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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

US Envoy Says Ball 'in Russia's Court' in Arms Talks

By VOA News August 18, 2020

A U.S. arms envoy said Tuesday it is Russia's turn to respond to U.S. terms to extend the landmark New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

"Russia understands our position and what remains to be seen is if there is the political will in Moscow to get this deal done," said Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea. "The ball is now in Russia's court."

Billingslea's comments were made to reporters in a telephone briefing after the latest round of talks in Vienna with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

The treaty limits the U.S. and Russian deployment of strategic nuclear weapons and expires in February.

The U.S. wants to address Russia's build-up of its shorter-range nuclear weapons arsenal that is not covered by the 2010 treaty. Washington also has called for a more robust weapons verification system.

The U.S. has demanded that China be included in any deal replacing the treaty, but Billingslea appeared to soften the request, saying a framework would be developed that "can include China in due course."

Washington pulled out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987 after maintaining Russia deployed a cruise missile in violation of the deal. Russia said because of the missile's range, it was not covered under the INF agreement.

The U.S. is trying to negotiate a deal that covers all warheads. Russia says it has no preconditions.

"Russia stands for an extension of the START treaty but is not ready to pay any price for that," Ryabkov said through his ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna.

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