Russia says it’s willing to freeze nuclear arsenal to extend arms treaty with US

White House Rejects Putin Response To Us Arms Control Offer

(CNN) — Russia said it is willing to agree to freeze its nuclear arsenals in order to extend key arms reduction treaty New START if the US does not pose any other requirements, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

“Russia proposes to extend the New START Treaty by one year and is ready, together with the United States, to make a political commitment to ‘freeze’ the number of nuclear warheads held by the parties for this period,” the statement said.

“This can be implemented strictly and exclusively if there is understanding that the ‘freezing’ of warheads will not be accompanied by any additional demands from the United States,” it said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry added that it expects to hear from Washington as soon as possible in regards to whether the deal “suits” the US side.

Last week, the US rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to extend the deal for a year without any preconditions.

The landmark New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, set to expire on February 5, is the last treaty between the US and Russia placing limits on the growth of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals since the US formally withdrew from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty in August 2019.

President Donald Trump has been urging his national security team to secure a nuclear deal with Russia before the November election, sources familiar with the efforts told CNN.

He had initially wanted to bring China into the deal, but China has repeatedly rejected partaking in any discussions. Russia has now also rejected a number of US proposals to get it to agree to a series of additional commitments in order to renew New START.

On Friday, in a meeting with his advisers, Putin proposed to extend the nuclear arms reduction treaty for a year without preconditions.

That proposal was swiftly rejected by the US with White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien calling the offer a “non-starter.”

“President Putin’s response to extend New START without freezing nuclear warheads is a non-starter,” he said.

He threatened a “costly” arms race if Russia did not come back to the table with a better proposal: “The United States is serious about arms control that will keep the entire world safe. We hope that Russia will reevaluate its position before a costly arms race ensues.”

Top US negotiator, Marshall Billingslea, suggested in a tweet later Friday that talks between the two countries were over.

“The United States made every effort. It is disappointing that the Russian Federation backtracked on an agreement covering all nuclear warheads for the first time. This would have been an historic deal, good for the U.S., Russia, and the world,” he wrote.