Deputy Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, Vladimir Leontyev said on Friday November 1st that Russia and the United States will not have time to negotiate a fully-fledged substitute for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) before it expires, the Russian news agency Tass has reported.
New START is the last major nuclear arms control treaty between the world's two biggest nuclear powers and limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy.
Vladimir Leontyev said that the two countries had been holding talks on New START for nearly a year, although this was not a wholly new agreement but "a simplified version of a previous treaty.
“There are no new principal issues in it. However, now some issues arise, which require very serious preliminary groundwork at an expert level,” Leontyev said.
The issue has been in the spotlight since Washington pulled out, in August, of another landmark strategic arms accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). This accord was negotiated at the time by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500-5,500km), reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.
“We believe that the new systems, technologies and weapons can and should be discussed, but this requires appropriate platforms. As for the US, this can be discussed within the framework of the strategic dialogue,” Leontyev said. Certain questions existed, he continued, regarding three types of new weapons such as the multipurpose ocean system ‘Poseidon’, missile system ‘Kinzhal’, and the unlimited range nuclear-powered cruise missile ‘Burevestnik’.
"There is no chance of including these systems in the treaty whatever the political will on either side, because the treaty concerns only inter-continental ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. If anything, else is to be included, half of the treaty will have to be rewritten and official amendments made," Leontyev said.
New START was signed on April 8th, 2010 in Prague and came into force on February 5th, 2011 for a period of ten years, unless it is replaced by a new treaty before 2021. This treaty is the replacement for the 1991 START I treaty, which expired in December 2009. New START consists of a main treaty text with a preamble and sixteen articles. It may be prolonged by no more than five years, up to 2026, by mutual consent.