Putin signs bill suspending latest nuclear arms deal with US

Putin signs bill suspending latest nuclear arms deal with US

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill Tuesday to suspend the last remaining nuclear arms treaty with the United States amid rising tensions with Washington over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Putin announced in his state of the nation address a week ago that Moscow was suspending its participation in the 2010 New START treaty. He complained that Russia could not accept U.S. inspections of its nuclear sites under the deal when Washington and its NATO allies publicly declared Russia’s defeat in Ukraine their goal.

Both houses of parliament quickly approved Putin’s bill to suspend the deal last week. On Tuesday, Putin signed the law, effective immediately. The document says it is up to the president to decide whether Moscow can return to the deal.

Putin stressed that Moscow was not withdrawing from the deal entirely, and Russia’s foreign ministry said the country would respect nuclear weapons caps set under the deal and notify the United States of any test launches of ballistic missiles.

On Monday, a top US arms control official sharply criticized Russia for suspending participation in the treaty, but noted that Washington would try to work with Moscow to continue its implementation.

“Russia is once again showing the world that it is not a responsible nuclear power,” Bonnie Jenkins, the US undersecretary of state for arms control, told a session of the UN-affiliated International Forum on Disarmament.

Jenkins told reporters that the United States had not fully assessed the consequences of Russia’s suspension measures, but said: “We see no evidence that Russia is not complying.”

“We stand ready to work firmly with Russia to fully implement the New START Treaty,” he added.

New START, signed by then-Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, limits each country to 1,550 nuclear warheads and 700 deployable missiles and bombers. The contract calls for extensive site inspections to verify compliance.

Inspections have been inactive since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Talks about relaunching them were supposed to take place last November, but Russia abruptly withdrew them.

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