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Some Russian Lawmakers Want to Withdraw from Key Arms-Control Pact

A Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile-launch facility is dug up and eliminated in Montana in February, in accordance with the terms of the U.S.-Russia New START accord. Some Russian lawmakers are proposing that Moscow withdraw from the treaty in retaliation for new U.S. sanctions. A Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile-launch facility is dug up and eliminated in Montana in February, in accordance with the terms of the U.S.-Russia New START accord. Some Russian lawmakers are proposing that Moscow withdraw from the treaty in retaliation for new U.S. sanctions. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Upset about new U.S. sanctions, some Russian lawmakers think their government should unilaterally pull out of the New START arms control pact.

Lawmakers in the Russian parliament's lower house have suggested that Moscow withdraw from the bilateral strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty to get back at Washington for national sanctions imposed as punishment for Russian involvement in Ukraine, ITAR-Tass reported on Thursday.

"It is necessary to negotiate with the Americans only from the position of strength," Leonid Kalashnikov, first deputy head of the State Duma international affairs committee, said in an interview. "We should revise the New START treaty, the terms of the Afghan transit and suspend them," he added, alluding to an agreement with the United States that allows for the transfer of war supplies to Afghanistan through Russian territory.

The New START accord requires the two nuclear superpowers by 2018 to reduce their respective deployed long-range nuclear stockpiles to 1,550 warheads. The treaty also limits both countries to only 800 deployed and nondeployed strategic delivery platforms, including bombers and sea- and ground-launched ballistic missiles.

Russian lawmakers are not the only ones who want to see New START suspended. The U.S. House of Representatives in May approved legislation that seeks to deny the Defense Department funding to carry out treaty-mandated arms reductions.

Meanwhile, House Republicans continue to demand an official Obama administration response to reports that Russia has violated an older arms control accord banning the testing and deployment of intermediate-range nuclear weapons.

Senior State Department officials have acknowledged concerns to that end, stemming from Russia's test-firing of a new type of ground-launched cruise missile.

Representatives Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, and Ted Poe (R-Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee, on Thursday wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry, demanding to know "what are the financial costs the administration is planning to impose on Russia for its violation of the [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty]?"

At a hearing on the matter on Thursday, Steven Pifer, director of the Brookings Institution's Arms Control and Nonproliferation Initiative, testified that Washington should share with other nations its concerns over Russian testing of the cruise missile -- thought by independent experts to be the "R-500."

Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, suggested the United States reach out to nations such as Japan, South Korea, China and India.

"It does not appear the R-500 would be able to reach much, if any, of the United States," Pifer said in his prepared testimony. "It would, however, pose a direct threat to countries in Europe and Asia. The administration should provide those countries with information to let them raise their concerns with Moscow. Washington should do what it can to make this an issue between the Russian government and its neighbors -- the states that would be directly threatened."

He also suggested that a feasibility study be conducted on developing new U.S. intermediate-range missiles, not with the goal of actually producing them but to "remind Moscow of the value of the INF treaty."

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