Diplomacy finally front and center again with extension of U.S.-Russia New START Treaty

By Gael Tarleton, WAND Board member

This piece was originally published in The Cascadia Advocate

We should pay attention to President Joe Biden’s deft and swift move to re-enter the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement with the Russian Federation and extend its implementation through February 4th, 2026.

Biden’s first weeks as President foreshadow an intense and intentional pursuit of diplomacy to re-enter treaties, renew alliances, and manage partnerships to tackle threats to the safety and security of all Americans.

Yes, it may be difficult to focus on nuclear weapons and nuclear war when we’re fighting right now to save our democracy against domestic extremists and persistent attacks on voting rights and elections.

It’s even harder to look ahead to the next decade of threats from cyberattacks, climate disasters, and homegrown terrorism – not to mention the risks of nuclear war — when the novel coronavirus has killed more than 500,000 Americans and 2.5 million people worldwide in the past twelve months.

But we should never take our future security for granted when thousands of nuclear warheads are deployed right here in Washington State and are top targets of Russian strategic nuclear forces. Current U.S. budget proposals include massive investments in a modernized U.S. nuclear triad. So it’s clear: we still need nuclear force reduction treaties to reduce the risks of nuclear disasters.

What is New START?

Former United States President Barack Obama and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed New START on April 8, 2010.

Following its ratification by the U.S. Senate and the Federal Assembly of Russia, the treaty went into force on February 5, 2011.

It’s important to know a few things about this pivotal nuclear treaty between the United States and Russian Federation, which NPI strongly supports:

  • It’s not really “new” – it is a continuation of the original START treaty in force from 1994 through 2009.