Setting the stage for what could be a major showdown with Senate Republicans, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) April 8 in
Obama said that the new treaty marks the beginning of a longer process. “As I said last year in
Medvedev said, “I am convinced that all that has been done so far is just the beginning of a long way, long way ahead. I wouldn’t like to see the
But in a note of caution, Medvedev said, “It matters to us what will happen to missile defense. It is related to the configuration of our potential and our capacities, and we will watch how these processes develop.”
The Russian government issued a unilateral statement April 7 that it could withdraw from the treaty if
With the new treaty now signed, the focus has shifted from the U.S.-Russian negotiations to the Russian Duma and the U.S. Senate, which must both approve the agreement before it can enter into force. “We intend to proceed promptly and to do all the necessary procedures to ensure that our parliament…starts reviewing this treaty,” said Medvedev in
The Obama administration plans to submit the full treaty (text, protocols, annexes, and the administration’s analysis of each part) and the 10-year nuclear stockpile plan (required by section 1251 of the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill) to the Senate on or around May 7 and is seeking ratification of New START by the end of the year, according to administration officials and Senate staff. “I’m going to do everything I can to advance this as quickly as I can. It may take until the first of the year to get it done, but I think it’s important we try to get this done,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said April 13.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, which has jurisdiction over treaties, said in a statement April 8 that he plans to begin hearings on the treaty “in the coming weeks,” and to report a resolution of advice and consent out of the committee for approval by the full Senate “as soon as possible.” Under the U.S. Constitution, only the president can ratify treaties; the Senate can provide its advice and consent with a two-thirds majority vote. In a March 26 statement, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the committee’s ranking member, said, “I also look forward to working with Chairman Kerry…so that we can work quickly to achieve ratification of the new treaty.” Senate staffers said the panel could vote before the August recess. It is not clear how committee Republicans other than Lugar plan to vote.
Some Republican senators who are not on the committee have been more vocal. Sen. James Inhofe (
“There’s not a chance the treaty will be approved this year. It took a year and a half to approve the START I treaty,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (
“The Obama administration will need to meet three requirements if it expects favorable consideration of the START follow-on treaty,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement April 8. “The Senate will assess whether or not the agreement is verifiable, whether it reduces our nation’s ability to defend itself and our allies from the threat of nuclear armed missiles, and whether or not this administration is committed to preserving our own nuclear triad.”
The Obama administration says that it has already addressed all three Republican concerns. On verification, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen said March 26 that New START, in comparison to START I, “features a much more effective, transparent verification method that demands quicker data exchanges and notifications” and that the Joint Chiefs “stand solidly behind this new treaty.” On missile defense, Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, the head of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces April 15 that New START “actually reduces constraints on the development of the missile defense program” because “[o]ur targets will no longer be subject to START [I] constraints, which limited our use of air-to-surface and waterborne launches of targets.”
On maintaining the nuclear arsenal, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote in an April 6 cover letter for the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that the document “calls for making much-needed investments to rebuild America’s aging nuclear infrastructure” and that “to this end” he has asked for almost $5 billion to be transferred from the Pentagon to the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. This investment, he said, “and the NPR’s strategy of warhead life extension, represent a credible modernization plan necessary to sustain the nuclear infrastructure and support our nation’s deterrent.”
As for Duma ratification, “the Russians will work hard to convince the
What the Treaty Says
New START replaces START I, which expired Dec. 5, 2009, and the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which will terminate when New START enters into force.
Nuclear Arsenal Limits. Seven years after entry into force, New START limits “accountable” deployed strategic nuclear warheads and bombs to 1,550, a decrease of approximately 30 percent from the 2,200 limit set by SORT and a decrease of 74 percent from the START I-accountable limit of 6,000. Under START I, warheads were counted indirectly by associating a certain number of warheads with each delivery system.
Deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers assigned to nuclear missions are limited to 700. Deployed and nondeployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and bombers are limited to 800; that figure includes test launchers and bombers and Trident submarines in overhaul. That is a 50 percent reduction from the 1,600 launcher limit set under
Counting Rules. For deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, the number of warheads counted is the actual number of re-entry vehicles (RVs) on each missile. (RVs protect the warhead as it re-enters the atmosphere from space; they carry only one warhead.) START I did not directly count RVs, but instead counted missiles and bombers that were “associated with” a certain number of warheads. New START counts each heavy bomber as one warhead (although the maximum loading is 16 to 20 warheads), the same counting rule that START I used for bombers carrying short-range weapons. Neither side typically deploys nuclear bombs or cruise missiles on bombers, but keeps them in storage (and thus inspections of bombers would find no weapons to inspect), so the parties agreed to arbitrarily count each bomber as one warhead. New START, like START I, does not track or limit warheads or bombs once they have been removed from deployed launchers.
Each deployed ICBM, SLBM, and bomber is counted as one against the 700 limit. Each deployed and nondeployed missile launcher or bomber is counted as one against the 800 limit. Nondeployed missiles are counted toward that limit unless they have been converted to other missions or eliminated.
Ballistic Missile Defense. Administration officials have stated repeatedly that “current or planned
The treaty prohibits both sides from converting launchers for ICBMs and SLBMs into launchers for missile defense interceptors and vice versa. This provision does not apply to five U.S. ICBM silo launchers at Vandenberg Air Force Base in
This provision drew criticism from some Republican senators, who saw it as a way to limit missile defenses. “While we were initially advised that the only reference to missile defense was in the preamble to the treaty, we now find that there are other references to missile defense, some of which could limit U.S. actions,” Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and John McCain (Ariz.) said in a joint statement April 8. The Wall Street Journal editorialized April 17 that “[t]he Obama Administration may not currently plan to convert an ICBM silo into a missile defense site. But Mr. Obama won’t be in office beyond 2017, and a future President might want to. [New] START wouldn’t allow it.”
“It’s a limit in theory, but not in reality,” responded national security adviser James Jones in an April 20 letter to the Journal. “We have no plans to convert any additional ICBM silos. In fact, it would be less expensive to build a new silo rather than convert an old one. In other words, if we were to ever need more missile defense silos in
Verification. The treaty’s verification regime includes relevant parts of START I as well as new provisions to cover items not previously monitored. For example, the old treaty did not directly limit warheads, but instead assigned a certain number of warheads to each launcher; a count of the launchers gave an upper limit on the number of warheads that could be deployed but not necessarily an actual count. New START includes direct limits on deployed warheads and allows for on-site inspections to give both sides confidence that the limits are being upheld.
START I required telemetry (missile-generated flight-test data) to be openly shared, with limited exceptions, to monitor missile development. New START does not limit new types of ballistic missiles, and thus the START I formula for extensive telemetry sharing was no longer considered necessary. New START allows for the exchange of telemetry recordings and other information on up to five missile tests per side per year to promote openness and transparency.
To monitor Russian mobile ICBMs, all new missiles are subject to the treaty as soon as they leave a production facility, and each missile and bomber will carry a unique identifier.
Verification of treaty limits is carried out by national technical means and 18 annual on-site inspections. The treaty allows 10 on-site inspections of deployed warheads and deployed and nondeployed delivery systems at ICBM bases, submarine bases, and air bases (“Type One” inspections). It also allows eight on-site inspections at facilities that may hold only nondeployed delivery systems (“Type Two” inspections).
Duration and Withdrawal. The treaty’s duration is 10 years unless it is superseded by a subsequent agreement and can be extended for an additional five years. Each party can withdraw if it decides that “extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests.” The treaty would terminate three months from a notice of withdrawal.
