Strategic Arms Control (START)
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) of June 1991, which took nine years of negotiation to complete, was the first arms control agreement to require reductions in the number of nuclear warheads deployed on strategic offensive weapons. The limitation of strategic offensive weapons had already been negotiated between the United States and the Soviet Union since the late 1960s, resulting in the signing by both countries of the 1972 SALT I treaty and the 1979 SALT II treaty. However, the concept of large reductions rather than merely limitations remained on hold until the 1980s. In 1985, the United States and the Soviet Union both agreed to address this issue, and soon afterwards began to conduct negotiations on strategic offensive weapons as part of the umbrella Nuclear and Space Talks (NST).
II. START I and the Lisbon Protocol
At the Washington Summit of 1 June 1990, the U.S. and the USSR agreed to complete negotiations on strategic weapons reduction by the end of the year. On 31 July 1991, U.S. President George Bush and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START) during a Moscow summit. START is one of the most comprehensive post-Cold War arms control agreements. The treaty codifies in international law the specific obligations and rights which the United States, the Soviet Union and its successor states (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan) had to carry out in order to reduce their nuclear weapons and delivery systems, including land-based missiles, intercontinental bombers and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
The START Treaty also created the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission (JCIC), a Geneva-based policy body dealing with the solution of treaty implementation issues. Since 1991, the JCIC has issued forty-seven agreements and more than fifty joint statements.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 delayed the initial ratification of START and created the additional danger of proliferation of Soviet nuclear weapons to a multiplicity of states, specifically Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. The United States had initially favored a bilateral treaty, making Moscow responsible for working out implementation arrangements with Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. In a meeting in Alma Ata on December 21, 1991, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) leaders agreed to a joint command of nuclear weapons. On December 30, 1991, the CIS further modified their nuclear weapon policies at a meeting in Minsk, Belarus. They agreed to maintain a single, unified control over all nuclear weapons with the Russian president given charge of the nuclear armaments, but with the presidents of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan having the right to veto any use of nuclear weapons as long as the weapons remained on their soil. Ukraine and Kazakhstan demanded an equal status under START I, and the Ukraine also announced that it would abolish its nuclear weapons only in return for international security guarantees as well as compensation for the nuclear material contained in the warheads and assistance in its disposal. Thus, the U.S. Senate ratified START on 1 October 1992, pending completion of implementation arrangements among the four republics. On May 23, 1992, the foreign ministers of the four republics and the U.S. signed the Lisbon Protocol which formally recognised Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan as successors to the Soviet Union for START purposes. Kazakhstan ratified it on 2 July 1992, the Russian parliament followed suit on 4 November 1992, but delayed the exchange of instruments of ratification until the other three republics had joined the NPT and made arrangements for implementing the treaty.
Resolution of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine on the Ratification of the START I Treaty and the Lisbon Protocol, November 19, 1993
The period of strategic offensive arms reductions provided by the START I Treaty ended on December 5, 2001. Russia declared that it had fully honored its obligations under the treaty and that it wants to continue the START process: The "complete and timely implementation of the provisions of the START I Treaty creates a good basis for elaborating an agreement on further drastic reductions of strategic offensive arms".
See also U.S., Russia Complete START I Reductions, Philipp Bleek, Arms Control Today, January/February 2002.
1. Unilateral Nuclear ReductionsAmerican concern about the security of Soviet nuclear weapons motivated the administration of George Bush Sr. to propose the most far-reaching nuclear reductions ever. On 27 September 1991, the United States announced that it would dismantle or destroy all Amercian tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe, Asia and on U.S. war-ships, including some 2,150 sea-based and land-based naval nuclear weapons (but not strategic sea-launched ballistic missiles). President Bush also announced unilateral decisions affecting strategic weapons: to take U.S. strategic bombers as well as the 450 Minuteman II single-warhead ICBMs scheduled for elimination under START off alert; as well as to terminate the MX and mobile Midgetman ICBM programs and some modernisation programs for short-range missiles. On October 5, 1991, Gorbachev matched U.S. unilateral cuts in tactical nuclear arms, strategic alerts, and missile modernization. The Soviet president announced that all nuclear warheads used for for artillery and land-based tactical missiles would be destroyed while all naval tactical-nuclear weapons would be withdrawn and either stored or destroyed. All Soviet nuclear landmines also would be destroyed; while some nuclear warheads for air-defense missiles would be stored and some destroyed.
