A Commentary by Academician Alexey Arbatov on Significance and Prospects of New START

Nuclear Control – PIR Center | April-May, 2020

“The New START treaty was an important and useful step on the half century-long path of limiting and reducing strategic offensive arms. It ensured further reduction of delivery vehicles and warheads to unprecedented low levels… The treaty effectively eliminated the possibility and thereby the incentives for a massive first nuclear strike from either side. Equally important, due to the verification regime and confidence-building measures, New START ensured a high degree of predictability, transparency and working interaction in the strategic relations of the two powers.

At the same time, one cannot but note some of the shortcomings of the Treaty. The main one is that it was concluded, in a way, by inertia, which led the process simply along the path of consecutive marginal reductions of delivery vehicles and warheads… Manifestations of inertia were the “relaxed” counting rules for New START and the verification regime… Destabilizing high-precision non-nuclear weapons (including hypersonic, autonomous, anti-missile and anti-satellite systems, etc.) were ignored.

All this does not negate the need to prolong the New START. This is not an ideal contract for all times, but it is better than nothing. Its preservation for at least a few years will give a chance to conclude the next agreement, which will eliminate the shortcomings of the current one and solve the issues that have accumulated over the past 10 years…”

Source: PIR Center