The last nuclear arms control agreement between the United States and Russia continues hanging in the balance. Already key aspects to the New START treaty have been rolled back by both sides, such as mutual inspections of nuclear arsenals, but this week it's emerged that the White House is withholding an expected proposal that was due to be given to Russia on nuclear limitations.
Arms control experts have denounced President's Biden's failure to submit the proposal to Moscow, arguing it puts both superpowers on a further collision course which may eventually have catastrophic nuclear consequences.
According to Reuters, "Russia's apparent rejection of the plan last week and what several arms control experts say was a White House failure to formally convey it to Moscow have fueled concerns about whether there would be enough time to reach a new pact."
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association (ACA) watch group, said "There is no excuse that the administration has delayed for nearly two months the formal communication of this proposal to the Kremlin."
He explained that these negotiations would be "difficult in good times and extraordinarily difficult so long as Russia's war on Ukraine continues"—strongly suggesting that New START is slipping away.
As for the Russian side, it has blamed Washington's "hostile" actions related to the Ukraine war. This as last week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov confirmed that Moscow had yet to receive any proposals from the Biden administration on resuming arms control talks.
"I would like to say that we are not ready to and will not conduct this dialogue based on what the Americans are now proposing, as they ignore several key points in this entire configuration," Ryabkov said.
"We must first and foremost make sure that the US policy, which is fundamentally hostile toward Russia, is changing for the better for us," he added. "That is far from happening now and, I would rather say that the opposite is going on."
In March 2021 the two sides renewed New START for a period of five years, and it will expire in February 2026 if it's not continued - an increasing possibility given US-Russia relations have deteriorated so fast over the Ukraine war they are near complete breaking point.
The treaty is intended to limit and reduce nuclear arms on either side, setting a limit of no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 missiles. START I began in 1991, with New START signed under the Obama and Medvedev administrations in 2010 as a successor agreement. Time is running out at a moment the Ukraine proxy war keeps sliding towards escalation.