NATO Calls on Moscow to Fulfil Its START Commitments

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NATO countries are concerned about Moscow’s non-compliance with the START-3 treaty. NATO allies have called on Russia to honor its commitments under the treaty for the sake of international stability. NATO allies have called on Russia to adhere to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START, START-3) between Russia and the US for the sake of international stability. “We call on Russia to meet its obligations under the treaty by facilitating START inspections on Russian territory and by returning to the Treaty’s implementation body, the Bilateral Consultative Commission,” the North Atlantic Council said in a statement issued on Friday, February 3. The document notes that the allies of the alliance note with concern Russia’s failure to fulfil legally binding obligations under the START Treaty. “Russia’s refusal to convene a session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC) within the timeframe set by the Treaty and to facilitate US inspection activities on its territory from August 2022 prevents the United States from exercising important rights under the Treaty and undermines the ability of the United States to adequately verify Russia’s compliance with key Treaty restrictions,” NATO allies state, stressing that Washington remains in compliance with the START. The statement states that NATO allies welcomed the February 2021 agreement between the United States and Russia to extend the START Treaty for five years, “but Russia’s failure to comply undermines the viability of the Treaty,” which contributes to international stability. Russia threatens to withdraw from START in 2026 START-3 (also known as New START) entered into force on February 5, 2011. It provides for reductions in deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550, intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers to 700, and deployed and non-deployed launchers to 800. This is the only remaining element of the nuclear arms control treaty system between the United States and Russia, which together have about 90 per cent of all nuclear warheads in the world. From 2011 to 2020, the parties conducted 328 inspections of each other’s nuclear facilities to verify compliance with these arrangements. In 2020-2021 inspections were not conducted by mutual agreement, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2021, Biden and Putin extended the agreement until 2026. In August 2022, Moscow refused US inspections of its nuclear facilities, explaining this by travel restrictions that Washington and its allies imposed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A bilateral consultative commission on START-3 was due to meet in Cairo in late 2022. However, Moscow unilaterally cancelled it. In late January, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Russia was ready to withdraw from the agreement in 2026, after which the United States accused Russia of not fulfilling its obligations under the treaty.