Russia, US exchange documents to extend nuclear pact

Full Screen
1 / 3

Russian Defense Ministry Press Service

FILE - In this file photo taken from a video distributed by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, a rocket launches from missile system as part of a ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile test launched from the Plesetsk facility in northwestern Russia. Russia and the United States exchanged documents Tuesday Jan 26, 2021, to extend the New START nuclear treaty, their last remaining arms control pact, the Kremlin said. The Kremlin readout of a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin said they voiced satisfaction with the move. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File)

MOSCOW – Russia and the United States traded documents Tuesday to extend their last remaining nuclear arms control treaty days before it is due to expire, the Kremlin said.

A Kremlin readout of a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin said the two leaders voiced satisfaction with the exchange of diplomatic notes about extending the New START treaty.

“In the nearest days, the parties will complete the necessary procedures that will ensure further functioning of this important international legal nuclear arms control tool," the Kremlin said.

The pact's extension doesn't require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers must ratify the move. Top members of the Kremlin-controlled parliament said they would fast-track the issue and complete the necessary steps to extend the treaty this week.

New START expires on Feb. 5. After taking office last week, Biden proposed extending the treaty for five years, and the Kremlin quickly welcomed the offer.

The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance.

Biden indicated during the campaign that he favored the preservation of the New START treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as U.S. vice president.

Russia has long proposed to prolong the pact without any conditions or changes, but the Trump administration waited until last year to start talks and made the extension contingent on a set of demands. The talks stalled, and months of bargaining have failed to narrow differences.