asks military how quickly nuclear weapons could be pulled from storage ...

The administration has asked the military how quickly it would be able to pull nuclear weapons out of storage and load them onto bombers and submarines should an arms control treaty with Russian be allowed to expire, a report suggests.

Made to the US strategic Command in Nebraska, the request is said to be part of a strategy to pressure Moscow into renegotiating the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) before the US presidential election, three sources told Politico.

The administration reportedly believes that making the request outlines how serious they are about letting the agreement lapse should Russia fail to meet their demands.

The sources said ’s team is leery that Moscow is attempting to prolong the talks beyond the November vote in the hope that Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the election. They believe that Biden's proposals for New START renewal may be deemed more favorable by Russia.    

‘It’s a clear signal that the costs for not negotiating before the election are going to go up,’ one of the sources, speaking on the grounds of anonymity, told Politico.

The Trump administration has asked the military how quickly it would be able to pull nuclear weapons out of storage and load them onto bombers and submarines should an arms control treaty with Russian be allowed to expire

The administration has asked the military how quickly it would be able to pull nuclear weapons out of storage and load them onto bombers and submarines should an arms control treaty with Russian be allowed to expire

The source continued that the administration is ‘trying to create an incentive, and it’s a real incentive, for the Russians to sit down and actually negotiate.’

WHAT IS THE NEW START TREATY? 

 Signed in 2010, the New START treaty limits the United States and Russia to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. 

It represents the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries after they both withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year.

The current New START treaty is set to expire on February 5, 2021, unless both sides find an agreement for a five year extension.

The position of the administration, however, remains that New START is too narrow and a more comprehensive replacement that restricts a broader class of weapons – including ‘tactical’ and battlefield nuclear weapons – is needed.

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The White House’s request for the assessment was reportedly made within the last two weeks, and was issued by a group of officials from the National Security Council and State, Defense and Energy departments.

The officials involved are currently supporting US arms control envoy Marshall Billingslea in negotiations with Moscow to try to replace New START before it runs out in February next year, Politico reported.

As requested, the assessment will determine how long it would take to load nuclear weapons currently in reserve onto long-range bombers, ballistic missile submarines and silos on land to bolster the US’ nuclear capabilities should Russia increase its own arsenal.

News of the request comes as Billingslea publicly touted the prospect of placing more weapons on bombers and submarines in the event New START expires.

In recent weeks he’s also issued a number of warnings to Russia that experts say comes as an attempt to secure more concessions from the Russians in the New START renewal negotiations.

Signed in 2010, the New START treaty limits the United States and Russia to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. It represents the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries after they both withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year.

Billingslea recently said the existing New START treaty has loopholes and that any new agreement with Russia should cover all nuclear warheads and bolster verification protocols and transparency.

With such an agreement in place, he said fellow superpower China ultimately would not have much of a choice and would need to join such a framework.

‘The world is not going to sit by and allow China to simply do what it currently thinks it’s going to do in terms of more than doubling it’s nuclear stockpile,’ he last week. ‘So the president has made clear he doesn’t want a three-way arms race. It’s completely counterproductive and unnecessary.’

The officials involved are currently supporting US arms control envoy Marshall Billingslea in negotiations with Moscow to try to replace New START before it runs out in February next year

The officials involved are currently supporting US arms control envoy Marshall Billingslea in negotiations with Moscow to try to replace New START before it runs out in February next year

Hans Kristensen, director of FAS’ Nuclear Security Project, told Politico that of the three legs of the nuclear triad – bombers, submarines, and missile silos – the weapons most readily available would be on the bombers

Hans Kristensen, director of FAS’ Nuclear Security Project, told Politico that of the three legs of the nuclear triad – bombers, submarines, and missile silos – the weapons most readily available would be on the bombers

The next would ballistic missile submarines, Kristensen said, beginning with those already in port and the rest when they return from deployment

The next would ballistic missile submarines, Kristensen said, beginning with those already in port and the rest when they return from deployment

A series of former senior arms control officials and military figures have urged the White House to be cautious with its current approach at the negotiation table, warning the move could backfire.

The main basis of concern stems from the idea the administration, which has already withdrawn from two nuclear treaties with Russia, may be sending out the message it’s no longer concerned with

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