Congresswoman Cheney and Senator Cotton Introduce the Stopping Russian Nuclear Aggression Act

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Cheney and Senator Cotton introduced the Stopping Russian Nuclear Aggression Act today to limit Russia’s nuclear buildup.

Under no circumstances should the United States agree to extend the New START Treaty beyond the current expiration in 2021 without drastic improvements to the deeply flawed deal negotiated by the Obama Administration. Over the past few years, we have seen Russia tout several new nuclear weapons delivery systems and it is unclear whether those systems will be bound by the limits of the treaty. Russia’s large stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons and belief that these weapons can be used as a part of an “escalate to de-escalate” strategy is also extremely concerning. When these concerns are then viewed through the lens of Russia’s long-term violation of the INF Treaty, it is clear that extending the New START Treaty is not currently in the national security interest of the United States. That is why I introduced the Stopping Russian Nuclear Aggression Act. This bill prevents funding to extend the New START Treaty until the President certifies to Congress that Russia has agreed to verifiably reduce its stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons and include its new systems under the limits of the New START Treaty,” Congresswoman Liz Cheney said.

Vladimir Putin has spent a decade cheating on existing treaties like the INF,  building up his nuclear arsenal, and rewriting the rulebook on the nuclear triad by introducing new ways of launching a nuclear attack. Russia’s heavy advantage in tactical nuclear weapons—which are not bound by the existing START agreement—restricts our ability to deter aggression against the U.S. and our allies. It’s clear the old START model isn’t going to cut it. This bill ensures all, not some, of Russia’s nuclear arsenal is on the table in the next round of negotiations,” Senator Tom Cotton said.

Background:

The New START Treaty is set to expire in 2021 and both countries may agree to extend the treaty for an additional five years.

Per the State Department Website, limits under the New START Treaty include:

  • 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments;
  • 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments (each such heavy bomber is counted as one warhead toward this limit);
  • 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review states that:

Russia possesses significant advantages in its nuclear weapons production capacity and in non-strategic nuclear forces over the U.S. and allies. It is also building a large, diverse, and modern set of non-strategic systems that are dual-capable (may be armed with nuclear or conventional weapons). These theater- and tactical-range systems are not accountable under the New START Treaty and Russia’s non-strategic nuclear weapons modernization is increasing the total number of such weapons in its arsenal, while significantly improving its delivery capabilities. This includes the production, possession, and flight testing of a ground-launched cruise missile in violation of the INF Treaty. Moscow believes these systems may provide useful options for escalation advantage.

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review further states that:

Most concerning are Russia’s national security policies, strategy, and doctrine that include an emphasis on the threat of limited nuclear escalation, and its continuing development and fielding of increasingly diverse and expanding nuclear capabilities. Moscow threatens and exercises limited nuclear first use, suggesting a mistaken expectation that coercive nuclear threats or limited first use could paralyze the United States and NATO and thereby end a conflict on terms favorable to Russia.

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