- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The house has not voted
- The senate has not voted
Committee on Foreign RelationsIntroducedMarch 14th, 2019
- senate Committees
What is Senate Bill S. 845?
Cost of Senate Bill S. 845
In-Depth: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced this bill to keep the U.S. in the New START treaty as an effective arms control measure. In floor remarks at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled “The Future of Arms Control Post-Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty” in May 2019, Sen. Menendez said:
“[I]t is vital the U.S. government re-emphasizes effective arms control as an integral part of nuclear deterrence and strategic stability. That is why I, along with Senator Reed and Senator Warner, introduced the New START Policy Act of 2019 which calls for a five year extension of the treaty until February 2026 unless the President determines Russia is in material breach of treaty… Extending New START should be, in my mind, an easy decision. Intelligence Officials have explained how the Treaty's verification regime, including short-notice, on-site inspections at military bases and facilities, provide the United States with important insight into Russia’s core capabilities including its strategic nuclear delivery systems, warheads, and facilities. The Commander of the United States Strategic Command, General John Hyten testified that he was a ‘big supporter of New Start’ and that the treaty ‘provides insights into the Russians capabilities which are hugely beneficial to him.’ It is very difficult to understand why the administration would discard the robust constraints, transparency, and verification measures of New START with nothing to replace them… To be clear - I welcome the administration’s efforts to expand the scope of arms control negotiations...[h]owever, given the challenges inherent in reaching new agreements with Russia and China, I strongly believe the limitations and verification measures of New START must remain in place while any such negotiation occurs, and this new initiative must not serve as an excuse for suddenly withdrawing from another international agreement. If new agreements can [be] reached[,] they should add[,] not subtract[,] from our existing arms control architecture.”
Arms Control Association director Daryl Kimball advocates for a five-year extension of New START. Kimball argues that there’s no chance a new agreement including China can be negotiated before the treaty expires in 2021 and adds:
“It would [be] malpractice to discard New START in the hopes of negotiating a more comprehensive, ambitious nuclear arms control agreement with Russia and China and getting it ratified and into force.”
Before the June Group of 20 summit in Japan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he planned to push President Donald Trump for an extension to New START. Putin said that Russia was willing to agree to an extension, but that the Americans hadn’t shown any initiative on this issue. Simultaneously, administration officials say that Russia has also expressed an interest in multilateral arms control deals.
Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, Chief Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy, says it would be a “huge mistake” for the U.S. to not extend the New START Treaty:
“[If the U.S. doesn’t extend New START], they will lose access to full information about the state of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, for one. Second, the lack of an agreement on strategic weapons between the largest nuclear superpowers will undermine all the principles of global strategic stability. Given Washington’s possible withdrawal from the INF Treaty, it will mean the end of the nuclear proliferation control system.”
General Dvorkin stresses the need to not only prolong New START, but also to take the time to draw up a new document based on the changes that have occurred, and are anticipated to occur, to both Russia’s and the U.S.’ weapons stockpiles.
Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association, argues that a strong administration commitment to New START is critical to the global nuclear order’s stability:
“Any effort to undo the agreement or suggest the administration is not interested in an extension or negotiating a new agreement to replace New START when it expires in 2021 would negatively impact U.S. security and negatively impact an already shaky global nuclear order.”
President Trump’s commitment to New START is tenuous. Since taking office, he’s described it as a “one-sided deal,” maintained the position that the U.S. should have more nuclear weapons than any other nation, and argued that the U.S. should be “top of the pack” in nuclear weapons capability until the world “comes to its senses” on nukes.” As of May 2019, Trump had committed the U.S. to withdrawing from the Treaty.
According to two senior Trump administration officials, delegations from the U.S. and Russia met in late July to discuss arms control and the possibility of negotiating a new three-way nuclear weapons pact between Russia, China, and the U.S. Currently, while China is a signatory to various international weapons agreements, it isn’t part of any agreements limiting nuclear weapons.
Last Congress, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) argued that a renegotiation of New START is needed to limit Russia’s nuclear buildup:
“Under no circumstances should the United States agree to extend the New START Treaty beyond the current expiration in 2021 without drastic improvements to the deeply flawed deal negotiated by the Obama Administration. Over the past few years, we have seen Russia tout several new nuclear weapons delivery systems and it is unclear whether those systems will be bound by the limits of the treaty. Russia’s large stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons and belief that these weapons can be used as a part of an ‘escalate to de-escalate’ strategy is also extremely concerning. When these concerns are then viewed through the lens of Russia’s long-term violation of the INF Treaty, it is clear that extending the New START Treaty is not currently in the national security interest of the United States. That is why I introduced the Stopping Russian Nuclear Aggression Act. This bill prevents funding to extend the New START Treaty until the President certifies to Congress that Russia has agreed to verifiably reduce its stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons and include its new systems under the limits of the New START Treaty.”
This bill has two Democratic Senate cosponsors in the current Congress. Last Congress, it also had two Democratic cosponsors and didn’t receive a committee vote. The Friends Committee on National Legislation supports this bill.
Of Note: The New START Treaty entered into force on February 5, 2011 and was supposed to reduce the nuclear arsenals of both America and Russia by a third by 2018. Under New START, the U.S. and Russia needed to meet the Treaty’s central limits on strategic arms by February 5, 2018 (seven years from the date of its enactment into force) — which they achieved. The aggregate limits in the New START Treaty are:
- 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments;
- 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments (each such heavy bomber is counted as one warhead toward this limit);
- 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.
However, despite the New START Treaty, the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review noted that Russia continues to possess significant nuclear and non-nuclear weapons capabilities in violation of the INF Treaty:
“Russia possesses significant advantages in its nuclear weapons production capacity and in non-strategic nuclear forces over the U.S. and allies. It is also building a large, diverse, and modern set of non-strategic systems that are dual-capable (may be armed with nuclear or conventional weapons). These theater- and tactical-range systems are not accountable under the New START Treaty and Russia’s non-strategic nuclear weapons modernization is increasing the total number of such weapons in its arsenal, while significantly improving its delivery capabilities. This includes the production, possession, and flight testing of a ground-launched cruise missile in violation of the INF Treaty. Moscow believes these systems may provide useful options for escalation advantage.”
The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review further warns that Russia’s aggressive nuclear weapons use policy could lead to a conflict that ends in Russia’s, rather than the U.S. and NATO’s, favor:
“Most concerning are Russia’s national security policies, strategy, and doctrine that include an emphasis on the threat of limited nuclear escalation, and its continuing development and fielding of increasingly diverse and expanding nuclear capabilities. Moscow threatens and exercises limited nuclear first use, suggesting a mistaken expectation that coercive nuclear threats or limited first use could paralyze the United States and NATO and thereby end a conflict on terms favorable to Russia.”
- Sponsoring Sen. Bob Menendez Press Release
- Friends Committee on National Legislation (In Favor)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / rusm)