The Washington Post reported on Thursday that President Biden is seeking a five-year extension of New START, the last nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia that is set to expire on February 5th.
The report cited two senior US officials, and Biden himself has previously said that he favors the extension. Russia’s stance on New START is that they are ready to make the five-year extension with no preconditions. Washington and Moscow appear to be able to be prepared to make an agreement, but they have to work quickly.
New START limits the number of missiles, bombers, and nuclear warheads each power can have deployed. If the treaty lapses, there will be no constraints on either country’s nuclear arsenal, and it could spark a new nuclear arms race.
The Trump administration failed to reach an agreement on New START after making additional demands of the Russians. President Trump withdrew from other treaties with Moscow, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that prohibited the production of medium-range nuclear and ballistic missiles and the Open Skies treaty that allowed unarmed surveillance flights over participating countries.
While the Biden administration is keen to preserve New START, they are looking to hold Russia “accountable” for so-called “aggressive actions” from Moscow. The officials told the Post that the new administration is not seeking a “reset” in relations with Russia like previous administrations have.
Some of the allegations against Russia are completely unsubstantiated, like the claim that Moscow paid bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan, which one official mentioned to the Post.