Magazine article Arms Control Today

Why New START Is a Treaty Worth Keeping

Magazine article Arms Control Today

Why New START Is a Treaty Worth Keeping

Article excerpt

There has been much consternation among some about Russia's increase in deployed warheads counted under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The number has grown since 2013 and, at last count, stood at 1,796 warheads-246 warheads above the treaty limit and 429 warheads more than the United States at the time. However, the number does not reflect an increase of the Russia arsenal but rather a fluctuation of the warhead level during the transition from Soviet-era weapons to newer types.

I don't see that the numbers indicate that Russia intends to break away from New START. The fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin in his first phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly brought up the possibility of extending the treaty suggests that he is not interested in violating it but continuing it. The United States should welcome that.

Nor do I think the disparity in deployed strategic warheads matters strategically at this point. There is another New START number that is much more important in that context: the number of strategic launchers. And there, the United States is counted with a significant advantage of 173 launchers more than Russia. It is the structure of the posture that is important. Russia knows that the United States has an additional 2,000 warheads in storage it could upload onto launchers if it needed to. Russia does not have nearly that upload capacity.

It is on this basis that the U.S. …

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