By Shannon Bugos
Russia unilaterally called off a meeting with the United States regarding implementation concerns with the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), a day before the two sides planned to convene in Cairo.
Moscow informed Washington on Nov. 28 of its decision to “unilaterally postpone” the meeting of the New START Bilateral Consultative Commission, which handles treaty implementation and verification concerns.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attributed the decision to technical concerns, such as Russian claims of a U.S. failure to implement the treaty fully, and political reasons, including the war in Ukraine. Arms control is not “immune” to world events, he said on Nov. 29. “This is not a cancellation, but a postponement.”
The U.S. State Department reiterated its commitment to rescheduling the meeting as soon as possible.
One discussion topic would have been the nearly three-year pause in the treaty’s on-site inspections of nuclear weapon-related facilities, a hallmark of the New START verification regime. The two countries paused the inspections in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. On August 8, Russia further delayed resuming inspections by blocking treaty visits to its facilities.
New START is the last treaty limiting the U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals and provides unparalleled insight into Russian nuclear forces.