A US official sharply criticized Russia on Monday for suspending its participation in a agreement to limit nuclear weaponsbut still affirmed that Washington will continue to work with Moscow to continue implementing it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last week that Russia would suspend its participation in the treaty. New STARTaccording to which Russia and the United States must maintain regular communication on the status of their arsenals, maintain on-site inspections and abide by caps for deployed and non-deployed warheads.
“Russia once again shows the world that it is not a responsible nuclear powerBonnie Jenkins, the undersecretary of state for arms control, said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament, an international forum affiliated with the UN.
Russia has not withdrawn from the deal, which remains in force until 2026, but Putin has warned that Russia cannot accept US inspections of its nuclear facilities as Washington and its NATO allies seek Russia’s defeat in Ukraine. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the country would continue to abide by limits on nuclear weapons and would continue to notify the United States of ballistic missile test launches.
Inspections were paused in 2020 due to the pandemic. Discussions were to be held to resume in November last year, but Moscow canceled the meetings.
Jenkins later told reporters that the United States has not done a full analysis of the repercussions of the Russian decision, but “we are not seeing any evidence that Russia is violating the agreement.”
“We remain ready to work positively with Russia to fully implement the New START agreement, based on the best interests of both parties,” the official added.
The agreement limits the arsenals of the two countries to a maximum of 1,550 warheads deployed on each side, a reduction of almost 30% compared to the previous limit, set in 2002. It also limits the number of launchers and heavy bombers to a maximum than 800, still enough volume to destroy human life on Earth.
Putin’s announcement about the suspension of the agreement came just before the first anniversary of the sending Russian troops to Ukraine. The Russian leader has called the conflict a necessary campaign to fight alleged Western designs to weaken Russia and has warned of the growing threat of nuclear war.
What is Russia’s nuclear arsenal like?
Although determining how many weapons Russia has is a difficult question to answer, the country is believed to have the largest armory in the worldfollowed by the United States.
The United States has a good count of Russia’s strategic weapons, because Washington and Moscow are required to disclose this under the terms of the new STARTthe last remaining arms control treaty and one that Putin has just suspended.
All nuclear weapons figures are estimates, but according to the Federation of American ScientistsRussia has 5,977 nuclear warheadsthe devices that trigger a nuclear explosion, although this includes about 1,500 who are retired and ready to be dismantled. Other estimates speak of 6,375 warheads, compared to 5,800 in the US.
Of the approximately remaining 4,500most are considered strategic nuclear weapons, which are the longest-range missiles that can cross oceans and threaten rival superpowers. Experts estimate that about 1,500 Russian warheads are currently “deployed”, that is, located on missile and bomber bases or on submarines at sea.
the rest are tactical weapons, smaller and less destructive. Some are designed for use by the navy, some for use by the air force, and some for use by the military, either in short-range surface-to-surface missiles or surface-to-air air defenses, but they are not pre-deployed. . According to experts, these are the ones that Russia could at some point use the Ukraine.
US intelligence estimates that Russia has between 1,000 and 2,000 of this tactical weapons. For its part, after careful study, the Federation of American Scientists estimated 1912 tactical weaponsalthough he warned that this could include retired warheads.
With information from AP
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