Washington — The new arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia promotes openness between the two former Cold War foes and greater stability between the world’s two largest nuclear powers, says a senior U.S. arms negotiator.
Russia and the United States possess 90 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world. The New START Treaty is designed to succeed the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I. President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty in Prague April 8.
Verification of the terms of the treaty is essential for the treaty to accomplish its goals of reducing strategic nuclear weapons, says Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, who helped negotiate the treaty with Russian officials. Verification is one of the significant aspects of the treaty raising the most concern in the U.S. Senate, which must give its consent before the treaty is ratified.
“The verification regime is based on an extensive set of data exchanges and timely notifications regarding all strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the treaty, two types of on-site inspections, exhibitions, restrictions on where specified items may be located, and additional transparency measures,” Gottemoeller said July 26 in remarks at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington.
The landmark New START Treaty between the United States and Russia would lower the limits on strategic nuclear warheads and the means to deliver them. It effectively would reduce the number of warheads each nation possesses to its lowest level in more than 50 years.
“The New START Treaty is a continuation of the international arms control and nonproliferation framework that the United States has worked hard to foster and strengthen for the last 50 years,” Gottemoeller said. “Its comprehensive verification regime will provide predictability, but it recognizes that we are no longer in a Cold War relationship.”
“It allows each party to determine for itself the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms and how reductions will be made,” she added.
U.S. nuclear forces will continue to be based on the triad of delivery systems — land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and long-range bombers. The treaty provides an upper boundary of 1,550 deployed warheads for each nation, and up to 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs or heavy bombers. Additionally, the treaty would permit up to 800 deployed and nondeployed missile and submarine launchers or heavy bombers.
According to a report from the U.S. Congressional Research Service, the treaty would give the United States and Russia seven years to reduce forces and would remain in force for 10 years from ratification. It contains detailed definitions and counting rules that will help the parties calculate the number of warheads that count under the treaty limits.
“New START does not limit current or planned U.S. missile defense programs,” the report said.
Along with New START, Obama also submitted to Congress a plan to spend $80 billion over the next decade to maintain and improve the United States’ nuclear weapons complex, a requirement Republican senators have said is essential for their support of the treaty.
For the treaty to win final approval, a two-thirds majority of the Senate must vote for ratification, and the treaty must also win approval in the Russian Duma.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: https://www.america.gov)