06:03 GMT +310 December 2019
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    A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, tail number 58-0171, nicknamed Lil Peach II is seen chopped up per the New START Treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) with Russia, at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz

    START Treaty Non-Renewal Becoming More Realistic Prospect - Russian Envoy in Vienna

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    (Sputnik) - The possibility of the United States and Russia not extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) has become a more realistic development, according to the Russian Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov.

    "The entire arms control system has undergone severe erosion, and further deepening of this process will mean increasing instability, lack of predictability, and so on. This is a very negative prospect. The time for reaching an agreement on the New START extension is running out and no practical steps have been taken in this direction. Of course, such a prospect becomes a more realistic one," Ulyanov said on Monday.

    Earlier in November, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov expressed Moscow’s concerns about a lack of interest in the US in renewing the treaty, which expires in February 2021.

    New START is the last remaining arms control treaty in force between Russia and the United States. It stipulates that the number of strategic nuclear missiles launchers must be cut by half and limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550.

    Open Skies Treaty

    Ulyanov has also commented on the Open Skies Treaty, which the US is reportedly planning to abandon.

    "The discussions about the possible US withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty have been going on for several years. From time to time, such information appears. It is difficult to say whether this information is true because there are currently no practical steps undertaken by the United States towards its withdrawal from the treaty," Ulyanov said.

    Earlier, US media reported that US President Donald Trump had signed a document to quit the Open Skies Treaty - a move Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said would be regrettable. 

    The Open Skies Treaty allows parties to carry out aerial surveillance through scheduled observation flights over each participating nation. Over 30 countries participate in the program, which was created to boost the transparency of military activities.

    Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

    The Russian Permanent Representative has revealed when the next meeting of the Joint Commission responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program would most likely take place.

    "Apparently, a meeting at the level of political directors will be held this year," Ulyanov said. "I understand that the meeting might take place in the beginning of December."

    The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, was struck in July 2015 by Iran and six international mediators — China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The main idea of the accord was to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting existing unilateral and international sanctions.

    In May of 2018, the Trump administration withdrew from the deal and reimposed economic sanctions on Iran. Roughly a year later, Tehran responded by warning that it would steadily abandon its JCPOA obligations every 60 days unless the other signatories attempted to save the accord by facilitating oil exports and trade with Iran. It has since been gradually following through on its warnings.

    US Boycott of UN WMD-Free Middle East Summit

    On Monday, representatives of Middle Eastern countries convened at the UN headquarters in New York for a five-day summit to negotiate a legally-binding agreement on the creation of a regional zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

    The US has boycotted the UN Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, demonstrating, according to Ulyanov, the difficulty of treating Washington’s obligations with confidence.

    "It is not possible to understand the United States because they have a particular responsibility, likewise do Russia and the United Kingdom, for the establishment of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction," Ulyanov said. "This is an indicator that it is difficult to treat US obligations with confidence; they can withdraw from them."

    During the 2010 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom announced that they would co-sponsor the ongoing conference on the Middle East.

    Along with the US, Israel’s seat at the UN Economic and Social Chamber, where the conference is taking place, was also empty.

    Ulyanov pointed out that Tel Aviv does not believe the UN gathering to be in its interest.

    In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly First Committee adopted a resolution requesting that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres organize a regional conference on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

    Both Israel and the United States at the time voted against the passing of the resolution.


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    Strategic Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Open Skies Treaty, Iran, Mikhail Ulyanov, envoy, Austria, Russia
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