17:35 GMT15 June 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A bipartisan group of US lawmakers is requesting the national intelligence head Joseph Maguire to brief them on the possible outcome if the United States allows the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to expire in February 2021, Senator Bob Menendez's office said in a press release.

    "Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was joined by Senators Todd Young and Chris Van Hollen in requesting Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire formally conduct a National Intelligence Estimate on how Russia and China will react if the United States allows the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) to expire in February 2021," the release said on Monday.

    Earlier in the day, the lawmakers sent a letter to Maguire in which they noted the potential negative consequences the United States abandoning the New STRAT Treaty would have in the short-term and long-term.

    In addition, the lawmakers said they are concerned the potential abandonment of the treaty could enable Russia to gain a permanent strategic nuclear advantage that could then lead to a new arms race.

    Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Washington to meet with US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss nuclear arms control, among other topics.

    New START is the last remaining arms control treaty in force between Russia and the United States. Signed in 2010, the pact 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.

    Russia has repeatedly stated its readiness to extend the New START treaty without any preconditions, but the US is yet undecided about the extension.


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