WASHINGTON - The United States, which unveiled a new aggressive nuclear strategy, has met the limits set on its arsenal under the New START Treaty, which enters a new phase Monday, and reminded Russia to uphold its commitments.

The strategic arms reduction treaty was signed by Washington and Moscow in 2010, and took effect in February 2011. It calls for the gradual reduction over 10 years of the number of nuclear warheads held by both sides, limits on the number of delivery systems, a strict verification regime and data exchanges.

“The United States of America and the Russian Federation have implemented the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty) for seven years,” the State Department said in a statement.

“February 5, 2018 marks the date that the treaty’s central limits on each country’s strategic nuclear arsenal take effect.”

Washington said it had already fulfilled its commitments by August 2017, said the statement issued by department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

Russia has “repeatedly stated its commitment” to the treaty, including meeting the central limits, and we expect our upcoming data exchange under the treaty to reaffirm that commitment.”

On Thursday, Nauert said that Washington had “no reason to believe” that Russia would not meet its goals.

“Within the next month or so, both countries will exchange their data under the strategic nuclear arsenals, as we have done bilaterally under the treaty’s terms for the last seven years,” she said. “We hope each country will confirm the compliance of the other as soon as possible after this data exchange.”

Russia said for its part Monday it was committed to the treaty and would provide Washington with data on its strategic nuclear arsenals in “the near future.”

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that Moscow accepted Washington’s assurances that the United States had met the limits set on its arsenal under the treaty. Yet the statement said that the United States reached the target limits not only due to cutting the amount of weapons but also thanks to the refurbishment of launchers of submarine launched ballistic missiles, among other weapons.

“Russia confirms its commitment to the START treaty,” the foreign ministry said. “At the same time Russia strongly calls on the United States to continue a constructive search for mutually acceptable solutions in relation to problems related to the refurbishment” of strategic nuclear weapons.

The beginning on Monday of the new “central limits” phase under the New START Treaty comes just days after the Pentagon announced its new nuclear policy.

Washington accuses Moscow of

balking at UN condemnation

The United States accused Russia on Monday of delaying the adoption of a UN Security Council condemnation of reported chlorine gas attacks in Syria that left many injured in recent days, including children.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council that there was "obvious evidence from dozens of victims" to corroborate the chlorine attacks in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta. "Now we have reports that the Assad regime has used chlorine gas against its people multiple times in recent weeks, including just yesterday," Haley said.

Russia deploying ballistic missiles

to Baltic enclave

Lithuania on Monday accused Russia of deploying nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to its Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic, as relations between Moscow and the West sink to post-Cold War lows.

Russia has previously sent Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad for drills, but Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said that this time they were being deployed for a "permanent presence".

Speaking to reporters, Grybauskaite warned that the deployment in the Russian region bordering Baltic NATO members Poland and Lithuania posed a danger for "half" of Europe's capitals.

Moscow was reported to have deployed Iskander missiles for exercises in its Kaliningrad exclave in 2016, rattling nearby NATO members.

Lithuanian intelligence agencies said in a recent report that a permanent, nuclear-capable Iskander deployment was "inevitable", adding that Moscow will likely "present it as a response to NATO actions".

Last year, NATO deployed four multinational battalions to Poland and the Baltic states as tripwires against possible Russian adventurism, while the US military sent a Patriot battery to Lithuania for drills.

US Vice President Mike Pence in July also raised the possibility of deploying the Patriot anti-missile defence system in nearby Estonia.

The Baltic states hope NATO will agree on additional air defence capabilities for the region during a Brussels summit in July.

The United States is meanwhile in the process of selling nearby Poland a Patriot anti-missile system, a move likely to irk Russia.

The State Department said in November that it had notified Congress of its approval of the deal, worth up to $10.5 billion (8.4 billion euros), marking the first time Poland has bought the sophisticated system.

The Patriot is a mobile air-defence system designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, low-flying cruise missiles and aircraft.