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A Major Nuclear Arms Treaty Expires Next Year. What Happens Next?

blue and orange light in the sky at night over a metal tower
Antonin Rémond
/
A missiles test over the Pacific Ocean in 2002.

In 2011, U.S. and Russian leaders signed an updated strategic arms reduction treaty. Unless that agreement, New START, is renewed before February, the two largest nuclear arsenals will be unconstrained for the first time since the height of the Cold War. 

The impending deadline is a reminder that the possibility of nuclear warfare did not end with the Cold War, nor is North Korea the sole threat. In fact, expert Alexandra Bell suggests that domestic nuclear accidents, like the one in Goldsboro, North Carolina in 1961, are also a major threat. The infrastructure is aging, agrees Michaela Dodge, who argues that modernization is essential to the safety and effectiveness of strategic weapons in deterrence policy.

So what is the price tag of those upgrades?

Host Frank Stasio talks with Bell and Dodge about the risks, benefits and costs of maintaining strategic nuclear weaponry as the U.S. approaches the expiration of New START. Bell is the senior policy director for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Dodge is a research scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy.

Grant Holub-Moorman coordinates events and North Carolina outreach for WUNC, including a monthly trivia night. He is a founding member of Embodied and a former producer for The State of Things.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.