Prospects for a short-term extension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between Russia and the U.S. have increased significantly amid recent announcements, but due to remaining uncertainties, the parties may disperse even at the last moment, said Zhao Tong, a research fellow at the Carnegie-Cinghua Center for World Policy.
“Since both the U.S. and Russia have agreed in principle to extend START-3 for one year and to ‘freeze’ their nuclear arsenals for that period, the prospects for extending START-3 have increased significantly, although it will still be a short-term extension,” the analyst said.
At the same time, he noted, there are still uncertainties in this matter.
“For example, if Washington insists on a verification regime to ensure compliance with the freeze agreement, it could still derail the deal because Russia might be worried about obsessive verification measures revealing its military secrets,” Zhao Tong said.
According to him, the parties also “may not reach an agreement on the definition of nuclear warheads and disperse at the last moment.
Previously, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to extend the current DSNV without any conditions for a year. The U.S. State Department, in turn, said that it was ready to give the final form to the agreement with Russia on nuclear weapons.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier that Russia, in proposing to extend the START Treaty-3 for one year, is ready to make a political commitment with the United States to “freeze” the number of nuclear warheads available to the parties for this period. The proposal emphasizes that if the decision on such mutual “freeze” is reached, it should not be accompanied by any additional requirements on the part of the US.
The START-3 Treaty between Russia and the United States entered into force on February 5, 2011. It provides that each side reduces its nuclear arsenals so that in seven years and beyond, the total number of weapons does not exceed 700 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-based ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers, as well as 1,550 warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers. Today, START 3 is the only existing arms limitation treaty between Russia and the United States, but it expires on February 5, 2021. If it is not renewed, there will be no agreements in the world limiting the arsenals of the largest nuclear powers.