The United States has officially extended its last remaining nuclear treaty with Russia for five years.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the extension of the New START treaty in a statement Wednesday morning, two days before the agreement was set to expire.
“Especially during times of tension, verifiable limits on Russia’s intercontinental-range nuclear weapons are vitally important,” Blinken said. “Extending the New START Treaty makes the United States, U.S. allies and partners, and the world safer. An unconstrained nuclear competition would endanger us all.”
Background: New START, which was negotiated by the Obama administration, places caps on U.S. and Russian “strategic” nuclear weapons.
The Trump administration wanted to replace it with a treaty that included China, as well as Russia’s so-called tactical nuclear weapons. But China rejected joining the talks, and Russia wanted a clean five-year extension.
Shortly after taking office, President Biden announced he would pursue that clean five-year extension, which Russian President Vladimir Putin quickly agreed to.
What’s next: In his statement Wednesday, Blinken said the United States will work over the next five years to extend the parameters of the treaty to address all of Russia’s nuclear weapons while also pursuing arms control with China to reduce its nuclear arsenal.
“President Biden has made clear that the New START Treaty extension is only the beginning of our efforts to address 21st century security challenges,” Blinken said. “The United States is committed to effective arms control that enhances stability, transparency and predictability while reducing the risks of costly, dangerous arms races.”
Allies happy: In its own statement Wednesday morning, NATO’s North Atlantic Council said it “fully supports” the U.S. agreement with Russia.
“NATO allies believe the New START treaty contributes to international stability, and allies again express their strong support for its continued implementation and for early and active dialogue on ways to improve strategic stability,” the statement said.
But the alliance also warned that extending the treaty does not eliminate threats posed by Russia.
“Even as the United States engages Russia in ways that advance our collective interests, NATO remains clear-eyed about the challenges Russia poses. We will work in close consultation to address Russia’s aggressive actions, which constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” the council said in a statement.