With the Aug. 2, 2019 termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is the only treaty limiting the world’s two largest nuclear weapons arsenals—and its future is in jeopardy.
New START, which requires rigorous monitoring and verification, is set to expire in 2021 unless the U.S. and Russian presidents agree to extend it. President Vladimir Putin has proposed an extension of five years without conditions, but President Trump remains undecided.
Time is running out on New START and it is now crucial that Congress takes action to protect and extend it.
A growing number of Republican and Democratic members of Congress are voicing their support for the treaty and its extension. For instance:
- In the House, Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) introduced the “Richard G. Lugar and Ellen O. Tauscher Act to Maintain Limits on Russian Nuclear Forces” (H.R. 2529) bill, which expresses the Sense of Congress that the United States should seek to extend the New START Treaty so long as Russia remains in compliance.
- In the Senate, Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) introduced a companion bill, also named the “Richard G. Lugar and Ellen O. Tauscher Act to Maintain Limits on Russian Nuclear Forces” (S. 2394). This bill expresses the same as the House bill.
Unfortunately, instead of working toward an extension of New START, the Trump administration is busy arguing for a new trilateral arms control agreement, one that includes Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons and China's smaller stockpile, which totals approximately 300.
Pursuing talks with other nuclear-armed states, like China, and limits on all types of nuclear weapons is an admirable objective, but such a negotiation would be complex and time-consuming. Not only is China opposed to a trilateral deal at this time, but there is not enough time to negotiate and ratify a new arms control deal before New START expires.
The first step should, therefore, be a five-year extension of New START which would provide a foundation for a more ambitious successor agreement.
Use the form below to urge your senators and representative to support these bills.
The active support of your members of Congress for this legislation can help ensure common sense limits on Russia’s nuclear weapons arsenal remain in force and can help prevent an unconstrained arms race.