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I really enjoyed the last phone conference. For those of us who support ACA but do not work in this field, these phone conferences are very educational.

– Maura Davenport,
Member
December 12, 2017
New START

U.S.-Russian Experts, Fmr. Officials Urge New START Extension, Renewed U.S.-Russian Strategic Dialogue

In the latest in a series of expert conferences and dialogues in Moscow and Washington, a group of distinguished U.S. and Russian experts released a public statement calling on U.S. and Russian officials to get back to the arms control negotiating table, with the first order of business being agreement on a five-year extension of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), as allowed for in Article XIV of the treaty, and talks designed to head-off new arms competition in the wake of the likely termination of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The April 10...

The NPT and the Conditions for Nuclear Disarmament

Fifty years ago, shortly after the conclusion of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the United States and the Soviet Union launched the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). Negotiated in the midst of severe tensions, the SALT agreement and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty were the first restrictions on the superpowers’ massive strategic offensive weapons, as well as on their emerging strategic defensive systems. The SALT agreement and the ABM Treaty slowed the arms race and opened a period of U.S.-Soviet detente that lessened the threat of nuclear war.


April 2019
By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

Fifty years ago, shortly after the conclusion of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the United States and the Soviet Union launched the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). Negotiated in the midst of severe tensions, the SALT agreement and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty were the first restrictions on the superpowers’ massive strategic offensive weapons, as well as on their emerging strategic defensive systems. The SALT agreement and the ABM Treaty slowed the arms race and opened a period of U.S.-Soviet detente that lessened the threat of nuclear war.

View of the Soviet delegation (left) and United States negotiating team (right) sitting together during Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in Vienna, Austria circa 1970. Negotiations would last from 1969 until May 1972 at a series of meetings in both Helsinki and Vienna and result in the signing of the SALT I agreement between the United States and Soviet Union in May 1972. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)The size of U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles has decreased significantly from their Cold War peaks, but the dangers posed by the still excessive arsenals and launch-under-attack postures are even now exceedingly high.

Further progress on nuclear disarmament by the United States and Russia has been and remains at the core of their NPT Article VI obligation to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”

But as the 2020 NPT Review Conference approaches, the key agreements made by the world’s two largest nuclear powers are in severe jeopardy. Dialogue on nuclear arms control has been stalled since Russia rejected a 2013 U.S. offer to negotiate nuclear cuts beyond the modest reductions mandated by the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

More recently, the two sides have failed to engage in serious talks to resolve the dispute over Russian compliance with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which will likely be terminated in August. Making matters worse, talks on extending New START, which is due to expire in 2021, have not begun.

Last year, Russia said it was interested in extending New START, but Team Trump will only say it remains engaged in an interagency review of the treaty. That review is led by National Security Advisor John Bolton, who publicly called for New START’s termination shortly before he joined the administration.

New START clearly serves U.S. and Russian security interests. The treaty imposes important bounds on the strategic nuclear competition between the two nuclear superpowers. Failure to extend New START, on the other hand, would compromise each side’s understanding of the others’ nuclear forces, open the door to unconstrained nuclear competition, and undermine international security. Agreement to extend New START requires the immediate start of consultations to address implementation concerns on both sides.

Instead of agreeing to begin talks on a New START extension, U.S. State Department officials claim that “the United States remains committed to arms control efforts and remains receptive to future arms control negotiations” but only “if conditions permit.”

Such arguments ignore the history of how progress on disarmament has been and can be achieved. For example, the 1969–1972 SALT negotiations went forward despite an extremely difficult geostrategic environment. As U.S. and Russian negotiators met in Helsinki, President Richard Nixon launched a secret nuclear alert to try to coerce Moscow’s allies in Hanoi to accept U.S. terms on ending the Vietnam War, and he expanded U.S. bombing into Cambodia and Laos. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union sent 20,000 troops to Egypt to back up Cairo’s military campaign to retake the Sinai Peninsula from Israel. In late 1971, Nixon risked war with the Soviet Union and India to help put an end to India's 1971 invasion of East Pakistan.

Back then, the White House and the Kremlin did not wait until better conditions for arms control talks emerged. Instead, they pursued direct talks to achieve modest arms control measures that, in turn, created a more stable and predictable geostrategic environment.

Today, U.S. officials, such as Christopher Ford, assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, argue that the NPT does not require continual progress on disarmament and that NPT parties should launch a working group to discuss how to create an environment conducive for progress on nuclear disarmament.

Dialogue between nuclear-armed and non-nuclear-weapon states on disarmament can be useful, but the U.S. initiative titled “Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament” must not be allowed to distract from the Trump administration’s lack of political will to engage in a common-sense nuclear arms control and risk reduction dialogue with key nuclear actors.

The current environment demands a productive, professional dialogue between Washington and Moscow to extend New START by five years, as allowed by Article XIV of the treaty; to reach a new agreement that prevents new deployment of destabilizing ground-based, intermediate-range missiles; and maintain strategic stability and reduce the risk of miscalculation.

Ahead of the pivotal 2020 NPT Review Conference, all states-parties need to press U.S. and Russian leaders to extend New START and pursue further effective measures to prevent an unconstrained nuclear arms race. Failure to do so would represent a violation of their NPT Article VI obligations and would threaten the very underpinnings of the NPT regime.

 

 

New START Extension Debated

U.S. and Russian officials see no quick and easy extension to New START.


April 2019
By Shervin Taheran

Prospects for extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) appeared to dim in March as U.S. and Russian officials threw cold water on the idea of a quick or easy extension process. The treaty capping deployed strategic nuclear weapons in both countries is due to expire in February 2021, but it could be extended for up to five years by mutual agreement.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, head of the U.S. Strategic Command, testifies to Congress in 2017. He recently described himself as a supporter of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)U.S. officials have avoided expressing a public position on extending the treaty and have expressed concern about Russia’s strategic weapons plans. Yleem Poblete, U.S. assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, told the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva on March 19 that Russia “remains in compliance” with the treaty, but she questioned whether Russia’s development of new nuclear weapons were the actions of a “responsible stakeholder.” One week earlier, Andrea Thompson, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told a Washington nuclear policy conference that the remaining two-year period offers plenty of time to review the pact.

For their part, Russian officials have expressed concerns about U.S. compliance with New START and have suggested that lengthy talks may be needed to resolve them. Russia has questioned U.S. procedures to convert some weapons launchers from nuclear to conventional roles. The two nations need to “solve the problem” related to the conversion procedures, which Russia “cannot certify,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Geneva conference one day after Poblete spoke. (See ACT, March 2019.)

According to Lavrov, Russia has put forth “possible solutions,” adding that “it is a question of political will in Washington.” Any such talks would require significant time, Russian officials have said, quashing the hopes of some that the treaty could be extended quickly by a new U.S. president if President Donald Trump fails to win re-election in November 2020.

“It is clear for us that first you have to have a dialogue,” said Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the United States, at the Washington conference. “We hope to find solutions before we put our signature on any document.”

Introducing potential further complications, Lavrov said the deterioration of arms control agreements such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty shows that nuclear arms reductions “can no longer be sustained in a bilateral U.S.-Russia format” and that a multilateral process should be launched.

Meanwhile, the international community has strengthened calls for the treaty’s extension. Notably, UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke at the Feb. 25 opening of the CD’s 2019 session to urge the United States and Russia to extend the pact. The treaty is “the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals,” he said, praising the agreement’s confidence-building and inspection measures.

Contributing to the Trump administration’s consideration of New START, a senior U.S. military official expressed support for the treaty during Feb. 26 congressional testimony.

U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, head of U.S. Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the treaty allows him to “understand what [Russia’s] limits are and…position my force accordingly.” New START also provides “unbelievably important” insight about Russian nuclear weapons activities, he said, adding that the United States has “very good intelligence capabilities, but there’s really nothing that can replace the eyes-on, hands-on ability to look at something.”

Hyten’s support was not unconditional, as he also expressed concerns about planned Russian strategic weapons, including a new underwater torpedo, a globe-circling nuclear-powered cruise missile, and a hypersonic glide vehicle. None of these would be constrained by the treaty, and Hyten said the State Department is “reaching out to the Russians and the Russians are not answering favorably.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded to Hyten’s remarks by saying that U.S. concerns “outside of the purview of the New START Treaty could be considered in the context of a strategic dialogue” but “Washington stubbornly avoids this dialogue and prefers to whip up hysteria in the public space.”

 

U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Control Watch, March 20, 2019

U.S. Plans Flight Tests of INF-Treaty Range Missiles Defense Department officials told a group of reporters March 13 that the Pentagon is planning to test two types of conventional missiles currently prohibited by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by the end of this year. The announcement comes just over a month after the Trump administration announced Feb. 2 that it would withdraw from the treaty Aug. 2 unless Russia returns to compliance with the agreement. The first missile, a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of roughly 1,000 km (600 miles), will likely be...

How Congress Can Leverage Action on New START

Every U.S. president since John Kennedy has successfully concluded at least one agreement with Russia or the Soviet Union to reduce nuclear dangers. These agreements have helped to slash nuclear stockpiles, manage nuclear competition, and provide greater stability, thereby reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe between the world’s two largest nuclear actors.


March 2019
By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

Every U.S. president since John Kennedy has successfully concluded at least one agreement with Russia or the Soviet Union to reduce nuclear dangers. These agreements have helped to slash nuclear stockpiles, manage nuclear competition, and provide greater stability, thereby reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe between the world’s two largest nuclear actors.

The sun rises behind the U.S. Capitol on December 17, 2010, when the full U.S. Senate debated its Resolution of Ratification for New START. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)In March 2018, President Donald Trump said he wanted to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin “to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.”

Since then, however, Trump and Putin have barged ahead with costly plans to replace and upgrade their massive nuclear arsenals. The bilateral nuclear relationship has gone from bad to worse.

The July 2018 Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki yielded nothing, not even an agreement to resume “strategic stability” talks. The simmering dispute over Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty reached the boiling point in October 2018 when Trump said he would terminate the pact, which had eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons.

Worse still, the United States and Russia have not begun talks to extend the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which caps each side’s deployed strategic warheads to no more than 1,550 and delivery vehicles to no more than 700.

Without the INF Treaty or New START, there would be no legally binding, verifiable limits on U.S. or Russian nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972.

Because there is no realistic chance to negotiate a New START replacement by 2021, the logical step for both sides is simply to extend the treaty by five years to 2026, as allowed in Article XIV of the agreement. Putin has indicated he would like to begin talks to extend the treaty, but Trump remains undecided.

The U.S. military continues to see great value in New START. In a December 2018 report to Congress, the Defense Department said that, without the treaty “the United States would lose access to valuable information on Russian strategic forces, as well as access to Russian strategic facilities.”

Unfortunately, National Security Advisor John Bolton, who called for abandoning New START before he joined the Trump administration, is leading the ongoing interagency review on the treaty’s extension. Sources indicate Bolton, true to form, is pushing to nix New START.

With the future of New START in jeopardy, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle need to step in and use the power of the purse to attempt to prevent Trump and Bolton from blowing up the last remaining U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreement and to bring nuclear weapons costs under control.

As Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee, noted last September, “[B]ipartisan support for nuclear modernization is tied to maintaining an arms control process that controls and seeks to reduce Russian nuclear forces.… We’re not interested in writing blank checks for a nuclear arms race with Russia.”

To send a message to the administration, Congress this year should prohibit funding to increase the number of nuclear weapons above the limits set by New START, so long as Russia continues to stay below treaty ceilings. Such an approach would guard against a breakout by either side and help to maintain strategic stability.

As the Defense Department reported to Congress in 2012, Russia “would not be able to achieve a militarily significant advantage by any plausible expansion of its strategic nuclear forces, even in a cheating or breakout scenario under the New START Treaty, primarily because of the inherent survivability of the planned U.S. strategic force structure.”

Congress should also take steps to challenge the Trump administration’s excessive nuclear force plans, especially if the administration is going to default on its obligation to limit and reduce excess Russian and U.S. nuclear forces.

The Trump plans call for spending roughly $500 billion over the next 10 years to maintain and replace U.S. nuclear delivery systems and their associated warheads and supporting infrastructure, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This enormous and growing bill is unsustainable and unnecessary. According to a 2013 Pentagon assessment, U.S. strategic nuclear force levels are at least one-third larger than necessary to deter nuclear attack.

More realistic and affordable options to maintain a credible nuclear arsenal can and should be pursued regardless of whether New START is extended. But Congress must also make clear to the administration that the evisceration of arms control is unacceptable.

One option Congress could pursue is to freeze funding for the major nuclear delivery system and warhead modernization programs at today’s levels, which would force delays in the schedules for these programs. This would get the attention of the White House and Pentagon and put pressure on the administration to make the right decision on New START.

If Trump is not ready or able to take the steps necessary to prevent a dangerous new U.S.-Russian nuclear arms race, Congress should be ready to do so.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress No Funding for U.S. INF Missiles in Europe

Body: 


The INF Treaty prohibited all U.S. and Soviet missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The official figures above show missiles deployed November 1, 1987, shortly before the INF Treaty was signed. The treaty also required destruction of 430 U.S. missiles and 979 Soviet missiles which were in storage or otherwise not deployed. The treaty prevented the planned deployment of an additional 208 GLCMs in the Netherlands, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Italy. The Pershing IAs, under joint U.S.-German control, were not formally covered by the INF Treaty but were also to be eliminated by U.S. and West German agreement. The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty led to the verifiable elimination of over 2,500 Soviet and U.S. missiles based in Europe and helped bring an end to the Cold War.

But now, the United States and Russia are on course to withdraw from the INF Treaty in six months over a long-running dispute over Russian compliance with the treaty.

