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Russia suspends New START: What is its last remaining nuclear arms control treaty with the US?

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: International Relations


Source: IE

 Context: The Russian President announced to suspension of its participation in the last remaining major military agreement with the US – New START.


  • The original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty/START-I was signed between the US and the erstwhile USSR in 1991 and came into force in 1994.
  • START-I, which capped the number of nuclear warheads (to 6,000) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs to 1,600), lapsed in 2009.
  • This was replaced first by the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT)/the Treaty of Moscow and then by the New START treaty.


What is the New START?

  • Officially, the Treaty between the USA and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, entered into force on February 5,
  • It placed new verifiable limits (to be met by 2018) on intercontinental-range nuclear weapons. For example, 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs (submarine-launched) and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments, etc.
  • The US and Russian Federation subsequently agreed to extend the treaty through February 4, 2026.


How is compliance with the treaty ensured? The two parties have conducted on-site inspections, exchanged notifications, held meetings with the Bilateral Consultative Commission, and held data exchanges.


What is the latest situation on compliance?

  • US: Russia was not complying with the New START, jeopardising a source of stability in their relationship.
  • Russia: The USA’s goal is Russia’s strategic defeat, and for Russia the “theatre of the absurd” (the idea of existentialism) is important.



  • Over the decades, the two sides signed various arms control agreements, imposing breaks on the nuclear arms race – an alarming feature of the Cold War competition.
  • However, deep fissures in their relationship and the suspension of almost all the treaties in recent years, have once again raised the risk of a nuclear arms race.


Insta Links:

The Fragile State Of Nuclear Disarmament


Mains Links:

In what ways would the ongoing US-Iran Nuclear Pact Controversy affect the national interest of India? How should India respond to its situation? (UPSC 2018)