The United States and Russia signed the New START Treaty on April 8, 2010.
After more than 20 hearings, the U.S. Senate gave its advice and consent
to ratification on December 22, 2010, by a vote of 71-26. Both houses of
the Russian parliament—the Duma and Federation Council— approved the
treaty in late January 2011, and it entered into force on February 5, 2011,
after Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov exchanged the
instruments of ratification.
New START provides the parties with 7 years to reduce their forces, and will
remain in force for a total of 10 years. It limits each side to no more
than 800 deployed and nondeployed land-based intercontinental ballistic
missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers
and deployed and nondeployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. Within
that total, each side can retain no more than 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed
SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. The
treaty also limits each side to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads;
those are the actual number of warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and
one warhead for each deployed heavy bomber.
New START contains detailed definitions and counting rules that will help the
parties calculate the number of warheads that count under the treaty
limits. Moreover, the delivery vehicles and their warheads will count
under the treaty limits until they are converted or eliminated according to
the provisions described in the treaty’s Protocol. These provisions are far
less demanding than those in the original START Treaty and will provide
the United States and Russia with far more flexibility in determining how
to reduce their forces to meet the treaty limits.
The monitoring and verification regime in the New START Treaty is less costly
and complex than the regime in START. Like START, though, it contains
detailed definitions of items limited by the treaty; provisions governing
the use of national technical means (NTM) to gather data on each side’s
forces and activities; an extensive database that identifies the numbers,
types, and locations of items limited by the treaty; provisions requiring
notifications about items limited by the treaty; and inspections allowing
the parties to confirm information shared during data exchanges.
New START does not limit current or planned U.S. missile defense programs. It
does ban the conversion of ICBM and SLBM launchers to launchers for
missile defense interceptors, but the United States never intended to
pursue such conversions when deploying missile defense interceptors. Under
New START, the United States can deploy conventional warheads on its ballistic
missiles, but these will count under the treaty limit on nuclear warheads. The
United States may deploy a small number of these systems during the time
that New START is in force.
The Obama Administration and outside analysts argue that New START will
strengthen strategic stability and enhance U.S. national security. They
contend that New START will contribute to U.S. nuclear nonproliferation
goals by convincing other nations that the United States is serious about
its obligations under the NPT. This might convince more nations to cooperate
with the United States in pressuring nations who are seeking their own nuclear
Critics, however, question whether the treaty serves U.S. national security
interests, as Russia was likely to reduce its forces with or without an
arms control agreement and because the United States and Russia no longer
need arms control treaties to manage their relationship. Some also consider
the U.S.-Russian arms control process to be a distraction from the more
important issues on the nonproliferation agenda.
Date of Report: February 20, 2013
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