"I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb."

– Vincent Intondi
Author, "African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement"
July 1, 2020
The United States and the Americas

U.S. Cites Arms Control Compliance Concerns

June 2022
By Gabriela Rosa Hernández & Leanne Quinn

Iran, Myanmar, Russia, and Syria have failed to uphold their commitments under the treaty banning chemical weapons, the U.S. State Department said in its annual compliance report on international nonproliferation and disarmament agreements and commitments released in April.

Three entities in China, a major producer of weapons such as this DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missile, were sanctioned by the United States in 2021 for providing goods and technology to Iran, North Korea and Syria that could assist in developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, according to a U.S. State Department report. (Photo by Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)The report, covering activities in 2021, reaffirmed U.S. concerns about activities at nuclear test sites in China and Russia and determined that North Korea and Syria have failed to comply with their obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Although there are questions regarding transparency, the report reaffirmed that “Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities…necessary to produce a nuclear device.”

But Iran has continued to develop stocks of enriched uranium that are vital to produce sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon, as it has since after the United States withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The report also found that “Iran’s continued failure to fully cooperate with the [International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] ongoing safeguards investigations raises concerns with regard to Iran’s compliance with its obligation to accept safeguards” under the NPT.

In a separate report monitoring international compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the State Department said that “Russia retains an undeclared chemical weapons program and has used chemical weapons twice in recent years,” referring to the assassination attempts on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Russia and Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the United Kingdom. Sergei Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer.

The supplementary report was unable to reach a conclusion regarding whether China has fully met its obligations under the CWC due to China’s research into pharmaceutical-based agents and toxins with potential dual-use applications. The State Department also found that Russia, China, and North Korea have failed to comply with their commitments under the treaty prohibiting the use of biological weapons.

In regard to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the main report said the United States continues to adhere to a zero-yield standard. Although there were no new compliance developments involving Russia in 2021, the department repeated previous concerns that Russia “conducted supercritical nuclear weapons tests since renewing its nuclear explosive testing moratorium in 1996 and [that] concerns remain due to the uncertainty relating to activities at Novaya Zemlya,” one of two major former Soviet nuclear test sites. As for China, the reports identified no new compliance issues, but concerns remain about activities at the Lop Nur Nuclear Test Site.

Meanwhile, Syria and North Korea remain in outright violation of their NPT obligations. In Syria’s case, this includes refusing to provide any substantive information to the IAEA about the Al-Kibar reactor that was destroyed during an Israeli airstrike in 2007.

As for North Korea, the State Department said, “Irrespective of one’s interpretation of whether or not [North Korea’s] 2003 notice of withdrawal from the NPT became legally effective, [North Korea] remains subject to IAEA safeguards obligations” and has failed to comply.

China also has failed to adhere to its November 2000 commitment not to assist any country in developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. “In 2021, the United States imposed sanctions against three [Chinese] entities pursuant to the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act for transfers of proliferation-sensitive goods and technology,” the report said, without giving more details.

Russia was found in compliance with its obligations under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and with its Presidential Nuclear Initiatives obligations. (See ACT, April 2022.) The initiatives are a set of arms control agreements regarding tactical nuclear warheads.

In terms of conventional arms control agreements, the 2022 report does not include a section on the Open Skies Treaty, in contrast to its 2021 iteration, because the United States officially withdrew from the accord in November 2020. (See ACT, December 2020.)

The report accused Russia of selectively applying provisions of the Vienna Document, an agreement about confidence- and security-building measures in Europe that provides for the exchange and verification of information, and criticized Russia’s failure to respond to Ukraine’s inquiry regarding the Russian military buildup near the Ukrainian border in 2021.

“As of December 2021, Russia continued and intensified its military build-up and aggressive rhetoric towards Ukraine. While further information about Russian activities in 2022 will be covered in detail in the 2023 report, the United States now knows the build-up was a prelude to offensive action against Ukraine,” the report states.



Iran, Myanmar, Russia and Syria failed to uphold chemical weapons treaty commitments, the State Department reported.

U.S. Commits to ASAT Ban

May 2022
By Daryl G. Kimball

The United States has become the first space-faring nation to declare a ban on anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons testing. In a statement on April 18, the Biden administration said the United States would commit “not to conduct destructive, direct-ascent [ASAT] missile testing, and that [it] seeks to establish this as a new international norm for responsible behavior in space.”

An Indian DRDO anti-satellite weapon (ASAT) is displayed during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi in January 2020.  (Photo by Prakash Singh/AFP via Getty Images)The announcement follows the Russian launch on Nov. 15 of an interceptor from a Nudol ground-based ASAT system that was used to destroy one of its own aging satellites in low earth orbit. The collision created at least 1,500 pieces of trackable debris that will pose a threat to orbiting objects for years to come.

Destructive ASAT tests “jeopardize the long-term sustainability of outer space and imperil the exploration and use of space by all nations,” the White House said in an April 18 fact sheet on national security norms in space.

“This commitment is verifiable and attributable by many parties, and we encourage other countries to make similar commitments to build international support against…destructive direct-ascent [ASAT] missile tests,” according to a series of April 18 tweets from the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.

Since the first Soviet ASAT test in 1968, there have been 16 destructive ASAT tests, resulting in more than 6,300 pieces of debris, according to the Secure World Foundation, which tracks space security developments.

China, India, and the United States have also demonstrated the ability to destroy satellites with ground- or air-launched missiles.

In 1985, the United States successfully tested an air-launched missile to destroy a weather satellite. In 2007, China used a ground-based SC-19 ballistic missile to destroy a weather satellite. In 2008, the United States used a modified ship-based Standard Missile-3 missile defense interceptor to destroy a failed U.S. intelligence satellite. In 2019, India used a ground-based Prithvi ballistic missile to destroy one of its own target satellites.

