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Russia postponed arms-control talks with the United States this week, a worrying delay amid tense relations between the two nuclear powers following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, NBC News reported.
The two nations were set to meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo Tuesday with the aim of resuming annual inspections as is required under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).
The treaty is the last major arms control pact between the two powers: It puts a cap on the number of nuclear warheads and bombs at 1,550 for each side, and includes provisions for on-site inspections to verify compliance, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The US and Russia mutually agreed to suspend inspections in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. But after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, negotiators from both nuclear powers have yet to meet to discuss the arms-control arrangements.
New START is due to expire in early 2026.
Meanwhile, relations between Moscow and Washington have reached their lowest point in decades since the invasion began in February.
Tuesday’s talks would have been the first meeting of the treaty’s Bilateral Consultative Commission, which analyzes issues relating to the treaty’s implementation.
Many had hoped the summit would have served as a venue for the two countries to demonstrate their will to maintain open lines of communication and pursue weapons control accords despite the conflict in Ukraine.
Even so, NATO’s former deputy secretary-general, Rose Gottemoeller, said that the latest delay could have happened for “technical reasons,” noting that both sides are laying out new inspection methods following the pandemic.