Issue Brief #7: New START Treaty


The central limits of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) took full effect on February 5, and the United States and Russia each reported that it had met those limits. By its terms, New START remains in effect until 2021, though it can be extended by up to five years by agreement by the sides. The Russian military is midway through a modernization of its strategic offensive forces, while the U.S. military is preparing a strategic modernization program that will accelerate in the 2020s. Thus far, the two modernization programs appear configured to fit within New START’s limits. However, the low state of the broader U.S.-Russia relationship, compliance issues regarding the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and uncertainties about the commitment of Washington and Moscow to continued nuclear arms control raise questions about New START’s future. While New START will likely last until 2021, its future thereafter is uncertain. There are three possibilities: the treaty lapses; the sides agree, as a minimum step, to extend New START until 2026; or the sides negotiate a new treaty to supplant New START. At a minimum, the United States and Russia should agree to extend New START.

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About the Authors

Anatoli S. Diakov is a Professor of the Moscow University of Physics and Technology, and Senior Fellow at the Centre of International Security, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Daryl G. Kimball is the Executive Director of the Arms Control Association (ACA) since 2001, which is a private, non-profit membership organization dedicated to public education and support of effective arms control measures pertaining to nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional weapons based in Washington DC.

Steven Pifer is a nonresidential senior fellow with the Brookings Institution. He is a retired foreign service officer with more than 25 years of experience with the State Department, where he worked on U.S. relations with the former Soviet Union and Europe as well as arms control and security issues.