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U.S. and Russia appear poised to extend nuclear treaty that expires early next year

Both nations on Tuesday announced they are willing to extend the agreement.

Updated: October 20, 2020 - 3:09pm

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The U.S. and Russia say they are ready to freeze their respective arsenal of nuclear warheads and extend the New START agreement that expires early next year.

Both nations on Tuesday announced they are willing to extend the agreement.

"Russia proposes to extend the START Treaty by one year and is ready, together with the United States, to make a political commitment to 'freeze' the number of nuclear warheads held by the parties for this period," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation said in an Oct. 20 statement.

The State Department quickly embraced the gesture from Moscow.

"We appreciate the Russian Federation’s willingness to make progress on the issue of nuclear arms control," department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a brief statement.

"The United States is prepared to meet immediately to finalize a verifiable agreement," Ortagus also said. "We expect Russia to empower its diplomats to do the same."

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is a decade-old agreement that was signed in Prague by Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, when they were presidents of their respective countries. The agreement sets a cap on each nation's deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers, and has mechanisms to verify compliance. 

The 2010 treaty expires in February 2021 and is the only intact nuclear arms control measure between Russia and the United States. During the one-year extension period, the two countries are expected to re-negotiate a follow on treaty.

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