Trump pulled the U.S. out of many international agreements and organizations (the Paris Climate Agreement, World Health Organization, one or more organizations supporting human rights, etc.) and several deals about nuclear weapons, such as the Iran nuclear deal (the JCPOA) and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty that Reagan and Gorbachev signed in 1987 so they could eliminate an entire category of provocative nuclear weapons from Europe.
The last remaining treaty between the U.S. and Russia regarding nuclear weapons was New START. Russia was eager to continue it, but Trump opposed simply renewing it. Trump pretended that he wanted to include China or do other things that would have required extensive negotiations during which New START would have expired. The expiration date in February 2021 left no time for that.
Fortunately, President Biden did join with Russia in extending New START for another five years.
Here are some information resources:
The Arms Control Association posted this information during the time we were waiting, and on February 5, 2021, and looking forward to more talks to control weapons: https://www.armscontrol.org/blogs/us-russian-nuclear-arms-control-watch
This article provides information about Biden’s extension of New START: https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2021/01/31/off-to-a-good-start/
This article explains why extending New START was so smart: https://www.wand.org/mad?emci=3b0dbdbb-275c-eb11-a607-00155d43c992&emdi=e379c337-305c-eb11-a607-00155d43c992&ceid=3069006
Another peace organization posted this in support of extending New START:
[O]n January 26th the United States and Russian agreed to extend the bilateral cap on U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) for five additional years.
- The extension of New START is welcomed as it prevents backsliding on nuclear disarmament. It’s a welcome start to the new U.S. administration, but additional steps will now be needed to make progress on disarmament.
- Since the United States and Russia first agreed to this current cap on nuclear arsenals in 2010, the international community has negotiated, adopted, and brought into force a treaty banning nuclear weapons: nuclear weapons are illegal under international law.
- Throughout the time the New START agreement has been in place, Russia and the United States have spent billions each year to build new nuclear weapons systems. This is now banned under international law.
- With the New START quickly extended and the TPNW in force, the groundwork has been paved for significant disarmament advances in the coming four years, the nine nuclear armed states have no excuses not to walk that path.
- Simply staying at the current nuclear weapon levels will not be enough to protect the world from this catastrophic threat. With the TPNW in force, there is a new international standard. Russia, the United States and all nuclear-armed nations must take active steps to move towards compliance with this international treaty and join it.
Extending New START is an important action by these two countries, especially after four years of the Trump administration withdrawing and undermining arms control agreements. However, it’s important to remember that it is not a disarmament step – it’s simply an extension of the current levels of nuclear arsenals.
On January 21, 2021, another nuclear peace organization posted this statement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 21, 2021
President Joe Biden has offered President Vladimir Putin a full five-year extension of the last remaining nuclear arms control agreement between Russia and the United States. The New START treaty, which limits both countries to no more than 1,550 strategic offensively deployed nuclear weapons each, will expire February 5, 2021 without mutual agreement to extend. Putin has previously said he favors a clean, unconditional extension of the treaty and Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on January 20 calling for an unconditional extension for 5 years. The extension does not require approval by the U.S. Senate.
In response, Derek Johnson, chief executive officer of the international Global Zero movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“Extending New START is a hugely consequential first move by the Biden administration. The treaty is an essential guardrail against nuclear arms-racing that imposes equal limits on U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons. Both countries are in full compliance with the agreement and its intrusive verification provisions ensure neither side can cheat without detection. Allowing the agreement to expire risks unleashing a full-blown nuclear arms race that exposes the whole world to an intolerable level of risk.
“The Global Zero movement urges Moscow to immediately accept this clean, unconditional offer of extension. New START has a proven record of success and serves the national security interests of both countries — and the world. Allowing the agreement to expire risks unleashing a full-blown nuclear arms race that exposes the whole world to an intolerable level of risk.
“Following extension of the treaty, the U.S. and Russian governments must reboot negotiations to address the unacceptably high risks of nuclear conflict. The approach should include not only lower limits on all categories of nuclear weapons, but also controls on other systems that undermine stability and predictability, such as missile defenses, dual-capable missiles, and advanced conventional-strike weapons. The U.S. and Russia must also work quickly to bring China, France, and the United Kingdom into a process that caps and eventually reduces and eliminates global nuclear stockpiles.
“After four years of efforts to kill arms control and chase the false security of nuclear dominance, the U.S. is coming back to its senses. President Biden’s offer signals a welcome return to serious diplomacy that provides a path to a safer and more secure future for all. Unless you’re a defense contractor, this is good news for everyone.
“Extending New START is the minimum that can be done to begin to meet U.S. and Russian obligations under international law to pursue nuclear disarmament, and it’s exactly the right place for the Biden administration to start.”
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Global Zero is the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons. It is led by more than 300 eminent world leaders and backed by a half a million citizens worldwide. For more information, please visit www.globalzero.org.