START I Cuts on Track; U.S. Violations Charged

On October 5, Ambassador Steven Steiner, U.S. representative to the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission (JCIC), told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have gone below START I numerical limits for deployed strategic nuclear delivery vehicles more than three years ahead of schedule. The four states "have verifiably eliminated more than 300 former Soviet ICBMs, 290 [ICBM] launchers, 170 submarine-launched ballistic missiles [SLBMs], 130 SLBM launchers and 47 heavy bombers," said Steiner. According to the latest START I memorandum of understanding, these four states have collectively deployed 1,577 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles (23 fewer than the treaty's 1,600 limit) and 7,540 strategic warheads (1,540 more than the treaty's 6,000 limit).

According to Russian press accounts in late August, however, Russia has accused the United States of violating START I. Moscow has reportedly raised a series of complaints regarding the number of warheads attributed to Trident II SLBMs, the U.S. unwillingness to allow complete inspections of Trident IIs to verify their actual loadings and the U.S. refusal to allow inspections of certain facilities at the Silverdale submarine base in Washington. Russia has also charged the United States with improperly destroying MX ICBMs under the treaty and with making repairs to B-1B bombers at operational bases rather than designated repair depots.

A U.S. official familiar with the issue would not comment on the specific accusations, but did say that the United States believes it is in compliance with START I. Russia has raised its compliance concerns at the JCIC, where they remain under discussion.