Termination of the INF Treaty opens the door for Russia and the United States to develop and deploy more and new types of ground-launched intermediate-range missiles–a move that would increase the risks of a destabilizing new missile race.

You can help stop this!

A group of leading U.S. Senators has re-introduced the "Prevention of Arms Race Act of 2019," which would prohibit funding for the procurement, flight-testing, or deployment of a U.S. ground-launched or ballistic missile until the Trump Administration meets seven specific conditions, including identifying a U.S. ally formally willing to host such a system, and in the case of a European country, have it be the outcome of a NATO-wide decision.

This bill is a step in the right direction. New U.S. ground-launched cruise deployments in Europe or elsewhere would cost billions of dollars, take years to complete, and are militarily unnecessary to defend NATO allies because existing weapons systems can already hold key Russian targets at risk.

Your Senators need to hear from you.

Country Resources:

U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Control Agreements at a Glance

June 2017

Contact: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107; Kingston ReifDirector for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: February 2019

Over the past four decades, American and Soviet/Russian leaders have used a progression of bilateral agreements and other measures to limit and reduce their substantial nuclear warhead and strategic missile and bomber arsenals. The following is a brief summary.

Strategic Nuclear Arms Control Agreements

SALT I

Begun in November 1969, by May 1972, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) had produced both the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which limited strategic missile defenses to 200 (later 100) interceptors each, and the Interim Agreement, an executive agreement that capped U.S. and Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) forces. Under the Interim Agreement, both sides pledged not to construct new ICBM silos, not to increase the size of existing ICBM silos “significantly,” and capped the number of SLBM launch tubes and SLBM-carrying submarines. The agreement ignored strategic bombers and did not address warhead numbers, leaving both sides free to enlarge their forces by deploying multiple warheads (MIRVs) onto their ICBMs and SLBMs and increasing their bomber-based forces. The agreement limited the United States to 1,054 ICBM silos and 656 SLBM launch tubes. The Soviet Union was limited to 1,607 ICBM silos and 740 SLBM launch tubes. In June 2002, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM treaty.

SALT II

In November 1972, Washington and Moscow agreed to pursue a follow-on treaty to SALT I. SALT II, signed in June 1979, limited U.S. and Soviet ICBM, SLBM, and strategic bomber-based nuclear forces to 2,250 delivery vehicles (defined as an ICBM silo, a SLBM launch tube, or a heavy bomber) and placed a variety of other restrictions on deployed strategic nuclear forces. The agreement would have required the Soviets to reduce their forces by roughly 270 delivery vehicles, but U.S. forces were below the limits and could actually have been increased. However, President Jimmy Carter asked the Senate not to consider SALT II for its advice and consent after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, and the treaty was not taken up again. Both Washington and Moscow subsequently pledged to adhere to the agreement’s terms despite its failure to enter into force. However, on May 26, 1986, President Ronald Reagan said that future decisions on strategic nuclear forces would be based on the threat posed by Soviet forces and not on "a flawed SALT II Treaty.”

START I

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), first proposed in the early 1980s by President Ronald Reagan and finally signed in July 1991, required the United States and the Soviet Union to reduce their deployed strategic arsenals to 1,600 delivery vehicles, carrying no more than 6,000 warheads as counted using the agreement’s rules. The agreement required the destruction of excess delivery vehicles which was verified using an intrusive verification regime that involved on-site inspections, the regular exchange of information, including telemetry, and the use of national technical means (i.e., satellites). The agreement’s entry into force was delayed for several years because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and ensuing efforts to denuclearize Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus by returning their nuclear weapons to Russia and making them parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and START I agreements. START I reductions were completed in December 2001 and the treaty expired on Dec. 5, 2009.

START II

In June 1992, Presidents George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin agreed to pursue a follow-on accord to START I. START II, signed in January 1993, called for reducing deployed strategic arsenals to 3,000-3,500 warheads and banned the deployment of destabilizing multiple-warhead land-based missiles. START II would have counted warheads in roughly the same fashion as START I and, also like its predecessor, would have required the destruction of delivery vehicles but not warheads. The agreement's original implementation deadline was January 2003, ten years after signature, but a 1997 protocol moved this deadline to December 2007 because of the extended delay in ratification. Both the Senate and the Duma approved START II, but the treaty did not take effect because the Senate did not ratify the 1997 protocol and several ABM Treaty amendments, whose passage the Duma established as a condition for START II’s entry into force. START II was effectively shelved as a result of the 2002 U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty.

START III Framework

In March 1997, Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin agreed to a framework for START III negotiations that included a reduction in deployed strategic warheads to 2,000-2,500. Significantly, in addition to requiring the destruction of delivery vehicles, START III negotiations were to address “the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads…to promote the irreversibility of deep reductions including prevention of a rapid increase in the number of warheads.” Negotiations were supposed to begin after START II entered into force, which never happened.

SORT (Moscow Treaty)

On May 24, 2002, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT or Moscow Treaty) under which the United States and Russia reduced their strategic arsenals to 1,700-2,200 warheads each. The warhead limit took effect and expired on the same day, Dec. 31, 2012. Although the two sides did not agree on specific counting rules, the Bush administration asserted that the United States would reduce only warheads deployed on strategic delivery vehicles in active service, i.e., “operationally deployed” warheads, and would not count warheads removed from service and placed in storage or warheads on delivery vehicles undergoing overhaul or repair. The agreement’s limits are similar to those envisioned for START III, but the treaty did not require the destruction of delivery vehicles, as START I and II did, or the destruction of warheads, as had been envisioned for START III. The treaty was approved by the Senate and Duma and entered into force on June 1, 2003. SORT was replaced by New START on February 5, 2011.

New START

On April 8, 2010, the United States and Russia signed New START, a legally binding, verifiable agreement that limits each side to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 700 strategic delivery systems (ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers), and limits deployed and nondeployed launchers to 800. The treaty-accountable warhead limit is 30 percent lower than the 2,200 upper limit of SORT, and the delivery vehicle limit is 50 percent lower than the 1,600 allowed in START I. The treaty has a verification regime that combines elements of START I with new elements tailored to New START. Measures under the treaty include on-site inspections and exhibitions, data exchanges and notifications related to strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the treaty, and provisions to facilitate the use of national technical means for treaty monitoring. The treaty also provides for the continued exchange of telemetry (missile flight-test data on up to five tests per year) and does not meaningfully limit missile defenses or long-range conventional strike capabilities. The U.S. Senate approved New START on Dec. 22, 2010. The approval process of the Russian parliament (passage by both the State Duma and Federation Council) was completed Jan. 26, 2011. The treaty entered into force on Feb. 5, 2011 and will expire in 2021, though both parties may agree to extend the treaty for a period of up to five years. Both parties met the treaty’s central limits by the Feb. 4, 2018 deadline for implementation.

