Washington — The New START Treaty ratified by the United States and Russia a year ago is demonstrating significant progress in lessening the nuclear dangers facing the Russian and American people while strengthening global security, a senior U.S. diplomat says.
“When the treaty is fully implemented, it will result in the lowest number of deployed nuclear warheads since the 1950s, the first full decade of the nuclear age,” Acting Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller testified June 21 before a U.S. Senate committee.
Gottemoeller, who led the U.S. negotiating team for the New START Treaty, said that to understand where the two nations are now, people must consider where they were in July 1991. When fully implemented the New START Treaty will reduce the number of nuclear warheads in each nation’s arsenal to 1,550. When the first START Treaty was signed in July 1991, the United States and the former Soviet Union each deployed approximately 10,500 nuclear warheads, she said.
“In negotiating the treaty, both sides worked hard to find innovative new mechanisms to aid in the verification of the treaty, and the results of that work are already evident,” Gottemoeller said before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee was conducting an oversight hearing to determine if the treaty has begun achieving its intended goals in reducing the number of nuclear warheads each nation has and if it will ultimately lead to a reduced nuclear threat.
“The regime provides for effective verification and, at the same time, is simpler to implement and lessens disruptions to the day-to-day operations of both sides’ strategic forces,” Gottemoeller said in prepared remarks for the committee.
Gottemoeller, who is acting under secretary of state for arms control and international security, said the implementation process with the Russians has been positive and pragmatic, and that both sides are continuing a professional working relationship that began during the treaty negotiations in Geneva.
“Our experience so far is demonstrating that the New START’s verification regime works, and will help to push the door open to new, more complicated verification techniques for the future,” Gottemoeller said. “Verification will be crucial to any future nuclear reduction plans, and the United States has made it clear that we are committed to continuing a step-by-step process to reduce the overall number of nuclear weapons.”
President Obama announced in a 2009 speech in Prague that he would pursue the long-term goal of a nuclear-free world, and has formulated U.S. foreign policies to support that goal.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry said the treaty has permitted inspectors from the United States and Russia to conduct numerous short-notice inspections to verify the accuracy of reports from both nations, and it has provided considerable visibility into each nation’s nuclear activities.
Senator Richard Lugar, the senior Republican on the committee, said the treaty, which was approved by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 71-26 on September 22, 2010, provides for a gradual and systematic reduction in nuclear arsenals, but also for the modernization of the U.S. arsenal over 10 years. “This is a rational policy outcome that bolstered United States national security,” he added.
The treaty gave the United States and Russia seven years to reduce forces and remains in force for 10 years from ratification. It contains detailed definitions and counting rules that will help the nations calculate the number of warheads that count under the treaty limits. Additionally, the treaty provides for regular, on-site inspections of each country’s nuclear arsenals to assure compliance and implementation of the immense technical aspects of nuclear arms reduction programs.
The New START agreement succeeds the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the 2002 Moscow Treaty. It does not block efforts to create missile defense systems.
The treaty limits the United States and Russia to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads for each country, down from the current limit of 2,000 warheads, and 700 launchers. The treaty also requires on-site verification inspections, which had lapsed in December 2009 when the old START Treaty expired. Russia and the United States possess 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
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 strategic bombers. The treaty provides an upper boundary of 1,550 deployed warheads for each nation and up to 700 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers. Additionally, the treaty would permit up to 800 deployed and nondeployed missile and submarine launchers or heavy bombers.