Source: Andrei AKULOV

US President Barack Obama could offer Russia to extend the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) treaty for five years beyond 2021.

He wants to make sure the next US administration does not interrupt the further reduction of nuclear weapons deployment.

Under the terms of the 2010 treaty (in force since February 5, 2011), the United States and Russia each must reduce numbers of long range nuclear missiles by 50 percent and reduce their total number of warheads by 75 percent by February 2018 to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads on no more than 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and nuclear-capable bombers. In addition, each side is limited to no more than 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM and SLBM launchers and nuclear-capable bombers. Both sides must then keep their arsenals at these levels until 2021. As of September 1, 2015 (the date of the most recent semi-annual data exchange required by the treaty), the United States had 1,538 deployed strategic warheads on 762 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and nuclear-capable bombers. The Russian numbers were 1,648 deployed strategic warheads and 526 deployed strategic missiles and nuclear-capable bombers.

Beyond the regular data exchanges, New START requires that each side notify the other of certain types of changes to its strategic forces and other activities concerning them. As of late January, the sides had made over 10,200 treaty-required notifications. New START also permits each side to carry out 18 inspections per year of the strategic forces of the other. Both fully used their inspection quotas in the first four treaty years and, as of late January, each had carried out all 18 of its allowed inspections in the fifth treaty year.

The New START stipulates that the parties may agree to extend the treaty for a period of no more than five years. A five-year extension in the last months of Obama’s tenure would see it in force until 2026, taking the decision on extension out of the control of the president to be elected this November.