Strategic Nuclear Arms Control Agreements

Strategic Nuclear Arms Control Agreements
 SALT  I SALT IIINF TreatySTART ISTART IISTART IIISORT

New START

StatusExpiredNever Entered Into ForceIn Force*ExpiredNever Entered Into ForceNever NegotiatedReplaced by New STARTIn Force
Deployed Warhead LimitN/AN/AN/A6,0003,000-3,5002,000-2,5001,700-2,2001,550
Deployed Delivery Vehicle LimitUS: 1,710 ICBMs & SLBMs
USSR: 2,347
2,250Prohibits ground-based missiles of 500-5,500 km range1,600N/AN/AN/A700
Date SignedMay 26, 1972June 18, 1979Dec. 8, 1987July 31, 1991Jan. 3, 1993N/AMay 24, 2002April 8, 2010
Date Ratifed, U.S.Aug. 3, 1972N/AMay 28, 1988Oct. 1, 1992Jan. 26, 1996N/AMarch 6, 2003Dec. 22, 2010
Ratification Vote, U.S.88-2N/A93-693-687-4N/A95-071-26
Date Entered Into ForceOct. 3, 1972N/AJune 1, 1988Dec. 5, 1994N/AN/AJune 1, 2003Feb. 5, 2011
Implementation DeadlineN/AN/AJune 1, 1991Dec. 5, 2001N/AN/AN/AFeb. 5, 2018
Expiration DateOct. 3, 1977N/Aunlimited durationDec. 5, 2009N/AN/AFeb. 5, 2011Feb. 5, 2021**

*On Feb. 2, 2019, both the United States and Russia announced they were suspending their obligations to the treaty.

**New START allows for the option to extend the treaty beyond 2021 for a period of up to five years.

Nonstrategic Nuclear Arms Control Measures

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty

Signed Dec. 8, 1987, the INF Treaty required the United States and the Soviet Union to verifiably eliminate all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Distinguished by its unprecedented, intrusive inspection regime, including on-site inspections, the INF Treaty laid the groundwork for verification of the subsequent START I. The INF Treaty entered into force June 1, 1988, and the two sides completed their reductions by June 1, 1991, destroying a total of 2,692 missiles. The agreement was multilateralized after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and current active participants in the agreement include the United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are also parties to the agreement but do not participate in treaty meetings or on-site inspections. The ban on intermediate-range missiles is of unlimited duration.

Both the United States and Russia have raised concerns about the other side’s compliance with the INF Treaty. The United States first publicly charged Russia with developing and testing a ground-launched cruise with a range that meets the INF Treaty definition of a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km in 2014.

Russia denies that it is breaching the agreement and has raised its own concerns about Washington’s compliance. Moscow is charging that the United States is placing a missile defense launch system in Europe that can also be used to fire cruise missiles, using targets for missile defense tests with similar characteristics to INF Treaty-prohibited intermediate-range missiles, and is making armed drones that are equivalent to ground-launched cruise missiles. On Oct. 20, 2018 President Donald Trump announced his intention to “terminate” the agreement citing Russian noncompliance and concerns about China’s missiles, and on Dec. 4, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Russia in “material breach” of the treaty. The Trump administration provided official notice to the other treaty states-parties on Feb. 2, that it would both suspend its obligations to the treaty and withdraw from the agreement in six months—per the treaty's terms—and "terminate" the agreement. The administration has stated that it may reverse the withdrawal if Russia returns to compliance by eliminating its ground-launched 9M729 missile, which the United States alleges is the noncompliant missile which can fly beyond the 500-kilometer range limit set by the treaty. 

Presidential Nuclear Initiatives 

On Sept. 27, 1991, President George H. W. Bush announced that the United States would remove almost all U.S. tactical (nonstrategic) nuclear forces from deployment so that Russia could undertake similar actions, reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation as the Soviet Union dissolved. Specifically, Bush said the United States would eliminate all its nuclear artillery shells and short-range nuclear ballistic missile warheads and remove all nonstrategic nuclear warheads from surface ships, attack submarines, and land-based naval aircraft. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev reciprocated on Oct. 5, pledging to eliminate all nuclear artillery munitions, nuclear warheads for tactical missiles, and nuclear landmines. He also pledged to withdraw all Soviet tactical naval nuclear weapons from deployment. Under these initiatives, the United States and Russia reduced their deployed nonstrategic stockpiles by an estimated 5,000 and 13,000 warheads, respectively. However, significant questions remain about Russian implementation of its pledges, and there is considerable uncertainty about the current state of Russia’s tactical nuclear forces. The Defense Department estimates that Russia possess roughly 2,000 non-strategic nuclear weapons and the numbers are expanding. The United States maintains several hundred nonstrategic B61 gravity bombs for delivery by short-range fighter aircraft. 

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

Country Resources:

Extending New START Is in America's National Security Interest

The difficulties of getting to “yes” on an agreement to extend New START, much less a subsequent strategic
nuclear arms control accord, should not be underestimated.


January/February 2019
By Frank Klotz

On December 4, 2018, the United States officially declared that Russia’s ongoing violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty constitutes a material breach of the treaty and that the United States will suspend its obligations under the treaty in 60 days unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance.1

U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in Prague on April 8, 2010, committing their nations to further nuclear arms cuts. (Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)If the United States ultimately follows through on this course of action, as seems likely, only one bilateral agreement would remain that mutually constrains the size of the U.S. and Russian nuclear forces. Moreover, that one agreement, the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), is due to expire in less than three years, that is, 10 years from the date it entered into force.2 The treaty’s terms, however, permit it to be extended for up to one additional five-year period with the approval of the U.S. and Russian presidents, without further review by the legislative bodies of the two countries.

Unlike the case with the INF Treaty, the U.S. Department of State has repeatedly certified that Russia is in compliance with the terms of New START.3 In addition, New START has been and remains in the military and national security interests of the United States. Thus, the most prudent course of action would be to extend New START before it expires in 2021 and thereby gain the time needed to carefully consider the options for a successor agreement or agreements and to negotiate a deal with the Russians.

New START was signed in April 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. It entered into force in February 2011, following approval by Russia's Duma and Federation Council and after a particularly rancorous debate in the U.S. Senate. The treaty called for the continued reduction of the nuclear forces of both countries, which had begun in the Reagan era.4 It also put in place a comprehensive verification regime, including provisions for on-site inspections at each other’s nuclear-capable bomber, missile, and submarine bases, as well as routine data exchanges and notifications regarding specific activities associated with their respective strategic offensive arms.5 Both sides met the February 2018 deadline for reducing their existing nuclear forces to the treaty's mandated limits. In addition, as of late 2018, they had each conducted more than 140 on-site inspections and together had exchanged almost 17,000 notifications related to their strategic nuclear forces and facilities.6

Whether the current U.S. administration will opt to extend New START, as permitted by the treaty, is uncertain. Shortly after entering office in January 2017, President Donald Trump reportedly referred to the treaty as a “bad deal” during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which the latter raised the possibility of extending the treaty.7 On the other hand, the U.S. president subsequently told reporters in March 2018 that he would like to meet with Putin “to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.”8