The U.S. ASAT moratorium was announced by Vice President Kamala Harris at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. She said the United States “will engage the international community to uphold and strengthen a rules-based international order for space.”

In 2021, President Joe Biden issued the “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance,” which stated that the United States “will lead in promoting shared norms on space.”

Efforts to launch talks that might produce new understandings on maintaining the peaceful use of space have long been stymied.

For many years, the United States was wary of any legally binding restrictions on ASAT systems in part because they might restrict U.S. ground-based missile defense capabilities or a possible space-based kinetic anti-missile system that could involve orbiting interceptors that provide a thin defense against intercontinental missiles.

The U.S. ASAT testing moratorium could energize an open-ended working group mandated by a 2021 UN resolution to develop rules of the road for military activities in space, including legally binding measures designed to prohibit counterspace activities that threaten international security. (See ACT, December 2021.)

In an April 21 statement, the French Foreign Affairs Ministry welcomed the U.S. move and said, “France, which has never carried out such tests, will continue to advocate for a legally binding universal standard prohibiting such actions.”

The Biden administration’s decision could energize UN-mandated discussions on rules for military activities in space.

U.S., Russia Adhering to New Start Despite War

May 2022
By Shannon Bugos

A few days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States and Russia exchanged data on their respective strategic nuclear forces as required by the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The data shared on March 1 showed that the countries remain at or below the treaty limits on deployed strategic warheads and their delivery vehicles.

“At a time when direct contacts are being curtailed, antagonism runs high, and trust [is] completely lost, it is nothing short of amazing that Russia and the United States continue to abide by the…treaty and exchange classified information as if nothing had happened,” wrote Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists in an April 6 blog post. The data exchange was made public on April 5.

The treaty limits U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces to 1,550 warheads deployed on 700 delivery vehicles, which are defined as intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers assigned to a nuclear mission.

The United States deploys 1,515 warheads on 686 delivery vehicles, and Russia deploys 1,474 warheads on 526 delivery vehicles, as of the latest data exchange.

Under New START, the two sides are allowed a certain number of on-site inspections each year, but those inspections have been paused since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, the two sides have continued to exchange various notifications on the status and basing or facility assignment of their respective strategic forces, for a total of 23,609 notifications as of April 7.

The treaty’s implementing body, the Bilateral Consultative Commission, ordinarily meets twice per year, but those meetings have also been paused because of the pandemic.

Alexander Darchiyev, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s North American Department, said on March 8
that “we’re preparing for the upcoming spring session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission.” Further information on when the commission may convene is unknown.

The exchange of New START data occurred after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Feb. 27 order to move his country’s nuclear forces to the heightened alert status of a “special regime of combat duty” in the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (See ACT, March 2022.) Although additional such orders have not been given, Russian officials have defended Putin’s order in the ensuing weeks. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov eventually downplayed the threat of nuclear war in late March. (See ACT, April 2022.)

On April 20, Russia test-launched a new nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile called the Sarmat. Although Putin called the test a warning to those in the West who “try to threaten our country,” some U.S. experts played down the impact saying Moscow notified Washington in advance as required under New START. The experts also estimated that SARMAT was initially slated to be operationally deployed in 2021, meaning the system is now behind schedule.

Russia and the United States are fulfilling their treaty commitments despite tensions over Ukraine.

Cluster Munitions Use in Ukraine Spurs U.S. Debate

May 2022
By Jeff Abramson

Spurred by the use of landmines and cluster munitions in the Russian war on Ukraine, Democratic members of the U.S. Congress have called for changes in U.S. policy on such weapons.

After shelling in Lysychansk during the Russian war in Ukraine in April, a man walks past an unexploded tail section of a 300mm rocket which appear to contain cluster bombs launched from a BM-30 Smerch multiple rocket launcher. (Photo by Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)“We strongly believe the credible allegations of Russian use of cluster munitions necessitate a change to the administration’s cluster munitions policy,” 27 representatives said in a letter released April 21.

The group, led by Reps. Bill Keating (Mass.), Jim McGovern (Mass.), and Sara Jacobs (Calif.), argued that past justifications for current U.S. policy, which allows for use of landmines and cluster munitions, “are no longer relevant.”

They pointed to U.S. military efforts to mitigate civilian deaths in war through guided munitions as part of their appeal to President Joe Biden “to take all the necessary steps” to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).

Earlier, on April 7, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also called for the United States to join the convention in remarks on Capitol Hill marking international mine awareness day.

The United States, Russia, and Ukraine are not among the 110 states-parties to the CCM. That treaty bans the use of the weapons, which deliver smaller submunitions that often fail to explode as intended and historically have harmed many more civilians than soldiers.

Almost from the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, global concerns were raised about Russian targeting of civilian areas and use of controversial weapons, such as cluster munitions and landmines. In late March, Human Rights Watch reported on Russian use of a recently developed landmine equipped with a sensor to detect approaching persons. It ejects an explosive charge into the air that can kill and maim individuals up to 50 feet away, making it more harmful with its initial blast and more difficult to demine than many other anti-personnel mines. (See ACT, April 2022.)

The president of the Mine Ban Treaty, Alicia Arango Olmos, who is also the Colombian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, condemned landmine usage in Ukraine, saying on April 5 that it “violates key principles of international humanitarian law and further exacerbates the heavy toll being brought upon the civilian population of Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on April 18 that Ukrainian forces had used cluster munitions in Husarivka in eastern Ukraine, the first such reported use by Ukrainian forces since 2015. When asked about Ukraine’s use, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on April 18 that he was not in a position to comment and reiterated U.S. support for Ukraine. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the United States could not independently confirm the usage.

