To download a PDF of this article click here.
On July 1, 1988, a
On the same day, a Soviet team of inspectors arrived at Travis Air Force Base in
With the December 2009 expiration of the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which was signed April 8 and is before the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification, provides for a resumption of vital on-site inspections of Russian strategic nuclear facilities. There is no substitute for on-site inspections. They provide not only the “boots on the ground” presence to confirm Russian data declarations, thus helping to verify compliance with treaty obligations, but also insights into Russian strategic forces located at those facilities. Simply put, the
New START is a continuation of the international arms control and nonproliferation framework that the
Building on a Legacy
New START continues a bipartisan tradition of concluding agreements that verifiably reduce and limit
During the administration of President George W. Bush, the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) was negotiated and ratified. Later, recognizing that START would expire in 2009, Bush began talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin about a follow-on arrangement. They first discussed it at a meeting in
Thus, in negotiating New START, we had a rich history of arms control experience with Russia on which to build, just as each treaty before it built on the lessons learned from implementing predecessor treaties. Conducting on-site inspections under the INF Treaty was a major breakthrough during the Cold War, signaling that the perestroika and glasnost’ policies of Mikhail Gorbachev were truly beginning to affect the Soviet Union and how it did business. The on-site inspection concept was further developed and refined under START.
During the 15-year span of
These baseline inspections began at the close of a very cold winter in
Over the life of START, the atmosphere during inspections continued to improve. “It’s not personal, it’s about the treaty” became the mantra of the inspectors on both sides. Each side learned a great deal about the other’s strategic forces during those on-site inspections. Thus, both sides gained a strong body of knowledge and experience about conducting on-site inspections efficiently and effectively under START and the INF Treaty; they also learned how to improve on them.
Verification in New START
New START, along with its protocol and annexes, contains a detailed set of rules and procedures for verification, many of them drawn from START. We looked for ways, informed by earlier experiences, to make the verification regime simpler and safer to implement and, at the same time, minimize disruptions to the day-to-day operations of both sides’ strategic forces.
New START’s verification measures are designed to ensure that each party is able to verify the other’s compliance with the central limits of the treaty, including the right to maintain:
• no more than 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed nuclear-capable heavy bombers;
• no more than 1,550 warheads emplaced on deployed ICBMs and deployed SLBMs and nuclear warheads counted for deployed nuclear-capable heavy bombers; and
• no more than 800 deployed and nondeployed ICBM launchers, deployed and nondeployed SLBM launchers, and deployed and nondeployed nuclear-capable heavy bombers.
START was structured for a Cold War adversarial relationship with the Soviet Union, a country that had more than 10,000 nuclear warheads carried on more than 6,000 strategic missiles and bombers, most of them targeted against the
The new treaty provides for the conduct of up to 18 on-site inspections annually, while START provided for 28 annual inspections. As noted above, however, there are only 35 facilities that will be subject to inspection at the beginning of New START—half the number that was subject to inspection at the beginning of START. In addition, the inspections under New START combine elements of the most commonly used types of inspections and exhibitions under START. Furthermore, some New START inspections may be longer than their predecessors. Conducting fewer and longer inspections and combining inspection tasks mean fewer disruptions to
Experienced inspectors and weapons system operators served on the
The combination of national technical means, a comprehensive database that is constantly updated through notification of weapons system movements and changes in status, short-notice on-site inspections, and exhibitions will enable the United States to continue to gain insight into the Russian strategic forces as was the case under the verification regimes for START and the INF Treaty.
The new treaty provides that, within one hour of a base being designated for inspection by an inspection team, which will occur within four hours of the team’s arrival at the point of entry, pre-inspection movement restrictions begin, and items of inspection (e.g., missiles, mobile launchers, and heavy bombers) present at that base must not be removed from the inspection site. This same requirement existed under START.
• the number of re-entry vehicles emplaced on each deployed ICBM or SLBM located at the base;
• a breakdown of deployed and nondeployed launchers at the base, i.e. those that have missiles in or on them (deployed) and those that do not (nondeployed);
• the number of deployed heavy bombers based and located at the base; and
• the number of nuclear armaments loaded on deployed heavy bombers at the base.
