Today, February 2, 2011, President Obama signed New START!!! NoH was invited to the ceremony, but sadly had other pressing business to attend to (I kid, I kid, both about being invited and the other pressing business)!
The treaty has now officially been ratified by the U.S. (remember, the Senate doesn’t ratify treaties – the President does by signing an instrument of ratification)! The next step on the way to entry into force: the exchange of instruments of ratification with the Russians, which is scheduled to take place at the Munich Security Conference on February 5. Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov will do the honors. The U.S. instrument of ratification will include the three “understandings” included by the Senate in its resolution of ratification.
The fact that the signing ceremony is scheduled for next weekend means that the President has provided (or will very soon provide) the Senate with the numerous certifications required by the resolution of ratification on such issues as the adequacy of U.S. national technical means of verification, the exchange of telemetry, and future negotiations with the Russians on tactical nuclear weapons before the treaty can enter into force. (UPDATE 2/3: The President provided the Senate with the certifications yesterday.)
The initial exchange of data on missiles, launchers, heavy bombers, and warheads subject to the treaty is required 45 days after the treaty enters into force. The right to conduct on-site inspections begins 60 days after entry into force (i.e. sometime in April). Mark your calendars.