Dimensions and consequences of renewing the new START treaty

Strategic Council Online—Interview: An analyst of Russia affairs says renewing the new START treaty is significant in the sense it is still giving hope rivalry between nuclear powers would be impeded through dialogue and international agreement, saying that it seems the United States and Russia have reached the conclusion that despite their differences, they need to cooperate to resolve important issues.

Mahmood Shoori told the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations that former US President Donald Trump withdrew from many international agreements and ignored them in practice however Democrats have emphasized the importance of international agreements.

“As Joe Biden had declared during the US presidential elections campaigns, he will return to international agreements,” he said, referring to the prospects of renewing for another five years the treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, also known as the New START Treaty.

Shoori said that agreements related to the control of nuclear weapons are considered an important issue in international relations, adding that the START treaty is a product of the war time based on the new revision of which, the number of nuclear warheads of the two powers should be restricted to 1,550 warheads only.

“It was predicted that Biden would renew for another five years the START treaty whose ten year period expired in February. This was going to be a turn in the foreign policy of the United States. Talks in this regard between Trump and Putin failed and Russia had ultimately asked for the extension of the treaty for another year without any pre-condition. Therefore, it is very significant for Russia to return to the agreement with the United States and this measure by the United States was an important step which did not continue during the Trump tenure otherwise this step would not have been taken. ”

The issue of renewing the treaty to reduce strategic offensive arms was raised in the telephone conversation between Putin and Biden, he said, adding that the telephone conversation was made upon the request of the Russians and was considered as an opening in already tense relations between the two countries.

“Russia is hoping that this understanding with the United States on the destiny of the new START treaty is an opportunity to terminate the destructive policy of Washington which in recent years was not interested in eliminating mechanisms of controlling weapons and proliferation of arms.”

Referring to the Trump efforts to engage China as the main international economy rival of the United States in the new START treaty talks, Shoori said Trump emphasized that Russia should make efforts to involve China in this treaty but this did not happen in practice and the Chinese refused to be involved in the talks.

Asked about the continuation of the US pressure on China to join the new START treaty, he said that Russia remains the main strategic rival of the United States in the nuclear issue.

“The United States and Russia possess the world’s biggest number of nuclear warheads and this is a matter of concern. The continuation of the nuclear rivalry in this regard can pose a threat to international peace and security. Therefore, the main issue here is between the United States and Russia.”

Shoori said that China has declared it possess less than 300 nuclear weapons, adding that “in fact, the United States insists on China’s presence so that it imposes a series of restrictions on China. However, the reality is these are American and Russian nuclear weapons the reduction of which is very significant for international weapons control and non-proliferation regimes and therefore if this deal had not been clinched, we would definitely witness a new round of nuclear arms competitions between the United States and Russia.”

He said even though many believe this status would continue and Russia and the United States may violate the treaty despite the deal, the two big global powers would officially avert increasing their nuclear weapons without any limitation.

“Moreover, we should consider the issue that this deal for extending the treaty between Russia and the United States to reduce and restrict strategic offensive weapons does not include tactical nuclear warheads and the Trump’s decision on exiting mid-range nuclear weapons agreement.”

Referring to the consequences of this deal between the United States and Russia, Shoori said the outcome of the deal is significant in the sense that still one can be hopeful that dialog and international agreements would prevent the expansion of competition between nuclear powers and it seems that the global powers have reached the conclusion that in spite of differences between them, they need to cooperate to resolve important issues.

Shoori said China and NATO have welcomed the extension of this treaty, adding that renewing the treaty by the two countries would secure their national interests and would provide the possibility of maintaining transparency and predicting strategic relations between Russia and the United States as well as maintaining strategic stability in the world and positive impact on international status and helping curb the spread of nuclear weapons even though the United States has said it is setting a policy more powerful than Russia.

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