Senator Cornyn

Cornyn: Clean Extension of New START Shows Biden’s Naiveté

January 27, 2021

WASHINGTON – Today on the floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) discussed nuclear arms control and the New START treaty, which will expire next month. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video can be found here.

“Following a call yesterday between President Biden and President Putin, the White House announced that the U.S. and Russia are set to extend New START for five years with no conditions attached. This was President Biden’s first major foreign policy test, and unfortunately, he played right into Russia’s hands.”

“The treaty limits the number of bombers each nation can possess, but places no limit on the number of warheads each bomber can support. Making matters worse, the limits only apply to strategic, not tactical, nuclear weapons. Russia has taken advantage of this loophole in New START, amassing some 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons compared to only 500 for the United States.”

“Another five years under New START will allow Russia to continue growing its arsenal of tactical weapons and cement its advantage over the United States, perhaps permanently.”

“The U.S. and Russia are the most powerful nuclear states in the world, but together we account for only two of the five nuclear-armed states recognized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Two of the other countries, the United Kingdom and France – both of which provide regular information about the size and makeup of their nuclear arsenals – are not a problem. But the fifth and final power is China, one of the world’s biggest secret-keepers.”

“The thick cloak of secrecy surrounding the Chinese Communist Party has made it nearly impossible to verify information about the breadth and the depth of China’s nuclear capabilities. What we do know is that China continues to pursue a nuclear triad, and experts estimate China to have about 300 nuclear weapons. Assuming that figure is correct, it puts China slightly ahead of France and the United Kingdom in terms of raw numbers. That would make China the third most powerful nuclear state in the world, and we have every reason to believe that the size of its arsenal will continue to grow.”

“A simple extension of the New START treaty leaves in place a framework in which the Russians cheat, and the Chinese are not at the table, and the United States is playing by the rules of a bygone era. This must change.”

“Rather than enter a five-year extension of New START, the Administration should use its leverage to convene multilateral talks. America should invite the other nuclear nonproliferation treaty states – Russia, China, France, and the U.K. – to the negotiating table and encourage multilateral talks aimed at limiting the growth of nuclear arsenals globally.”

“The Administration must pursue a multilateral comprehensive approach. It’s the only practical and workable solution to the vast nuclear threats posed by both China and Russia.”