By Charles Carrigan
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) report released April 1 shows a net decline in deployed Russian warheads, the first since 2015, and a slight increase in U.S. deployed warheads as both countries adjust to limits that take effect in February. With its reduction from 1,796 warheads to 1,765, Russia will need to cut another 215 warheads to comply. Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, has written that he anticipates “that will not be a problem.”
The recent numbers bolster the case for a treaty that President Donald Trump characterized as a “one-sided deal” favoring Russia. The treaty has high-profile supporters, notably among them Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command. The treaty expires in February 2021, but has a provision for an extension for a maximum of five years. The prospect of a renewal was met with disinterest by the new U.S. administration, with Trump saying in a Reuters interview on Feb. 23 that the United States “has fallen behind” in nuclear weapons capacity. The numbers released by the State Department show that the United States possesses at least 150 more strategic launchers than Russia and added 44 deployed warheads, remaining below the limit of 1,550 “accountable” deployed strategic warheads.