2 Aug 2022 09:57

Moscow wants to understand whether U.S. indeed ready to negotiate replacement of New START Treaty - Russian delegation

MOSCOW. Aug 2 (Interfax) - Following U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's speech at the 10th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), in which he mentioned President Joe Biden's statement announcing the U.S. administration's readiness to hold talks on a new nuclear arms control framework to replace the New START Treaty when it expires in 2026, the Russian delegation said that Moscow wants to understand whether the U.S. is actually ready for such negotiations or this is just "lofty rhetoric".

"The U.S. President added that negotiation required a willing partner (implying Russia) 'operating in good faith'. We truly wonder if the US side is indeed ready to negotiate or if it is mere 'lofty rhetoric'," according to the material published on the website of the Russian Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

It was the U.S. that unilaterally withdrew from the dialogue on strategic stability with Russia citing the developments around Ukraine as a pretext, the Russian delegation said.

"The U.S. did this even though the goal of that dialogue was to lay down the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures, i.a. with a view to making new relevant agreements. So it is high time Washington made up its mind, stopped rushing around, and told us frankly what it is that they want - escalate the situation in the area of international security or embark on equal negotiations," it said.

The Russian delegation also said in its commentary following Blinken's speech, "In his statement at the 10th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russian forces of using the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant [NPP] as a military base. We strongly reject such allegations. We repeatedly stated that actions of our Armed Forces in no way undermine Ukraine's nuclear security or impede routine operation of the NPP."

"The Zaporizhzhya NPP, which is located in the zone of the Russian special military operation, was taken under guard with the sole purpose - prevent Ukrainian nationalist formations and foreign mercenaries from making use of the current situation in Ukraine in order to carry out a nuclear provocation with most unpredictable consequences. There are no armed formations at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, except for a limited number of military servicemen, that is required to ensure safety and security at the power plant," the Russian delegation said.