The Economist on “The NPT at 50+”: Will the Ukraine war ring the knell for nuclear arms control?

“America offers to resume nuclear talks with Russia, and calls for China to join. But the outlook is dark”

© THE ECONOMIST | July 31, 2022

Editor’s note (August 1st 2022): President Joe Biden today offered to “expeditiously negotiate” a new nuclear arms-control deal with Russia to replace the New START treaty, which expires in 2026. Mr Biden also put pressure on China to discuss limits on its growing nuclear arsenal. It is not clear whether either power will take up his call, but it allows America to cast itself as a responsible power at the start of a big nuclear conference in New York.

Russian Defense Ministry officials show off the 9M729 cruise missile at the military Patriot Park outside Moscow on January 23, 2019.CreditVasily Maximov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the sea of hostility between America and Russia, an island of co-operation endures: the rival powers routinely share information about their long-range nuclear weapons, from the movement of warheads in and out of maintenance to telemetry from ballistic-missile launches. This is both striking and reassuring in the sixth month of war in Ukraine, as Russia periodically threatens to use nuclear weapons and America warns of “severe consequences” if it does.

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