President Joe Biden seeks a five-year extension with Russia on the New START treaty — the only deal left that limits the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals — with just weeks before it expires on Feb. 5. The deal allows each country to have no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, plus sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. Russia unconditionally welcomes the arms control pact that was first negotiated in 2010, when Biden was vice president, signaling an openness even to a shorter-term if necessary.
However, months of talks between Russia and the former Trump administration were overshadowed by tensions fueled by the Ukrainian crisis, Moscow’s meddling in US 2016 elections, allegations that Russia may have offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, and the ongoing targeting of Alexei Navalny, Putin’s loudest critic, who was arrested on Sunday after returning home from Germany, where he was mending from nerve-agent poisoning, most likely arranged by Kremlin.
Despite the extension, Biden intends to hold Russia “to account for its reckless and adversarial actions,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Iran has launched what appears to be a Twitter attack against former US President Donald Trump, according to the BBC. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tweeted a photo of what appears to be Trump golfing in the shadow of a large drone with the words, “Vengeance is inevitable.” The tweet, taken down by Twitter after suspending Khamenei’s account, seemed to imply a call for revenge on Trump for coordinating the assassination by US drone of Iran’s top military commander, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad a year ago. On Tuesday, Iran imposed sanctions on Trump and others in his administration for their alleged role in supporting “terrorism,” as a largely symbolic act in the hours before Trump’s presidency ended.
In Honduras, lawmakers seek a permanent constitutional ban on abortion, just as a “green wave” sweeps through Argentina and other Latin American countries to protect abortion rights for women. Known as the “shield against abortion” by its proponents, the law would make it impossible to legalize abortion in Honduras now or in the future. The measure is predicted to pass within the next week. Honduras is one of four Latin American countries that prohibits abortion under any circumstances, including cases of rape.