As U.S. policymakers argued that condemnations of Moscow would be stronger if Washington would join the treaty banning cluster munitions, similar assertions were made about landmine policy. There have been no commitments by Biden to change cluster munition policy, but his administration’s responses to queries about landmines may indicate a weakening of promises to restrict their use.

A long-time champion of the Mine Ban Treaty, Leahy said in a speech on April 7 that a decision by the United States to join the treaty “would not guarantee that Russia would, but it would greatly enhance our credibility to call out their use of mines.” In June 2021, a bicameral, bipartisan group of 21 members of Congress called on the president to put the United States on the path to joining the treaty, saying it “will enhance our credibility in seeking to stigmatize the use of anti-personnel mines.”

When asked about the utility of mines during a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 7, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pointed to their use in Ukraine, saying that “anti-tank or anti-personnel landmines are very effective.”

That statement appears to run counter to ones made in 2021 by Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the UN, indicating that the Biden administration intended to roll back a Trump-era policy that allowed for the potential use of landmines by U.S. troops anywhere, instead of just on the Korean peninsula, as specified under Obama administration policy. (See ACT, December 2021.) A senior Pentagon official said on April 8 that a review of U.S. landmine policy is still underway and “could be informed by this conflict.”

Although the United States and Russia are not among the 164 states-parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Ukraine is. There is no evidence that Ukrainian forces are using anti-personnel landmines banned by the treaty.

In announcing $800 million in additional aid to Ukraine on April 13, the Biden administration listed among the transfers “M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions configured to be consistent with the Ottawa Convention,” meaning in a command-detonated mode.

The Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention, prohibits the use of “victim-activated” anti-personnel mines, which are exploded by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person. Command-detonated landmines, those for which a human decides to explode the weapon, are not explicitly banned by the treaty. These include Claymore mines in a command-detonated configuration. The treaty also does not explicitly ban anti-vehicle or anti-tank mines, which typically require heavier than human loads to detonate.

In 2020 the U.S. Defense Department argued that the United States needed to retain the use of mixed mine systems, such as those deployed via Volcano dispensers, that combine anti-personnel and anti-tank weapons in order to “discourage and delay adversaries from hand clearing of minefields intended to block, fix, or channel enemy tanks and vehicles.”

Democratic members of the U.S. Congress, spurred by the use of cluster munitions and landmines in Ukraine, have called for changes in U.S. policy on such weapons.

U.S. Mulls Options if Russia Uses WMD

April 2022
By Leanne Quinn

Amid growing concerns that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Ukraine, the Biden administration has gathered behind the scenes a group of national security officials to prepare potential responses should chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons be deployed.

World leaders confer March 24 on the sidelines of meetings of NATO and the G7 in Brussels to discuss the Russian war in Ukraine, L to R: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.  (Photo by Henry Nicholls - Pool/Getty Images)Dubbed the Tiger Team, the group also is brainstorming options for the United States and NATO if Russian forces go beyond the Ukrainian border and attack a NATO member in a strike against a convoy carrying weapons and aid to Ukraine. The team meets three times a week in classified sessions, according to a March 23 report by The New York Times.

U.S. President Joe Biden has said that, desperate over Russia’s failure to dominate in the war against Ukraine, Putin could be preparing to use chemical or biological weapons in battle.

Putin's "back is against the wall, and now he's talking about new false flags he's setting up, including asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe. Simply not true," Biden said on March 21 at a Business Roundtable event.

"They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That's a clear sign he's considering using both of those," he said.

Ahead of an emergency meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels on March 24, Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg put the focus on growing evidence that Russia was preparing to use chemical weapons. Stoltenberg said NATO would give Ukraine special equipment to help protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

Their comments came as Russian forces struggled to make progress in their increasingly brutal assault on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.

Russia is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and to the Biological Weapons Convention, which outlaw those armaments. As recently as January, Russia joined the United States and other major nuclear-weapon states in declaring that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Speaking at a U.S. Senate hearing on March 10, CIA Director William Burns stated that Russia’s use of chemical weapons “either as a false flag operation or against Ukrainians” is a possibility. The Russians have “used those weapons against their own citizens, they’ve at least encouraged their use in Syria and elsewhere, so it’s something we take very seriously,” Burns said.

Russia could potentially employ chemical weapons in a variety of ways. Russia could use a chemical weapon
“for assassinations against military and political leadership, … to clear buildings, [or] on the military battlefield. They could use it to go after bomb shelters because chemical agents can penetrate into buildings,” Andrew Weber, a top nonproliferation official in the Obama administration, said during an MSNBC interview.

Biden stated on March 11 that “Russia would pay a severe price if they used chemical weapons.”

When asked at a March 14 press briefing what those consequences could entail, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki responded, “[T]that would be a conversation that we would have with our partners around the world.” She predicted there would be a “severe reaction from the global community.”

In a March 16 telephone call, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan delivered a similar warning to Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, about the “consequences and implications” of any possible Russian decision to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.

The United States and Russia have been publicly trading allegations about chemical and biological weapons across multiple international forums.

In December 2021, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that U.S. military contractors were secretly smuggling chemical weapons components into Ukraine for mercenaries to use. Russia did not provide any evidence to back up its claim, which the United States and Ukraine have categorically denied.

Pushing the issue further, Russia called for a special meeting of the UN Security Council on March 11 to discuss Russian claims that Ukraine was attempting to “clean up” traces of a military biological program funded by the United States. Vasily Nebenzya, Russian ambassador to the United Nations, charged that the United States operates at least 30 biological weapons laboratories in Ukraine.

At the UN, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield insisted “there are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States, not near Russia’s border or anywhere.” She confirmed that the United States has supported Ukraine’s public health laboratory infrastructure, which played an important role in assisting Ukraine’s COVID-19 response, but said none of these labs has anything to do with biological weapons.

Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN undersecretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs, also dismissed the Russian claims. “The United Nations is not aware of any biological weapons programs” in Ukraine, she told the Security Council meeting.

During a meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council on March 8–11, the United States and 48 other nations sponsored a joint statement condemning Russian disinformation about chemical weapons in Ukraine.

Joseph Manso, the U.S. ambassador to the OPCW, called Russia’s allegations against the United States “preposterous” and said Russia’s disinformation campaign was “a means to distract from its transgressions and aggressions.” In an attempt to underscore the U.S. commitment to the CWC, Manso announced that the United States would host a virtual chemical demilitarization transparency event on March 22 for OPCW delegates. That meeting, led by Bonnie Jenkins, the U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, highlighted the progress the United States has made in destroying its chemical weapons stockpile and reaffirmed that the destruction efforts would be finished by the treaty-mandated deadline of September 2023.

As a member state of the CWC, the international treaty that bans the use or stockpiling of chemical weapons, Russia was obligated to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal. The OPCW verified that Russia finished destroying its declared stockpile of 40,000 metric tons in September 2017.

Despite this, the U.S. State Department said in April 2021 it “cannot certify that Russia has met its obligations for its complete declarations” of its chemical weapons production and development facilities and stockpiles. The United States and other Western governments have accused Russia of the attempted assassination of Russian defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in 2018 and of Alexei Navalny, Russia’s leading opposition leader, in 2020. A chemical nerve agent called Novichok was used in both cases.

Amid concerns that Russia could use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Ukraine, a group of U.S. national security officials is mulling potential responses.

Biden Policy Allows First Use of Nuclear Weapons

April 2022
By Daryl G. Kimball

President Joe Biden has signed off on a months-long, Pentagon-led review of U.S. defense strategy and nuclear weapons policy. On March 28, the White House announced that it had transmitted to Congress the classified version of the National Defense Strategy (NDS). Senior administration officials told Arms Control Today that this document includes the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and the Missile Defense Review (MDR)
as annexes.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) launches a Block V Tomahawk, the weapon’s newest variant, during a missile exercise. President Joe Biden has reversed his predecessor’s policy and cancelled plans for a nuclear version of the sea-launched cruise missile. (U.S. Navy photo by LTJG Sean Ianno)Senior U.S. officials said that Biden has decided not to follow through on his 2020 pledge to declare that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack against the United States or its allies. Instead, he approved a version of a policy from the Obama administration that leaves open the option to use nuclear weapons not only in retaliation to a nuclear attack, but also to respond to non-nuclear threats.

Biden’s policy declares that the “fundamental role” of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is to deter a nuclear attack, but will still leave open the option that nuclear weapons could be used in “extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners,” officials told ACT. According to a March 25 report by The Wall Street Journal, this might include nuclear use to deter enemy conventional, biological, chemical, and possibly cyberattacks.

During the presidential campaign, Biden wrote in the March 2020 issue of Foreign Affairs, “I believe that the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring—and, if necessary, retaliating against—a nuclear attack. As president, I will work to put that belief into practice, in consultation with the U.S. military and U.S. allies.”

A senior administration official who spoke with Arms Control Today on March 29 emphasized that under Biden, the United States would maintain a “very high bar for considering nuclear weapons employment.”

“The NPR also underscores our commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons and reestablishing U.S. leadership in arms control, and it emphasizes the administration’s commitment to stability, avoiding costly arms races, and facilitating risk reduction and arms control arrangements where possible,” a senior U.S. official told ACT.

The results of the NPR were briefed to NATO allies when Biden joined other leaders in Brussels on March 24 for a summit focused on the alliance’s response to the Russian war against Ukraine. The classified version of the NPR was briefed to select congressional members on March 28, and the unclassified version will be released in April.

Since the end of the Cold War, successive presidents have updated U.S. nuclear weapons and risk reduction policy through comprehensive nuclear posture reviews, which produce a strategy document that outlines the role of these weapons in U.S. strategy, the plans for maintaining and upgrading nuclear forces, and the overall U.S. approach to nuclear arms control and nonproliferation.

Each previous post-Cold War NPR, including those by President Bill Clinton in 1996, President George W. Bush in 2002, President Barack Obama in 2010, and President Donald Trump in 2018, has made adjustments that reflect the foreign and military policies of each administration, overall reflecting more continuity than change. The number of targets in the nuclear war plans has been reduced since the mid-1990s, but the United States and Russia maintain their strategic forces on a “launch under attack” posture, and U.S. presidents have all refused to rule out the potential use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear threats.

The Russian nuclear weapons use policy is similar to the U.S. policy. It states that Russia “reserves the right to use nuclear weapons,” including when Moscow is acting “in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.” (See ACT, July/August 2020.)

According to press reports, Biden’s NPR will cancel development of a new nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile proposed by the Trump administration and a Cold War-era high-yield gravity bomb, the B-83. But it will green-light other nuclear weapons modernization and sustainment programs, including a new fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles, a new strategic bomber, new air-launched cruise missiles, and the new Columbia-class strategic submarines.

Biden’s decision to revive the Obama-era approach on nuclear weapons use policy was very likely influenced by the views of allies at a time of heightened concern about Russian aggression. The allies want to maintain continuity and cohesion in response to President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale attack on Ukraine, which has been considered a U.S. “strategic partner” since 2008.

Biden’s decision not to adopt a sole-purpose nuclear declaratory policy not only runs counter to his previous public statements, but it also ignores the advice of many in his own party. In July 2021, for instance, Democratic lawmakers from the House and Senate met with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan about the review, which had just been launched. Among other recommendations, they urged Biden to follow through on his pledge to adopt a sole-purpose policy. In their meeting, Sullivan told the lawmakers the president still supported that approach, according to sources who spoke with Arms Control Today.

