The United States and Russia edged toward an arms control deal Tuesday after Moscow proposed freezing the number of nuclear warheads on each side and extending the arms control treaty known as New START for one year.
The breakthrough comes days after the two sides appeared to have nearly given up on finding a compromise and as President Trump urges his aides to bring him foreign policy wins in the final stretch of the U.S. presidential election.
Russia’s foreign ministry put forward the proposal on Tuesday, and within hours the State Department expressed gratitude for the offer and requested an immediate meeting of negotiators.
It’s not a dramatic breakthrough by any means, but it would avoid the total collapse of the U.S.-Russian arms control system and would give Washington and Moscow time to continue to engage in further complex and lengthy talks
The Trump administration’s arms-control envoy, Marshall Billingslea, has earlier insisted that China participate in talks. He wanted any replacement treaty to include China and to encompass all of Russia’s nuclear weapons — not just the “strategic” weapons covered under New START but also its sizable stockpile of smaller, “tactical” nuclear weapons that fall outside the treaty. Billingslea also insisted that verification mechanisms for any follow-on treaty be strengthened.
Russia rejected those fresh demands, and China has refused to take part in negotiations.
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