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Russia and the US agreed this week to hold talks on the single existing nuclear treaty between the two countries, even as the war in Ukraine continues and Moscow has threatened to deploy tactical warheads, CNN reported.

The talks will center on the New START treaty, which limits all deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons by Russia and the US. The treaty – the only one left regulating the world’s two greatest nuclear arsenals – was extended by five years in February 2021.

The treaty limits both countries to deploying 1,550 nuclear warheads on delivery systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and bombers.

Under the pact, both countries must also allow on-site inspections of their nuclear weapons-related facilities by the other. Those inspections, however, paused in March 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. Also, Russia rebuffed US efforts to resume them earlier this year.

The upcoming negotiations are expected to touch on the issue of inspections, officials noted.

The talks come as diplomatic relations between Russia and the US have reached an all-time low following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Amid battlefield losses and biting international sanctions, one US intelligence assessment suggested that Russian military officials are discussing the potential use of a tactical warhead on the battlefield in Ukraine.

But analysts and intelligence officials noted that some of the conversations may be taken out of context and don’t indicate that Russia is planning to use nuclear weapons.

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