In 2021 the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) expires. Experts worry about the future of the US and Russian nuclear arsenals. After the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty it was expected that the same destiny would overtake the NEW Start Treaty. Recently Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow is ready to extend the agreement by the end of the year without any more conditions. “Our proposals have been on the table,” Mr. Putin claimed, “but we have got no response from our partners.”
However, it seems that Donald Trump has ambitious idea of trilateral agreement. According to it, China should also join the new treaty along with Russia and the USA. In general, the idea is not bad. Though its realization triggers a question. Especially, when Chinese officials said previously that their country wouldn’t participate in such talks. The director of the arms control department at China’s Foreign Ministry Fu Cong declared that by now Washington and Moscow have more than 6,000 nuclear warheads (According to the Treaty, the number of deployable American and Russian nuclear weapons should be no more than 1,550), while China has only about 300. So there is but one thing to do: either the USA reduces its arsenal to China’s limits or Beijing raises its arsenal to the American level. It looks too fantastic.
So there is another approach: the USA and Russia could extend the New START and then they could begin talks on additional treaty that sets limits for China. Certainly, such proposition would take years to being approved.
Not only Russians, but both Democrats and Republicans consider the New Start Treaty working. If President D. Trump decides to renew the agreement even without including China, it will be a real foreign policy win for his administration. Moreover the new document can be a foundation for a new INF treaty. Without the START there will be crisis situation between two nuclear powers as there will be no limits for their nuclear arsenals. It undermines strategic stability and provokes nuclear arms race.
At the same time, facing the facts, the prolongation of the NEW Start is not what the Trump’s administration seeks. It is believed that such agreements prevent Washington from the modernizing of its offensive nuclear weapons and creating new ones. That’s why the USA can simply refuse to begin new negotiations under the pretext of China’s denial of its participation. It is the easiest way.
So, there is still some time till February, 2021, but nobody guarantees the positive forecast.
( NORWAY NEWS – Written by Valeria Shatskaya from Russia)