The President has abandoned his 2020 sole purpose pledge.

Biden Approves $29 Billion Increase in Defense Budget

April 2022
By Shannon Bugos

President Joe Biden has signed off on a $29 billion spending increase to his requested fiscal year 2022 national defense budget, a massive expansion that was approved alongside another $13.6 billion in emergency military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine as Russia’s deadly war on that country continues.

A Ukrainian serviceman aims a FGM-148 Javelin, a U.S.-made portable anti-tank missile, at a checkpoint near Kharkiv in March 2022. President Joe Biden is proposing billions more dollars in U.S. defense spending to meet the military and humanitarian needs of Ukraine as it tries to defend against a Russian onslaught. (Photo by Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images)“We will make sure Ukraine has weapons to defend against an invading Russian force,” Biden said on March 11 before signing the legislation four days later. “We will send money and food and aid to save the Ukrainian people.”

The national defense total in the 2022 omnibus spending bill is $782 billion, a 3.9 percent increase over the administration’s request for 2022 and a 5.6 percent increase over the 2021 appropriations. (See ACT, January/February 2022; July/August 2021.) This total does not include the assistance for Ukraine, of which $6.5 billion is headed to the Pentagon for funding U.S. troop deployments to eastern Europe and restocking weapons that have been or will be sent to Ukraine.

“The escalating crisis President [Vladimir] Putin has inflicted on Europe poses the greatest threat to democracy and national sovereignty in a generation,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on March 10. “The American people overwhelmingly support the people of Ukraine.”

“We are becoming witness to one of the worst humanitarian crises we have seen in generations, which is why this bill provides $13.6 billion in humanitarian assistance, defense support, and economic aid to help the Ukrainian people in their most desperate hour of need,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said on March 9 in a floor speech.

Nearly six months after the start of fiscal year 2022, the House on March 9 passed the 12 appropriations bills needed to fund the government, including for defense, and energy and water, and the supplementary aid package for Ukraine, followed by the Senate on March 10. Congress approved and Biden signed the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in December. (See ACT, January/ February 2022.) The NDAA authorized funding in the amount of $768 billion, while the appropriations bills stipulate actual spending levels.

Since the start of the fiscal year in October, Congress has passed multiple short-term continuing resolutions, which funded most programs and activities at the previous year’s spending level to keep the government open and prevent a shutdown.

The defense appropriations bill allocates $5.1 billion for the construction and continued research and development of what will ultimately be a fleet of 12 Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines. This is an increase of about $7 million above the authorized amount and $145 million above Biden’s budget request.

The appropriations bill, like the NDAA, fully funds the requests of $5.2 million and $10 million by the Defense and Energy departments, respectively, for the development of a new submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) and its associated low-yield nuclear warhead. The House Appropriations Committee zeroed out this funding in its version of the spending bills in an attempt to halt the controversial program kick-started by the Trump administration, but the final bills reinstated it.

In addition, the defense appropriations bill fully approved the Air Force’s request of $3 billion for the B-21 Raider strategic bomber program, including $108 million for initial procurement, as well as $2.6 billion for continued R&D plus initial missile procurement for the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program. The service plans to buy more than 650 new GBSD missiles to replace the current fleet of 400 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) beginning in 2029.

The Air Force saw a slight decrease in its budget for the long-range standoff (LRSO) weapons program to replace the existing air-launched cruise missile. The final LRSO appropriation came to $599 million, which is a 2 percent decrease from both the administration’s request and the NDAA but a 56 percent increase from the 2021 authorization.

The Army, meanwhile, received its complete request of $286 million for the development of a conventional, ground-launched, midrange mobile missile capability, just as in the NDAA.

Despite the drive shared by defense officials and members of Congress to speed ahead with the development and deployment of conventional hypersonic weapons, the appropriations law ultimately canceled one program for an entirely new hypersonic capability and cut initial procurement for another capability.

The Air Force requested $161 million to purchase the first 12 Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) hypersonic missiles during 2022, but the law halved the amount and redistributed the remaining funds to the ARRW program’s R&D budget, for an appropriation of $319 million. The ARRW system, a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, was slated to achieve an initial operating capability this fiscal year, but failed three flight booster tests in 2021. In its explanatory statement accompanying the legislation, Congress ascribed its decision “to recent failures and delays in testing that have extended the ARRW program schedule and put a first production lot contract at risk for award in fiscal year 2022.”

Breaking with the general consensus, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall recently has gone on the record with his skepticism of the ARRW program, which, he said on March 9, “still has to prove itself.”

Heidi Shyu, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, also admitted to Bloomberg on March 7 that although she is supportive of the ARRW program, the 2022 “operational capability date is a very aggressive schedule.” Shyu held another meeting with hypersonics industry executives in early March following a previous meeting, attended by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a month earlier. (See ACT, March 2022.)

The spending bill also cut $10 million from the requested and authorized amounts for the Air Force’s new Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile program, bringing its appropriated budget to $190 million.

As for the Navy, the spending bill slightly downsized the budget for the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) program, which features the hypersonic glide body that is shared with the Army’s hypersonic program, to $1.3 billion, a $48 million decrease from Biden’s request and a $174 million decrease from the NDAA.

The service aims to add the CPS system to Zumwalt-class destroyers starting in fiscal year 2025 and to Virginia-class submarines in fiscal year 2028. Congress subtracted some funding as it assessed that, for both the integration of the CPS system onto Virginia-class submarines and the expansion of the industrial base, the dollars requested were “early to need.”

The budget for the Navy’s new hypersonic program, the Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare Increment II, was slashed entirely due to a “lack of program justification.” The Pentagon had requested $57 million, and Congress had authorized $34 million.

