August 06, 2020

Van Hollen, Markey, Democratic Colleagues Introduce Resolution to Defend New START Treaty, Call on Trump to Maintain Limits on New Russian Strategic Weapons

A five-year extension would limit Russia’s new super-weapons and lay foundation to eventually include China

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined 15 colleagues on a Senate resolution calling on President Donald Trump to immediately extend for another five years the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia as it faces expiration on February 5, 2021, six months from yesterday.  The bilateral New START Treaty places mutual, verifiable limits on strategic nuclear warheads and deployed and non-deployed strategic delivery systems of both the United States and Russia supported by a verification regime of on-site inspections and routine data-exchanges. The Senate resolution outlines how the Trump administration can achieve its stated objectives – covering new “exotic” Russian weapons while bringing China into the global arms control regime – starting with a clean five-year extension. Doing so would ensure that the United States and Russia, the two major nuclear-weapon powers, will not be left without an in-force bilateral treaty on strategic arms for the first time since 1972.

Senator Van Hollen has introduced legislation urging the Trump Administration to preserve limits on Russia's nuclear arsenal and led his colleagues in a letter pushing for President Trump to extend the New START treaty with Russia for another 5 years.

Joining Senators Van Hollen and Markey as co-sponsors are Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.). 

The full text of the resolution can be found here. 

Experts state that the extension of the START Treaty will cover the only two new Russian strategic systems that are anticipated to be deployed before 2026 – the Avangard hypersonic cruise-missile and a heavy intercontinental ballistic-missile (ICBM), Sarmat. China’s leaders have repeatedly rebuffed Trump administration invitations to formal arms control negotiations. The resolution points out the practical and logistical difficulties of insisting on China’s inclusion in a binding trilateral agreement: China possesses a fraction of the nuclear weapons held by the United States or Russia and history shows that arms control negotiations take multiple years, far longer than the six months until expiration of the New START Treaty. However, the resolution argue that extension of New START can lay the foundation for China, and potentially other nuclear-weapons possessing countries, to engage in multilateral arms control talks to reduce global nuclear risks.  

“Extending New START is undoubtedly in the U.S. national security interest,” said Andrew Albertson, Executive Director, Foreign Policy for America. “Not only does extending the treaty limit Russian deployed nuclear weapons, but it provides the U.S. government unparalleled intelligence about Russia's nuclear weapons systems. Senator Markey's resolution makes clear that new Russian systems would either be accountable under the treaty or would not be deployed before 2026. And while the Trump administration's attempts to bring China into nuclear arms control negotiations is a laudable goal, the best way to accomplish that goal would be to extend New START and use the treaty as a framework for negotiations going forward. Foreign Policy for America thanks Senator Markey for making clear that New START should serve as a foundation for nuclear arms control negotiations going forward and urges the swift passage of this important measure.” 

"Seventy-five years after the first nuclear attacks, the threat of nuclear war and nuclear arms racing still poses a threat to the United States and the world,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, Arms Control Association. “We applaud the call in this resolution for the prompt extension of New START, the last remaining treaty that verifiably limits the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals, and follow-on efforts to pursue further nuclear risk reduction initiatives with other nuclear-armed states. The U.S. public, the U.S. military, and U.S. allies all support New START, which is key to preventing an unconstrained global nuclear arms race.” 

“Senator Markey and the co-sponsors of this bill understand that we are six months away from losing all controls over the two largest nuclear arsenals in the world,” Alexandra Bell, Senior Policy Director, Council for a Livable World. “They make the clear and undeniable case that New START is effective and providing critical stability in an unstable world. Nevertheless, the Trump Administration is still inexplicably dragging its feet on the treaty's extension, putting the American people in danger. Every Senator should add their name to this resolution and take a stand for pragmatic and sensible nuclear arms control.”

“Extending New START for five years is a simple but highly effective way to improve U.S. security while restoring some sense of stability to the international arms control regime that the Trump administration has relentlessly attacked,” said Stephen Young, Senior Washington Representative, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists. “This bill, led by Senator Markey, makes a strong case for extending the treaty and recommends sensible steps with Russia and China that would reduce the nuclear threat. Every senator should cosponsor it; every thoughtful one will do so.”