US Senator Tom Cotton and Congresswoman Liz Cheney have introduced a bill that prevents extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia or the Stopping Russia Nuclear Aggression Act. It says “Under no circumstances should the United States agree to extend the New START Treaty beyond the current expiration in 2021 without drastic improvements to the deeply flawed deal.” The bill includes the provision of Russia’s agreement to verifiably reduce its stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons. It also stipulates that the new weapons mentioned in the President Putin’s famous speech in March must be included into the count.
New START limits the US and Russia each to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles. Effective since 2011, the agreement covers a 10-year period until February 2021 with the possibility of a five-year extension. So far, the talks on extending the agreement have not been kicked off to the dismay of many arms control wonks.
President Donald Trump has announced his intention to jettison the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty citing Russia’s alleged “violation” and the “threat” supposedly coming from China. Decried by the president last year, New START may be next up on the chopping block. He does not like anything done during President Obama’s tenure. The other option is an analog of the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which limited deployed warheads without verification provisions. According to Andrea Thompson, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, the future of New Start depends on Moscow’s readiness to limit the new strategic systems President Putin mentioned in his famous speech in March.
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