This information was not provided under START. New START not only makes all launchers or heavy bombers located at the base at the time of the inspection eligible for inspection, but requires updates on their declared status. The new treaty also requires updates on the number of re-entry vehicles or nuclear armaments emplaced on each deployed ICBM, SLBM, or nuclear-capable heavy bomber located at the base.
At ICBM or SLBM bases, the inspectors will designate for inspection one deployed ICBM or SLBM as well as a nondeployed ICBM or SLBM launcher, if there are any nondeployed launchers at the base. The designated deployed ICBM or SLBM will be placed under continuous observation by the inspection team and then prepared for inspection by the host country. Preparation will include a display of the re-entry vehicle covers that will be used during the inspection so that they are fully visible to inspectors; in some cases, inspectors will measure them. For inspections conducted at air bases, three deployed heavy bombers will be designated for nuclear armaments inspection.
Just as under START, each side will have the right to confirm that covered objects on the front section of ICBMs or SLBMs that are declared not to be nuclear re-entry vehicles are, in fact, not nuclear. This provision is beneficial to both sides because it ensures that additional objects declared by the inspected party (e.g., penetration aids and inert ballast) will not count toward the treaty’s warhead limit.
Radiation detection equipment may be used to confirm that the additional objects are not nuclear. Under New START, the two sides may agree in the treaty’s Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC) on new technologies for radiation detection that will be lighter and easier for inspectors to use than those that were available 15 years ago, when START entered into force.
We worked throughout the negotiations to preserve the key verification principle that short-notice inspections must be structured so that the side conducting an inspection has access to the forces present at a facility at the time the facility is designated for inspection. This principle, among others, deters cheating.
The purpose of the exchange of telemetry information under New START is different than it was under START. New START’s telemetry provisions are intended to encourage transparency and predictability. Unlike START, telemetric information is not needed to verify a party’s compliance with the provisions of New START. For example, there is no treaty requirement to ascertain the number of warheads tested on a missile to determine the warhead attribution for that type of missile, because New START counts the actual number of re-entry vehicles emplaced on each missile.
Therefore, the telemetry provisions are transparency rather than verification measures. Such a need was clearly recognized at the time SORT was negotiated. The verification regime of START was still in place, but Bush and Putin called for additional transparency measures to be developed to bolster it. New START has an effective verification regime, which is complemented by an annual telemetry exchange for purposes of transparency regarding strategic missile testing, as agreed by the parties.
New START contains mechanisms that will enable the
New START sets the stage for further arms reductions. As the treaty’s preamble states, the United States and Russia see New START as providing new impetus to the step-by-step process of reducing and limiting nuclear arms, with a view to expanding this process in the future to a multilateral approach. As President Barack Obama confirmed when he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed New START in
As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May, the
4. Inspections are conducted on short notice at the request of one party and are conducted for the purpose of confirming the accuracy of declared data provided in accordance with the treaty, as part of the regime to verify compliance with the provisions of the treaty. Exhibitions are scheduled ahead of time between the parties and are used to demonstrate features of new types of strategic offensive arms that distinguish them from existing types and to confirm the technical characteristics of such new types. Exhibitions also are used to show the results of the conversion of the first item of a given type of strategic offensive arms subject to the treaty, including the distinguishing features for the converted system, which are intended to provide the basis for subsequent inspections to confirm the completion of conversion of such systems and that they have not been reconverted.
5. The kinds of covers used to shroud ICBM or SLBM re-entry vehicles and other objects, i.e., soft, hard, or combined covers, are defined in the treaty, and the procedures for their use and inspection are set forth in the Inspection Activities Annex. Such detailed procedures build on those used under START. Inspectors on the
6. Under START, attribution rules were used to determine the number of warheads counted for each type of ICBM and SLBM. Under this practice, each deployed missile of a given type was counted as if it carried a particular number of warheads, even if the individual missile carried fewer re-entry vehicles than its attributed number of warheads. Under New START, the warhead count used for each missile will reflect the number of re-entry vehicles actually emplaced on each ICBM and SLBM.