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Strategic Arms Control Beyond New Start: Lessons from Prior Treaties and Recent Developments

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Study/Analysis]

Corporate Author:

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

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The United States has been a party to numerous treaties on nuclear weapons, dating back to the 1960s. These treaties fall into two general categories treaties that constrain activities e.g., nuclear testing, placing nuclear weapons in outer space, and nuclear proliferation and treaties that constrain the number and nature of weapons that the parties can possess. All nine treaties limiting the size and nature of nuclear arsenals including one treaty that limited missile defense have been bilateral agreements between the United States and Russia or the Soviet Union before 1992. During negotiations for strategic arms-control agreements, the key US objectives have been to sustain stable strategic nuclear deterrence and to reduce unnecessary and costly arms races. This report describes all nine of these treaties, with particular focus on the New Strategic Arms Control Treaty New START the only such treaty that is still in effect. Further, this study analyzes how well these treaties kept up with emerging technology and the security environment of their times, and how well they met the goals just listed. This report then draws lessons from earlier treaties and developments of the last decade to provide considerations for the United States to account for when negotiating whatever treaty follows New START. Finally, many earlier arms-control treaties between the United States and Russia took from two and a half to seven years to negotiate, exclusive of preparatory work to initiate negotiations. The expiration date for New START is February 2026, so the time to begin thinking about arms control beyond New START is now.


Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Nuclear Warfare

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]