Biden Admin Blames Russia For ‘Unilaterally’ Cancelling Nuclear Arms Talks

(Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The Biden administration blamed Russia for the breakdown of bilateral arms control negotiations Monday.

The Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC) was scheduled to re-start talks Tuesday in Egypt and go into the following week, at which the two sides would negotiate details of inspecting each other’s military facilities. Monday, the State Department said Russia “unilaterally postponed” the meeting with no reason given for the delay.

The BCC facilitates inspections of military sites as part of the New START treaty between the U.S. and Russia, which entered into force in 2011 and was extended for five more years in 2021.

New START limits nuclear weapons proliferation within the two countries and is the successor to the START I treaty.

“The United States is ready to reschedule at the earliest possible date as resuming inspections is a priority for sustaining the treaty as an instrument of stability,” the State Department said, according to the Associated Press. Russian state media reported the postponement but the Foreign Ministry in Moscow offered no details on the reasoning for the postponement.

On paper, the BCC is not meant to be tied to the ongoing invasion being carried out by Russia in Ukraine. State Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier this month that the BCC would not discuss the conflict, and the continued work of the body was meant to show that the two nations are committed to arms control cooperation in spite of other issues.

However, the two sides haven’t talked since October 2021, and Russia suspended all U.S. inspections of its facilities in response to Washington’s support of Ukraine. Inspections had previously been paused on both sides since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (RELATED: REPORT: Belarus Foreign Minister Dies Suddenly Before Meeting Russian Counterpart)

“We’ve made clear to Russia that measures imposed as a result of Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine don’t prevent Russians and Russian inspectors from conducting New START treaty inspections in the United States,” Price had previously said. “So we hope that the meeting of the BCC will allow us to continue with those inspections.