Indeed, one of the issues that received considerable attention during the run-up to the July 2018 Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki was whether the United States and Russia should agree during the meeting to extend New START.9 That did not happen. Putin did reveal, however, in an interview that he had “reassured President Trump [during the summit] that Russia stands ready to extend this treaty, to prolong it” but that questions regarding U.S. compliance would first have to be decided by “experts.”10

No Firm Position

The U.S. administration apparently does not have a firm position on whether to extend New START before it expires in 2021, nor has it publicly given any indication of when it might have one. In a postsummit follow-up meeting with his Russian counterpart, John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, stated in August that the administration was “very, very early in the process of considering” what to do about New START.11 Bolton was a strong critic of the treaty before joining the administration. In congressional testimony in September, senior officials from the departments of State and Defense emphasized that U.S. policy toward extension of New START was still being deliberated within the administration. David Trachtenberg, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, noted that “any decision on extending the treaty will, and should be, based on a realistic assessment of whether the New START treaty remains in our national security interests in light of overall Russian arms control behavior.”12

So, the key question is whether it is in U.S. national security interests to extend New START before it expires in 2021. Significantly, many members of the one domestic constituency that ought to be the most concerned about the size and posture of the U.S. and Russian nuclear forces—the U.S. military—clearly believe that it is.

 

At first blush, it may seem counterintuitive that those in charge of the institution with responsibility for designing, developing, and operating nuclear-capable bombers and ballistic missiles would also support an agreement that places constraints on the number of those forces that can be deployed. Yet, ever since the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) started in 1969, U.S. military officers have been actively involved in the negotiations leading to nuclear arms control agreements as members of the U.S. negotiating teams and as participants in the interagency deliberations regarding U.S. goals and objectives. Admittedly, a principal objective of the military with respect to this process has been to ensure the U.S. negotiating teams were well versed in the practical realities of fielding and operating nuclear forces and did not inadvertently offer or accept proposals that would unduly impinge on the military's ability to effectively maintain its bombers and missiles and train their crews.

Arms Control Rationale

Senior U.S. military leaders have also accepted a more conceptually based rationale for supporting the nuclear arms control process. During the 1960s, several U.S. scholars and policymakers had advanced the notion that “armed readiness” and “arms control” can be simultaneously pursued as complementary approaches to protecting national security. Many of the seminal writings associated with this view were studied within military schools during the Cold War. For example, in the 1970s, all U.S. Air Force Academy cadets were required to take a semester-long course on U.S. defense policy that included excerpts from Thomas Schelling's and Morton Halperin's Strategy and Arms Control as assigned reading.13

Regrettably, the treatment of nuclear policy and arms control in professional military education has declined significantly over the past two decades as the focus of attention has shifted to the conduct of military operations in Southwest Asia and countering the threat of terrorism. Nevertheless, a generation of senior military leaders, schooled early in their careers in the classic texts of nuclear deterrence theory, have consistently cited, in their public statements and in their congressional testimony, the benefits that arms control agreements confer.

Foremost among these beliefs is the strongly held view that the transparency and verification measures in the more recent nuclear arms control agreements provide insight into the size, capabilities, and operations of the other side's nuclear forces beyond that provided by more traditional intelligence collection and assessment methods. For example, writing in support of the ratification of New START in 2010, seven former, four-star commanders of U.S. strategic nuclear forces stated that “we will understand Russian strategic forces much better with this treaty than would be the case without it.” They also emphasized that the treaty would contribute to a more stable relationship between the United States and Russia.14

Equally important to senior military leaders has been the role arms control agreements have played in constraining the size and, in certain instances, the capabilities of the other side's nuclear forces. The U.S.-Russian nuclear arms competition during the Cold War was fueled in part by a concern that the other side might achieve a technological breakthrough or build up its forces in such a way as to threaten the survivability of one's own nuclear forces and the ability to retaliate in response to nuclear aggression, thus increasing the incentives for one side or the other to strike or respond quickly, thereby undermining a fundamental prerequisite of stable, mutual deterrence.

Arms control agreements served to ameliorate this concern by capping the overall number of deployed nuclear forces, precluding either side from achieving an overwhelming advantage.15 For the U.S. military, this helped reduce uncertainty and enhance predictability about Russia's capabilities and intentions, allowing it to size and shape U.S. forces with greater confidence in the adequacy of its own investment plans and programs. It also helped free up funding for conventional military capability that might otherwise have been allocated to nuclear forces.

This general view of the benefits of arms control as a complementary strategy to maintaining a survivable, reliable, and effective nuclear deterrence force has carried over to the current considerations of extending New START for an additional five years. In contrast to the noncommittal public statements of civilian national security officials this fall, senior military leaders have been more forthcoming. For example, in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee in March 2017, General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, each expressed strong support for New START, the latter stating that “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.”16 Lieutenant General Jack Weinstein, Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, publicly stated that same month that the treaty was of “huge value” to the United States, adding that it has “been good for us.”17 Trump's statements in October 2018 regarding a possible U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty has also prompted letters from former national security officials, including retired senior military officers, to salvage the INF Treaty and extend New START.18

Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command Air Force General John Hyten testifies at a House Armed Services Committee hearing March 8, 2017. He expressed support for New START, saying that that “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.” (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)In addition to concerns about strategic stability and mutual deterrence, the U.S. military's support for New START reflects very practical considerations about current programs and defense budgets. The Defense Department has embarked on a comprehensive, multiyear effort to modernize its aging fleet of bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and nuclear submarines. The current “program of record” seeks to replace existing strategic nuclear delivery systems on a roughly one-for-one basis. The new systems would thus fit within the New START limits on deployed and nondeployed systems. Moreover, as long as these limits remain in force, Russian nuclear forces will also be constrained to current and predictable levels. Therefore, the U.S. military can assume with some confidence that its modernization program will be adequate to the task of providing for an effective deterrent for the foreseeable future.

Additionally, the U.S. nuclear sustainment and modernization program that Trump inherited from his predecessor, even within New START force limits, is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost $1.2 trillion dollars over 30 years (in 2017 dollars and, therefore, higher when accounting for inflation).19 An unconstrained buildup would certainly cost far more. The United States and Russia would not necessarily embark on a significant buildup of their respective strategic offensive forces in the absence of New START or a subsequent agreement, but there would be no treaty obligations preventing them from doing so.

Finally, most senior military leaders acknowledge privately, but for understandable reasons do not state in public, that support for the current nuclear modernization program in Congress over the past decade has depended on a bipartisan consensus based in large part on a “grand bargain” that nuclear modernization and nuclear arms control will be pursued simultaneously. The change of leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives will surely test the resiliency of that consensus in the months ahead. Allowing New START to expire without anything to replace it, coupled with a possible formal withdrawal from the INF Treaty, would most likely place additional stress on that consensus, making it much more difficult to rally support for the current program of record to replace the existing force of aging nuclear delivery systems and revitalize the national laboratories and production facilities of the Department of Energy's semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration.20

Viable Alternatives?

