The Biden administration is blaming Russia for postponing meetings to discuss the nuclear arms agreement between the two countries that were scheduled to begin in Egypt on Tuesday, with a State Department spokesman saying the decision was made “unilaterally” by Russia.
“The United States and the Russian Federation were set to convene a meeting of the New START Treaty’s Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC) in Cairo, Egypt, to discuss New START Treaty implementation on Tuesday, November 29. The Russian side informed the United States that Russia has unilaterally postponed the meeting and stated that it would propose new dates,” the spokesperson said.
The US “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 spokesperson added.
Russia did not provide a reason to the US for postponing the talks, a senior State Department official told CNN. Moscow informed the US of its decision in “recent days,” the official said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry told Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti that the talks had been postponed, but did not give a reason for the delay.
“The session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission on the Russian-American START Treaty, previously scheduled in Cairo (November 29 – December 6), will not take place on the dates indicated. The event has been postponed to a later date,” the ministry said.
A date for the rescheduled talks remains unclear.
The New START Treaty puts limits on the number of deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons that both the US and Russia can have. Under the treaty, Washington and Moscow conduct inspections of each other’s weapons sites, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, inspections have been halted since 2020.
The treaty was last extended in early 2021 for five years.
Earlier this month, Biden administration officials viewed it as a positive development that the New START talks were happening, particularly as they were set to occur in the wake of Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling toward Ukraine.