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A White House spokesman said today, “Tuesday,” that the United States has informed Russia that it will withhold some data on its nuclear weapons, explaining that this is in response to Moscow’s suspension of its participation in the New START treaty to limit nuclear weapons.
And while Russian President Vladimir Putin has not formally withdrawn from the treaty, which limits both sides’ dispersed strategic nuclear arsenals, his suspension of participation on February 21 raises anxiety in Western countries about the last remaining pillar of arms control between the United States and Russia.
The United States and Russia possess approximately 90 percent of the nuclear warheads in the world, which is enough to destroy the planet several times over.
“Under international law, the United States has the right to respond to Russia’s violation of New START with revocable and proportionate countermeasures in order to bring Russia back into compliance with its obligations,” a spokesperson for the US National Security Council said.
“This means that because Russia’s suspension of New START is legally void, the United States is legally allowed to withhold semi-annual updating of our data in response to Russia’s violations,” he added.
A senior US administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the United States had offered to maintain joint data sharing with the Russians but they had refused, adding that the United States hoped to resume information sharing in the future.
The New START treaty, signed in 2010 and due to expire in 2026, limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads the two countries can deploy. Under its terms, Moscow and Washington may deploy no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads and 700 land- and submarine-launched missiles, as well as the bombers that launch them.