• Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021
  • Last Update : 06:30 pm

Biden urged to extend US-Russia arms treaty for full 5 years without conditions

  • Published at 10:53 am November 26th, 2020
Biden Putin
File photo: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin shakes hands with US Vice President Joe Biden during their meeting in Moscow March 10, 2011. REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long sought an unconditional five-year extension

Arms control advocates are urging Joe Biden to extend the last US-Russian treaty limiting deployed strategic nuclear arms for five years, but some experts argue the US president-elect should go for a shorter period to maintain leverage over Moscow.

Upon taking office on January 20, Biden faces an immediate decision on whether to extend the 2010 New START pact, which otherwise expires 16 days later, freeing Washington and Moscow to deploy unlimited numbers of strategic nuclear warheads and the missiles, submarines and bombers to deliver them.

"Just as dramatic action is needed to combat climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, immediate, smart and bold American leadership is required to reduce the threat of nuclear catastrophe," two dozen arms control, environmental and other groups wrote in a November 19 letter to Biden's transition team reviewed by Reuters.

Many experts fear New START’s demise could fuel a nuclear arms race and intensify US-Russia tensions already at their worst since the Cold War ended in 1991, strained by Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its alleged interference - which Moscow denies - in the 2016 US election, and arms control disputes.

The treaty’s demise also would end on-site inspections that the world’s two biggest nuclear powers conduct of each other’s forces. That would cut off a critical source of intelligence used to detect cheating and to give insight into each other’s arsenals to guide spending and force size planning.

The Biden transition team declined to respond to a request for comment on the letter whose signatories include the Arms Control Association, the Sierra Club, the Council for a Livable World, and the United Methodist Church.

New START, which entered into force in 2011, can be extended by mutual consent for up to five years.

Also read: China's Xi congratulates Biden

The arms control advocates called on Biden to quickly agree to an unconditional five-year extension.

Biden supports an extension as a “foundation for new arms control arrangements,” but has not said by how long. Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources close to his transition team said no decision has been made on the duration he will seek.

“There’s been a debate among some of the advisers about whether a five-year extension is the right move, or doing something shorter makes sense,” said Jon Wolfsthal, former president Barack Obama’s top arms control adviser.

Those favoring extending the treaty to February 2026 argue that would put its expiration beyond Biden’s four-year term, potentially reducing his leverage to secure a follow-on pact, said Wolfsthal, now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long sought an unconditional five-year extension.

File Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an inauguration ceremony of power stations in the cities of Sevastopol and Simferopol through videolink during his visit to Sevastopol, Crimea, March 18, 2019 Reuters

“Extending New START by five years provides the time necessary for the complex negotiations on a follow-on deal,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, who coordinated the letter.

Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s former top diplomat for Europe, wrote in Foreign Affairs this summer that Washington should seek a provisional extension of no more than two years and exact a price from Moscow.

“The one lesson Putin appears to have learned from the Cold War is that US President Ronald Reagan successfully bankrupted the Soviet Union by forcing a nuclear arms race. Not wanting Russia to suffer the same fate, he is eager to extend ... New START,” she wrote.

Washington, she wrote, should use Putin’s sense of urgency to tie New START to wider talks on all aspects of military power, including conventional, space and cyberspace.

The arms control advocates argued that Biden’s administration should announce it will seek a follow-on treaty lowering New START’s limit of 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads and restrictions on their delivery systems.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail