Foster, Merkley Lead Bicameral Effort to Bolster Nuclear Arms Control Regimes

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Bill Foster (IL-11) introduced a bicameral resolution with John Garamendi (CA-08), Don Beyer (VA-08), and Jim McGovern (MA-02) condemning the Russian Federation’s suspension of its participation in the New START Treaty and supporting the value of international arms control agreements. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) are leading a companion resolution in the Senate.

The New START Treaty is the last major remaining bilateral nuclear arms control agreement and has provided valuable insight into Russia’s nuclear arsenal, including placing verifiable limits on all Russian deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons. Members of the Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group are deeply concerned about the fraying of the arms control regime as exemplified by the purported suspension of the New START Treaty last year, Russia’s use of escalatory nuclear rhetoric in service of its war of aggression against Ukraine, and the build-up of China and Iran’s nuclear programs.

The bicameral resolution:

  • Condemns the Russian Federation’s escalatory nuclear rhetoric and veiled threats on the potential use of nuclear weapons to further its invasion of Ukraine.
  • Condemns the Russian Federation’s purported suspension of the New START Treaty.
  • Calls for the Russian Federation to promptly return to full implementation of New START, including on-site inspections, provision of treaty-mandated notifications and data, and resumption of Bilateral Consultative Commission meetings.
  • Calls on the Biden Administration to continue to engage the People’s Republic of China in further bilateral talks on nuclear risk reduction and arms control, and to pursue new multilateral arms control efforts involving the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
  • Calls on the Biden Administration to continue to pursue nuclear arms control and risk reduction dialogue with the Russian Federation to maintain strategic stability, ensure the conflict in Ukraine does not escalate to nuclear use, and avoid an unrestrained nuclear arms race. 

“As a physicist, preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons has always been one of my top priorities,” said Congressman Foster. “Russia’s suspension of the New START Treaty and Putin’s escalating rhetoric about the potential use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine should have the entire international community on high alert and should serve as the impetus for us to redouble our efforts to pursue substantive nuclear arms control dialogue. American leadership is desperately needed to prevent escalation and avoid an unrestrained nuclear arms race.”

“Two years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his illegal invasion of Ukraine, which has resulted in a massive loss of innocent lives and threatened democracies worldwide. Today, he continues these destabilizing acts by rattling the nuclear saber. A constructive dialogue on New START is an essential step toward international peace and stability. It is more important than ever that we reaffirm our support for arms control agreements to move towards a future in which nuclear weapons no longer threaten all humanity,” said Congressman John Garamendi.

“Every day, President Vladimir Putin continues to wage an illegal, immoral full-scale invasion of Ukraine—all while threatening to escalate with nuclear conflict,” said Senator Markey, co-chair of the Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group. “His nuclear threats pose catastrophic danger to the people of Ukraine and the rest of the world. This resolution condemns Putin’s exit from the New START Treaty and his abandonment of the good faith arms control provisions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The resolution also calls for maintaining critical U.S. support for nuclear nonproliferation globally. The United States must work with our allies and partners to engage in arms control talks with the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, and others, to maintain stability, avoid miscalculations, and promote peace around the world. A Cold War 2.0 is not an option.”

“I began my career as a nuclear weapons policy analyst at the Pentagon and Congressional Budget Office, and while the world has changed since then, the dangers of nuclear weapons remain. The ‘Doomsday Clock’ stands at 90 seconds to midnight – the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been. Threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China demand we do more to foster a more secure world, and American engagement with other countries is a key step in that direction,” said Senator Merkley.

A copy of the resolution is available here.

The resolution is supported by the Arms Control Association, Council for a Livable World, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Council for a Livable World is proud to support this resolution in favor of arms control and in condemnation of Russia’s suspension of the New START agreement,” said former Congressman John Tierney, Executive Director of the nonpartisan nonprofit Council for a Livable World. “Arms control efforts and treaties like New START are the primary means by which nuclear risks have been managed. Arms control is how nuclear nations have reduced the number of nuclear weapons in the global arsenal from 70,000 to less than 13,000 today. Building more weapons does not make the world safer. At a time when irresponsible leaders are threatening to use nuclear weapons, we need fewer such weapons, not more. Facing nuclear blackmail by Russia, China’s nebulous and aggressive nuclear modernization and increased missile tests by North Korea and others, we should encourage increased cooperation and transparency between all nuclear nations. My former colleagues in Congress, regardless of party, should want to support this legislation to encourage us all to work toward a world with fewer nuclear risks.”

“Proactive U.S. leadership to condemn Putin’s dangerous nuclear threat rhetoric, while also pressing Russia, as well as China, to engage in talks to achieve effective, mutual restraints on deadly nuclear stockpiles is essential to averting an unconstrained three-way nuclear arms race and a more secure America. A world without effective nuclear arms control diplomacy is a more dangerous world,” said Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association.

Senate cosponsors include Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Bernie Sanders (D-VT).

House cosponsors include Reps. Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Dina Titus (NV-01), Juan Vargas (CA-52), Adam Schiff (CA-30), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Katie Porter (CA-47), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), Bill Keating (MA-09), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Ted Lieu (CA-36), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzane Bonamici (OR-01), Annie Kuster (NH-02), Joe Morelle (NY-25), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), Dan Goldman (NY-10), Gabe Amo (RI-01), Colin Allred (TX-32).