The Army’s hypersonic capability, the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) system, received the full request for $111 million for procurement of additional LRHW batteries and a $14 million bump from the request and authorization for its R&D budget, to $315 million.

The spending bill also appropriated $194 million for the hypersonic programs overseen by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an 11 percent increase from the request and a 24 percent decrease from the authorization. These programs include the Glide Breaker, Operation Fires, Tactical Boost Glide, and Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept programs. Congress increased the appropriated amount for the purposes of “hypersonics risk reduction.”

Meanwhile, the energy and water appropriations bill followed the NDAA’s lead by providing the requested funds for the B61-12 gravity bomb, the W87-1 ICBM warhead, and the W80-4 ALCM warhead upgrade at $772 million, $691 million, and $1.1 billion, respectively. The law also approved full funding for other controversial programs proposed by the Trump administration and continued by the Biden administration, including $134 million for the new high-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead, the W93, and its associated aeroshell and $98.5 million for the megaton-class B83-1 gravity bomb.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency of the Energy Department that maintains and modernizes the nuclear warhead stockpile, also received the requested $1.6 billion to increase the production rate of plutonium pits for nuclear warheads to at least 80 per year at two production sites.

Even so, Adm. Charles Richard, chief of U.S. Strategic Command, acknowledged on March 8 that “we now know we will not get 80 pits per year by 2030, as is statutorily required, and even unlimited money at this point will not buy that back.”

The appropriations law also funded the NDAA’s $105 million increase over the Biden request for the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, bringing the total to $345 million. This program is aimed at reducing threats from weapons of mass destruction and related challenges, including the spread of dangerous pathogens such as the coronavirus.

The increase to the requested fiscal year 2022 national defense budget is massive.

Congress Cuts Funds for Layered Defense System

April 2022
By John Bedard

Congress has shot down the Pentagon’s request for funding in the fiscal year 2022 defense appropriations bill to develop a layered homeland missile defense system.

MDA has hit a milestone for integrating the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, shown, with the Patriot air and missile defense system, firing an advanced Patriot missile from THAAD. (Photo by Lockheed Martin via Getty Images)The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) aims to adapt the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Aegis missile defense systems, both designed to defeat short- and intermediate-range missiles, in order to bolster the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. The GMD system, based in California and Alaska, is designed to respond to intercontinental ballistic missile threats.

But in the appropriations bill signed into law by President Joe Biden in March, funding for this new layered system was axed due to a “lack of requirement,” lawmakers wrote in an explanatory statement. The appropriations bill matched the authorization bill passed in December in subtracting both the $99 million MDA request for adapting Aegis missiles to the GMD system and the $65 million request to demonstrate the THAAD system’s ability to take out long-range threats. The GMD program’s research and development budget for this effort also was decreased by $10 million. (See ACT, January/February 2022.)

In addition, the appropriations bill deleted $42 million from the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) program, reducing it to $884 million. The Pentagon plans to supplement the existing 44 GMD interceptors with 20 NGI missiles beginning no later than 2028, bringing the fleet total to 64.

Although the R&D budget for the THAAD program was decreased by 23 percent to $213 million, the law boosted THAAD procurement funds by $129 million, for a total price tag of $381 million, in order to purchase an additional 14 interceptors for the system. The R&D cut in the THAAD program was related specifically to the layered homeland defense system; the boost in procurement will underwrite the use of THAAD missiles in other circumstances.

Two weeks before the signing of the spending bill, the MDA test-fired its most sophisticated version of the Patriot missile from a THAAD system in New Mexico. The launch of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement on Feb. 24 marked the final step toward integrating two battle systems that can provide “critical multi-tier missile defense capability,” according to Lockheed Martin in a statement to Defense News.

Overall, Congress gave the MDA $1.4 billion more than requested for fiscal year 2022, bringing its budget to $10.3 billion.

Meanwhile, the MDA’s Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor program received an appropriation of $269 million, including $110 million for launching two satellites in 2023. At the same time, the law boosted the development budget of the Space Development Agency (SDA) by $550 million in order to speed plans for the National Defense Space Architecture Tracking Layer, which means the launch of satellites in low-earth orbit capable of identifying and tracking threats such as hypersonic weapons will take place in 2025 instead of 2027.

In the explanatory statement accompanying the legislation, lawmakers acknowledged that the space sensor system launch strategy is “inconsistent” with previous MDA plans of launching such payloads into orbit aboard SDA satellites.

Congress criticized the MDA and SDA for “a lack of coordination and cooperation” and wasting taxpayer dollars by each launching their own satellites.

Congress rejected the Pentagon’s request for funding in the 2022 defense appropriations bill.

Pentagon to Speed Development of Hypersonic Weapons

March 2022
By Shannon Bugos

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hosted more than a dozen hypersonics industry executives in February as a demonstration of the Pentagon’s commitment to quicken the development of hypersonic weapons systems, which the department considers a technology priority as it races to keep pace with China and Russia.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, shown here on a trip to Poland, gathered executives from the hypersonics weapons industry at the Pentagon on Feb. 3 to emphasize the U.S. commitment to speed development of hypersonic weapons.  (Photo by Chad McNeeley/Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs)During the Feb. 3 meeting, Austin “noted the need for persistent dialogue in order to meet the department’s current and future capabilities requirements for defensive and offensive capabilities,” according to a Pentagon statement released afterward.

Politico reported on Jan. 26 that plans for the meeting came together after the military services submitted fiscal year 2023 budget proposals that Austin deemed inadequate for speeding up the development and deployment of hypersonic weapons systems, which China and Russia have already begun to field.

