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New START treaty must be extended, a U.S. – Russia nuclear arms race an intolerable threat to the whole world

Extend New START — The World Can’t Afford a U.S.-Russia Nuclear Arms Race Too, JUST SECURITY, by Kingston Reif and Shannon Bugos, April 10, 2020  The unrelenting and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus underscores the cost of neglect and indecision by the Trump administration in the face of serious threats to U.S. and global security. This reckless abandonment of leadership also characterizes America’s response to other transnational challenges, including the potential for conflict on the European continent and the threat posed by nuclear weapons.

For example, The Guardian reported on April 5 that the Trump administration may withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Treaty this fall. The treaty allows for short-notice, unarmed, observation flights over the territory of treaty parties to collect data on military forces and activities, and is staunchly supported by U.S allies. Nothing screams the U.S. absence in a world starving for leadership during a pandemic than moving forward with plans to withdraw from a treaty that continues to benefit U.S. and European security and that our allies want us to continue to support.

In addition, and even more consequentially, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which was signed a decade ago this week, expires in just 10 months. New START is the only remaining arms control agreement limiting the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals. However, as the novel coronavirus emerged earlier this year, the administration continued to stiff-arm Russian overtures to prolong the life of the agreement by five years, as permitted by the accord. Instead, the administration has pursued the idea of striking an entirely new, trilateral arms control agreement that would include China in addition to Russia.

The chances of successfully negotiating such a new, complex deal were already slim before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, in the midst of what clearly will be an extended crisis, the odds are nigh nonexistent……

Extending New START will maintain a cap on the Russian nuclear arsenal and is a necessary condition for follow-on talks with Russia and new negotiations with China. As the world girds for a long fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the preservation of New START represents the best immediate option that Trump has to reduce the risks of instability and insecurity posed by the still-bloated and dangerous U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.

April 11, 2020 - Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war

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