Issue Brief on “US Approach Towards Arms Control and Disarmament under Biden Administration”

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The US arms control and disarmament policy under the Trump administration saw its withdrawal from many arms control and disarmament treaties – both bilateral and multilateral. President Trump was in many ways focused on undoing arms control deals negotiated during the Obama administration. He destroyed decades worth of work done on achieving arms control and disarmament milestones between US and Russia.

The biggest casualty was the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between US and Russia that prohibited the deployment of intermediate range missiles by both the countries. US maintained strategic restraint with Russia for over 30 years. The New START is also due to expire in February 2021. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START)that sets limits on number of deployed strategic missiles could have been further extended for five years but the Trump administration refused to do so, imposing conditions that could not be met. The Trump administration also withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal that was negotiated to impose curbs on Iran’s nuclear program. He also chose to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty that allowed member states to conduct unarmed observation flights over each other’s territory. Last but not the least is the President Trump’s engagement with North Korea that despite all the fanfare, summits and handshakes failed to make any progress on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. He renewed the focus on developing nuclear weapons, initiated a new nuclear arms race, and eroded the norms against use of nuclear weapons. His administration even talked about resuming nuclear testing.

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