For Immediate Release: February 5, 2020
(Washington, D.C.)—In one year, on Feb. 5, 2021, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) will expire unless President Trump takes up Russia’s offer to extend the treaty by a period of up to five years.
“New START is the only remaining legally binding, verifiable agreement limiting the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals,” says Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “If it lapses with nothing to replace it, the result would open the door to unconstrained nuclear competition that President Trump says he wants to avoid.”
New START, which has been in force since February 5, 2011, verifiably limits U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals to 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed strategic missiles and heavy bombers.
“New START is working as designed,” says Thomas Countryman, chairman of the board of the Arms Control Association and former acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, “and both sides are in compliance with the treaty’s limits and obligations.”
Military and intelligence officials have said they greatly value New START’s monitoring and verification provisions, which provide predictability and transparency and help promote a stable nuclear deterrence posture vis-à-vis Russia. Republican and Democratic members of Congress and all of the major Democratic presidential contenders support New START extension.
“Extending New START should be the easiest foreign policy decision Trump can make. Failure to extend the treaty, on the other hand, would be one of the worst decisions the President could make,” Countryman said.
Although Russia has indicated its support for a clean, unconditional extension, the Trump administration has yet to officially decide on the future of the treaty. Instead, Trump administration officials say they want to explore options for a new treaty that covers all types of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons and involves China.
Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, recently said that, in regard to China, “I wouldn't want to pay the price of losing the restrictions on Russian forces in order to get restrictions on a Chinese force that’s much smaller and less significant in the composition of its war fighting.” Currently, the United States and Russia each have a total of about 6,000 nuclear warheads, while China has about 300.
“A new agreement with Russia and with China is not achievable before New START is due to expire,” notes Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and nuclear threat reduction policy with the Arms Control Association. “By extending New START, however, Trump could secure a significant foreign policy win that would provide a foundation for follow-on negotiations with Russia and possibly with China to further reduce nuclear risks,” he said.
- Select Statements of Support for New START, Arms Control Association
- Reponses to Common Criticisms About Extending New START, Kingston Reif, Arms Control Association
- U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Control Watch, e-newsletter published by the Arms Control Association, Jan. 23, 2020
Experts Available in Washington:
- Thomas Countryman, former acting under secretary of state for arms control and international security, and chair of the board for the Arms Control Association, [email protected], 301-312-3445
- Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, [email protected], 202-277-3478
- Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, [email protected], 202-463-8270, ext. 104