2. Cooperative Threat ReductionThe Bush Administration did not insist on rigid verification procedures for the dismantling of Soviet nuclear weapons. It was the US Congress that finally compelled the administration to accept the need to verify the nuclear arms reductions called for in the presidentís September 27 initiative. In November 1991, Congress established the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Programs, which authorized the Pentagon to transfer $400 million from other programs to assist in the the safe dismantling and storage of nuclear weapons and materials within the republics of the former Soviet Union. The CTR Programs were expanded in subsequent years and covered seven major areas: nuclear warhead safety and transportation, nuclear material storage facilities, nonproliferation, strategic delivery vehicle launcher elimination, chemical weapons destruction, and defense conversion.
III. START II
1. 1993 Treaty Text and ProtocolsShortly after a brief summit between Us President Bush and the new Russian President Boris Yeltsin on February 1, 1992, in Camp David, the two presidents announced a new round of unilateral cutbacks in strategic modernization and proposed a new round of bilateral nuclear reductions. Bush outlined his proposal in his State of the Union address on January 28, 1992, which focused on strategic nuclear weapons following the previous autumnís reciprocal nuclear cutbacks, which had dealt with tactical weapons. Bush proposed an agreement to eliminate all land-based missiles with multiple warheads and announced a number of unilateral cuts in ongoing U.S. strategic programs. A series of meetings between foreign ministers Baker and Kozyrev produced the Joint Understanding at the June 16-17 meeting between Bush and Yeltsin in Washington.
2. Ratification Process and New York ProtocolBy late March 1995, START II ratification had become a political football between the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Clinton administration. The Republican chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jesse Helms, refused to permit his committee to act on the START Treaty until Senate Democrats would permit voting on a controversial bill to decide State Department reorganization. On January 26, 1996, START II was finally brought to a vote and the Senate overwhelmingly approved the ratification resolution. However, eight conditions and twelve declarations were attached to it. On the Russian side, ratification of the treaty was delayed in the State Duma. In 1997, as a response to this deadlock, the United States and Russia signed the New York protocol which extended the timeframe for the implementation of START II until December 31, 2007.
IV. START IIIAt the March 1997 Helsinki summit, Clinton and Yeltsin agreed to begin negotiations on a START III agreement that would reduce each side's nuclear arsenals to 2000-2500 warheads by December 31, 2007.
Bilateral talks on START III and the ABM Treaty took place in June 1999 and continued throughout the rest of the year without any significant progress. The United States argued in favour of a tradeoff between cutbacks under START III, which Russia desired for financial reasons, and modifications of the ABM Treaty to permit the deployment of a limited national missile defense system. (see ABM section) Russia continued to disagree to such a policy tradeoff. Due to continuing disputes about the conflict between the ABM Treaty and the planned NMD system, the Pentagon began considering START III options that would permit limited deployments of the new Russian Topol-M ICBM with a MIRVed three-warhead configuration.
On November 13, 2000, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the earlier offer to reduce to 1500 strategic warheads was not a lower limit. His administration would consider even lower limits, given the continued acceptance and observation of the ABM Treaty. Putin proposed intensification of the disarmament process, limitation of strategic nuclear arsenals to 1500 warheads by 2008, negotiations on further reductions, U.S. ratification of START II and the 1997 ABM Treaty amendments, preservation of the ABM Treaty and development of an alternative to NMD. The U.S. position comes from a negotiating proposal presented to Russia between January 20 and 21, 2000, that leaked to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Magazine. The document deals mostly with NMD, but there are also sigificant aspects relevant to the U.S. perspective on START III.
V. The Bush Administration and Strategic Arms Control
The Bush administration, which took office in early 2001, indicated that it favors unilateral reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal , as part of its effort to promote a new strategic framework replacing the traditional approach of negotiated arms control treaties. In 1997, Congress had adopted legislation that prohibited any nuclear reductions below certain levels until the START II Treaty entered into force. This move had been generally understood as a congressional attempt to restrict the Clinton administration's freedom of action in this area. In August 2001, the House Armed Services Committee blocked a measure that would have permitted such unilateral reductions. The Committee rejected a proposal to repeal the 1997 law by a vote of 31-22.
Early on the new administration made it clear that it would pursue a concept of deterrence, different from the past. Reductions to the operational nuclear posture would be accompanied by investing in broad efforts to build missile defenses and maintain the capability to modernize nuclear forces while adapting them to a changing security environment.
