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US and Russia ready to freeze number of nuclear warheads

USA : The US was ready to meet with Russia “immediately” and finalize an agreement on nuclear weapons, the State Department said on Tuesday.“We expect Russia to empower its diplomats to do the same,” the US officials said in a brief statement. The two countries seek a way to keep the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) alive past its expiration date in February 2021. The deal limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles, and bombers. With both Moscow and Washington leaving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) last year, the New START is the only major accord on nuclear weapons still in place between the rival powers.

Moscow does not want more US demands
On Tuesday, Russia shifted its stance and said it would agree to the bilateral freeze. However, the Russian foreign ministry said the pact will be possible “strictly and exclusively with the understanding that the ‘freeze’ will not be accompanied by any additional requirements” from the US side.Last week, Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov said the US was pushing to go back to deep verification measures that were in place in 1990s, when the two countries could send their inspectors to the nuclear production facilities of the other side. He said that these inspections “are not suitable in modern conditions.” Russia has more nuclear warheads than any other country in the world — 6,370 according to the data provided by the Federation of American Scientists. The US ranks second with 5,800, while China is in third place with 320 warheads.

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