Nuclear War: Russia Kicks US Inspectors Out Of Weapon Arsenals

By Rachel Morris | Tuesday, 09 August 2022 22:45
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Russia on Monday announced a halt on U.S. inspections of its nuclear storage under a crucial arms regulation treaty, claiming that Western sanctions have hindered similar tours of U.S. facilities by Russian monitors.

The measure suggests unstable connections between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s military action in Ukraine and stresses the first time the Kremlin stopped U.S. inspections under the New START nuclear arms control treaty.

In declaring the freeze on U.S. inspections, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the sanctions on Russian flights imposed by the U.S. and its allies, visa limitations and other obstacles effectively have made it impossible for Russian military experts to visit U.S. nuclear weapons sites, giving the U.S. “unilateral advantages.”v

The Biden administration had no immediate public response to the move. Ankit Panda, an expert on nuclear policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, called Russia's action “a cynical attempt to pressure the United States” over penalties the West has imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

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“They basically are using New START inspections — something the U.S. cares about — to force Washington's hands,” Panda said.

Russia claimed that U.S. inspectors have not encountered such hardships, even though Moscow has closed its skies to the European Union’s 27 nations, the U.K. and Canada — though not the U.S. — after the start of the conflict in Ukraine in late February. Russia said at the time that exceptions would be made for diplomatic missions and humanitarian aid deliveries.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed that the freeze is quick and allowed by the contract “in exceptional cases.”

It stressed that Russia “highly values” the New START, adding that reviews could continue after the problems hampering them are solved.

“Russia is fully committed to abiding by all of the provisions of New START, which we see as a crucial tool for maintaining international security and stability,” the ministry said, urging a “thorough study of all existing problems in this area, the successful settlement of which would allow a return to full-scale application as soon as possible of all verification mechanisms of the Treaty.”

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“After the problems regarding the resumption of inspection activities under the Treaty are resolved, we will immediately lift the exemptions from inspection activities that we have announced,” the ministry said.

The New START treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages comprehensive on-site inspections to verify compliance.

Just days before the New START was due to expire in February 2021, Russia and the United States agreed to prolong it for another five years.

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