US to stop exchanging nuclear data with Russia after Moscow’s treaty suspension

The White House announced on Tuesday (28 March) that the United States has informed Russia that it will stop exchanging some data on its nuclear forces in response to Moscow’s refusal to do so. The White House described this as a reaction to Russia’s suspension of participation in the New START nuclear arms treaty.

The remaining piece of US-Russian arms control is in jeopardy due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suspension of the treaty, even though he hasn’t officially withdrew from it.

Putin suspended the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) with the United States on 21 February, accusing it of turning the war into a global conflict by arming Ukraine, and ordering the boosting of Russia’s nuclear forces.

On February 21, Putin terminated the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with the United States, accusing it of arming Ukraine in order to escalate the conflict and directing a buildup of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

Almost 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads are held by the United States and Russia collectively, which is enough to wipe out the globe numerous times.

According to international law, the United States has the right to take proportionate and reversible countermeasures in response to Russia’s violations of the New START Treaty in order to persuade Russia to resume compliance with its obligations, according to a National Security Council spokesperson.

“That means that because Russia’s claimed suspension of the New START Treaty is legally invalid, the US is legally permitted to withhold our biannual data update in response to Russia’s breaches,” the spokesperson added.

“Russia has not been in full compliance and refused to share data which we … agreed in New START to share biannually,” John Kirby, the National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, told reporters in a conference call.

“Since they have refused to be in compliance … we have decided to likewise not share that data,” he added. “We would prefer to be able to do (this) but it requires them being willing to as well.”

The New START deal, which was signed in 2010 and is set to expire in 2026, places a limit on the number of strategic nuclear warheads that each nation may deploy. Its provisions limit the number of strategic nuclear warheads Moscow and Washington may deploy to 1,550, as well as the number of land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers used to deliver them, to 700.

The Biden administration’s first move in terms of foreign policy was to ask Russia to extend the New START weapons control deal by five years.

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