The new START treaty does not protect us from every danger we face
Ten years ago, the new START nuclear weapons control treaty entered into force between the United States and Russia. And earlier this month, the State Department announced a five-year extension of the treaty a few days before it was scheduled to expire.
The media was quick to praise the decision, with a major publication claiming that President Biden had “avoided a renewed arms race” in his first month in office.
The new START has been an important part of our relationship with Russia for the past decade. But it should be clear: this single treaty does not protect us from every danger we face. The US should make more efforts to curb the nuclear ambitions of our geopolitical rivals.
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To begin with, the New START limits only certain categories of nuclear weapons: ground-based and submarine-launched intercontinental missiles, as well as heavy bombers. Since the signing of the treaty, the United States has chosen not to invest in new nuclear weapons outside its border.
Russia has done the opposite, and in fact maintains an active stockpile of thousands of nuclear weapons included in the parameters of the New START, from short-range ballistic missiles to depth charges.
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Investments in Russia’s nuclear arsenal since the new START signed show that Russian leaders do not see the nuclear domain in any way different as they see space or cyberspace – where their nefarious activity is more widely reported . It is clear that Russia wants to gain a competitive advantage and will go around the border – as they have the new START – or right through them, as they did with the INF treaty.
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In addition, New START includes only the US and Russia. China, the world’s fastest growing nuclear power, is not a party to the agreement.
Sensing the seriousness of China’s buildup, the commander of the US Strategic Command, Adams Charles Richard, noted earlier this month: “China’s nuclear weapons reserves are expected to double – if not triple or quadruple over the next decade . “
The fact that nuclear threats continue to increase with New Start shows that it does not address the full spectrum of challenges facing the free world.
As the top Republican on the Senate’s Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which oversees our nuclear arsenal, I believe the renewal of New Start is one to regain perspective and pursue a new path. Provides significant opportunities.
The US should focus on addressing the rapid development of both Russia and China’s nuclear forces. To accomplish this, some have suggested that the Biden administration should convene for a second round of negotiations. But when some mind can be put into diplomacy, it will not give our desired results.
Under no circumstances can we terminate our nuclear tests or cancel modernization programs.
In truth, we do not need another conference, yet in another European capital, with delegates gathered for manicure press events in gilded meeting rooms. The limitations of Russia’s strategic weapons and bringing China into the arms control process have long been American diplomatic objectives. Under Obama and the Trump administration, both countries have consistently refused to join us.
Their intolerance shows that neither nation feels motivated to negotiate. For the first time we will get nowhere to enter into new talks without a solution to that problem.
Instead, both Russia and China need to make a serious effort at home to encourage them to stop their nuclear buildup. At the very least, it means the rejection of cutting our own nuclear forces by some activists unilaterally, or at least delaying their much-needed modernization.
Our senior military leaders have consistently advised against such courses of action, and the last two administrations have rejected them as well.
As most of my colleagues in the Senate have assumed, our nuclear forces have aged far beyond their designed lifetimes. A delay in their modernization would mean allowing our system to age in obsolescence without replacement. Our deterrent would literally have to move around on the vine.
Should this happen, why would our competitors agree to a new round of arms cuts if they knew that the US was cutting their military anyway, even if they agreed to do so?
Under no circumstances can we terminate our nuclear tests or cancel modernization programs. Doing so would make our country less secure by cutting into the forces necessary to reduce aggression, and to destroy America’s capacity for actual nuclear weapons cuts by Russia and China in the future.
Click here to read more. DEB FISCHER