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US-Russian nuclear arms treaty may lose relevance

Monday, April 24, 2017


Prospects for renewing the New START treaty


The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) expires in 2021 and a five-year extension is a likely option. However, the treaty's quantitative limits on nuclear weaponry may be of diminishing importance as US and Russian technology evolves. Russia's modernised land-based missiles are coming into service 10-15 years before any US upgrade. Moscow and Washington are investing in new submarines despite fiscal constraints on both sides.


  • Russia views US missile defence deployments in Eastern Europe and South Korea as offensive and will adjust its deterrent capacity.
  • US budget pressures could see the life of ICBMs extended as the Pentagon invests in submarine upgrades.
  • The US military is more concerned about the escalation risks of tactical nuclear arms than the benefits of deterring conventional attack.

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