Lawmakers seek expanded Russia nuclear weapons dialogue

A group of lawmakers recently forwarded correspondence to President Joe Biden encouraging the expansion of nuclear weapons dialogue with Russia.

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), as well Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and John Garamendi (D-CA) are spearheading a congressional push to re-engage Russia in regular, extensive, comprehensive nuclear weapons dialogue.

“The United States and Russia, which together possess the vast majority of the world’s nuclear weapons, bear a special responsibility to ensure that we choose this safer, more secure path forward,” the legislators wrote. “We, therefore, appreciate your efforts to secure the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the sole remaining nuclear arms-control agreement with Russia.”

The lawmakers noted the treaty, which is slated to be in place until 2026, provides mutual insight into the location, movement, and disposition of strategic nuclear weapons and helps prevent a repetition of last century’s Cold War arms race.

“Although New START is necessary, it is not by itself sufficient to tackle the threat that nuclear weapons present,” the legislators concluded. “It is our hope that you work expeditiously to pursue talks with Russia on a follow- on agreement that can safely achieve deeper, verifiable reductions in both sides’ excessive strategic nuclear arsenals and put in place new limits on non-strategic weapons, including those delivered by intermediate and shorter-range missiles.”

The lawmakers maintain the Biden Administration should also seek to reach mutual understandings with Russia on limitations on strategic missile defenses, the development of new hypersonic weapons, and other new technologies potentially threatening progress on practical measures to reduce the chance of inadvertent nuclear war.

Douglas Clark

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