Are there any viable alternatives to extending New START that would provide U.S. military planners the same level of certainty about U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear balance and thus the adequacy of current and future U.S. nuclear deterrence capabilities? Although this topic requires considerable thought and discussion, a few general points can be ventured at this stage.

One possible option is to negotiate a new treaty that retains the most salient features of New START, such as limits on deployed forces and robust transparency and verification measures, but addresses matters of particular importance to the United States. The Senate resolution on ratification of New START had expressed concern about the disparity in the number of nonstrategic (theater) nuclear weapons possessed by Russia compared to the number of nonstrategic nuclear weapons deployed by the United States in Europe, and the Obama administration sought to quickly follow New START with negotiations to deal with these systems.21 Those negotiations never took place. More recently, the United States has expressed concern about several new types of nuclear delivery systems that have been developed by Russia and publicly touted by Putin.22 Of course, in any negotiations for a new treaty, the Russians will have their own list of desiderata, including limiting U.S. missile defenses and the deployment of highly precise conventional weapons that could potentially be used to attack Russian nuclear forces and command, control, and communications systems. Even in the unlikely situation that these technically complex and politically fraught issues could be set aside or speedily resolved in the interest of negotiating a successor agreement, the process would still take time, certainly longer than the two years that remain before the treaty expires, if history is any guide.

 

Another option that has been floated is to replace New START with an agreement like the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, also known as the Moscow Treaty. Bolton has reportedly described this notion as a “possibility.”23 The treaty was signed by President George W. Bush and Putin in May 2002 after negotiations that lasted only six months. It required both sides to reduce the number of “operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons” to a level between 1,700 and 2,200. Unlike previous U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreements that included many pages of lengthy articles, protocols, and annexes, this treaty was less than two pages long, in large part because it did not include any verification provisions. For Bush administration officials, these were unnecessary because the treaty could rely on the verification regime established in the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which was still in force at the time and would be in place for at least another seven years.24 As it turned out, START I expired in 2009 with no replacement or verification mechanism in place until New START entered into force in 2011 and superseded the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty.

For these and other reasons, this treaty has been criticized as not being “serious arms control.”25 This charge belies a rather narrow view of what constitutes arms control. Despite its brevity, the treaty nevertheless codified in a legally binding manner the desire of both sides to significantly constrain the number of warheads and bombs deployed on ICBMs, on submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and on nuclear-capable bombers. For the United States, this meant reducing the existing force of these weapons by roughly two-thirds. Moreover, because it was framed as a treaty, the agreement was subject to consideration by the U.S. Senate. The resolution of advice and consent to ratification was passed by a unanimous (95-0) vote, thus placing a bipartisan stamp of approval on the process of the further nuclear arms reductions that Bush had signaled he was willing to take unilaterally.26 If that is not serious arms control, it raises the question of what is.

Whether the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty constitutes a model for replacing New START is an entirely different matter. Treaty critics have a point in arguing that it was the product of a unique set of political and economic circumstances in both countries when it was negotiated and that the strategic context and relationship between the two countries are very different today. For example, if New START expires in 2021, there would be no legally binding verification regime in place to give either side the same level of confidence that the other was abiding by the terms of a successor agreement like the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. Given the emphasis the Congress has traditionally placed on verification and compliance, this would certainly be a political deal breaker.

A third possible option would be to allow New START to expire with U.S. and Russian presidents unilaterally or jointly declaring that their countries will voluntary abide by the existing limits. They could even add that they would continue to follow the major practices of the current verification regime (e.g., data exchanges, notifications, and on-site inspections). The notion of a less formal approach to arms control certainly has a respectable scholarly pedigree. In 1961, Schelling and Halperin wrote that “a more variegated and flexible concept of arms control is necessary—one that recognizes that the degree of formality may range from a formal treaty with detailed specifications, at one end of the scale, through executive agreements, explicit but informal understandings, tacit understandings, to self-restraint that is consciously contingent on each other’s behavior.”27

In fact, all of these elements have been part of the U.S.-Russian strategic relationship at some time and in some form and fashion. During the Cold War, for instance, the two superpowers developed certain norms and modes of behavior regarding military actions that were implicit and, in some cases, explicit in nature, such as avoiding situations in which their military forces might come into direct contact during a crisis or conflict. Whether a nonbinding, informal, or tacit agreement to limit the number of strategic nuclear forces possessed by Russia would provide the level of transparency and predictability that senior U.S. military leaders have come to value is questionable.

Pursuing any of these options or some variant or combination of them will certainly take time. Given the current state of U.S.-Russian relations and the fact the 2020 presidential campaign for all intents and purposes has already begun, it is highly unlikely that two years will be sufficient to accomplish the task. Whatever happens, the existing mutual limits on strategic nuclear forces and the associated transparency and verification measures of New START should not be allowed to expire without replacement. It is manifestly in the best interests of the United States and Russia to agree to extend New START as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the last minute to broker a deal.

Difficult Environment

The difficulties of getting to “yes” on an agreement to extend New START, much less an entirely new nuclear arms control agreement or treaty, should not be underestimated. As noted earlier, the U.S.-Russian relationship is currently burdened by sharp differences in the nuclear realm, such as compliance issues and development of new strategic capabilities. The INF Treaty compliance disputes, in particular, cast a shadow over the prospects. In December, General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pointed this out. “I will obviously not make this decision. I’ll make recommendations,” he said. “But it’s very difficult for me to envision progress in extending (New START)…if the foundation of that is non-compliance with the INF Treaty.”28

To make matters worse, U.S.-Russian discussions on nuclear matters have virtually ground to a halt. They certainly do not exhibit the same intensity, nor do they occur with the same frequency as they did during the Cold War and the first two decades thereafter. Efforts to hold “strategic stability” talks over the past two years have unfortunately faltered due a lack of purpose and seriousness on both sides and as Washington and Moscow take various “retaliatory” measures against one another that render holding talks on any topic politically problematic.

Yet, even at the height of the Cold War and despite profound differences in many other aspects of their relationship, the United States and Russia managed to engage in substantive official and unofficial (Track II) discussions on strategic nuclear matters and, over time, to develop a deeper understanding of each other’s points of view and concerns. Moreover, this ongoing dialogue laid the groundwork necessary to successfully negotiate several different nuclear arms control agreements over a 40-year period. The best way to start the process of addressing the factors that currently cloud the nuclear relationship between the two countries would be to launch a new, more robust series of discussions on nuclear deterrence and arms control involving current and former U.S. and Russian diplomats, senior military officials, and technical experts and to consciously insulate that dialogue from other vagaries in the overall bilateral relationship.

Finally, the current political situation within the United States will present challenges in achieving a broad domestic consensus in support of extending New START. In November, bills in support of doing so and bills designed to constrain the administration's freedom of maneuver on the issue were introduced in the Senate and the House.29 Whether any of the proposed language will ever become law is questionable, especially given the new reality of divided control of the two chambers.

