Moscow’s new weapons violate New START, INF treaties, undermine arms control
Trump administration officials expressed doubts the 2010 New START arms treaty will be extended over concerns about Moscow’s failure to comply with that and several other arms treaties.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, is moving ahead with designing a new ground-based missile to counter Russia’s illegal cruise missiles built in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty.
Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told a Senate hearing Tuesday that Russia’s new strategic weapons announced in February, are a factor in whether the United States will seek to extend New START.
“No decision’s been made at this time,” she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “All options are on the table.”
Among the options being considered are withdrawing from New START; re-negotiating inspection and verification provisions as part of treaty extension; or adopting a more limited and simple agreement similar to the 2002 Moscow Treaty that called for significant reductions in strategic offensive arms.
“Among issues to consider will be Russia’s decision to manufacture compliance issues regarding U.S. weapons, and the uncertainty of whether or not Russia’s recently announced strategic nuclear weapons will be held accountable under the treaty,” Thompson explained in her prepared testimony.
In response to U.S. questioning of Russian treaty violations, Moscow has responded with disinformation and false counter charges of U.S. noncompliance.
“Russia’s response to each of these situations is to employ its standard playbook of distraction, misinformation, and counter-accusations,” Thompson said.
David Trachtenberg, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, also said extension of New START is uncertain.
“Any decision on extending the treaty will, and should be, based on a realistic assessment of whether the New START treaty remains in our national security interests in light of overall Russian arms control behavior,” Trachtenberg testified.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in February disclosed several new strategic weapons systems violate new START.
The new arms include nuclear-armed hypersonic cruise missiles, a long-range nuclear-powered missile, and an underwater drone submarine capable of delivering a massive, multi-megaton nuclear warhead.
Under New START, Russia is obligated to notify the United States that the new weapons are under development and will be counted under the treaty.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) asked Thompson whether the announced new Russian weapons are covered under New START.
“They would count as strategic weapons,” she said, noting that the Russians have not made any notification of the new weapons.
Thompson also said the new strategic weapons under development by Russia have not been discussed in U.S.-Russian arms talks and she could not say if the U.S. side had asked the Russians about the New START-accountable weapons.
In addition to INF and New START issues, Russia also is not adhering to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, the Budapest Memorandum on security assurances, the Helsinki Accords, and the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives on tactical nuclear arms, he said.
Moscow also is violating the Open Skies Treaty while selectively implementing the Vienna Document on exchanges of military information, Trachtenberg said.
Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.)said: “Out of four agreements—New START, the INF Treaty, the Open Skies Treaty, and the Chemical Weapons Convention—we have significant problems with Russian compliance of three of them.”
On the INF violation, Moscow is in material breach of the accord for deploying significant numbers of a new, intermediate-range, ground-launched cruise missiles called the SSC-8.
Thompson said the Trump administration has used diplomatic, military, and economic steps to pressure Russia to return to INF compliance.
Full article: Trump Leaning Against Extending Arms Treaty (Washington Free Beacon)