Officially, the executive roundtable was part of a series of engagements focused on the Pentagon’s critical technology development areas, including hypersonics, that Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, revealed in a Feb. 1 memo. She highlighted three groups of 14 technology areas and announced that she will craft a new national defense science and technology strategy, which will be influenced by the yet-to-be-released 2022 National Defense Strategy.

“By focusing efforts and investments into these 14 critical technology areas, the department will accelerate transitioning key capabilities to the military services and combatant commands,” wrote Shyu, who stressed the need for this transition of technology from invention to fielding to occur “more swiftly.”

In the defense-specific category, Shyu listed hypersonics, noting that “strategic competitors,” namely China and Russia, have already deployed such capabilities and declaring that the Pentagon “will develop leap-ahead and cost-effective technologies for our air, land, and sea operational forces.”

Shyu’s 14 critical technology areas broadly overlap with the 19 items on the National Science and Technology Council’s critical and emerging technologies list, released on Feb. 7. That list was released by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and was intended to identify the advanced technologies relevant to U.S. national security and inform efforts promoting U.S. technological leadership.

This top-level push for a reinvigorated focus on hypersonic weapons systems at the Defense Department comes even as there remain unanswered questions, acknowledged by officials, about the overall cost, mission, and required quantity of U.S. hypersonic weapons.

Shyu noted on Jan. 13 that the current price tag for hypersonic capabilities is high, but said that it could come down with automation and higher production quantities.

The Pentagon has not publicized the exact number of hypersonic glide vehicles and cruise missiles it wants to acquire, although Gillian Bussey, director of the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office, called for higher quantities on Feb. 8.

Possessing hypersonic weapons “isn’t going to make a difference unless we have sufficient quantities,” Bussey said. “Having a dozen hypersonic missiles, regardless of whether they’re really hypersonic or not, isn’t going to scare anyone.”

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall cautioned in January that the United States must “be careful about not mirror-imaging the potential threats.” In other words, he does not see a need to match China and Russia one for one. Rather, Kendall said, “we have to look very carefully at the targets that we’re interested in and at the most cost-effective way to deal with [them].”

Details on the exact targets and missions envisioned remain scarce.

“What missions would [hypersonic weapons] perform? Against what types of targets? In what geographic setting?” asked Tom Mahnken, president at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, in a Jan. 26 Politico article. “Answers to questions such as these would go a long way toward determining how many hypersonic weapons we need to buy and of what type.”

The Feb. 3 industry roundtable was chaired by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and attended by Shyu. Among the companies invited were Raytheon Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, L3Harris, and BAE Systems.

According to a Feb. 4 report by Breaking Defense, two major concerns expressed by the executives were the effects of the existing continuing resolution on the fiscal year 2022 budget and the lack of infrastructure for hypersonic weapons testing, such as wind tunnels.

Although Congress passed the 2022 defense authorization bill in December, it has yet to adopt the relevant appropriations bills, which would actually make funding available, and instead passed stopgap continuing resolutions through March 11. (See ACT, January/February 2022.)

Regarding hypersonics testing, “[P]articipants identified a need to expand access to modeling capabilities and testing facilities in order to adopt a ‘test often, fail fast, and learn’ approach which will accelerate the fielding of hypersonic and counter-hypersonic systems,” according to the Pentagon statement.

This testing concern voiced by hypersonics industry executives echoed a finding in a Jan. 27 report by the Pentagon’s testing and evaluation office that the department does not have enough open space on its missile test ranges to test hypersonic weapons. Bloomberg first reported on this finding Feb. 3 after obtaining the nonpublic version of the report, as the public version excluded that information.

Test ranges across the country are projected to face an overwhelming increase in demand of more than 50 percent by 2025 unless they are expanded, the report stated.

The public version of the report did acknowledge that the test schedule for the Air Force’s hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) system, “could be delayed due to the limited number and availability of hypersonic flight corridors, target areas, and test support assets.” These limited assets, the report said, “will not allow a standard assessment for operational effectiveness, lethality, suitability, and survivability.”

The ARRW system failed three flight booster tests, in April, July, and December 2021, and is slated to achieve an initial operating capability this fiscal year. (See ACT, January/February 2022.) The Air Force could still stick to this timeline and start production this year, said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, the Air Force program executive officer for weapons, in a Jan. 13 interview with Breaking Defense. But “it is dependent on resolution of the failure [in December] and executing the rest of the test program up through all-up-round [testing],” he cautioned.

The ARRW system must successfully complete booster and all-up-round test flights before a contract is awarded to manufacturer Lockheed Martin to kick-start production.

The nonpublic version of the Pentagon’s testing report also highlighted concerns with hypersonic missile defense. The Defense Department cannot sufficiently simulate the threat from an incoming hypersonic weapon and therefore “needs to continue to pursue the representation of these environments in model and simulation and live fire testing,” the report said.

The lack of the necessary 2022 defense appropriations bill has also impeded the Pentagon’s plans for hypersonic missile defense, according to Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

“We live in a world right now where we don’t have current year appropriations, and we also don’t have insight into the following year’s topline. Unfortunately, that throttles this program,” Hill said, referring to the Glide Phase Interceptor, a hypersonic missile intended to destroy an adversary’s hypersonic weapon in its glide phase. The MDA awarded contracts to three companies in November to develop prototypes for this interceptor. (See ACT, January/February 2022.)

In a related development, Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Jan. 6 a new agreement with Japan aimed at fostering greater collaboration on research and development of emerging technologies, to include counterhypersonic technologies.

“We’re launching a new research and development agreement that will make it easier for our scientists, for our engineers, and program managers to collaborate on emerging defense-related issues, from countering hypersonic threats to advancing space-based capabilities,” Blinken said.

The announcement came a day after North Korea claimed it had tested a hypersonic glide vehicle and followed reports in October that China allegedly had tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle that could circle the globe.

