By Sam Kane and Kingston Reif
WHAT IS THE NEW START TREATY?
• The New START treaty is a nuclear arms reduction agreement between the United States and Russia. It was signed in April 2010, approved by the US Senate in December 2010, and entered into force in February 2011.
WHAT ARE THE TERMS OF THE NEW START TREATY?
• Under the terms of New START, the United States and Russia agreed to make the following nuclear arms reductions over a seven-year timeframe.
— Each side would limit its number of deployed nuclear weapons delivery systems (missiles and bombers) to no more than 700.
— Each side would limit its number of deployed and non-deployed nuclear weapons delivery systems to no more than 800.
— Each side would limit its deployed strategic nuclear warhead stockpile to no more than 1,550.
• New START also includes monitoring and verification measures to confirm the size and location of the nuclear forces limited by the treaty. Examples of these measures include:
— Extensive regular data exchanges about US and Russian nuclear forces and timely notifications of data changes, including information about the location of and the number of warheads deployed on each deployed delivery vehicle.
— 18 annual on-site inspections of nuclear forces and storage facilities to verify the information contained in the data exchanges.
WHAT IS THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF NEW START?
• New START superseded the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which was signed by the US and Russia in 2002, and was set to expire at the end of 2012.
— SORT required the US and Russia to reduce their stockpiles of deployed nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200.
— SORT did not limit nuclear delivery systems nor did it include any sort of mechanism for verifying these reductions.
• New START is as a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which was signed by the US and Russia in 1991, and expired in 2009.
— START I required reductions in each sides’ stockpiles of deployed warheads and delivery systems.
• Formal negotiations on New START began in 2009.
• The US Senate approved the treaty on December 21, 2010, by a vote of 71-26.
HOW DOES NEW START BENEFIT US NATIONAL SECURITY?
• The treaty’s legally binding limits and monitoring and verification provisions establish and bind the number of Russian deployed strategic nuclear weapons aimed at the US homeland and give the United States an essential window into their composition and location – knowledge the United States would not otherwise have.
• The treaty’s limits and rigorous inspection and verification regime have strengthened the stability, predictability, and transparency of the US-Russian nuclear relationship. It also reduces the incentives for misunderstanding and mutual suspicion that could prompt US and Russian defense planners to engage in costly worst-case estimates about force requirements.
• The entire US military leadership unanimously supported New START in 2010 and continues to support it today.
• New START allows the United States to maintain a robust and devastating nuclear deterrent and places no meaningful limits on U.S. missile defense programs.
HAS IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW START BEEN SUCCESSFUL?
• Under the terms of New START’s verification regime, the US and Russia have exchanged more than 4,311 notifications regarding strategic nuclear forces since the treaty’s entry into force in 2011.
• As of May 2013, the two sides have conducted a combined 13 of 36 allowed on-site inspections. In 2011 and 2012, each side conducted their annual allotment of 18 inspections. Through these inspections, the United States examined the RS-24, Russia’s new multi-warhead (or MIRV’d, for multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) ballistic missile.
• As of April 2013, the United States had 1,654 deployed accountable strategic warheads and 792 deployed strategic delivery vehicles. Russia had 1,480 deployed accountable strategic warheads and 492 deployed strategic delivery vehicles. Russia is already below two of the treaty’s three central limits.
NUCLEAR MODERNIZATION AND NEW START
• As part of his effort to win Republican support for New START, President Obama submitted to lawmakers a 10-year plan to maintain and modernize US nuclear warheads, strategic delivery systems, and their supporting infrastructure. Contained in what is known as the “Section 1251 Report,” the latest public version of the plan outlines $88 billion in projected spending on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) weapons activities and $125.8 billion for strategic delivery vehicle modernization at the Pentagon between fiscal years 2012 and 2021.
• Since the treaty’s approval, President Obama has come under criticism from Republican lawmakers, who claim that the administration has failed to request sufficient funding for nuclear modernization. For the past three years, the Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee has attempted to block funding for the implementation of New START, arguing that the administration has failed to honor its modernization commitments.
• However, Republican fears that President Obama is reneging on these commitments are unfounded.
— The cuts to NNSA’s budget have been spearheaded by the Republican-led House, not the administration.
— The 10-year modernization plan was crafted before Congress approved the bipartisan Budget Control Act, which requires reductions in the projected growth of defense spending and could lead to even larger cuts if sequestration is implemented for the long-term.
— Despite the tough budget environment, the administration’s request for fiscal 2014, released in April, includes an increase of more than 7 percent above the previous year’s level and nearly $1.5 billion more than Congress spent on weapons programs in fiscal 2010.
— The Pentagon continues to spend billions to modernize existing delivery platforms and is investing in programs to build new ballistic missile submarines and a new long-range strategic bomber.