WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden has offered President Vladimir Putin a full five-year extension of the last remaining nuclear arms control agreement between Russia and the United States. The New START treaty, which limits both countries to no more than 1,550 strategic offensively deployed nuclear weapons each, will expire February 5, 2021 without mutual agreement to extend. Putin has previously said he favors a clean, unconditional extension of the treaty and Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on January 20 calling for an unconditional extension for 5 years. The extension does not require approval by the U.S. Senate.
In response, Derek Johnson, chief executive officer of the international Global Zero movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“Extending New START is a hugely consequential first move by the Biden administration. The treaty is an essential guardrail against nuclear arms-racing that imposes equal limits on U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons. Both countries are in full compliance with the agreement and its intrusive verification provisions ensure neither side can cheat without detection. Allowing the agreement to expire risks unleashing a full-blown nuclear arms race that exposes the whole world to an intolerable level of risk.
“The Global Zero movement urges Moscow to immediately accept this clean, unconditional offer of extension. New START has a proven record of success and serves the national security interests of both countries — and the world. Allowing the agreement to expire risks unleashing a full-blown nuclear arms race that exposes the whole world to an intolerable level of risk.
“Following extension of the treaty, the U.S. and Russian governments must reboot negotiations to address the unacceptably high risks of nuclear conflict. The approach should include not only lower limits on all categories of nuclear weapons, but also controls on other systems that undermine stability and predictability, such as missile defenses, dual-capable missiles, and advanced conventional-strike weapons. The U.S. and Russia must also work quickly to bring China, France, and the United Kingdom into a process that caps and eventually reduces and eliminates global nuclear stockpiles.
“After four years of efforts to kill arms control and chase the false security of nuclear dominance, the U.S. is coming back to its senses. President Biden’s offer signals a welcome return to serious diplomacy that provides a path to a safer and more secure future for all. Unless you’re a defense contractor, this is good news for everyone.
“Extending New START is the minimum that can be done to begin to meet U.S. and Russian obligations under international law to pursue nuclear disarmament, and it’s exactly the right place for the Biden administration to start.”