From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : New Start Treaty, INF Treaty
Mains level : Not Much
Central idea: The article provides an overview of the New START treaty, which was signed by Russia and the United States in 2010. It highlights how the treaty limits the number of nuclear weapons that the two countries can possess and deploy.
The New START, INF and the Open Skies …. Be clear about the differences of these treaties. For example- to check if their inception was during cold war era etc.
New START Treaty
- The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed.
- The treaty limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, well below Cold War caps.
- It was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
- It is one of the key controls on the superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.
Background of US-Russia Nuclear Relations
- The US formally QUIT the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF)
- The agreement obliged the two countries to eliminate all ground-based missiles of ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.
When did nuclear disarmament begin?
- In 1985, the two countries entered into arms control negotiations on three tracks.
- The first dealt with strategic weapons with ranges of over 5,500 km, leading to the START agreement in 1991.
- It limited both sides to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads.
- A second track dealt with intermediate-range missiles and this led to the INF Treaty in 1987.
- A third track, Nuclear, and Space Talks was intended to address Soviet concerns regarding the U.S.’s Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) but this did not yield any outcome.
Success of INF
- The INF Treaty was hailed as a great disarmament pact even though no nuclear warheads were dismantled.
- As it is a bilateral agreement, it did not restrict other countries.
- By 1991, the INF was implemented. USSR destroyed 1,846 and the US destroyed 846 Pershing and cruise missiles.
- Associated production facilities were also closed down.
- INF Treaty was the first pact to include intensive verification measures, including on-site inspections.
How has the nuclear behavior been?
- With the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the USSR in end-1991, former Soviet allies were joining NATO and becoming EU members.
- The U.S. was investing in missile defense and conventional global precision strike capabilities to expand its technological lead.
- In 2001, the U.S. announced its unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty).
- The US also blamed Russia for not complying with the ‘zero-yield’ standard imposed by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This may indicate the beginning of a new nuclear arms race.
Implications of the New Start
- The 2011 New START lapsed in 2021. It may meet the fate of the INF Treaty.
- The 2018 NPR envisaged the development of new nuclear weapons, including low-yield weapons.
- China is preparing to operate its test site year-round with its goals for its nuclear force.
- CTBT requires ratification by U.S., China, and Iran, Israel and Egypt and adherence by India, Pakistan and North Korea. It is unlikely to ever enter into force.
- A new nuclear arms race could just be the beginning. It may be more complicated because of multiple countries being involved.
- Technological changes are bringing cyber and space domains into contention. It raises the risks of escalation.
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