Monday marked the ninth anniversary of the signing of New START by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and US President Barack Obama. The 2010 New START Treaty is scheduled to expire on February 5, 2021 with an option to renew it until 2026.
No Nuclear Restrictions
There are no indications, according to experts, that Trump or his National Security Adviser John Bolton wants to renew the treaty when it runs out in 2021.
Tokyo Institute of Technology Visiting Professor Subrata Ghoshroy told Sputnik that based on budget projections, the future looks grim.
"Given the large budget projections for the US nuclear weapons program in the next 30 years, we could see the reappearance of a dangerous arms race with Russia and China", Ghoshroy said on Monday.
If START is not renewed, for the first time in more than 50 years the world will be without any restrictions whatsoever on thousands of nuclear weapons that exist today, Ghoshroy, Research Affiliate in Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology stressed.
Trump still had the opportunity to seek to save START and being cleared on the charge of colluding with Russia in the 2016 presidential election campaign gave him renewed freedom to do so, Ghoshroy noted.
"I think that the START renewal decision is a tossup. If… Bolton has his way, it is quite possible that the treaty will not be renewed. However, with his apparent victory in the Russiagate investigation, [Trump] might once again feel that he has some space to mend relations with Russia", he said.
Nevertheless, even if the treaty was to be renewed, it remained "highly unlikely that the newly developed systems would be included", Ghoshroy advised.
Trump’s decision to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty had further generated a political and diplomatic climate hostile to renewing START, Ghoshroy remarked.
"Trump is commanding the Titanic as far as arms control is concerned", he said. The collapse of the INF Treaty "has clearly contributed to a deficiency in trust between the two nations, which is essential to arms control", he said.
Russia and the United States have long accused each other of violating the INF treaty, and both sides have denied the accusations. On 1 February, the United States announced it was suspending its obligations under the 1987 INF Treaty and launched the withdrawal process. Washington said the withdrawal process will be completed within six months unless Russia remedies its alleged treaty violations. Russia responded in kind by withdrawing from its obligations.
US political commentator and historian Dan Lazare agreed that prospects for START renewal looked dim especially in light of his role undermining the INF treaty.
"Things do not look good for an extension of New START", Lazare told Sputnik.
Bolton’s continued role as Trump’s third National Security Adviser tilted the odds heavily against START renewal, Lazare explained.
"John Bolton, the man who helped derail the ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missile] Treaty back in 2002 and personally demolished the INF Treaty earlier this year, is a hawk's hawk who has never seen an arms-control treaty he likes. So if he's still in power a year from now, the chances of an extension seem slim", he said.
"This will be extremely dangerous. But what's important to keep in mind that non-extension would be as much a consequence as a cause. US-Russian relations have been deteriorating for years, particularly since Euromaidan in early 2014", he said.
After being elected president, Trump had been caught in the hostile atmosphere and negative dynamics of superpower relations, Lazare noted.
"Although Trump campaigned on the need for a rapprochement with Moscow, Russiagate has forced him to reverse course and adopt positions that were even more bellicose than those of Obama", he said.
The rise of China and new weapon technologies such as hypersonic missiles and long-range nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed torpedoes had added new difficulties to the challenge of saving and expanding START to meet the security and technological challenges of a new era, Lazare emphasized.
"All are outside New START's purview and hence serve to undermine its effectiveness. As a result, the treaty may very well totter on its own in the face of an increasingly hostile international climate", he said.
However, failure to renew the strategic treaty would ramp up hostilities even more, Lazare predicted.
Under such circumstances, international military stability would decline at a time when political stability was on the downswing as well, Lazare stressed.
"It would not be a good combination. But it seems to be where the international system is heading even without people like Bolton to hurry the process along", he concluded.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.