Thursday, March 05, 2020

What Does the Death of the INF Treaty Mean for the Future of New START?

In August 2019, the U.S. formally withdrew from the INF treaty, arguing that Russia violated its regulations by developing the 9M729/SSC-8 intermediate range missile system. The INF treaty bans land-based ballistic and cruise missiles are short and intermediate ranges (500-5500 km). Short and intermediate range missiles have lower warning times and can reach their target within 10 minutes.

With the dissolution of the INF treaty, the New START treaty remains one of the only remaining nuclear arms agreement between the US and Russia. Signed in 2010, the New START Treaty limits the number of deployed and non-deployed Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and the amount of deployed warheads (CRS).

What does this mean for New Start? The US and Russia have given public statements that blur the future of New START, which expires in 2021 unless both states extend the treaty. President Trump has stated that New START is a “bad deal”, and that the treaty is not suited to the current international environment because it does not consider China. Similarly, Russia has complained about New START measures that are meant to verify denuclearized US launchers, and argued in 2019 that it was too late for the US and Russia to renegotiate the agreement before its expiration in 2021. Russia has also made statements expressing willingness to extend New START immediately, with Trump expressing willingness to work with Russia to achieve an agreement.

In light of contradictory statements, the future of New START is not a sure thing--but there is reason to hope that its future is brighter than that of the INF Treaty.

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