NATO welcomes US intention to extend New START with Russia
Published: Jan 23, 2021 10:44 AM

Russian RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile systems are seen on the Red Square for the Victory Day parade in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2019. File photo:Xinhua

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Friday welcomed US President Joe Biden's newly announced intention to extend by five years a bilateral treaty with Russia on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which sets limits for both countries to deploy up to 1,550 nuclear warheads, is to expire in February, and the US and Russian nuclear arsenals would be unchecked for the first time since 1972 if no extension is negotiated.

"I welcome President Biden's announcement and his intention to seek an extension of the New START treaty," NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference with President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili during her visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels.

"I have stated repeatedly that we should not end up in a situation where we have no agreement, no limitation whatsoever on the number of nuclear warheads," Stoltenberg added.

Also on Friday, the Kremlin said it welcomes the US proposal, adding that everything will depend on the details of the proposal.

"Russia stands in favor of the preservation of the New START and for the extension of this treaty, where a time lag could be used for conducting appropriate negotiations," the TASS news agency reported, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

It is significant to take each other's concerns into consideration, Peskov said.

The New START, signed in 2010, remains the only nuclear arms control pact in force between the two nuclear superpowers.

The two sides failed to reach an agreement last year as the former US government under Donald Trump rejected a Russian proposal to extend the treaty for at least one year without conditions.