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International Relations

Extending New START Treaty

  • 21 Oct 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

The Russian President has proposed extending by one year the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) between the USA and Russia expiring in February 2021.

Key Points

  • The New START Treaty: It is a treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.
    • It entered into force on 5th February, 2011.
    • New START has replaced the 1991 START I treaty, which expired December 2009, and superseded the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which terminated when New START entered into force.
    • It is a successor to the START framework of 1991 (at the end of the Cold War) that limited both sides to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads.
    • It continues the bipartisan process of verifiably reducing the USA and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals by limiting both sides to 700 strategic launchers and 1,550 operational warheads.
    • It will lapse in February 2021 unless extended for a five-year period.
  • Recent Proposal: Russia has extended the proposal along with concerns of lack of interest from the United States.
    • In 2019, the United States has also suspended the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INF Treaty) with Russia.
      • It was a nuclear arms-control accord reached by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987 in which the two nations agreed to eliminate their stocks of intermediate-range and shorter-range (or “medium-range”) land-based missiles (which could carry nuclear warheads).
      • The United States withdrew from the Treaty on 2nd August 2019.
    • USA’s Stand: The USA wanted any replacement treaty should include China and to encompass all of Russia’s nuclear weapons — not just the “strategic” weapons covered under New START but also Russia’s sizable stockpile of smaller, “tactical” nuclear weapons that fall outside the treaty.
      • Russia rejected the demands, and China has refused to take part in negotiations.
    • The USA has agreed to negotiate the extension.

Way Forward

  • Negotiators would still need to work out a verification system and agree on the detailed definition of a warhead. Failure to do so would remove the main pillar maintaining the nuclear balance between them.
  • If the treaty is not extended or replaced, the world’s two biggest nuclear powers will return to an era without substantive restraints on their arsenals for the first time in decades.
  • An extension would mark a rare bright spot in the fraught US-Russian relationship. The time bought by extending New START can be used for conducting comprehensive bilateral negotiations on future control over nuclear missile weapons.

Source: TH

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