russia were marked by progress. They concerned possible replacement of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which validity will be over next February. However, there are serious obstacles ahead, including China’s opposition to negotiations.

Russia and the US show progress in nuclear negotiations

We are talking about the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 2010, or arms control agreement, bounding the amount of deployed nuclear warheads owned by the United States and Russia, the two largest nuclear powers in the world.

The US negotiator Marshall Billingsley claimed that working group discussions could take place in late July or early August, paving the way for a possible second round of talks in Vienna.

“We did indeed hold productive talks with Russia. Indeed, the talks were so productive that we found enough common ground to warrant the establishment of several technical working groups to dive further into the details of what a future trilateral arms control agreement should look like”, – Billingslea said.

But there are serious obstacles to moving forward. Washington wants any new deal to limit China – and include all nuclear weapons, not just strategic weapons.

Beijing, with an estimated share of the US and Russian arsenal, repeatedly refused to participate in the negotiations. The differences between Washington and Beijing were highlighted this week in clashes between Twitter posts and official comments from both sides.

For its part, Russia says that other nuclear powers, including France and the UK, should join in future negotiations, but on a voluntary basis.

Heading the Russian delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also noted progress in Vienna, according to the Russian news agency TASS, but “significant differences” have also been preserved.

Discussions in the Austrian capital were the first between Moscow and Washington over their nuclear arsenals after more than a year’s break.

President Donald Trump has refused several US treaties with Russia, including medium-range flights and nuclear forces.

The new START treaty may be extended for another five years if both parties agree. Experts say this could pave the way for a broader and tougher deal. Without a treaty, Washington and Moscow could be left without any significant restrictions on their nuclear weapons for the first time in decades.

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