US extends nuclear arms treaty with Russia

Antony Blinken speaks during his confirmation hearing to be Secretary of State before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. By Jennifer Hansler, CNN

(CNN) -- The United States has extended a key nuclear arms control treaty with Russia for five years, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday.

"Extending the New START Treaty makes the United States, U.S. allies and partners, and the world safer. An unconstrained nuclear competition would endanger us all," Blinken said.

The treaty -- the only one left regulating the two largest nuclear arsenals in the world -- was set to expire on February 5. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law extending the treaty for five years on Friday.

In a statement, Blinken said the extension of the New START Treaty allows for verifiable limits on Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers until February 5, 2026 and the treaty's "verification regime enables us to monitor Russian compliance with the treaty and provides us with greater insight into Russia's nuclear posture, including through data exchanges and onsite inspections that allow U.S. inspectors to have eyes on Russian nuclear forces and facilities."

"We will also pursue arms control to reduce the dangers from China's modern and growing nuclear arsenal," Blinken added. "The United States is committed to effective arms control that enhances stability, transparency and predictability while reducing the risks of costly, dangerous arms races."

The top US diplomat noted that "just as we engage the Russian Federation in ways that advance American interests, like seeking a five-year extension of New START and broader discussions to reduce the likelihood of crisis and conflict, we remain clear eyed about the challenges that Russia poses to the United States and the world."

"Even as we work with Russia to advance U.S. interests, so too will we work to hold Russia to account for adversarial actions as well as its human rights abuses, in close coordination with our allies and partners," he said.

This story is breaking and will be updated

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