February 5th marked the 1st anniversary of the entry into force of the New START treaty. Kingston Reif used the February Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists column to muse on the treaty’s implementation to date as well as future prospects for further nuclear arms reductions.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Obama administration has stated that it seeks additional verifiable reductions with Russia not only in deployed strategic forces, but also in non-deployed strategic warheads and nonstrategic (i.e., tactical) nuclear weapons, which aren’t currently limited by any treaty. This would greatly benefit US security.
For example, a new treaty limit of 1,000 deployed strategic warheads would reduce the number of Russian nuclear weapons pointed at the United States and likely dissuade Moscow from moving forward with destabilizing nuclear modernization programs — such as the development of a new heavy ICBM. Verifiable limits on non-deployed warheads and nonstrategic weapons could enhance stability by addressing Russia’s large stockpile of nonstrategic weapons, ensuring that nuclear warheads are actually eliminated as opposed to merely placed in storage, and providing greater transparency on all types of nuclear warheads instead of only deployed warheads.
Plus, additional reductions would save money — not a minor calculation in this budget climate. As it stands, the Pentagon and Energy Department are planning to spend hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade and beyond to build new nuclear delivery systems and warhead-production facilities. But reductions would stem the need for many of these planned replacement systems.