It’s worth repeating the basics of New START.
Aggregate limits:This treaty builds on the START treaty, which was in force between the United States and Russia between 1994 and December of last year. At that time, inspectors were withdrawn from both countries. So we haven’t been able to inspect and verify Russia’s nuclear forces since then. Satellite photos have been our primary source of information, as they were in the 1970s. That’s why the treaty needs to be ratified before the end of the year – so that inspectors can return as soon as possible.
• 1,550 strategic warheads. Warheads on deployed ICBMs and deployed SLBMscount toward this limit and each deployed heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armaments counts as one warhead toward this limit.
This limit is 74 percent lower than the limit of the 1991 START Treaty and 30 percent lower than the upper deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty.
• A combined limit of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.
• A separate limit of 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.
Under the Treaty, both parties have the flexibility to determine the structure of its strategic forces within the aggregate limits of the Treaty. The foundation for these negotiated limits was an analysis conducted by Department of Defense planners in support of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.
Verification is the biggest part of START and New START, and probably the least generally understood. The treaties provide minute detail – how many inspectors can be on site, what equipment they can carry and what will be furnished to them, and what information each side will routinely supply to the other. These specifications make up more than half the page length of the treaties and were a large part of the negotiations.
Gottemoeller emphasized the importance of twenty years of experience with on-site inspections, beginning with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty in the late 1980s. Both negotiating teams included inspectors, and the verification provisions of New START were based heavily on those of START.
New START goes beyond START in its inspection provisions. Most importantly, it requires that warheads be counted. I saw today a claim that the treaty counts delivery vehicles only, and I’m not going to link to that, because it’s not true.
In the past, ballistic missiles and bombers have been assumed to carry certain numbers of warheads. Some of that continues under New START, but there also will be direct inspections of warheads on missiles for the first time. This is really important, because, as we move toward lower numbers, we have to count warheads directly. Tactical nuclear weapons and weapons in storage aren’t associated with delivery vehicles. The treaty and the Nuclear Posture Review are clear that this will be the next step.
Part of the START treaty has been data exchange, and that is expanded under New START. The data include numbers, locations, and technical characteristics of weapons systems and facilities that are subject to the Treaty. Each ICBM, SLBM, and heavy bomber will be assigned a unique identifier number, which will be included in the notifications and confirmed during inspections. Additionally, measurements of various technical parameters made to monitor missile performance during ICBM and SLBM flight tests will be shared between Russia and the United States for up to five ICBM and SLBM launches per year. Gottemoeller said that the intelligence community sees this as a “treasure trove” of data.
She was optimistic about the prospects for Senate ratification. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution urging ratification by 14 to 4, with Republican support. Gottemoeller noted that negotiations for New START began under President George W. Bush, and that the history has been that arms control treaties have had bilateral support.
The State Department has a long list of fact sheets on the treaty here.