US Officials Express Doubts on Future of Nuke Pact with Russia

Russian arms control violations and other malign activities are eroding the confidence and trust required to extend a critical nuclear agreement between Washington and Moscow that expires in 2021, U.S. officials told lawmakers on Tuesday.

“Russia continues to violate a series of arms control obligations that undermine the trust of the United States can place in treaties, including some that have served U.S. and allied security interests for years,” Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Andrea Thomson said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“The bottom line is that arms control with Russia is troubled because the Russian Federation apparently believes it need only abide by the agreements that suit it,” Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy David Trachtenberg said.

Negotiated by the former Obama administration, the New START treaty has limited America’s and Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenals since going into effect in 2011. U.S. officials said discussions have been held with their Russian counterparts on possibly extending or renegotiating the 10-year pact, but that Russian violations of an earlier accord between the United States and the former Soviet Union are a sticking point.

“Russia has persisted in its violation of the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] treaty through its … ground missile program,” Thompson said. “This administration has utilized diplomatic, economic, and military measures to pressure Russia to return to compliance. The lack of any meaningful steps by Russia to do so diminishes our hope that it wants to preserve the INF treaty.”

Russia also accuses the United States of INF treaty violations. By contrast, both sides are believed to be adhering to New START’s provisions.

Asked whether the United States would extend New START, renegotiate the pact, or allow it to expire, Thompson said, “No decision has been made at this time.”

Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho applauded the Trump administration’s skepticism about Moscow’s intentions and apparent willingness to walk away from New START.

Source : VOA

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US: Russia ‘Cheating’ on North Korea Sanctions Implementation

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Russia of “cheating” on international sanctions against North Korea, saying Moscow is undermining U.S. efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

“Russian corruption is like a virus,” Haley told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Monday. “It is impeding our ability to achieve complete denuclearization in North Korea.”

Haley said she was upset about a report from the independent experts who monitor U.N. sanctions implementation. The United States had provided evidence to the experts of Russian violations, but the report presented to council members omitted the Russian violations.

Source : VOA

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New US Sanctions on Russia Come Into Effect

New U.S. sanctions against Russia over a nerve agent attack in Britain come into effect Monday.

The Kremlin said it would review the sanctions in full before considering a possible response, but it would act in Russia’s best interests.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says the new sanctions will only make dialogue more difficult, Reuters reported.

The sanctions would terminate some financial assistance and arms sales to Russia, as well as deny the country credit and prohibit the export of security-sensitive goods and technology.

U.S. officials accuse the Kremlin of violating international law, saying the Russian government was behind the poisoning in Britain of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter Yulia. Both were hospitalized and treated for a nerve-agent attack.

Source : VOA

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