Russia, U.S. Looking Into New Nuclear Talks, Says Putin

Russia and the United States are considering new talks on limiting their nuclear arsenals, said President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan.

Putin, who had met with his American counterpart Donald Trump a day before, was commenting on that meeting, noting that the two had “tasked our respective foreign minister to start lower-level talks on [nuclear disarmament].”

Judging from the president’s remarks, which were carried by Russia’s Interfax news agency, the talks would pertain to extending the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) that went into force in 2011, following talks by the two presidents’ predecessors, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama.

The New Start, which expires in less than two years in 2021, caps the number of deployed nuclear warheads ready to use on intercontinental missiles and heavy bomber bases to 1,550, DW informs. A number of other restrictions to the two countries’ nuclear capabilities are likewise set in place with the treaty.

New data from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists suggests that both the U.S. and Russia currently have about 1,600 deployed strategic nuclear heads at their disposal. Russia has a total of 6,500 nuclear warheads, while the U.S. has 6,185.

Putin has warned on multiple occasions that the expiration of the treaty could mean a new nuclear arms race. Most recently, on Saturday, he stressed that it was “too early” for now to discuss a specific timeline about the talks and a likelihood of an agreement.

Putin’s remarks come after the U.S. accused Russia of breaking the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by developing a new missile system. The 1987 document bans the possessing and testing of short and medium-range nuclear weapons.

Both Moscow and Washington suspended their participation in the accord, with the U.S. threatening to pull out of the agreement if Russia is not in compliance by August 2 this year.