In keeping with Blinken, the US is extending its arms management treaty with Russia by 5 years

© Reuters. The new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a first press conference at the State Department in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday extended the new START arms control treaty with Russia for five years to ensure verifiable borders for Russia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

President Joe Biden's administration said it would request the extension soon after Biden took office last month. The treaty, which expires on February 5, limits the US and Russia to using no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads each.

It is the last major pact of its kind between Russia and the United States.

"The extension of the new START contract will ensure that we will have verifiable limits for Russian ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers by February 5, 2026," Blinken said in a statement.

New START not only limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons deployed to the lowest level in decades, it also limits the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers they can deliver.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on January 29 that extends New START for five years. Russia said the extension will take effect if the two sides exchange diplomatic notes.

The Russian Foreign Ministry welcomed the US move on Wednesday, saying the enlargement "guarantees the necessary level of predictability and transparency in this area while strictly observing a balance of interests."

The expiration of the treaty would end all restrictions on the use of strategic nuclear warheads in the US and Russia and on the associated delivery systems and possibly spark a new arms race, according to policy experts.

"Especially in times of tension, verifiable borders for Russia's nuclear weapons with intercontinental range are of crucial importance," said Blinken.

"The extension of the new START treaty makes the US, US allies and partners and the world safer. Unrestricted nuclear competition would put us all at risk."

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