Foreign Policy for America Statement on New START Extension

January 21, 2021

Foreign Policy for America Statement on New START Extension

Washington, DC – In response to the Biden administration’s signaled intent to pursue a five-year extension of the New START pact with Russia, Foreign Policy for America released the following statement:

Foreign Policy for America applauds the Biden administration’s announcement of their intent to pursue a five-year extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). This decision appears to be an acceptance of Russia’s repeated offers of an unconditional five-year extension of the treaty before the treaty expires on February 5, 2021. After months of failed negotiations between Moscow and the previous administration, this announcement sends a clear message of renewed U.S. commitment to good-faith diplomacy on the international stage.

This decision is unequivocally in the U.S. national security interest, as it verifiably caps the number of deployed long-range nuclear weapons to 1,550 each and prevents an unconstrained Russian nuclear arsenal for the first time since the earliest days of the Cold War. The treaty provides unparalleled intelligence value due to its extensive inspections and verification regime. Losing this insight into the Russian strategic nuclear arsenal would dramatically reduce strategic stability and increase the risk of nuclear miscalculation, not to mention the financial costs of trying to replicate the intelligence that New START provides.

Extending New START on the first full day of the Biden presidency is a strong statement of support for nuclear arms control efforts and highlights the unique responsibility of the United States and Russia, owners of 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, to ensure checks remain on each other’s nuclear arsenals, regardless of the state of the relationship between the U.S. and Russia. The five-year extension will serve as the foundation for the Biden administration’s nuclear arms control efforts going forward and ensures there is a baseline for talks with Moscow going forward.

“The Biden administration’s decision to pursue a five-year extension of New START is exactly what we were hoping to see,” said Foreign Policy for America Executive Director Andrew Albertson. “By moving quickly, President Biden erased any doubt about his intent to renew America’s diplomatic engagement with our adversaries and allies alike, and to lean more on negotiations and less on our military to solve problems internationally. It’s clearly in the national security interest of the United States to extend this treaty, and we welcome the administration’s pursuit of additional arms control negotiations.”

“Seeking to extend New START for 5 years is the most urgent nuclear task of the Biden administration since this vital agreement would otherwise end Feb 5,” said Ambassador Laura Kennedy, FP4A Board member and former U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. “This decision is in line with our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is very much in our interest with its caps on Russian strategic forces and its robust verification. While we will thus benefit from New START’s predictability, transparency, and stability, we need to use the next five years to broaden and deepen our quest for enhanced strategic stability and lessen the nuclear threat. While we focus initially on the U.S.-Russian dimension since our two countries account for 90 percent of all nuclear warheads, the U.S. must engage the other nuclear-capable state as well (yes, China). These are tough, complex issues that may take years to resolve but the Biden administration has come into office with its sleeves rolled up. The words of Ronald Reagan are as true today as they were in 1985: ‘A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.’”