Yet, Congress may well become the focus of debate on extending New START before it expires, especially given the executive branch's current reticence to elaborate its views in public. Proactively engaging members of Congress and their staffs in discussions on how nuclear arms control in general and New START in particular serve U.S. military and national security interests would be time well spent.

 

ENDNOTES
 

1. U.S. Department of State, “Press Availability at NATO Headquarters,” December 4, 2018, https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/12/287873.htm. On the same day, the United States’ European allies “strongly supported” the U.S. finding of material breach. NATO, “Statement on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty Issued by the NATO Foreign Ministers,” December 2018, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_161122.htm.

2. For the text of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), see U.S. Department of State, “New START: Treaty Text,” n.d., https://www.state.gov/t/avc/newstart/c44126.htm (accessed December 16, 2018).

3. U.S. Department of State, “Annual Report on Implementation of the New START Treaty,” January 2018, p. 4, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/280780.pdf.

4. The treaty limits each side to an aggregate total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments; 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments (each such heavy bomber is counted as one warhead toward this limit); and 800 deployed and nondeployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.

5. U.S. Department of State, “New START,” n.d., https://www.state.gov/t/avc/newstart/ (accessed December 16, 2018).

6. U.S. Department of State, “New START Treaty Inspection Activities,” n.d., https://www.state.gov/t/avc/newstart/c52405.htm (accessed December 16, 2018). The United States actually carried out more reductions than Russia. The number of systems removed can be derived by comparing the aggregate numbers held by both sides in February 2011 to those held in February 2018. Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC), U.S. Department of State, “New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms," June 1, 2011, https://2009-2017.state.gov/t/avc/rls/164722.htm; AVC, “New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms," Feburary 22, 2018, https://www.state.gov/t/avc/newstart/278775.htm.

7. Jonathan Landay and David Rohde, “Exclusive: In Call With Putin, Trump Denounced Obama-Era Nuclear Arms Treaty - Sources,” Reuters, February 9, 2017.

8. Jenna Johnson and Anton Troianovski, “Trump Congratulates Putin on His Reelection, Discusses U.S. Russian 'Arms Race,’” The Washington Post, March 20, 2018.

9. For example, see Alexandra Bell and Kingston Reif, “A Real Triumph for Trump: Extend New START,” Breaking Defense, July 14, 2018.

10. “Chris Wallace Interviews Russian President Putin,” Fox News, July 16, 2018.

11. Karen DeYoung, “Bolton and His Russian Counterpart Discuss Arms Control, Syria and Iran,” The Washington Post, August 23, 2018.

12. Kingston Reif, “Republican Senators Back New START,” Arms Control Today, October 2018.

13. Mark E. Smith III and Claude J. Johns Jr., eds., American Defense Policy, 2nd ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1968), pp. 116-128. Smith and Johns were members of the Department of Political Science faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

14. General Larry Welch et al., Letter to Senator Carl Levin et al., July 14, 2010, https://s3.amazonaws.com/ucs-documents/nuclear-weapons/New-START-Letter-2010.pdf.

15. Thomas C. Schelling and Morton H. Halperin, Strategy and Arms Control (New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1961), pp. 9–14.

16. Military Assessment of Nuclear Deterrence Requirements: Hearing Before the Committee on Armed Services, 115th Cong. 29 (2017). See Stephen Young, “New START Is a Winner,” Union of Concerned Scientists, March 16, 2017, https://allthingsnuclear.org/syoung/new-start-is-a-winner.

17. Aaron Mehta, “Air Force Nuclear Officer: New START Treaty Is ‘Good for Us,’” Defense News, March 2, 2017.

18. Rick Gladstone, “In Bipartisan Pleas, Experts Urge Trump to Save Nuclear Treaty With Russia,” The New York Times, November 8, 2018.

19. U.S. Congressional Budget Office, “Approaches for Managing the Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 to 2046,” October 2017, pp. 1–2, https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/53211-nuclearforces.pdf.

20. For information on the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) modernization plans and programs, see NNSA, U.S. Department of Energy, “Fiscal Year 2019 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan—Biennial Plan Summary: Report to Congress,” October 2018, https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2018/10/f57/FY2019%20SSMP.pdf.

21. “Treaty With Russia on Measures for Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms,” Congress.gov, n.d., https://www.congress.gov/treaty-document/111th-congress/5/resolution-text (accessed December 16, 2018).

22. Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Nuclear Posture Review,” February 2018, p. 8, https://media.defense.gov/2018/Feb/02/2001872886/-1/-1/1/2018-NUCLEAR-POSTURE-REVIEW-FINAL-REPORT.PDF. See Anton Troianovski, “Putin Claims Russia Is Developing Nuclear Arms Capable of Avoiding Missile Defenses,” The Washington Post, March 1, 2018.

23. DeYoung, "Bolton and His Russian Counterpart Discuss Arms Control, Syria and Iran." As undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, John Bolton was a key figure in the negotiations that led to the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty.

24. For the text of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty and related documents, see U.S. Department of State, “Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Strategic Offensive Reductions (The Moscow Treaty),” May 24, 2002, https://www.state.gov/t/avc/trty/127129.htm. The author was one of these nuclear policy and arms control officials in the Bush administration.

25. For example, Steven Pifer, “John Bolton Keeps Citing This 2002 Pact as an Arms-Control Model. It’s Really Not,” Defense One, November 4, 2018.

26. For example, see Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Remarks by the President to Students and Faculty at National Defense University,” May 1, 2001, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/05/20010501-10.html.

27. Thomas C. Schelling and Morton H. Halperin, Strategy and Arms Control (New York: The Twentieth Century Fund, 1961), p. 77.

28. Jonathan Landay and Arshad Mohammed, “Russia Must Scrap or Alter Missiles U.S. Says Violate Arms Treaty,” Reuters, December 6, 2018.

29. For example, Office of Congresswoman Liz Cheney, “Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Senator Cotton Introduce the Stopping Russian Nuclear Aggression Act,” November 28, 2018, https://cheney.house.gov/2018/11/28/stopping-russian-nuclear-aggression-act/; Office of Senator Elizabeth Warren, “Warren, Merkley, Gillibrand, Markey Introduce Bill to Prevent Nuclear Arms Race,” November 29, 2018, https://www.warren.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/warren-merkley-gillibrand-markey-introduce-bill-to-prevent-nuclear-arms-race.

 


Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Frank Klotz was undersecretary of energy for nuclear security and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration from 2014 to 2018 and commander of Air Force Global Strike Command from 2009 to 2011.

DOCUMENT: Bipartisan Experts Urge Trump to Save Nuclear Treaties With Russia

Bipartisan Experts Urge Trump to Save Nuclear Treaties With Russia

 

November 7, 2018

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Dear Mr. President:

As national security professionals and public servants who have spent their careers working for and with Republican and Democratic presidents to protect our nation’s national security, we urge you to ensure that we sustain meaningful, verifiable limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals in order to provide more predictability, transparency, and stability in our nuclear relationship with Russia.

