The New START Treaty will expire in the next decade, and the United States and Russia face formidable obstacles in achieving a follow-on treaty to take its place. If New START expires without a replacement in tow, it would mark a profound change in nuclear policy for the United States and Russia. Recognizing this possibility, this new CNA Report identifies the key risks and uncertainties the United States and Russia would face without a strategic nuclear arms control treaty and develops a portfolio of non-treaty policy options for mitigating them. The report also identifies the impact US-Russian nuclear dynamics after New START may have on China’s nuclear policy and posture. The report concludes with several recommendations for US nuclear policy in 2019, while the New START Treaty is still in effect.
This report was generously funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. read full report
The CNA Report, Nuclear Arms Control without a Treaty? Risks and Options After NEW START, identifies the key risks and uncertainties the United States and Russia would face without a strategic nuclear arms control treaty and develops a portfolio of non-treaty policy options for mitigating them.
- Without New START’s cooperative transparency practices the U.S. intelligence community would likely devote more resources to monitoring Russian strategic nuclear forces but have less insight and less confidence in its analytical judgements.
- The loss of legally-binding constraints on US and Russian strategic nuclear forces would also confront each country with near- and long-term risks and uncertainties. In the mid-to-late 2020s, both countries can increase their available warheads by hundreds, but neither has the capacity to significantly alter the relative balance by exceeding New START limits if the other chooses to do so. Based on their existing policies each country would have logical reasons to increase strategic nuclear force levels as a hedge against the other surpassing the New START limits.
- Washington and Moscow would face heightened credibility challenges within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and would no longer have their bilateral arms control framework as a tangible example of cooperation under their Article VI obligations to work toward complete nuclear disarmament.
- If U.S. allies perceive the United States as mismanaging its relationship with Russia and failing to put forward a serious nuclear risk reduction strategy, it would also face greater challenges uniting NATO around a common security strategy.
The report identifies options under several scenarios:
- options without New START,
- options while New START is still in effect, and
- options for a nuclear relationship with China.