Defense leaders are concerned the U.S. program is insufficient to keep up with China and Russia.

U.S., Russia Broaden Strategic Dialogue

January/February 2022
By Daryl G. Kimball and Shannon Bugos

Senior U.S. and Russian officials have agreed to meet in Geneva on Jan. 10 to discuss a long list of security issues, including a wide-ranging set of Russian proposals that Moscow says are designed to provide “security guarantees.” In recent weeks, tensions have flared as Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped up Russian military activity near Ukraine, which Russia invaded in 2014, and complained about NATO military support for Ukraine and Georgia.

President Joe Biden speaks to the press as he departs the White House on Dec. 8, a day after a virtual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Another virtual summit was held on Dec. 30 as tensions over Ukraine heated up.  (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)On Dec. 15, Karen Donfried, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who transmitted two draft agreements outlining political and military security guarantees Moscow wants from the United States and NATO. They include demands that NATO renounce any expansion eastward into states of the former Soviet bloc, including Ukraine, and limit troop and weapons deployments and military drills on NATO’s eastern flank.

Two days later, Russia published its proposals, one between Russia and the United States and another between Russia and NATO. “We hope that the United States will enter into serious talks with Russia in the near future regarding this matter, which has critical importance for maintaining peace and stability, using the Russian draft treaty and agreement as a starting point,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The White House quickly announced it would engage on the proposals, but insisted its European partners would also be involved. The Russian-U.S. strategic stability dialogue in Geneva is expected to be followed on Jan. 12 by talks in Brussels within the NATO-Russia Council, which has not met in more than two years.

“We’ll listen to Russia explain its proposals and the underlying concerns motivating them. We’ll respond and share our own concerns, and we do have many,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Jan. 4 of the Geneva meeting.

He stressed that the talks are narrowly focused on strategic stability matters and described the U.S. goal as being able to “identify a few issues where there might be enough common ground to continue discussions and ultimately address together.”

Price also emphasized that the talks would deal strictly with bilateral matters and “we’re not going to talk above the heads of our European allies and partners.”

On Dec. 30, President Joe Biden spoke with Putin on security matters, the second such conversation that month. According to a statement released by the White House, Biden “… urged Russia to deescalate tensions with Ukraine. He made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine. President Biden also expressed support for diplomacy, starting early next year [and] reiterated that substantive progress in these dialogues can occur only in an environment of deescalation rather than escalation.”

The January meetings were scheduled as fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine continues and as concerns linger about Russia’s military activities along its common border with Ukraine. Last month, U.S. officials said Russia has amassed around 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border that could be used against Ukraine. On Dec. 25, Reuters reported that more than 10,000 Russian troops were leaving regions near Ukraine, including Crimea, Rostov, and Kuban, and returning to permanent bases in Russia.

The Russian-U.S. talks will occur in the context of the strategic stability dialogue launched after the June summit between Biden and Putin to discuss nuclear weapons-related issues. The previous two rounds, in July and September, were led by Ryabkov and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

The dialogue was originally designed to explore future arms control options. After the September dialogue, Moscow and Washington agreed to establish two working groups, one on “principles and objectives for future arms control” and the other on “capabilities and actions with strategic effects.”

How the broadened dialogue will affect progress toward negotiations on new nuclear arms control arrangements is not yet clear. Both sides have indicated interest in a new agreement or agreements to supersede the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which expires in February 2026. The treaty caps Russian and U.S. strategic nuclear arsenals at 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed delivery vehicles and heavy bombers each. The Bilateral Consultative Commission, the treaty’s implementing body, last met Oct. 5–14 in Geneva.

One Russian security proposal calls for the United States not to deploy outside its borders any missiles formerly banned under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Under that treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union banned all nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, leading to the elimination of a total of 2,692 missiles.

After Washington withdrew from the accord in 2019, Putin proposed that the two countries impose a moratorium on the deployment of INF Treaty-range missiles and later added mutual verification measures to the proposal. Russia also indicated that its 9M729 cruise missile, which the United States alleged was a violation of the INF Treaty, would be covered by its proposal.

At the time, the Trump administration and NATO dismissed the Russian proposal. The Biden administration has not clarified whether it would consider the Russian concept or offer a counterproposal.

The draft Russian-U.S. agreement proposes that the two countries “shall undertake not to deploy ground-launched intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles outside their national territories, as well as in the areas of their national territories, from which such weapons can attack targets in the national territory of the other party.”

The draft Russian-NATO agreement also includes a moratorium, proposing that “the parties shall not deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas allowing them to reach the territory of the other parties.”

Additionally, Moscow proposed that Russia and the United States “refrain from deploying nuclear weapons outside their national territories” and “not train military and civilian personnel from non-nuclear countries to use nuclear weapons.”

This refers to the U.S.-NATO nuclear sharing agreement, under which Washington is estimated to deploy more than 100 B61 gravity bombs across Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey, with all but the Turkish air force assigned and trained to carry out nuclear strike missions with the U.S. weapons.

Bonnie Jenkins, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, outlined the key concepts for U.S. arms control efforts in a Sept. 6 speech. “First, we will look to capture new kinds of intercontinental-range nuclear delivery systems. Second, we will seek to address all nuclear warheads, including those which have not been limited previously, like so-called non-strategic nuclear weapons. Third, we will seek to retain limits on Russian intercontinental-range ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments after New START expires in 2026,” she said.

It remains unclear how the two sides could bridge their nuclear differences and when they might transition from the dialogue to more formal negotiations on a successor to New START. Biden said in June that “we’ll find out within the next six months to a year whether or not we actually have a strategic dialogue that matters.”

Russian, U.S. officials planned security talks for Jan. 10.


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