For Immediate Release: May 13, 2019
(Washington, DC)—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Sochi, Russia Tuesday, May 14 to discuss what the State Department calls a “new era” in “arms control to address new and emerging threats” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Two weeks ago, senior administration officials told reporters that Trump had directed his administration to seek a new arms control agreement with Russia and China. One official told CNN that the agreement should include: “all the weapons, all the warheads, and all the missiles.” The officials criticized New START, which will expire in February 2021 is not extended, because it only limits U.S. and Russian deployed strategic nuclear weapons.
Pompeo acknowledged May 6 that such an agenda might be “too ambitious," noting "there are just a couple years left before New START expires. It may be that we have to do that on a bilateral basis.”
China is estimated to possess roughly 300 nuclear warheads, of which some 100 are deployed on intercontinental-range ballistic missiles. China has never been a party to any agreement that limits the number or types of its nuclear weaponry.
The United States and Russia possess far larger arsenals, estimated at 6,500 warheads (of all types) each. The two countries currently deploy roughly 1,400 New START accountable warheads on a variety of long-range delivery systems.
President Trump told reporters May 3 at the White House: “And China — I’ve already spoken to them; they very much would like to be a part of that [a trilateral nuclear arms control deal].”
But a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said May 6: "China opposes any country talking out of turn about China on the issue of arms control and will not take part in any trilateral negotiations on a nuclear disarmament agreement.”
U.S. officials also say they want to limit Russia’s stockpile of some 2,000 sub-strategic warheads in central storage inside Russia. The United States possesses several hundred, including approximately 180 deployed in five European NATO countries that can be delivered on fighter-bombers.
Russia is open broader arms control talks with Trump, but it has a long list of grievances about U.S. policies and weapons systems.
Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, suggested April 26 Moscow’s response would depend on the nature of any U.S. proposals. “Further steps towards nuclear disarmament will require creating a number of prerequisites and taking into account many factors that have a direct impact on strategic stability” including missile defense systems, cyber weapons, weapons development in space, and advanced conventional arms, he said.
A large number of Democratic Senators and some Republicans, have expressed strong support for New START extension. Last week, the Democratic Chair and the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs introduced a bill urging the extension of New START.
“At first glance, a broader nuclear arms control deal with Russia and China may sound promising. But the Trump administration does not appear to have a plan or the capacity to negotiate such a far-reaching deal, which would likely take years. Agreement on the extension of New START, which will be difficult enough, should be the first step forward."
- Kingston Reif, director of disarmament and threat reduction policy
“Without extending New START, there will be no legally-binding, verifiable limits on the world’s two largest nuclear stockpiles for the first time since 1972. The risk of an unbridled arms race would grow. Extending New START would provide a necessary foundation and additional time for any follow-on deal with Russia that addresses other issues of mutual concern.”
—Daryl G. Kimball, executive director
- "U.S. Seeks Broader Nuclear Arms Pact,” news report by Kingston Reif and Shervin Taheran, Arms Control Today, May 2019
- "The INF Treaty and New START Crisis and the Future of the NPT," Statement of NGO Representatives and Experts to the 2019 NPT Prep Com for the 2020 Review Conference, United Nations, New York, May 1, 2019
- "Trump Arms Control Gambit: Serious or a Poison Pill?” Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Today, May 2019
- "Extending New START Is in America's National Security Interest," Frank Klotz, Arms Control Today, January/February 2019