Russia will not provide the United States with data on its nuclear forces that is shared semi-annually under a key nuclear arms control treaty, and in response, the US will not do so either, a top Pentagon official and a National Security Council spokesperson said Tuesday.
Moscow’s move not to provide the information comes after President Vladimir Putin suspended Russia’s participation in the New START Treaty, the only bilateral agreement left between the world’s two largest nuclear powers. The US has strongly condemned Russia’s suspension, which the NSC spokesperson called “legally invalid.”
“Yesterday, we had a further interaction with Russia, pressing them on the upcoming end of the month, there is due a semiannual data exchange every six months, under the treaty, we exchange data on kind of high-level numbers,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb said at a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing.
“Russia responded that they will not be providing that information,” he said. “And so as a diplomatic countermeasure, the United States will not be providing that information back.”
“We are going to continue to examine what are the diplomatic countermeasures [that] are appropriate,” Plumb said. “What we're trying to do, sir, is balance both responding to Russia's irresponsible behavior but to continue to demonstrate what we believe a responsible nuclear power’s action should be.”
The NSC spokesperson described the decision not to provide data in response to Russia’s action “as a lawful countermeasure intended to encourage Russia to return to compliance with the treaty,” and noted that “Russia’s failure to exchange this data will…be a violation of the treaty, adding on to its existing violations of the New START Treaty.”
“In the interest of strategic stability, the United States will continue to promote public transparency on our nuclear force levels and posture,” the NSC spokesperson said.