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  2. Nuclear Weapons

Support Extension of the New START Nuclear Treaty with Russia

January 11, 2020

The 2010 New START Treaty between the U.S. and Russia limits each country to 700 deployed strategic-range nuclear delivery vehicles (intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers) and 1,550 warheads on those delivery vehicles.

The treaty could expire on Feb. 5, 2021. But under the treaty, the U.S. and Russian presidents can extend it by up to five years without further Senate action.

In the House, Reps. Eliot Engel (NY-16) and Mike McCaul (TX-10) have introduced H.R. 2529, the Richard G. Lugar and Ellen O. Tauscher Act to Maintain Limits on Russian Nuclear Forces, which calls for the United States to extend the New START Treaty until 2026. A companion bill, S. 2394, was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (MD) and Todd Young (IN).

New START should be extended because:

  • New START builds understanding and predictability. Every year, New START allows American teams to conduct 18 on-site inspections of Russian nuclear facilities. Every six months, New START requires Russia to hand over a detailed accounting of its covered strategic nuclear forces. Every day on average the two sides trade at least five updates on their nuclear force locations and movements. Without New START, the U.S. will gain none of those insights.

Members of Congress should support New START Treaty extension by co-sponsoring H.R. 2529 or S. 2394.

  • New START sets a foundation for future expanded agreements with Russia and China. President Trump has called for a new agreement to restrain both Russia’s and China’s nuclear arsenals. This is a worthy goal, but Russia says there is not enough time left before New START expires to negotiate and ratify an entirely new agreement.

  • New START preserves limits on key parts of Russia’s arsenal. The Trump administration says Russia is complying with New START’s limits. Though Russia is developing new nuclear systems, the first two strategic-range systems that are most likely to be fielded by 2026—the Sarmat missile and the Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle—will be covered by New START. Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned that “the alternative to New START extension is a nuclear free-for-all.”

For further information, contact Anthony Wier, anthony@fcnl.org