U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration said on Thursday it cannot hold talks with Moscow on a treaty to replace the latest US-Russian pact, which limits strategic nuclear weapons, until inspections of both countries’ nuclear weapons sites that are currently on hiatus are resumed.
“The first step is to resume inspections under the current New START Treaty and we have been trying to work with the Russians towards that end,” a spokesman for the White House National Security Council said in an email to Reuters. reference to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that both countries signed in 2010.
A State Department spokesman made a similar statement in another email.
Both countries agreed in March 2020 to suspend inspections of nuclear weapons sites
strategic actions of the other party due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Talks over the past year about resuming inspections have failed to lead to a deal, while tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have pushed relations to their most acrimonious level since the Cold War.
The US spokesmen were responding to reports in the Russian state news agency this week, which quoted the country’s representatives as saying the sides were discussing a possible meeting of an advisory commission to discuss New START issues.
The United States is willing to work with Russia within the commission “to resolve implementation issues” and sees “no reason why these issues cannot be adequately resolved,” the NSC spokesman said.
Each party can carry out up to 18 annual inspections of strategic nuclear weapons sites to ensure that the other complies with the limits of the treaty.