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US official: Biden proposing 5-year extension of nuke treaty with Russia

The Biden administration is proposing to Russia a five-year extension of the New START treaty limiting the number of US and Russian strategic nuclear weapons, US officials say.

The proposal was being communicated to Russian officials, says one official, who speaks on condition of anonymity to discuss a matter not yet publicly announced by the administration. A second US official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirms the proposal but offers no details.

The proposal was reported first by The Washington Post.

Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan plans to convey the extension proposal to Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, on Thursday afternoon, the official says.

The treaty is set to expire February 5 and is the last remaining agreement constraining US and Russian nuclear weapons. Signed in 2010 by US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, it limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads.

Former US president Donald Trump had been highly critical of the deal, asserting that it put the United States at a disadvantage. His administration waited until last year to engage Russia in substantive talks on the treaty’s future. Trump insisted that China be added to the treaty, but Beijing rejected the idea out of hand.

Biden, who indicated during the campaign that he favored extending New START, is not proposing any alterations, the US official said. Thus it appeared likely that Moscow would be amenable to an extension.

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