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US MPs request congress to assess costs of allowing New START to expire

Without transparency and confidence building measures, both sides "will lose a means to have direct knowledge of their adversary’s capabilities"

WASHINGTON, September 10. /TASS/. Two members of the US parliament have sent a letter to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), requesting an analysis of consequences of allowing the 2011 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia to expire in 2021

The treaty between the United States and Russia, which limits the number of strategic nuclear weapon warheads and delivery systems that each country may field, will expire in February 2021 unless both parties agree to a 5-year extension. The authors of the request, Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of House Armed Services Committee, said in the letter that to date, the incumbent presidential administration of Donald Trump "has not indicated that it intends to pursue an extension."

"If the New START Treaty is allowed to expire, there will be no limits on the size of the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia for the first time in over 25 years," the letter says. "Moreover, each side will lose the right to conduct onsite inspections of the other’s strategic nuclear forces and assurances the other party will not interfere with or conceal critical systems from surveillance using satellites and other methods."

Without those transparency and confidence building measures, both parties "will lose a means to have direct knowledge of their adversary’s capabilities," the lawmakers said.

"This situation will lead to potentially destabilizing uncertainty regarding each sides’ forces, and could lead both sides to increase their arsenals to hedge against that uncertainty, which could in turn lead to an arms race like the one we experienced during the Cold War," they said.

The letter requests the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to "provide an analysis of this topic, in particular looking at the costs that the United States could incur if the New START Treaty is allowed to expire."

"This analysis should consider several scenarios in which the United States increases the size of its strategic nuclear arsenal, either in response to a Russian increase of the same amount or as a hedge against the uncertainty about whether Russia might be increasing the capabilities of its forces quantitatively or qualitatively," the document reads.

The lawmakers also requested the CBO to prepare a report by April 2020, "in time for consideration of this matter during the discussion of the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2021."

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) was signed in 2010 and entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers.

The New START Treaty will remain in force for 10 years, until 2021, unless it is replaced before that date by a subsequent agreement on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. It can also be extended for no longer than 5 years (that is, until 2026) by the parties’ mutual consent.