The Trump admin is reaching end game on their nuclear talks with Russia but it does not look like it is going to end well for them, for Russia or for our security. A New START thread. 1/ #NewSTART
The New START Treaty caps US and Russian strategic nuclear weapons at no more than 1550 weapons each. Both sides are in full compliance with the agreement, under effective verification. It expires on 2/5/21 but can be extended by the two leaders for up to 5 years. 2/
Trump has refused offers since early 2017 from Putin to extend the Treaty and did not even start any formal process to pursue extension or a new agreement until a few months ago. For 3 years, the issue was "under study". 3/
Now the US formal position - after 3 years of dithering - is extend New START by 1 year if Russia agrees to a new "framework" agreeing to cap all weapons, tactical and strategic, and a freeze on any new warheads being deployed while talks continue. 4/
US has long sought to cap Russian tactical arsenal and a freeze makes some sense. But the US insists that Russia accept US monitors at their most sensitive facilities to ensure no new weapons are being deployed, and has never before agreed to cap tactical nuclear weapons. 5/
Russia has said no and asks what the US is prepared to do to make a major compromise in Russia's long standing opposition to limits on tactical nuclear weapons worthwhile. To this @USArimsControl has said nothing. No incentives. Nothing on missile defense, conventional. 6/
Also, US has not formal plan for how to verify a freeze or how portal monitoring at production sites in US or Russia would work. Those 3 years of study were not spend developing a negotiating position, they were wasted. US not even 100% sure we could allow at US sites. 7/
Because Trump does not want to extend New START (negotiated by Obama, and he wants to undo all things Obama) and because Trump's lead negotiator has a long standing record of opposing even verified and effective arms control, the US ultimatum may not change. 8/
Trump does not see New START as worth saving, even though it caps Russian programs, will cover multiple new Russian systems and produce us with time for our US modernization program to develop. Instead, Billingslea has said - we can win an arms race so let's race. 9/
If Russia accepts US framework, there are no verification provisions and will be impossible to know if Russia complying. Accusations will fly. And if/when Trump loses and should Biden agree to a further extension while talks unfold, Billingslea and GOP will argue US caved. 10/
And that's the point - Billingslea does not want to extend New START - he wants to set a bar so high his successors cannot reach and thereby prevent any future agreement from being approved by US Senate. We know what Trump wants - to undo Obama - even if it hurts America. 11/
If Russia accepts, I will applaud but only if there is a real agreement and there is some way to verify it. Otherwise, we will know the "deal" is smoke and mirrors and US will have to start almost from scratch. 12/
If this leads to New START being extended - even by a year - it is worth it but let's not be fooled. The US proposal is a shell and designed as much to fail as to advance US and allied security. 13/
Want proof? The last 3+ years could have been spent negotiating on verification, caps, expansion and instead the Trump Admin did none of what is needed to prepare for a serious successful negotiation. The solution is simple - extend New START now and get to work. end/

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More from @JBWolfsthal

29 Jul
Acting Undersecretary of Defense James Anderson has a provocative op-ed in Today's @nytimes where he gets a lot wrong about China, nuclear policy and arms control.…

At thread
1st he asserts arms control is at a cross roads because China is close to upsetting the bilateral nuclear dynamic with Russia and US. Nope - China at arms control because Trump and co dismantling agreements and leaving nothing to replace them. 1/
Russia is America's only nuclear peer competitor and needs to remain the focus of our nuclear control and reduction efforts - mainly focused on avoiding nuclear use by accident or escalation. China has 1/10th the arsenal of US or Russia. 2/
Read 23 tweets
22 Jun
former Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller negotiated the verified and important New START Treaty in record time with Russia and did not tweet once. She did her job. Trump team wasted 3 1/2 years and now wants to posture instead of getting down to real work. 1/
New START is the last agreement controlling Russian nuclear weapons - it limits strategic weapons and will being some of Putin's new exotic systems under control. It expires in 7 1/2 months. Instead of accepting Russian offer to extend now, US conditioning on China. 2/
US should want to draw China into arms control and encourage participation. Instead it is demanding China join "or else" when China is at a 10 to 1 disadvantage to US and Russian forces. US playing a weak hand, designed to collapse arms control system. 3/
Read 7 tweets
23 May
This makes clear just how dangerous and extreme the current Administration is.…

US has no need to test nuclear weapons. Lab directors have certified we know more about our weapons now than when we used to test them.

We spend billions per year on science based stockpile stewardship so that we don't have to test weapons. Our surveillance process can detect any flaws or concerns. We also deploy a variety of weapons so no one flaw will undermine our broader defense. 2/
The argument put forward by this Admin in their nuclear posture review in 2018 and apparently in this NSC meeting is that the US can show how serious and strong it is by testing a nuclear weapon quickly. Doing so would not show strength, but desperation. 3/
Read 8 tweets
21 May
Am hearing Team Trump intends to announce withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty today, hurting stability and US allies. Plans to be announced along with plan to "save" New START, last US-Russia strategic nuke pact which makes clear intent to kill arms control and salt earth after. 1/
For 3 1/2 years, Trump security team dithered and neglected nuclear stability and enabled arms race with Russia. Committed to arms racing, $$ to nuclear contractors and ideologically unable to use proven tools for security - alliances, engagements, agreements and deterrence. 2/
Makes clear next admin has a free hand to review and rewrite nuclear policy. Old bargains broken when GOP fails to comply. Next admin should review all assumptions, programs, strategy, alliance commitments and programs. Need to restore stability essential. 3/
Read 6 tweets
20 May
White House weighs shorter extension of nuclear arms pact with Russia via @politico 1/
As usual @BryanDBender knows what is happening before most. He was kind enough to ask for my take. The best take is it is a good sign the Admin in considering any extension and real follow on. That instinct should be encouraged. 2/
The less generous take is Trump hates all Obama deals and person appointed to negotiate a new groundbreaking agreement has a long record of opposing all arms control. To be blunt, the Trump team has little talent and track record that suggests they could negotiate anything. 3/
Read 4 tweets
4 May
I am proud to announce the release of the American Nuclear Policy Initiative’s new report "Blundering Toward Nuclear Chaos: The Trump Administration After 3 Years."…

#BlunderingTowardNuclearChaos @globalzero

The report includes analysis from some of today's top experts including @KingstonAReif on nuclear spending @KelseyDav on North Korea @RichardMNephew on Iran @atomicbell on global nuclear regime @Nickolas_Roth on nuclear security @SquassoniSharon on nuclear power and myself

The report includes an assessment of Trump Administration's efforts and finds that all of the nuclear dangers facing the US - those President Trump inherited and those he helped create - are getting worse. Without a change in policy, nuclear chaos is all but inevitable.

Read 27 tweets

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