Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday offered to immediately extend the only remaining nuclear arms reduction pact with the US, but a senior US official said that Washington wants a broader deal involving China.
Speaking at a meeting with military officials, Putin said that Russia has repeatedly offered the US to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that expires in 2021, but that it has not heard back.
“Russia is ready to extend the New START treaty immediately, before the year’s end and without any preconditions,” Putin said.
The pact, which was signed in 2010 by then-US president Barack Obama and then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.
The treaty, which can be extended by another five years, envisages a comprehensive verification mechanism to check compliance, including on-site inspections of each side’s nuclear bases.
Its expiration would remove any limits on Russian and US nuclear arsenals for the first time in decades.
Arms control advocates have argued that the failure to extend the pact would be highly destabilizing at a time when Russia-US relations have sunk to the lowest levels since the Cold War.
Putin and other Russian officials have repeatedly voiced concern about Washington’s reluctance to discuss the treaty’s extension.
“Our proposals have been on the table, but we have got no response from our partners,” Putin said.
In Washington, a senior Pentagon official suggested that the administration of US President Donald Trump is not interested in an immediate extension and sees no rush, as New START does not expire until February 2021.
US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood told a US Senate committee that the administration’s main priority is getting Russia and China to agree to begin negotiations on a broader arms treaty to supplant New START.
“If the United States were to agree to extend the treaty now, I think it would make it less likely that we would have the ability to persuade Russia and China to enter negotiations on a broader agreement,” Rood said.
In an apparent bid to encourage the US to extend the treaty, the Russian military last month showed its latest hypersonic weapon to US inspectors.
The Russian Ministry of Defense underlined that it demonstrated the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle as part of transparency measures under New START.
Putin last year unveiled the Avangard along with other prospective weapons, saying that its ability to make sharp maneuvers on its way to a target would render missile defense useless.
New START is the only remaining US-Russian nuclear arms control treaty after Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty earlier this year.
The US said that it pulled out because of Russian treaty breaches, a claim the Kremlin has denied.
Putin reaffirmed Russia’s pledge not to deploy missiles banned by the INF treaty until the US and its allies do so.
“Russia isn’t interested in unleashing a new arms race,” he said.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread