Putin says Russia prepared to drop START nuclear weapons treaty


ST. PETERSBURG -- President Vladimir Putin said Thursday (June 6) Russia was prepared to drop a nuclear weapons agreement treaty with the United States.

Speaking to heads of global news agencies in St. Petersburg, Putin said Russia was ready to leave the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which caps the number of nuclear warheads well below Cold War limits.

"If no one feels like extending the agreement -- New START -- well, we won't do it then," Putin said.

US President Barack Obama and Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty in Prague in 2010. It expires in 2021.

Together with another agreement known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, New START is considered a centrepiece of superpower arms control.

After years of formal complaints and attempts at diplomatic resolution, the United States and NATO allies concluded last year that Russia "openly violates" the INF treaty. Moscow suspended its participation in the treaty in March.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US President Donald Trump have called for START to be expanded to include China, which has already rejected the idea.

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Treaties with Russia are not worth the paper they're written on.