"I greatly appreciate your very swift response, and your organization's work in general. It's a terrific source of authoritative information."

– Lisa Beyer
Bloomberg News
August 27, 2018
Brief Chronology of START II

Last Reviewed: 
November 2020

Contacts: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107

Nearly a decade of efforts to bring the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) II into force ended in June 2002, a month after the United States and Russia concluded negotiations on the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT)

SORT stipulates a 1,700-2,200 deployed strategic warhead ceiling for both countries' nuclear arsenals. The SORT limit effectively supersedes START II's cap of 3,000-3,500 warheads for each side. For more detailed information on the START II agreement, see: START II and Its Extension Protocol at a Glance.


Presidents George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin signing START II in Moscow on 3 January 1993. (Photo: Susan Biddle/National Archives)

January 3, 1993: Presidents George H.W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin sign START II in Moscow.

January 15, 1993: President Bush submits START II to the Senate for advice and consent.

June 22, 1995: President Yeltsin submits START II to the Duma for ratification.

January 26, 1996: The Senate overwhelmingly approves START II by a vote of 87-4.

March 20-21, 1997: Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin address a number of arms control issues during their summit meeting in Helsinki. In a "Joint Statement on Parameters on Future Reductions in Nuclear Forces," the presidents agree to extend the deadline for the elimination of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles under START II by five years and to immediately begin negotiations on a START III treaty once START II enters into force (subsequently modified to occur once START II is ratified). They also agree that START III negotiations will include four basic components: (1) a limit of 2,000-2,500 deployed strategic nuclear warheads for each side by the end of 2007, (2) measures relating to the transparency of strategic nuclear warhead inventories and to the destruction of strategic warheads, (3) extension of the current START agreements to unlimited duration, and (4) deactivation of all strategic nuclear delivery vehicles to be eliminated under START II by the end of 2003.

September 26, 1997: Codifying commitments made at Helsinki, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov sign a protocol in New York extending the deadline for the elimination of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles under START II from January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2007. In an exchange of letters, Albright and Primakov also agree that once START II enters into force, the United States and Russia will deactivate all strategic nuclear delivery vehicles to be eliminated under the treaty by December 31, 2003, "by removing their nuclear reentry vehicles or taking other jointly agreed steps." Primakov's letter also states that Russia expects that START III will "be achieved" and enter into force "well in advance" of the START II deactivation deadline.

April 13, 1998: President Yeltsin submits the START II extension protocol to the Duma.

December 25, 1998: In response to the December 16-19 U.S.-British air strikes against Iraq, the Duma postpones a scheduled vote on START II ratification.

April 2, 1999: The Duma postpones a scheduled vote on START II ratification to protest NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, which started March 24 after Serbia refused to halt military actions against Kosovar Albanians seeking autonomy. (Moscow has historically allied itself with Serbia.)

April 14, 2000: The Russian Duma (lower house of parliament) overwhelmingly approves the START II ratification legislation 288-131 with four abstentions.

May 4, 2000: Putin signs the resolution of ratification for START II and its extension protocol. The legislation makes exchange of the instruments of ratification (required to bring the treaty into force) contingent on U.S. ratification of the 1997 extension protocol and ABM-related agreements.

December 13, 2001: U.S. President George W. Bush issues a six-month notice to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, stating, "I have concluded the ABM Treaty hinders our government's ability to develop ways to protect our people from future terrorist or rogue-state missile attacks."

May 24, 2002: Russia and the United States sign SORT, which calls for each country to deploy no more than 1,700-2,200 strategic warheads.

June 13, 2002: U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty takes effect.

June 14, 2002: Russian President Vladimir Putin declares that Russia is no longer bound by its signature of START II, ending his country's efforts to bring the treaty into force.