Recently, the world said goodbye to the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles. This hardly contributed to stability. Now another important document is at stake – START III. This agreement between the United States and Russia regulated the reduction of strategic offensive weapons. In less than a year, its action will cease, but renewal has not yet been counted on.
As you know, START III is a bilateral treaty, but it affects the fate of the whole world. Not surprisingly, the agreement is being discussed in other countries. Let’s look at the position of the parties.
The rhetoric of Russia boils down to the need to renew the contract. This is said at all levels. In particular, Vladimir Putin recently promised to raise this topic at a meeting with Donald Trump.
“It is necessary to extend the START III treaty”, – the Russian President said.
This view is shared by Germany, as Foreign Minister Heiko Maas spoke about:
“We are joining forces to protect and strengthen the crumbling arms control architecture. We urge Russia and the United States to show leadership by extending START-3. The agreement remains critical”.
The French Foreign Ministry commented on the situation surrounding the agreement as follows:
“The United States and Russia, which still own almost 95% of the world’s nuclear stockpiles, are primarily responsible for maintaining existing instruments of control over conventional and nuclear weapons”.
Even ex-deputy secretary general of NATO Rose Gottemoeller at a hearing in the committee on foreign affairs in the House of Representatives of the US Congress openly stated that America’s security depends on START III.
“NATO allies, as well as our allies in Asia, support the extension of START III”, – she said.
Washington’s position is less clear. Officially, the US is showing a willingness to extend the contract. Except for the fact that here a large American contradiction arises.
“The president puts forward, and you are probably observing this, a proposal for tripartite discussions: negotiations with Russia and China regarding replacement, a larger arms control agreement that limits the growth of these arsenals in China and Russia”, – John Rood, the US Under Secretary of Defense for Political Affairs commented on the situation.
The US sees China as one of its strategic opponents, and therefore wants to see it among the parties to the deal. At first glance, this approach may seem reasonable. But all logic begins to crumble if you delve into the details.
According to the International Campaign for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, there are 6,500 nuclear warheads in Russia. The United States has 6185. The arsenal of China has only 290 nuclear weapons. China is not even in third place – France was ahead of it, which has 300 nuclear warheads. Naturally, official Beijing appeals with this fact.
If China makes a deal, it will deprive itself of the opportunity to develop this industry. Washington is well aware that there will be no tripartite agreement. Moreover, Donald Trump already wanted to conclude with the Chinese an analogue of the INF Treaty.
“China is not part of this agreement, but they should be included in it”, – Trump said in October 2018. As you know, less than a year later the contract ceased to exist.
But is there really a problem in China? Does this mean that the treaty should include France and Britain? Yes, these are NATO countries. They do not pose a threat to the United States, but could balance the situation. Only even negotiations on this subject are not conducted. But in February, Donald Trump made a budget proposal for 2021 in the amount of 4.8 trillion dollars.
It is important to recall that obligations under START III may end as early as February. What does the White House offer? – $ 705.4 billion to the Pentagon, with particular emphasis on financing the creation of new types of nuclear weapons.
The National Nuclear Safety Administration will also receive a lot of resources. This federal agency has already reported that they want to spend $ 15.6 billion on nuclear weapons programs. Although Congress will decide on budgetary issues, Trump’s actions make it clear that the United States does not count on an extension of START III. Moreover, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is also in jeopardy.
If you look at the numbers above, you can see why the United States is not interested in maintaining START III. China is an excuse, like the 9M729 missile in the case of the INF Treaty. Restrictions will disappear, and a multibillion-dollar flow of money will sweep over the US military-industrial complex. The Pentagon has something to strive for given the new Russian developments. Unfortunately, this situation will result in an unprecedented arms race. The Cold War of the last century will seem like babble, given how much technology has evolved since then. One can only hope that the parties will reach an agreement before the world pays for the heedlessness of the catastrophe.