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Issue: №6 (11)

The memo presents possible scenarios should the New START Treaty expire without extension. Special attention is being paid to confidence building measures to implement without a treaty-like legal basis. The memo also considers the build-up potential of strategic nuclear forces of Russia and the US.

Key findings:

  • The removal of the agreed numerical ceilings would not automatically trigger an immediate arms race; but the demise of the Treaty would make it possible both politically and technically. In the short and medium term, the focus would be on the upload potential rather than the production of new delivery systems. In practical terms, it would mean the deployment of the currently non-deployed delivery systems and efforts to increase the number of warheads mounted on each missile.  
  • Should the United States reject any bilateral strategic arms limitation and arms control arrangements with Russia, it would be next to impossible for Moscow to promote the arms control agenda. Nevertheless, it would be in Russia’s best interests to continue taking part in the remaining nuclear threat reduction mechanismsA unilateral declaration that Russia would not seek to ramp up its strategic nuclear forces until and unless the United States does it first would be the next step in a successful series of similar Russian initiatives. .
  •  If the United States does not want any formal arms control arrangements with Russia, but is willing to preserve the status quo by means of political commitments, Russia and the United States could make a joint or a simultaneous announcement that they have no plans of ramping up their strategic arsenals beyond the ceilings agreed in the treaty. An arrangement that would allow the parties to preserve the inspections regime after the New START expiration would be the most ambitious goal under this scenario.  
  • Formalizing such complex arrangements would require a political agreement between Russia and the United States. Such an agreement could be signed for an indefinite term and remain in effect until the entry into force of the next US-Russian strategic arms control treaty. To hold regular discussions on the technical issues pertaining to any such arrangements (information exchange, NTMs, inspections, etc.) the two parties would also need to establish a standing body similar to the Bilateral Consultative Commission set up under New START. Read


Security Index Occasional Paper Series presents reports, analytical articles, comments and interviews that reflect the positions of Russian and foreign experts on the current challenges of global security and Russian policy in this sphere. The newsletter aims at providing clear analysis of global security problems and suggesting practical solutions. Security Index Occasional Paper Series continues the Security Index journal published by PIR Center in 1994 – 2016. Authors and editors will be glad to receive comments, questions and suggestions on our e-mail address [email protected]