Experts say extending the nuclear treaty is a ‘no-brainer’
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, February 5, marks the 8-year anniversary of the entry into force of New START, an agreement by the United States and Russia to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear weapons to no more than 1,550 each. The treaty, which took effect in 2011 and has enjoyed nearly a decade of verified compliance, is set to expire in 2021 unless Washington and Moscow decide to extend it.
Derek Johnson, executive director of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“New START is working, makes the world safer, and is more important than ever. With the INF Treaty in tatters, New START is the last remaining barrier to a full-blown nuclear arms race between Russia and the United States. The treaty also provides a critical window into Russian and American nuclear capabilities and intentions, and that’s all the more valuable as U.S.-Russian relations worsen and mistrust builds on both sides.
“For eight years, U.S.-Russian nuclear arsenals have been capped through equal limits adopted under New START. Under the Treaty, inspectors make regular and persistent visits to U.S. and Russian facilities to help verify both nations uphold their end of the bargain — and they both have. But the agreement is set to expire in 2021 and its future is in doubt thanks to President Trump, who reportedly called it a ‘bad deal’ and rejected an offer from President Putin to extend it, and whose National Security Advisor John Bolton is notoriously hostile to arms control agreements.
“Extending New START is a no-brainer. More nuclear weapons does not result in more security. These weapons are inherently dangerous: the longer we tolerate their existence, the more likely we are to see them put to use. The steady drawdown of Cold War stockpiles in pursuit of global zero is vital to the national security interests of the United States, its allies and the world. Everyone on the planet is made safer because of it.
“There are still too many nuclear weapons in the world, but New START took the United States and Russia an important step in the right direction. At the stroke of a pen, Trump and Putin could extend New START, preserve critical verification tools and strengthen the last remaining barrier to a full-blown nuclear arms race. Extending New START would immediately stabilize a dangerous and rapidly deteriorating situation between the two biggest nuclear hoarders on the planet, and set the stage for future talks to curb this catastrophic weaponry — possibly even drawing other nuclear-armed nations into the process for the first time in history.
“Unfortunately, the nuclear warfighting agenda evident in the Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review, coupled with Bolton’s recent killing spree on arms control measures like the Iran deal and INF, does not inspire confidence. By abandoning decades of arms control in favor of nuclear chaos, the United States is blazing a dangerous trail — and other nuclear-armed nations are sure to follow in its footsteps.“