Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced a piece of legislation last week that would formally accuse Russia of violating New START and call on the US to withdraw from the treaty.
New START is the last nuclear arms control treaty remaining between the US and Russia and places limits on the deployment of nuclear warheads and launchers. Russia suspended its participation in the treaty earlier this year but has said it will continue to abide by its limits.
In a press release, Cotton slammed President Biden for agreeing with Russian President Vladimir Putin to extend New START for five years back in 2021. “President Biden should never have extended this treaty that has only made Russia and China stronger and America weaker. We should withdraw from the treaty and bolster our nuclear forces,” Cotton said.
The legislation would also place conditions on future arms control negotiations. It would require any deals that place limits on the US and Russia’s nuclear arsenals to include China, although Beijing’s nuclear arsenal is vastly smaller.
The bill would prohibit “unilateral reductions and prohibit the bargaining away of US missile defenses.” It would also ban “the use of funds to implement the New START Treaty or any future arms control agreement unless it meets the bill’s required stipulations.”
So far, the legislation has gained 10 Republican co-sponsors, including Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Our legislation will correct these mistakes by conditioning future arms control agreements with Russia to include all classes of nuclear weapons as well as China. We must be prepared for a strategic environment in which the United States faces two nuclear peers – China and Russia,” Risch said.
Responding to the legislation, the Kremlin said there has been no serious talks with the US on arms control. “We can now only state with regret that there are no serious, substantive contacts on these issues between Moscow and Washington,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Let’s just say that the last remnants of the international legal framework in this area are slipping away.”
In the decades leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US unilaterally withdrew from several arms control treaties with Russia, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and Open Skies.