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New START success must push us to bold action towards zero

Posted by Ira Helfand, MD on August 4, 2011

The U.S. and Russian Federation are off to a successful beginning in implementing the New START Treaty, which entered into force on February 5. As of July 25, the U.S. had conducted seven inspections of Russian facilities, while the Russians had visited six U.S. facilities. This is a fast pace, given that the yearly quota is 18 inspections for each side. An impressive 1,000 notifications regarding strategic nuclear forces and facilities have already been exchanged between the Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers in the U.S. State Department and the Russian Ministry of Defense. In addition, as required by the Treaty, the U.S. has conducted exhibitions of its B-1B and B-2A (Stealth) heavy bombers, while the Russians conducted an exhibition of their new RS-24 systems that had not been seen in such detail under the START I Treaty.

The early success of the New START Treaty underlines the value of arms reduction agreements and the need to move rapidly forward with additional measures to eliminate the danger of nuclear war. The U.S. and Russia need to begin negotiations for the next round of weapons reductions which will set the stage for multilateral talks for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. In the meantime, the Obama administration can and should take steps to lessen the danger of unintended nuclear war by taking U.S. nuclear weapons off of their current ready to launch status and encouraging the Russians to take similar measures.


vaquous said ..

Let the Canadian Prime Minister know how you feel about Canada's stance on the Arms Trade Treaty. HELP YOUR CANADIAN FRIENDS PUT AN END TO WAR.

October 17, 2011
Dr. Ira Helfand said ..

It is true that START inspections are not new--there were over 1,100 conducted under the START I Treaty, plus a permanent U.S. monitoring team at the Votkinsk missile factory in Russia. The point is that inspections stopped when START I expired on December 5, 2009. Thus a major benefit of the New START Treaty is re-establishing inspections, which are a key part of verification and transparency and will become even more important as levels are reduced even further. The New START inspections are reduced in number compared to those under START I, but are more efficient. It is true that Russia is developing new ICBMs and SLBMs, which was well-known during the New START negotiations and is legal. The U.S. has the same opportunity. As far as the levels are concerned, focussing on which side reduces more sounds like Cold War thinking. Since the U.S. has more nuclear weapons than it needs, it should reduce. This could be done unilaterally, but a legally binding regime that prevents Russia from building back up and provides a strong verification regime is far better. New START is a modest achievement which continues the steady reductions process, provides strong verification and predictability and supports our nonproliferation goals. It is the logical next step in the long and difficult process of safely moving toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.

August 12, 2011
The Launch Bunker said ..

START treaty inspections are not new, both countries have been doing this for over a decade. Also, The START agreement was far from a success. Russia was already well below the newly imposed levels, and the US is now committed to unilateral arms reductions. Meanwhile, Russia has already started building a new ICBM and SLBM. This is not the Arms Control victory many are claiming it is.

August 6, 2011

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