NEW START SAFE FROM WITHDRAWAL — FOR NOW
Tuesday, October 20, marked a comforting milestone for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The agreement has a three-month window before a withdrawal is final, so even if the Trump administration were to pull out now, a potential Biden administration could reverse the decision and move to extend the agreement.
The Trump administration, however, is still trying to conclude a new agreement with the Russians. Moscow has offered a one-year extension of New START and freeze on nuclear warheads, but as Senior Policy Director Alexandra Bell explained on PRI’s The World, the devil of that freeze would be in the details and time is running out. The Trump administration leaving this to the last minute is reckless, as it is the last treaty restricting the world’s two biggest nuclear arsenals. As Bell says, “It’s not a gambling chip, it’s a life preserver.” Read more in The Guardian, Financial Times (paywall) or National Journal (paywall).
UNITED STATES INCREASES IRAN SANCTIONS BUT HOPE FOR RETURN TO NUCLEAR DEAL REMAINS
The United States claimed in September a successful snapback of all UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on Iran, while the vast majority of the international community have accepted that six UNSC resolutions targeting Iran, including the arms embargo, expired on October 18.
In a last-ditch effort to further isolate Iran, the Trump administration sanctioned Iran’s financial sector and blacklisted 18 major Iranian banks. Then, to prove they will unilaterally impose the sanctions they claim to have lapsed, they sanctioned individuals from China and Hong Kong for supporting Iran’s shipping lines one day after the arms embargo expired. On October 23, the United States sanctioned five entities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s cyber operations unit for a plot to influence the election after it sent intimidating emails to voters made to look like they came from the white nationalist group the Proud Boys.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to accumulate low-enriched uranium for its stockpile, although it remains nowhere near the levels it reached prior to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran nuclear deal.
As the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign continues to be a maximum failure, former Vice President Biden has made it clear that if elected, he would seek to repair or replace the nuclear deal.
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The West Wing Shows How Outdated U.S. Nuclear Policy Really Is, writes Communications Director Anna Schumann