We have been deeply troubled by the unresolved problem of Russia’s noncompliance with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. In July, NATO members, including the United States, affirmed their commitment to the INF Treaty, stating that it was “crucial to Euro-Atlantic security.” We agree. The INF Treaty has prevented the unchecked deployment of nuclear missiles in Europe, significantly reducing the risk of rapid escalation towards nuclear war.

Rather than move to terminate the INF Treaty, however, we urge you to direct your team to redouble efforts to negotiate technical solutions to U.S. (and Russian) INF compliance concerns. Russia’s deployment of a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile must be addressed; Moscow is concerned that launchers at the U.S. Aegis Ashore missile defense sites in Romania (and the planned site in Poland) are capable of firing offensive missiles. A senior adviser to President Putin has said that Russia is still ready to address “mutual grievances” related to the treaty. We urge you to pursue this option.

In the absence of the INF Treaty, the only remaining agreement regulating our nuclear stockpiles will be the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which limits the two sides’ long-range missiles and bombers, and caps the warheads they carry to no more than 1,550 each. U.S. military leaders continue to see value in New START. Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told Congress last March that “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.”

New START is due to expire on February 5, 2021 unless you and President Putin agree to extend it by up to five years (to 2026), as allowed for in Article XIV of the treaty. We urge you to take up Russia’s offer to engage in talks on the extension of New START. These talks should begin immediately to address any outstanding treaty compliance concerns before the treaty expires.

With your decision to extend New START, the two sides would have the time necessary to work together on a new deal that addresses obstacles that prevented your predecessors in the White House from achieving further limits and deeper reductions in the two countries’ nuclear arsenals.

Every American president since John F. Kennedy has successfully concluded at least one agreement with Russia to reduce nuclear dangers. Without New START, there would be no legally-binding, verifiable limits on the U.S. or Russian nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972.

In March of this year, you said you wanted to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin “to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.” We respectfully urge you to do so.

Sincerely,

Susan Burk, former Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, and head of the U.S. delegation to the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference

Richard R. Burt, former Ambassador to Germany and chief negotiator for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty

Thomas Countryman, former acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, and Chairman of the Arms Control Association

Thomas Graham Jr., Special Representative of the President for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, Disarmament

Jill Hruby, former Director, Sandia National Laboratories

Lt. Gen. Arlen D. Jameson, (USAF, Ret.), former Deputy Commander, U.S. Strategic Command

Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, (R-Kansas) 1978–1997

Laura E. Kennedy, former U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament and former Ambassador to Turkmenistan

Sen. Richard Lugar, (R-Ind.) former Chairman, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Sen. Sam Nunn, (D-Ga.) former Chairman, U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee

William J. Perry, former Secretary of Defense

Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and former Ambassador to the United Nations, to Russia, India, Israel, Nigeria, Jordan and El Salvador

Joan Rohlfing, President and COO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative

George P. Shultz, former Secretary of State

Getting Off the Treadmill to Catastrophe

Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that “[t]he Cold War is back...but with a difference. The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present.”


December 2018
By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that “[t]he Cold War is back...but with a difference. The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present.”

Russian Topol-M ICBM crosses Red Square in Moscow during a Victory Day parade on May 9, 2008.  (Photo: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images)Indeed, the United States and Russia are planning to spend trillions of dollars to replace and upgrade their nuclear arsenals at force levels that far exceed what is required to deter nuclear attack. China is also improving its nuclear weapons capabilities.

All three countries are pursuing new strategic-range weapons systems, including hypersonic missiles, and the weaponization of other emerging technologies, such as cyberweapons, that could upset the uneasy balance of nuclear terror that exists among the world’s major nuclear actors.

Meanwhile, U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreements designed to reduce nuclear risks, including the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), are in serious jeopardy. Currently, there is no bilateral dialogue on strategic stability to help avoid misperception and worst-case assumptions.

President Donald Trump, unfortunately, seems to believe that if he builds up the U.S. nuclear arsenal, other nations will back down. “Until people come to their senses, we will build it up,” Trump said to reporters Oct. 22 outside the White House. His simplistic notion of getting ahead in the nuclear game is a dangerous illusion.

In a nuclear arms race, the only finish line is catastrophe. As the veteran U.S. diplomat Paul Warnke wrote in 1975 as the United States and the Soviet Union were amassing new strategic nuclear weapons, “We can be first off the treadmill. That is the only victory the arms race has to offer.”

As Democrats prepare to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January, there is an opportunity to check and balance Trump’s nuclear impulses. Members of Congress of both parties, along with key U.S. allies and middle powers, should encourage the United States to get off the treadmill and take the first steps to reduce the role, size, and cost of its bloated nuclear arsenal.

Rather than ape Russia’s nuclear behavior, the United States should size and orient its nuclear force on the basis of its defense requirements alone. In 2013, a Pentagon review determined that the U.S. deployed strategic nuclear force is one-third larger than necessary to deter a nuclear attack. That means the United States can reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads from roughly 1,400 today to 1,000 or fewer and challenge Russia to do the same.

A thousand deployed warheads provide far more nuclear firepower than is needed to deter any current or potential nuclear adversary. Just one U.S. nuclear-armed submarine, carrying 192 thermonuclear warheads, each with an explosive yield of 100 kilotons or greater, could devastate a large country and kill tens of millions of people.

To lock in mutual reductions, Washington and Moscow should agree to extend New START for another five years, to 2026, and call for talks on a new agreement on new limits on all types of strategic offensive and defensive, nuclear and non-nuclear weapons systems that could affect strategic stability. Such a strategy could prompt Russia to rethink its own new weapons projects and possibly reduce its nuclear arsenal.

Further reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, which comprise 95 percent of global stockpiles, would increase pressure on China to halt its own slow but steady nuclear buildup and join the nuclear disarmament enterprise.

By scaling back its nuclear force to 1,000 deployed strategic warheads and making associated reductions to the hedge stockpile, the United States could trim billions of dollars from today’s excessive and unsustainable $1.2 trillion, 30-year plan to replace and upgrade its nuclear weapons delivery systems and warheads.

U.S. policymakers also need to shift away from outdated policies that increase the risk of nuclear war by accident or design. Current U.S. and Russian strategies call for the prompt launch of land-based missiles in the event of an impending nuclear attack. Each side also retains the option to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict. Worse still, the Trump administration wants new, “more-usable” low-yield nuclear weapons to counter Russia and has expanded the circumstances under which the United States would consider first use.

Instead, as Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, recommends, the United States should adopt a no-first-use nuclear policy, forgo new nuclear war-fighting weapons, and shed excessive nuclear force structure. There is no plausible circumstance that could justify legally, morally, or militarily the use of nuclear weapons to deal with a non-nuclear threat. Once nuclear weapons are employed in war, there is no guarantee the other side would not respond in kind and trigger an all-out nuclear exchange.

It is still within the power of U.S. and other world leaders to avoid a new global nuclear arms race, save billions of defense dollars on redundant and unnecessary nuclear weapons, and reduce the risk of nuclear use. The time to start is now.

 

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