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Understanding The New START Treaty between Russia-USA

Understanding The New START Treaty between Russia-USA

START treaty refers to Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, it is a bilateral treaty between present-day Russia and The United States. It was signed in 2010 and come into force in 2011. The treaty replaced the previous START treaty, which expired in December 2009.

Obligations under the New START Treaty

The New START Treaty is the last remaining nuclear arms control agreement between Russia and the United States. Former US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty in 2010, which limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the US and Russia can deploy. Together they own 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.

Under the agreement, Moscow and Washington committed to deploying a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads and 700 long-range missiles/bombers. Each side can inspect strategic nuclear weapons sites up to 18 times per year to ensure treaty limits are not breached. Although the treaty came into force in 2011 it was extended in 2021 for five more years after Joe Biden took office. Last year, the U.S. and Russia committed to creating a new agreement “to achieve deeper, irreversible, and verifiable reductions in their nuclear arsenals,” according to a joint statement.

Inspections under the agreement were put on hold in March 2020 because of the pandemic. Talks between Moscow and Washington on resuming inspections were due to take place last year, but Russia postponed them and neither side has set a new date.

Russia’s withdrawal from the treaty

Russia initially wanted to retain the New START treaty, despite accusing the US of a destructive approach. However, Ambassador Antonov stated that inviting the US military to strategic facilities was unjustified amid the Ukraine conflict. Putin withdrew Russia from the treaty on Feb. 21. Moscow argued that the treaty had one-sided provisions favouring the US and accusing it of circumventing limits on nuclear warheads.

Other treaties signed between the USA & Russia

The United States of America and Russia have had a tumultuous history over a long period of time. After Cold War, there was a realization between both countries that there was a need to arrive at some sort of consensus and started entering into treaties. This was significant as the conflict between the superpowers who were equipped with nuclear weapons could prove to be detrimental towards the rest of the world. Their treaties have once again been brought to the spotlight as Russia has decided to suspend the New START treaty.

One such treaty is the INF, i.e., Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was signed back in 1987. It is an arms control agreement aimed at eliminating all ground-launched missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres. This was to reduce tensions between the countries during the Cold War. The United States, however, left the treaty in 2019, claiming Russian infringement. This action was considered to be for the worse and increased the possibility of a new arms race between the two nations.

The treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is another landmark international treaty which was signed in 1968. It’s a very important treaty considering it is solely focused on nuclear arms. Its objectives are to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and encourage nuclear-armed governments to disarm. Nearly all nations in the world, including the United States and Russia, have ratified the agreement.

Together with these arms control treaties, the US and Russia have also signed agreements on trade, environmental protection, and space exploration. For instance, in 2011 the two nations inked a deal to work together on the construction of the International Space Station. Also, they have worked together to maintain the ozone layer and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

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