The New START deal, which was signed in 2010 and expires in February, limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that Russia and the United States can deploy.

US President Joe Biden responds to a reporter's question after signing executive orders in the State Dining Room of the White House, on January 21, 2021.
US President Joe Biden responds to a reporter's question after signing executive orders in the State Dining Room of the White House, on January 21, 2021. (AP)

New US President Joe Biden has proposed a five-year extension with Russia of New START, the last remaining nuclear reduction treaty between the powers, but vowed to pressure Moscow on other fronts.

The treaty, which has limited the United States and Russia to 1,550 nuclear warheads each, expires on February 5 after negotiations stagnated under former president Donald Trump.

"The United States intends to seek a five-year extension of New START, as the treaty permits," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

"This extension makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial as it is at this time," she said.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it remained committed to extending the treaty with the US  and would welcome efforts promised by the administration of Biden to reach agreement.

“Russia and its president are in favour of preserving this agreement,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “If our American colleagues will in fact demonstrate a political will to preserve this pact by extending it, this can only be welcomed.”

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New investigation on Navalny poisoning 

Psaki said that the new intelligence chief, Avril Haines, would also start an investigation into Russia's suspected poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, its alleged election interference and on whether Moscow was behind the massive SolarWinds hack.

She said the United States would also investigate bounties reportedly paid by Russian intelligence to extremists in Afghanistan who killed US troops.

"Even as we work with Russia to advance US interests, so, too, we work to hold Russia to account for its reckless and adversarial actions," Psaki said.

Trump had unsuccessfully tried to widen New START to include China, whose nuclear program is growing but still far smaller than those of Russia and the United States.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies