The State Department said Tuesday that the US and Russia have agreed to hold talks on the New START nuclear arms control treaty for the first time since the February 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said a meeting of the bilateral consultative commission (BCC), an implementation body established by the New START, is expected to be held in the “near future.”
The talks will likely be focused on resuming inspections under New START that have been paused since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The last time the BCC held a meeting was over a year ago, in October 2021.
“We have agreed that the BCC will meet in the near future under the terms of the New START treaty. The work of the BCC is confidential but we do hope for a constructive session,” Price said.
Price didn’t specify when or where the talks will be held. His comments came after the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that the US and Russia agreed to hold New START talks in the “coming weeks,” likely in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. Such negotiations are typically held in Geneva, but Russia no longer considers Switzerland to be neutral as it has sanctioned Russia.
The New START is the last nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia and limits the deployment of warheads, missiles, and bombers. One of President Biden’s first foreign policy moves was agreeing with Russian President Vladimir Putin to extend New START for five years in January 2021, and now the treaty will expire in February 2026.
The US and Russia were engaged in arms control talks on replacing New START before the invasion of Ukraine, but the US cut off the dialogue in response to Russia’s assault. Throughout the war, Russian officials have said they’re interested in arms control negotiations with the US, but the Biden administration has shown little interest until recently.