WASHINGTON – The United States and Russia will soon hold talks on resuming suspended nuclear arms control inspections that had been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic and languished after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the State Department said Tuesday.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said negotiations on the inspections would take place “in the near future” under the terms of the New START treaty and would not include any discussion of the conflict in Ukraine.
He would not give a date or a venue for the talks but other officials suggested they would be held before the end of the year, likely in Egypt.
The meeting of the treaty’s so-called “Bilateral Consultative Commission” will be the first in more than a year, and is intended to show that the two countries remain committed to arms control and keeping lines of communication open despite other differences.
“We believe deeply around the world in the transformative power and the importance of diplomacy and dialogue,” Price told reporters in Washington. He stressed that the Biden administration was “realistic” about what the meeting could accomplish.
“It demonstrates our commitment to risk reduction, to strategic stability, something we remain committed to, something that is profoundly in the bilateral interest, and we hope the upcoming meeting is constructive,” he said.
Inspections of U.S. and Russian military sites under the New START treaty were paused by both sides because of the spread of coronavirus in March 2020. The committee last met in October, 2021, but Russia then unilaterally suspended its cooperation with the treaty's inspection provisions in August to protest U.S. support for Ukraine.
“We’ve made clear to Russia that measures imposed as a result of Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine don’t prevent Russians and Russian inspectors from conducting New START treaty inspections in the United States,” Price said. “So we hope that the meeting of the BCC will allow us to continue with those inspections.”