More about the Bush administration's
diplomacy on strategic stability issues in the
On January 8 2002, President Bush sent the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)
to Congress , the first comprehensive review of U.S. nuclear forces
since 1994. The report was written upon congressional recommendation
and came about one year later envisaged in the original congressional
deadline. While the document provides a wide range of recommendations
for keeping US nuclear forces modern, adapt their capabilities to a
changing risk environment and provide options for new nuclear weapon
systems, it also provides for a new triad. The new triad is made up
by nuclear and non-nuclear offensive strike systems, (missile) defense
systems and a revitalized nuclear weapons infrastructure. One other
result of the long-awaited document was the plan to reduce the number
of operationally deployed U.S. nuclear warheads from 6,000 to 3,800
over the next five years as part of the Bush administration's new strategic
policy. Additional cuts down to a level of 1.700 -2.200 operationally
deployed strategic warheads were envisaged for the time thereafter.
Beyond operationally deployed warheads US planning foresees that the
US by 2007 should keep at least 2.400 additional warheads for rebuilding
the nuclear posture as well as an even larger reserve for possible longer
term re-use The administration foresaw to make the cuts independent
of Russia's reaction, saw no need for a treaty with Russia or a law
that would require congressional approval. However, the option for an
arms control agreement with Russia was not foreclosed.
Analysis on the NPR 2002
2. Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty
Even though the Bush administration saw no need for a new arms control treaty with Russia it finally agreed to negotiate one. President Bush announced on the eve if the Crawford Summit (13.-15.November 2001), his decision to reduce U.S. offensive weapons stockpile to 1.700 - 2.200 operationally deployed weapons over ten years. Shortly after the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said that Russia was prepared to respond in kind.
One month later the US notified Russia that it would withdraw from the ABM-Treaty on June 13, 2002. However, bilateral negotiations on an agreement to reduce the numbers of operationally deployed nuclear forces and a political document describing US-Russia relations, the "new strategic framework", went on.
After several rounds of fierce negotiations it was agreed to finalize two documents. Both were signed and released during a May 23-25 Summit in Moscow. The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty is a legally binding arms-control treaty requiring national ratifications that commits both sides to reduce their operationally deployed strategic nuclear forces to between 1.700 and 2.200 warheads by 31.December 2012. It does not contain any provisions on what to do with either the launch-systems or the nuclear warheads. Each side can decide individually on what to do with them. No new transparency or verification measures were agreed. Both sides thus remain extremely flexible on how to implement the treaty. In addition a Joint Declaration was signed which is politically binding. It covers a wide range of topics such as missile defense, strategic stability, US-Russia cooperation, NATO-Russia relations and announces the formation of a bilateral consultative forum on Strategic Stability.
None of the Summit documents mentions the START-2 Treaty, making it likely that Russia will feel no longer bound by this treaty once the US officially leaves the ABM-Treaty on June 13, 2002. If Russia feels no longer bound by START-2, she can modernize and keep in service some of its heavy MIRVED SS-18 missiles, each carrying 10 warheads. Under START-2 these missiles would have to be destroyed.
Just prior to the Moscow Summit, the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry agreed a Joint statement to the effect of Russia feeleing no longer bound to START-2. For the text of the Joint Statement as reported please click here The Russian statement was finally published on June 14, 2002. The main immediate effect of this statement is that Russia will extend the service-life of its SS-18 missiles from 2008 to probably 2015.
The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Russia has become more complex over the past 10 years. The power asymmetry between both countries has widened, and Russia is increasingly less of a foreign policy priority for the United States. The Bush administration needs to be more careful in how they deal with Russia. Propagating an image of Russia in negative terms as a growing threat for the U.S. in many areas is counterproductive.
The traditional arms control process has reached an impasse. The United States and Russia should embrace a new framework for strategic nuclear forces reductions, centered around unilateral and parallel unilateral measures. The Bush administration should give priority to repealing legislation that prohibits the U.S. from unilaterally reducing strategic forces until START II enters into force.
The central importance about START II ratification is that it enables negotiations on a START III treaty which would entail even deeper reductions.
The START II protocols delay the destruction of nuclear delivery vehicles from 2003 to 2007. While these protocols are non-controversial, they have been linked to protocols to the ABM Treaty that were negotiated at the same time, making START II implementation highly uncertain.
Discusses the history of START II and the strategic rationale behind Russian nuclear force structures, and outlines a proposal for a new nuclear relationship between the United States and Russia.
This report suggests to move beyond the traditional START process, arguing that the formal treaty negotiation process has not dealt effectively with the post-Cold War situation. Instead, the report calls for deep cuts, transparency and verification measures and removing the hair-trigger status.
START established an arms control system to monitor all of the activities of the operational nuclear forces whether deployed, stored, transported or being reduced, over the vast territories of the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Overview on arms control discussions surrounding START II and III, the ABM Treaty and missile defense.
Argues that START was a seriously deficient agreement. The U.S. Senate needs to address the Bush administration's approach to strategic arms control and correct a range of serious START deficiencies.
Cooperative Threat Reduction