Conventional Warheads. New START does not prohibit either side from deploying conventional warheads on ballistic missiles, although they would be counted against treaty limits. The preamble states that both sides are “mindful of the impact of conventionally armed ICBMs and SLBMs on strategic stability.” Any future U.S. Prompt Global Strike deployments are likely to be small. For example, the Bush administration had planned to arm 28 Trident D-5 missiles with one conventional warhead each. According to Obama administration briefing materials, the treaty limits would “accommodate any plans the
Over the past four decades,
Strategic Nuclear Arms Control Agreements
Begun in November 1969, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) produced by May 1972 both the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which banned nationwide strategic missile defenses, and the Interim Agreement, an executive-legislative agreement that capped U.S. and Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) forces. Under the Interim Agreement, both sides pledged not to construct new ICBM silos, not to increase the size of existing ICBM silos “significantly,” and capped the number of SLBMs and SLBM-carrying submarines. The agreement ignored strategic bombers and did not address warheads, leaving both sides free to enlarge their deployed forces by adding multiple warheads to their ICBMs and SLBMs and increasing their bomber-based forces. The agreement limited the
In November 1972, Washington and Moscow agreed to pursue a follow-on treaty to SALT I. SALT II, signed in June 1979, limited U.S. and Soviet ICBM, SLBM, and strategic bomber-based nuclear forces to 2,250 delivery vehicles (defined as an ICBM silo, a submarine missile-launch tube, or a bomber) and placed a variety of other restrictions on deployed strategic nuclear forces. The agreement would have required the Soviets to reduce their forces by roughly 270 delivery vehicles, but
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), first proposed in the early 1980s by Reagan and finally signed in July 1991, required the United States and the Soviet Union to reduce their deployed strategic arsenals to 1,600 delivery vehicles, carrying no more than 6,000 warheads as counted using the agreement’s rules. The agreement limited deployed warheads by imposing limits on delivery vehicles and requiring the destruction of excess delivery vehicles. The destruction was verified using an intrusive verification regime that involved on-site inspections and regular exchanges of information, as well as national technical means such as satellites. The agreement’s entry into force was delayed for several years because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and efforts to denuclearize
In June 1992, Presidents George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin agreed to pursue a follow-on accord to START I. START II, signed in January 1993, called for reducing deployed strategic arsenals to 3,000 to 3,500 warheads and banned the deployment of destabilizing multiple-warhead land-based missiles. START II would have counted warheads in roughly the same fashion as START I and, also like its predecessor, would have required the destruction of delivery vehicles but not warheads. The agreement’s original implementation deadline was January 2003, but a 1997 protocol extended the deadline until December 2007 because of
START III Framework
In March 1997, Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin agreed to a framework for START III negotiations that included a reduction in deployed strategic warheads to 2,000 to 2,500. Significantly, in addition to requiring the destruction of delivery vehicles, START III negotiations were to address “the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads…to promote the irreversibility of deep reductions including prevention of a rapid increase in the number of warheads.” Negotiations were supposed to begin after START II entered into force, which never happened.
On May 24, 2002, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), under which the
On April 8, 2010, the United States and Russia signed New START, a legally binding, verifiable agreement that limits each side’s deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 and strategic delivery systems to 800 deployed and nondeployed, such as submarines in overhaul, with a sublimit of 700 deployed. The treaty-accountable warhead limit is 30 percent lower than the 2,200 limit of SORT, and the delivery vehicle limit is 50 percent lower than the 1,600 allowed in START I. The treaty has a verification regime that combines elements of START I with new elements tailored to New START.
Measures under the treaty include on-site inspections and exhibitions, data exchanges and notifications related to strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the treaty, and provisions to facilitate the use of national technical means for treaty monitoring. To increase confidence and transparency, the treaty also provides for the exchange of telemetry (missile flight-test data on up to five tests per year) and does not limit missile defenses or long-range conventional strike capabilities. The treaty limits take effect seven years after entry into force, and the treaty will be in effect for 10 years, or longer if agreed by both parties.
Nonstrategic Nuclear Arms Control Measures
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
Signed Dec. 8, 1987, the INF Treaty required the
Presidential Nuclear Initiatives
President George H. W. Bush announced on Sept. 27, 1991, that the
Strategic Nuclear Arms Control Agreements
|Never Entered Into Force
|Never Entered Into Force
|To Be Ratified
|Deployed Warhead Limit
|Deployed Delivery Vehicle Limit
|US: 1,710 ICBMs & SLBMs
|700; 800 including non-deployed
|May 26, 1972
|June 18, 1979
|July 31, 1991
|Jan. 3, 1993
|May 24, 2002
|Date Ratifed, U.S.
|Aug. 3, 1972
|Oct. 1, 1992
|Jan. 26, 1996
|March 6, 2003
|Ratification Vote, U.S.
|Date Entered Into Force
|Oct. 3, 1972
|Dec. 5, 1994
|June 1, 2003
|Dec. 5, 2001
|Dec. 31, 2012
|Oct. 3, 1977
|Dec. 5, 2009
|Dec. 31, 2012 or when New START takes effect