Russia accuses US of 'unreasonable and unnecessary escalation' over New START nuclear inspections

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Russia accuses US of 'unreasonable and unnecessary escalation' over New START nuclear inspections

MOSCOW: Moscow accused the United States on Tuesday of unreasonable and unnecessary escalation in announcing an inspection of Russian territory under the New START nuclear weapons reduction pact, knowing that it would not allow Russia to carry out reciprocal inspections.

Russia has said on Monday that it will not allow its weapons to be inspected under the treaty because of travel restrictions imposed by Washington and its allies.

In comments released by the foreign ministry, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the US announcement - delivered to Moscow while a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty NPT review conference was getting under way - had been the trigger for Russia to withdraw its cooperation.

In the current circumstances, such a move looked like an outright provocation, Ryabkov said.

He said Russia had believed that the American side wanted to work out a way to maintain two-way verification efforts despite the difficulties created by US sanctions and travel restrictions in response to Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine.

He said that in Washington, apparently they thought otherwise and moved to an unreasonable and unnecessary escalation. They tried to confront us with a 'fait accompli' and conduct an inspection without prior notice. The New START Treaty took effect in 2011, caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy, and the deployment of land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them. It also provides inspections to make sure both sides are complying.

On August 1, US President Joe Biden said that his administration was ready to negotiate a framework to replace New START, which is due to expire in 2026, if Moscow showed its willingness to resume work on nuclear arms control.