00:49 GMT16 July 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A top US opposition lawmaker, Senator Bob Menendez, announced on Tuesday that he introduced a bill to immediately extend the New START treaty and restrict President Donald Trump from undermining the last remaining major strategic arms control regime with Russia.

    "The Trump administration now faces an upcoming deadline to extend the last remaining arms control agreement, the New START Treaty, which imposes restrictions on Russia’s nuclear arsenal", Menendez said in a statement. "If the United States fails to extend the New START Treaty, it will be the first time since the 1960’s that Russia’s nuclear arsenal will not be constrained by an international arms control framework".

    His Future of Arms Control Act calls for immediately prolonging New START, which expires next February. The bill also restricts Trump from taking any damaging actions against the treaty if no decision is made on its extension.

    The second bill Menendez introduced, the Arms Control with China Policy Act, aims to reassert Congress’s oversight over a dialogue with China on key strategic issues. It mandates that the Secretaries of State and Defense begin presenting to lawmakers “the potential approach for the Administration to engage China on nuclear issues and constrain the possibility of miscalculation".

    "The fact is the Trump administration has failed to make any progress on arms control issues with both Russia and China, despite its multiple assurances that it would. That is why Congress needs to step in now to legislate a way to maintain a safe, secure, modern, and effective nuclear deterrent", Menendez said.

    Trump advocates a comprehensive trilateral arms control initiative that includes Russia and China. Russia has repeatedly invited the US to extend the bilateral New START treaty for another five years without preconditions, but has also indicated it is ready to negotiate potential new frameworks. The New START stipulates the reduction of the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers by one-half and limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550. 

    Russia, Donald Trump, arms control, senator, United States, New START Treaty
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