Biden made the remarks prior to the opening of the 10th U.N. Review on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), a 1970 treaty aimed at reducing nuclear weapons globally. The review, which happens once every five years, was scheduled for 2020 but was delayed because of COVID-19.
“I’ve worked on arms control from the earliest days of my career, and the health of the NPT has always rested on meaningful, reciprocal arms limits between the United States and Russian Federation,” Biden said in a statement. “Even at the height of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were able to work together to uphold our shared responsibility to ensure strategic stability.”
Russia and the United States extended their New START treaty in February, which will extend caps on the number of strategic nuclear warheads that either nation will deploy and limits the number of land, sea, and air units capable of delivering them until 2026.
The United States and Russia have been able to reach agreements in the past on nuclear arms control measures, regardless of wider political disagreements. However, Biden suggested that Russia would need to demonstrate that it actually intends to abide by the terms of the treaty, given its invasion of Ukraine five months ago.
“My Administration is ready to expeditiously negotiate a new arms control framework to replace New START when it expires in 2026,” Biden said. “But negotiation requires a willing partner operating in good faith.
“Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and constitutes an attack on fundamental tenets of international order. In this context, Russia should demonstrate that it is ready to resume work on nuclear arms control with the United States.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote a letter to the participants of the NPT conference, saying that a nuclear war should never be allowed to happen.
“There can be no winners in a nuclear war and it must never be unleashed, and we stand for equal and indivisible security for all members of the world community,” he wrote.
It was unclear if Putin knew the nature of Biden’s comments before drafting the letter. But an unnamed official in Russia’s Foreign Ministry mocked Biden’s statements in apparent disbelief.
“Is this a serious statement, or has the White House website been hacked?” the official told Reuters.
Calls to China
Biden also called on China’s ruling communist government “to engage in talks that will reduce the risk of miscalculation and address destabilizing military dynamics.”
The plea comes even as Chinese and U.S. warships maneuvered around Taiwan in an apparent standoff over a rumored trip by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island, which China claims as its territory.
“There is no benefit to any of our nations, or for the world, to resist substantive engagement on arms control and nuclear non-proliferation,” Biden said. “China also has a responsibility as an NPT nuclear weapons state and a member of the [U.N. Permanent Security Council] to engage in talks that will reduce the risk of miscalculation and address destabilizing military dynamics.”
He said it’s vital for the three great powers to work together toward nuclear nonproliferation, particularly so given the war in Ukraine and strife over the future of Taiwan.
“In this moment of uncertainty and upheaval on the global stage, reaffirming our shared commitment to the grounding principles of the global nonproliferation regime has never been more crucial,” Biden said.