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The New START Treaty

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was originally signed between the U.S. and Russia on July 31, 1991 and entered into force on December 5, 1994.  START I expired on December 5, 2009.  On April 8, 2010 the New START Treaty was signed in Prague by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.  It will enter into force after ratification by the respective legislative bodies of both countries. 

The United States’ Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) passed the New START out of committee on September 16, 2010. All Democrat Senators and Republican Senators Lugar, Corker, and Isakson voted in favor of the New START. On December 15th, the US Senate voted 66-32 in favor of bringing New START to the floor of the Senate. On December 22nd, the Senate voted 71-26 in favor of ratifying New START.

PSR strongly supports New START as a modest yet urgent step towards a safer world.  

Under this treaty, the United States and Russia will be limited to significantly fewer strategic arms within 7 years from the date the treaty enters into force.  Each country can determine for itself the structure of its strategic forces within the aggregate limits of the treaty.  These limits are 1550 warheads, where warheads on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) count toward this limit and each deployed heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armaments counts as one warhead toward this limit.  This limit is 74% lower than the limit of the 1991 START Treaty and 30% lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty.  There’s a combined limit of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear arms.  A separate limit of 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear arms was established.

The treaty has a verification regime that includes onsite inspections and exhibitions, data exchanges and notifications related to strategic offensive arms.  Overall, the verification system is simpler and less costly than the one implemented under START I because Russia does not pose the same kind of nuclear threat that the USSR did during the Cold War.  Specifically, it provides for the use of and non-interference with satellites; exchange of data between both sides regarding numbers, locations, and technical characteristics of weapons systems and facilities subject to the treaty and will also provide regular notifications and updates; and 18 onsite inspections per year.  Type I inspections focus on sites with deployed and non-deployed strategic systems whereas Type II inspections focus on sites with only non-deployed strategic systems.  The treaty also provides each intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), and heavy bomber with a unique identifier (number) that will be included in applicable notifications and may be confirmed during inspections.  During ICBM and SLBM flight tests, measurements of various technical parameters are made to monitor missile performance.  Both the U.S. and Russia have agreed to an annual exchange of telemetric information on a parity basis for up to 5 ICBM and SLBM launches per year.  The treaty also establishes the Bilateral Consultative Commission as a compliance and implementation body that will meet at least twice a year.

Under this treaty, the U.S. military will be able to maintain stable deterrence while decreasing strategic delivery vehicles by 50% from the START I level and reducing deployed strategic warheads by about 30% from the 2002 Moscow Treaty level.  In addition, the U.S. maintains the right to determine the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms within the treaty’s overall limits.  In turn, this will allow the U.S. to adjust its force structure over time as appropriate to the strategic circumstances.



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