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Destruction of START III: termination of the treaty will cost the US dearly

MOSCOW, (BM) – Termination of the Treaty between Russia and the United States on Measures to Further Reduce and Limit Strategic Offensive Arms (START-3 / New START) could cost the US Department of Defense $ 439 billion, which will be spent on modernizing nuclear weapons, plus $ 28 billion in annual maintenance costs for special ammunition and delivery vehicles, according to a report from the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO), released on August 25, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

Read more: What is Russia offering Washington on the arms control deal (START III)?

START III is a bilateral treaty on further mutual reduction of arsenals of deployed strategic nuclear weapons. The agreement was signed by Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama on April 8, 2010 in Prague and entered into force on February 5, 2011.

The contract is designed for 10 years with a possible extension by mutual agreement of the parties for 5 years. The document provides for the reduction of nuclear warheads to 1,550 units, intercontinental ballistic missiles, ballistic missiles of submarines and heavy bombers – to 700 units. This treaty replaced START I, which expired in December 2009.

The positions of Washington and Moscow on the extension of this agreement continue to diverge. If we talk about the cost of ending START III for Washington, then it will be by no means small. At least for the United States, this could translate into a threefold increase in the cost of producing nuclear weapons.

Since the reaction of Washington and Moscow to the expiration of START III is still unclear, the US Congressional Budget Office has explored several possible courses of action, including other options that are less costly for the United States.

“If New START is not renewed, the United States may decide not to make any changes to its current plans for strategic nuclear forces, in which case it will not incur any additional costs,” the study said.

“However, if the US decides to increase its forces in response to the expiration of the treaty, a small increase in the combat strength of the Strategic Nuclear Forces (SNF) can be relatively inexpensive and completed quickly. However, a larger-scale increase in the number of strategic nuclear forces can be quite costly, and its implementation may take several decades,” the document says.

Read more: US nuclear arsenal exceeds China’s nuclear arsenal by 20 times

Moscow and Washington concluded two-day arms control talks in Vienna last week, with some signs of a possible willingness to extend the existing START agreement.

The key stumbling block is the US demand to include China in any new treaty, even though China has repeatedly rejected such proposals.

US government leaders argue that any new strategic nuclear arms limitation treaty should cover all types of warheads, include better verification protocols and transparency measures, and include China, which is expanding its own nuclear arsenal at an unrelenting pace.

Russia has proposed an extension of START III without any conditions. The US representative at the Vienna talks, Marshall Billingsley, indicated that the US was ready to talk about the extension of START, but only if there was a politically binding basis for amending the new START treaty.

Arms control supporters warned the United States against terminating the treaty after Moscow and Washington pulled out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year.

“The ever-increasing spending of nuclear weapons without an arms control system that limits the nuclear forces of the United States and Russia is a recipe for budget chaos that undermines strategic stability and damages the global non-proliferation regime,” said director of the disarmament and threat reduction policy Arms Control Association (Washington DC) Kingston Rife.

Increased spending on strategic nuclear forces is likely to put pressure on other parts of the US national defense budget. The Office of the Budget Office had previously concluded that the United States would spend $ 1.2 trillion on nuclear weapons over the next three decades.

Read more: Unlearned lessons: Who needs a nuclear apocalypse today?

Meanwhile, according to a recent report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Pentagon will not draw up a budget if new START expires.

US lawmakers on both sides are pressuring the White House to extend the New START. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and senior Republican Michael McCall defended a bill extending the treaty to 2026 last year.

“I would like common sense to prevail after all, and the START-3 Treaty was extended without any conditions,” Lieutenant General Valery Zaparenko said, a former deputy chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.

According to the military leader, at this stage it is unlikely to be possible to include China in this process due to the extremely uncompromising position of Beijing and the recent escalation of differences between the United States and China. In the future, the general believes, it is necessary to think about the inclusion in such agreements of all other countries – members of the nuclear club.

Read more: The Pentagon should be ready for nuclear test if Trump gives green light

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