New START on the Ropes

Russia threatened to bar US nuclear inspectors from verifying its nuclear arsenal complies with the New START in retaliation for severing military ties, reported the state news agency RIA Novosti. The Pentagon halted all military-to-military cooperation with Russia in response to Russian military operations in Ukraine last week. Under the New START agreement, both countries are permitted 18 on-site verification inspections of deployed and non-deployed weapons and delivery vehicles, making the Kremlin’s proposed ban a direct treaty violation. House lawmakers raised concerns that Russian weapons testing already breached another arms treaty, which banned medium-range nuclear missiles. For its part, Ukraine relinquished the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal, joining the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. It did so in exchange for US, British, and Russian assurances that its borders would be respected. In light of recent events, “there’s a strong sentiment in Ukraine that we made a big mistake,” said Ukrainian parliamentarian Pavlo Rizanenko, according to a USA Today report. (Click here for more on New START)