Calls agreement “politically transparent”
Washington (October 20, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a long-time Congressional leader on nuclear arms control and nonproliferation issues, responded to reports that the United States and Russia have agreed in principal to extend the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) by one additional year and will conclude an accompanying political agreement to “freeze” their level of nuclear warheads. The 2010 Obama-Biden New START Treaty text and accompanying annexes number 365 pages, which is a testament to the long hours and hard work necessary to forge a verifiable arms control treaty. A U.S.-Russia political agreement to mutually freeze their stocks of nuclear warheads would be a welcomed rhetorical pledge but it likely will not provide for the same level of on-site inspections and verification measures shared by generations of U.S.-Russian strategic arms control treaties.
“Extending New START is a no-brainer,” said Senator Markey. “President Trump’s decision to wait until the eve of Election Day to extend – by a mere one year – a treaty that keeps American eyes on the location, movement, and destruction of Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons is politically transparent. Over the past four years, Trump has eagerly ransacked a series of bedrock nonproliferation agreements, brought us closer than we have been to nuclear conflict in generations, and rolled new, more usable nuclear weapons off the assembly line. This latest effort is a day late and a dollar short when grading Trump’s record on reducing nuclear weapons risks.
“Beyond the minimal step reported today, to truly reduce address the threat of nuclear war, we need to extend verifiable caps on Russia’s strategic forces, re-enter the Iran Deal, scrap plans for new destabilizing and usable nuclear weapons, and permanently halt nuclear weapons testing so the ‘duck and cover’ drills of the past remain in the history books.”
Senator Markey was among the first in July 2018 to call on the Trump administration to negotiate with Russia to extend the New START Treaty for five-years and to negotiate transparency steps on non-strategic or tactical nuclear weapons. In May 2019, Senator Markey led introduction of the Saving Arms Control and Verification (SAVE Act), which would keep in place the U.S. nuclear force structure under the New START Treaty in the event the Treaty expires so long as Russia does the same with its forces. In August of this year, Senator Markey led 16 of his Senate colleagues on a resolution urging President Trump to extend New START five additional years as doing so would put verifiable caps on the only two new Russian strategic systems that are likely to be deployed before 2026.