New START Extension Should Forge Path to New Nuclear Arms Control Measures

Statement by Laura Grego, Senior Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jan 26, 2021

WASHINGTON (Jan. 26, 2021)—The Biden administration’s wise decision to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia for five years should be a first step toward pursuing a more ambitious round of arms control agreements, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

New START, which was set to expire Feb. 5, limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons deployed by the United States and Russia and is the only remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two nations.

Below is a statement by Dr. Laura Grego, senior scientist and co-director of the Global Security Program at UCS.

“Extending New START until 2026 provides the opportunity and necessary time to pursue a new generation of arms control agreements. This is no time to stop. The current adversarial relationship between the U.S. and Russia makes returning to the negotiating table even more urgent because it would serve as a stabilizing force.

“The next round of negotiations will undoubtedly be challenging and that is why it’s crucial to get started. Both sides should be ambitious and ready to talk about tough issues, including limiting missile defense and tactical nuclear weapons, and new technologies such as space and cyber weapons.

“To prepare for this, the Biden administration should undertake a fundamental reassessment of how nuclear weapons, strategic missile defense and the inevitable interaction between them undermine our national security. The unconstrained pursuit of missile defense has encouraged Russia to develop multiple new types of nuclear options to attack the United States and pushed China to expand and improve its nuclear arsenal. This dynamic must change because it is a roadblock to achieving meaningful nuclear arms reductions.”