Biden Plans to Extend Nuke Agreement With Russia for Five Years

Joe Biden
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January 21, 2021

The Biden administration plans to extend a nuclear arms-control treaty with Russia for five years despite Russia's attempts to work around the treaty.

The New START treaty, signed in 2010, limits the deployment of certain kinds of nuclear arms for both Russia and the United States. 

The Washington Post reported Thursday that the Biden administration believes an extension of New START is in the United States' national security interests. Moscow, however, has in recent years developed tactical and high-tech nuclear weapons not covered by the provisions of the treaty.

Patty-Jane Geller, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation specializing in missile defense, told the Washington Free Beacon extending New START would be a mistake.

"New START is a flawed and outdated treaty," Geller said. "A five-year extension would be dangerous because then Russia would have gotten what it wanted."

While defense spending and overall military strength for Russia continues to dwindle, President Vladimir Putin has put renewed focus on Moscow’s nuclear program.

The United States, meanwhile, retains an aging nuclear arsenal with weapons systems still in service that date back to the early stages of the Cold War. Though pressure abounds from Republicans, military officials, and some Democrats to modernize America’s nuclear stockpile, Biden’s team has shown little ambition to pursue such an agenda.

In a Tuesday Senate hearing, Biden's defense secretary nominee Lloyd Austin dodged several questions about the urgent need to modernize and upgrade America’s nuclear weapons.

House Armed Services Committee member Rob Wittman (R., Va.) said failing to advance the development of nuclear weapons runs afoul of decades of American defense policy.

"A strong nuclear deterrent has kept the U.S. homeland safe since the inception of the atomic bomb," Wittman said. "The complete and accelerated modernization of our nuclear triad should be one of our nation’s top priorities."