White House rejects Putin response to US arms control offer

White House rejects Putin response to US arms control offer

The U.S. and Russia on Friday rejected each other’s proposals for potentially salvaging the last remaining legal constraint on their strategic nuclear forces. President Vladimir Putin called for an unconditional extension of the soon-to-expire New START treaty, and the White House called that a “non-starter.”

Adding an edginess to the diplomatic clash, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, suggested the Russians rethink their stance “before a costly arms race ensues.” Administration officials have previously alluded to building up nuclear forces if the treaty is abandoned, although the Pentagon has its hands full paying for a one-for-one replacement of older nuclear weapons.

In the closing days of his reelection bid, Trump has looked for ways to boost his foreign policy record, and although he says he favors nuclear arms control, he has called New START flawed and unfavorable to the U.S. Last year he withdrew the U.S. from a separate nuclear arms treaty with Russia, and he waited until this year to begin engaging the Russians on the future of the New START deal.

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