Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has lashed out at the US over its unwillingness to prolong the New Strategic Arms Treaty (START), which he said clearly indicates Washington’s disinterest in global stability.
This also testifies to the White House’s “strong desire to start an international arms race”, Zarif tweeted in Russian on Thursday, touting the New START as “one of the most important treaties to maintain global security and arms control”.
The remarks came as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed hope that Russian and American diplomats would finally clinch an agreement on the treaty’s extension for one year without any preconditions.
He told reporters that “there will be very difficult contacts in the coming days at the expert level in order to fix a deal on the prolongation” of the New START, which is due to expire on 5 February 2021.
Putin Reiterates Russia’s Intent to Extend New START
Peskov spoke hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the 17th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow, where he, in particular, reiterated his country’s readiness to extend the treaty, highlighting that it is in the interest of both Russia and the US.
"What choice do we have? The treaty expires in February. What I have offered is a very simple and obvious thing. Nothing bad will happen if we extend this treaty by one year without any preconditions and will persistently raise all matters of concern both for us and the Americans. Let's work together and search for a solution", Putin stressed.
He added at the same time that Russia is "not clinging to this agreement", and if the US decides that there is no need for an extension, then "we cannot hold them back".
US National Security Adviser O’Brien Rejects Putin’s Treaty Extension Proposal
The statement followed US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien announcing that Putin’s proposal to extend the New START treaty for one year without preconditions was "a non-starter."
Under the New START, which was signed in 2010, the US and Russia agreed to reduce the number of their strategic nuclear missiles by half and limit the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 each.