US Ready to Finalise Deal on Nuclear Arms Control, State Dep't Says

US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus during a press conference at the State Department in Washington US

The sole remaining US-Russia nuclear arms control deal may get a last-moment extension after all, but everything now depends on what the US State Department means when it says warhead caps need to be "verifiable".

In the statement, Russian Federation said it hopes that if Washington agrees on Putin's proposal, the time gained from the extension of the treaty can be used to conduct comprehensive bilateral negotiations on future control of nuclear arms and other issues regarding strategic stability. The politically binding deal now under negotiation between US and Russian officials, however, wouldn't specifically mention China, officials on both sides have said.

The two countries seek a way to keep the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) alive past its expiration date in February 2021.

Washington and Moscow signed the New START in 2010.

Asked last week about the possibility of a deal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters, "There is no such prospect".

But with U.S. President Donald Trump trailing in polls for next month's election, his administration has indicated it would support preserving the treaty.

The U.S. isn't demanding that such a system be in place before New START is extended in February, the senior Trump administration official said.

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Moscow opposes a proposal by Washington for a new framework that would cover tactical nuclear weapons in addition to strategic warheads. But it wants to hold technical discussions by that time on how such an approach could be implemented, which would be especially important if the warhead cap is carried forward into a future treaty, as the Trump administration insists.

And it includes verification measures, such as movement notifications and on-site inspections.

Marshall Billingslea, the chief US negotiator, briefed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation diplomats in a video conference on Tuesday on prospects for an agreement.

Biden, in an essay earlier this year in Foreign Affairs, said if elected president he would use an extension "as a foundation for new arms control arrangements".

An extension would mark a rare bright spot in the fraught U.S.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited the United States to extend the New START by one year without any conditions amid the looming expiration of the deal in February. It said the extension would give the two sides time to discuss nuclear arms control in greater depth. The United States has called for China to be included in a broader treaty that would replace New START.

Citing Russian violations, the USA earlier this year pulled out of the multilateral Open Skies Treaty, which sets parameters on military surveillance flights.

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