The State Department informed Congress this week in its New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, Implementation Report that it can’t certify that Russia is in compliance with the bilateral nuclear arms control agreement.
According to the report, Russia has been preventing required inspections of its nuclear arsenal and has failed to convene a session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission that oversees compliance—both breaches of the treaty.
In other words, it’s possible that—in the absence of on-site inspections by American inspectors—Moscow has exceeded the limit of 1,550 deployable warheads allowed under the 2010 treaty, thereby possibly amassing more weapons than Washington.
So, why is Moscow doing this?
First, it is likely preventing verification of its compliance with the arms control treaty as a way to express its displeasure with Washington’s and NATO’s support of Kyiv in Russia’s nearly 1-year-old war on Ukraine.
Ostensibly, threatening the collapse of New START—a (flawed) pillar of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime—also potentially gives the Kremlin leverage over U.S. and NATO decision-making on a number of security issues.
An added benefit to the Kremlin is that it’s causing political panic among the American and European Left, which deeply supports the agreement, nuclear arms control in general, and Utopian efforts at denuclearization.
Then again, the Kremlin’s move in preventing on-site inspections deeply embarrasses the Biden White House—which is woefully short on nuclear nonproliferation achievements since coming into office two years ago.
Of course, Russia isn’t known for its steadfast compliance with arms control agreements.
Beyond New START, Moscow’s past use of chemical weapons against political opponents violated the Chemical Weapons Convention. Russia is also believed to be in noncompliance with the Biological Weapons Convention.
Plus, the United States pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty under the Trump administration due to Russia’s deployment of a new missile—a material breach of that treaty.
Unfortunately, Russia isn’t the Biden administration’s only atomic-sized headache.
North Korea is building up its nuclear and missile arsenal. Iran is on the brink of a nuclear breakout and could possibly build several bombs in a short time. Then there’s China, which appears to be on the path to reach near-parity—or even parity—with the U.S. on nuclear weapons.
And in each case, there’s nothing going on in terms of negotiations to address these nuclear proliferation problems that deeply affect American security and that of our allies, partners, and friends.
It’s fine to call out—even shame—Russia on its violations of New START, but, Mr. President, what are you really going to do about it—and the other North Korean, Iranian, and Chinese nuclear nightmares?
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal