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Senator Cotton calling for Immediate US withdrawal from New Start Arms Control Treaty

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
May 20, 2023

On May 18th, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) announced the introduction of the No START Treaty Act, legislation that accuses Russia of violating the New START arms control treaty and demanding immediate American withdrawal. The new legislation consists of plans to strengthen US nuclear forces while also setting limits on future arms control deals and negotiations. Co-sponsors of the new legislation include Senators James Risch (R-Idaho), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), Bill Hagerty (R-Tennessee), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Pete Ricketts (R-Nebraska). 

According to Senator Cotton’s Press Office, the bill calls for the requirement of an assessment of the sufficiency of present and planned US nuclear forces, as well as calls for an implementation plan to address any possible deficiencies in the US nuclear deterrent.  

The bill would further require that any future arms control agreements with Russia that set quantifier limitations on the size of the US and Russian stockpiles will now limit and restrict all of Russia’s nuclear forces (including its non-strategic nuclear weapons) and likewise, restrict the nuclear stockpile and capabilities of China. The new legislation aims to ban the bargaining and dealing of US missile defenses, while also prohibiting unilateral reductions in potential future agreements. The bill will also prohibit potential funding for the implementation of the New START Treaty or any other future arms control agreement unless it fulfills the bill’s required outlines and mandates. 

Senator Cotton stated, “The New START Treaty handcuffed America while Vladimir Putin has taken advantage of the treaty’s flaws for years. President Biden should never have extended this treaty that has only made Russia and China stronger and America weaker. We should withdraw from the treaty and bolster our nuclear forces,” 

Senator Risch stated, “The Biden Administration’s decision to extend the New START Treaty with Russia constrained the United States, failed to make America and its allies safer, left the Chinese free to undertake a breathtaking buildup of strategic nuclear weapons systems, and allowed Russia to threaten to use its massive arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine. Our legislation will correct these mistakes by conditioning future arms control agreements with Russia to include all classes of nuclear weapons as well as China. We must be prepared for a strategic environment in which the United States faces two nuclear peers – China and Russia,” 

Senator Rubio stated, “Treaties aren’t effective when one party lies and cheats. We’ve seen evidence for the last decade that Russia is no longer honoring its obligations under the New START Treaty. It is irresponsible and dangerous for America to unilaterally limit itself in the face of growing hostility abroad, including from the Chinese Communist Party,”