Biden Seeks Five-year Extension Of New START Arms Treaty With Russia

Clay Curtis
January 22, 2021

The agreement, one of the last restraints on Russian Federation and the United States' nuclear forces, was set to expire on February 4.

Biden indicated during the campaign that he favored the preservation of the New START treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as USA vice president.

"We should not end up in a situation with no limitation on nuclear warheads, and New START will expire within days", Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. It expires on February 5.

The treaty's lapse would end all restraints on deployments of United States and Russian strategic nuclear warheads and the delivery systems that carry them, potentially fuelling a new arms race, policy experts have said.

"The extension will give the two sides more time to consider possible additional measures aimed at strengthening strategic stability and global security", wrote Ulyanov, who represents Russian Federation at worldwide organisations operating in Vienna.

But Stoltenberg also underlined that 'an extension of the New START is not the end, it's the beginning of our efforts to further strengthen arms control'.

In response to Biden's proposed extension of the New START treaty, Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said in a statement that after years of former President Donald Trump "putting Americans in harm's way by decimating global agreements, we can all breathe a bit easier now that he cannot start a nuclear war within minutes".

Obama won Senate ratification of the treaty with a commitment to move ahead with a vast and enormously expensive recapitalization of the US nuclear force.

Lawmakers in the US demanded punishment for Russian Federation past year after concluding that Kremlin-backed hackers were behind a sweeping cyber intrusion into government institutions.

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As it stands, the ambassador would not have the chance to present his credentials to the Queen like other diplomatic heads of mission.

In addition to restricting the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons to its lowest level in decades, New START also limits the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers that deliver them.

"This would allow Russian Federation and the United States to seriously begin a joint search for responses to the issues of worldwide security and strategic stability that are now arising", the ministry said in the statement. Trump insisted that China be added to the treaty, but Beijing rejected the idea out of hand.

"Hope this is not true", he wrote, referring to news reports of Thursday's proposal.

Arms control advocates warn that the treaty´s expiry would remove checks on USA and Russian nuclear forces, striking a blow to global stability.

Now that Biden is in office, Moscow expects the "take a more constructive approach in its dialogue with us", the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Moscow has said it remains open for new nuclear arms talks with the negotiate future limits on prospective weapons, but emphasized that preserving New START is essential for global stability.

He said the Biden administration can still find other ways to pressure Russian Federation over its concerns on so-called tactical nuclear weapons - which Moscow could deploy in hot conflicts close to home, as opposed to strategic weapons that mostly target the US.

The proposal was reported first by The Washington Post. Thus it appeared likely that Moscow would be amenable to an extension.

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