Cooperation on Nuclear Arms Control is a Win-Win-Win

Cooperation with Russia on nuclear arms control is an issue that deserves bipartisan support. It's a win for the United States, a win for Russia, and win for the rest of the world.

Reaffirming the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States must lead the world in preventing further nuclear proliferation, while also reducing and eventually eliminating all nuclear weapons (H.Res.54) — introduced into the House of Representatives, later to be referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, serves as a formal assurance that Congressional leaders will commit to a future of nuclear security and nonproliferation. Initiated by U.S. Rep. Donald Beyer (D-VA-8), the bill received partisan support with twenty-three other Democrats representatives. H. Res. 54 was introduced into the House on January 21, 2021, just twenty-four hours after U.S. President Joe Biden was inaugurated.


Key Provisions


- Provides a comprehensive history of U.S. arms control and nuclear policy, stating that nonproliferation has "been a bedrock principle of the United States foreign policy since 1945."


- Mentions the success of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty agreed upon by the United States and the Soviet Union, successfully leading to a total ban on the possession, production, and testing of land-based nuclear ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers— as a result, destroying 2,692 short, medium, and intermediate-range missiles.

- Labels the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, (The New START Treaty) as an effective accord between the United States and the Russian Federation.

- The resolution outlines the importance that effective arms control, specifically with the New START Treaty, in dialogue with the Russian Federation even during the lowest points in bilateral and multilateral relations

Implications


The resolution initiated by Rep. Donald Beyer (D-VA-8) calls upon the incoming Biden administration and Congress members to reaffirm their commitment to promoting international security and nuclear nonproliferation. During the final years of the Soviet Union and the decades that succeeded its collapse, the nonproliferation of weapons has proven to be a center point of cooperation between Russia and the United States. The two countries own the bulk of the 14,500 nuclear weapons globally— with a combined total of 13,350 weapons. Both countries have continued to work towards limiting arms and nuclear proliferation, regardless of the condition of U.S.-Russian relations.


A hallmark example of this collaboration occurred on April 8, 2010, when U.S. President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the New START treaty, pledging both countries to limit strategic offensive arms. The treaty was then passed assertively in the U.S Senate from both sides of the aisle and put into effect on December 22, 2010. The New START Treaty has been reported to be quite successful in decreasing strategic offensive arms and, as a result, garnered positive sentiment towards creating a safer international environment. The last remaining nuclear arms treaty between Russia and the U.S. was set to expire on Friday, February 5, 2021.


Representative Beyer's resolution (H.Res.54) maintains the notion that members of Congress are motivated to continue this method of cooperation with Russia. The House's apparent commitment to nonproliferation has also seemed to have aligned with the White House's interests. On Tuesday, January 27, an agreement was reached over the phone between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden to extend the New START Treaty. The phone call accompanied by the hopeful spirits among the American political domain manifested in a confirmed extension on Feb. 3 of the New START Treaty until 2026. Positive outlooks of future stability and improved relations have been expressed by both sides, including the Kremlin stating, “[the Treaty] maintains the transparency and predictability of strategic relations between Russia and the United States and to support global strategic stability.”


Through Representative Beyer's House resolution and the formal extension of the New START Treaty, an optimistic foundation for improving U.S.-Russian relations seems to be building under the new Biden administration. The extension, alongside the House resolution, also has the ability to ease American politics’ current state of polarization, as nonproliferation efforts have historically been a bipartisan effort. Looking ahead, the New START Treaty and efforts among members of Congress to commit to arms control should serve as a rejuvenation to the historic source of bilateral cooperation between Russia and the U.S. and will continue to facilitate a safer global security structure.




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