Statement from Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball
For Immediate Release: Jan. 26, 2021
Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104
We applaud the businesslike, no-nonsense decision by President Biden and President Putin to extend the New START agreement by five years—the maximum allowed under the 2010 treaty.
Maintaining New START and its verification system will enhance U.S. and global security, curtail dangerous nuclear arms racing, and create the potential for more ambitious steps to reduce the nuclear danger and move us closer to a world without nuclear weapons.
New START extension should be just the beginning and not the end of U.S. and Russian nuclear disarmament diplomacy. Both countries have a special responsibility and a national interest in reducing and eventually eliminating their bloated, costly, and deadly nuclear stockpiles, which are by far the largest among the world’s nine nuclear-armed actors.
We urge President Biden and President Putin to go further by directing their diplomats to quickly—within the next 200 days—begin negotiations on a follow-on agreement to achieve deeper mutual reductions in their stockpiles, and seek ways to engage other nuclear-armed states, which possess far smaller but still deadly arsenals, in the nuclear disarmament enterprise.
A key objective of the next round of bilateral talks should be, in part, deeper verifiable cuts in deployed strategic nuclear weapons. In 2013 the Obama administration determined that the United States could reduce its nuclear force by one-third below New START levels and still meet deterrence requirements. Unfortunately, President Putin rejected the proposal at that time.
U.S.-Russian follow-on negotiations should also address nonstrategic nuclear weapons; the interrelationship between offensive nuclear weapons and strategic missile defenses; and long-range, dual-capable conventional missiles, including those formerly banned by the INF Treaty.
Within the first 100 days, the Biden administration should also take steps that could allow the United States to rejoin the Open Skies Treaty so long as Russia continues to remain a party. The Trump administration’s announcement that it would withdraw from the agreement violated Sec. 1234 of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which required the administration to notify Congress 120 days ahead of a U.S. notification of an intent to withdraw from the treaty. The Trump administration did not do so.
The Biden administration clearly understands the value of effective nuclear arms control for U.S. and international security. As Joe Biden said in the past: “pursuing arms control is not a luxury or a sign of weakness, but an international responsibility and a national necessity."