WASHINGTON, October 10. / TASS /. The United States is considering only the option of a short-term extension with Russia of the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START, unofficially called START III). This opinion was expressed on Friday by the head of the American Arms Control Association Daryl Kimball, speaking at a conference on the fate of the document.
“Unfortunately, there is little chance of success. We have seen reports that after the meeting between Special Representative (US President for Arms Control Marshall) Billingsley and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister (Sergei) Ryabkov (October 5 in Helsinki), American officials said about progress in the course of the round, but the Russians indicated excessive optimism, – the expert drew attention. – It is clear that the parties are still too far apart in their views.
The head of the association drew attention to the fact that Marshall Billingsley in negotiations with Russia is putting forward proposals with three requirements. "Billingsley says that Russia should agree to significant changes in the verification rules in the new document. In addition, Russia should agree with the political framework, which means that the treaty will include all types of nuclear warheads: not only strategic, but also tactical," he explained. At the same time, China is proposed to join the agreement in the future. "Even if Russia agrees to these conditions, Billingsley has clearly stated that the President (US Donald Trump) is considering only a short-term extension, which means perhaps only a year," Kimball said. According to the expert, the US negotiators rejected Russia's proposals to discuss American tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and missile defense at consultations. Washington also does not consider it necessary to involve Great Britain and France in the negotiations if China joins the negotiations.
According to Kimball, if START III expires in February 2021 and there is no other document to replace it, "the parties may enter the arms race for political reasons." "It will be dangerous and overwhelming for them," the expert added.
On October 5, a new round of Russian-American consultations on strategic stability took place in Helsinki. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US President's Special Representative for Arms Control Marshall Billingsley discussed the prospects for cooperation between the two countries in the field of arms control. This was the third meeting between Ryabkov and Billingsley since June. The US negotiator later noted that "important progress" had been made at the Helsinki consultations.
At the same time, the press secretary of the Russian president Dmitry Peskov stressed that the Kremlin would like to see more results from the negotiations with the United States on the extension of the START Treaty. "Indeed, there is practically no reason for optimism so far," he stressed.
Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova, commenting on Billingsley's statement about the achievement of "important progress", said that the dialogue between Russia and the United States on strategic stability has not yet led to tangible progress. "There is still a lot to do to bring the positions closer and search for possible points of contact," she said.
The main topic of the Russian-American dialogue on strategic stability is the issue of extending the START Treaty signed in 2010, which expires in early 2021. Moscow calls on Washington not to delay the resolution of the issue of extending the treaty and characterizes it as the gold standard in the field of disarmament.