By Arshad Mohammed
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden plans to nominate Mallory Stewart to be assistant secretary of state for arms control, a key job at a time when Washington and Moscow seek to chart a path toward negotiating a successor to the New START arms control treaty.
A Biden administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said her nomination as assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance was expected to be announced on Friday.
Stewart is now senior director for arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation at the White House National Security Council.
The United States and Russia in February extended New START for five years. The treaty took effect in 2011 and limits the two countries to deploying no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads each and imposes restrictions on the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.
Historically, the assistant secretary of state for arms control plays a central role in negotiating such accords.
At their June 16 Geneva summit, Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to begin “strategic stability” talks to “seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.”
Stewart, who previously worked in the bureau she would head if confirmed by the Senate and as a State Department arms control attorney, was an architect of the U.S.-Russia Framework to eliminate Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile.
Syria, which joined the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 2013 to avert military intervention by the United States over an earlier chemical attack, has said it fully destroyed chemical weapons stockpiles declared to the agency.
However, an April 2020 report by OPCW investigators found Syrian military planes and a helicopter dropped banned sarin and chlorine bombs on the Syrian village of Ltamenaha in March 2017.
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