WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States has told Russia it will not exchange data on its nuclear forces, a White House spokesperson said on Tuesday, describing the change as a response to Moscow’s decision to suspend participation in the New START nuclear arms treaty.
“Under international law, the United States has the right to respond to Russia’s breaches of the New START Treaty by taking proportionate and reversible countermeasures in order to induce Russia to return to compliance with its obligations,” a spokesperson for the National Security Council said.
“That means that because Russia’s claimed suspension of the New START Treaty is legally invalid, the U.S. is legally permitted to withhold our biannual data update in response to Russia’s breaches,” the spokesperson added.
On Feb. 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was suspending its participation in the New START treaty with the United States that limits the two sides’ deployed strategic nuclear arsenals.
Putin stressed that Russia was not withdrawing from the treaty but the suspension further imperils the last remaining pillar of arms control between the United States and Russia, which between them hold nearly 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads – enough to destroy the planet many times over.
Signed in 2010 and due to expire in 2026, the treaty caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the countries can deploy. Under its terms, Moscow and Washington may deploy no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads and 700 land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Jasper Ward and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Rami Ayyub and Sandra Maler)
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