Keeping Peace in the Nuclear Age

April 29, 2020

The following is an excerpt of an article published in Foreign Affairs by Antatoly Antonov and Rose Gottemoeller.

Ten years ago, the United States and Russia signed the New START treaty—a nuclear arms control agreement that we, as the heads of our governments’ respective delegations, helped negotiate. Since then, New START has played a central role in keeping the peace and preventing a dangerous arms race between the two countries that together possess 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

Now, however, New START is in trouble: without action to extend it, the treaty will expire in February 2021. Its demise would have worrying implications for the security of the United States, of Russia, and of the world. It could bring a return to nuclear competition and spark mutual suspicion that would push the world to a level of nuclear risk unseen for decades.

The novel coronavirus pandemic should serve as a powerful reminder of the fragility of the international system. This is exactly the wrong moment to undermine or weaken other key components of that system, especially in the nuclear realm. Extending New START would demonstrate that the world’s powers are capable of working together to reduce shared threats. Letting it go would be a chilling sign of just how dangerous the world has become.

Continue reading at Foreign Affairs. 

Anatoly Antonov is the Russian ambassador to the United States. He was Russia’s deputy foreign minister from 2016 to 2017 and deputy defense minister from 2011 to 2016. Rose Gottemoeller is a distinguished visiting scholar at CNS and a Payne distinguished lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. She served as NATO’s deputy secretary-general from 2016 to 2019 and before that as US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

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