Russia’s participation in the ‘New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty’ (New START) has been “suspended” according to Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. As the Russia-Ukraine war approaches its first anniversary, this declaration is worrisome for global arms control and non-proliferation efforts.
The New START is an upgraded version of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) and START I and II agreements. It is the only remaining arms reduction treaty between the former Cold War enemies that limits the number of nuclear warheads that can be deployed by Russia and the United States to 1550. With the suspension from Russia, formal mechanisms like data sharing, verification, and routine inspections which are essential for transparency, stability, and predictability in a nuclear partnership on both sides—cannot take place.
Russia said that it couldn’t conduct inspections on American soil because of Western sanctions, like closing American airspace to Russian planes and making it harder for Russians to get visas. The real reason, however is evident, that being the United States and NATO’s support to Ukraine.
This is not the first time Mr. Putin has used nuclear threats during the Ukraine conflict, but this time, he is attempting to instill fear in the West about what he may do if they continue to back Ukraine. Even while he has stated that Russia will not expand its strategic nuclear weapons beyond the current New START limits, these are empty words that no one can believe upon. In addition to the possibility of a buildup of nuclear weapons, the suspension calls for a potential “free-for-all” nuclear arms race, which is as terrifying as it sounds. If not stopped, this may instigate countries such as Russia and China to speed up on nuclear warhead production.
The most dangerous weapons ever created by humans are nuclear bombs. One single nuclear bomb may destroy an entire city in a matter of seconds, killing millions and destroying the natural environment and the lives of future generations. Due to the inherent threats posed by such weapons, it is crucial that international agreements like the New START be adhered to.
Even though nuclear weapons have only been deployed twice, in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, around 13,400 nuclear warheads supposedly remain in the world today, and more than 2,000 nuclear tests have been undertaken. We will like to remind that Disarmament is the best defense against such threats, but achieving this objective has proven to be a formidable obstacle in a world where mistrust and insecurity between nations are increasing daily. We call upon the premiers of all the countries including Mr. Putin to avoid giving comments that can be detrimental to the world peace.