Biden: No Evidence Putin Plans to Use Nuclear Weapons

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President Joe Biden on Feb. 22 branded Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States a “big mistake” but stressed that there is so far no evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking to use nuclear weapons.

Biden made the comments in an interview with ABC News shortly after Putin announced in a national address that Moscow was suspending its participation in a major nuclear arms control treaty.

“It’s a big mistake to do that. Not very responsible. And—but I don’t read into that that he’s thinking of using nuclear weapons or anything like that,” Biden said.

Biden was asked if he believes the United States is less safe now that Russia has walked away from the treaty.

“I think we’re less safe when we walk away from arms control agreements that are very much in both parties’ interests and the world’s interest. But I’ve not seen anything, we’ve not seen anything that—where there’s a change in his posture and what they’re doing,” Biden responded. “The idea that somehow this means they’re thinking of using nuclear weapons … intercontinental ballistic missiles, there’s no evidence of that.”

Biden also said that he’s “confident” that Washington and Moscow will “be able to work it out.”

Nuclear Treaty Conditions

Putin said in his Feb. 21 announcement that Russia was not withdrawing from the New START treaty but is “just suspending [our participation in] it.”

The treaty was first signed in 2010 by then-U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and went into effect the year after on Feb. 5.

In 2021, shortly after Biden took office, the treaty was extended by a further five years and was set to expire on Feb. 4, 2026.

It is aimed at setting limits on the number of strategic nuclear warheads that both countries can deploy for as long as the treaty remains in force. Under the agreement, both Moscow and Washington pledged to deploy no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads and a maximum of 700 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers.

By Katabella Roberts

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