White House Must Extend New START Arms Control Treaty with Russia

Statement by Lisbeth Gronlund, Global Security Program

Published Sep 28, 2017

WASHINGTON (September 28, 2017)—Sunday, October 1, marks the 25th anniversary of the first U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Under these agreements, both countries have cut their arsenals from well over 10,000 deployed long-range weapons to fewer than 2,000.  

The latest agreement—New START—gives the United States and Russia until February 2018 to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550. It is set to expire in early 2021, but can be extended for another five years if the U.S. and Russian presidents agree to do so. In President Donald Trump’s first phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Putin reportedly raised the possibility of extending the treaty, whereas Trump suggested he would scrap it because he believed it favored Moscow. But according to Reuters, administration officials said last week that the White House is open to extending it. 

Below is a statement by Lisbeth Gronlund, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

“That the White House has changed its tune and is now open to extending New START is welcome news. 

“This is a deal that President Trump should love. It limits the number of Russian nuclear weapons that can reach U.S. soil and allows for inspections of Moscow’s nuclear forces to ensure it’s abiding by the treaty. Without this accord, that monitoring would disappear. 

“Senior U.S. officials and military leaders support the treaty because they know it makes us safer by reducing the nuclear threat and by providing much-needed stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship. 

“President Trump should extend New START sooner rather than later. Given the ambitious U.S. plan to replace its nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons, this would make clear to Russia and the rest of the world that the United States still supports nuclear arms control.”

For more information about the importance and history of the START agreements, please see this blog.