START II's Central Features
The START II Treaty builds upon the START I Treaty signed on July
31, 1991, between the United States and the Soviet Union. All START
I provisions will pertain, except as explicitly modified in the START
II Treaty. It will remain in force throughout the duration of START
I (START I has a 15-year duration and can be extended for successive
5-year periods by agreement among the Parties).
The Treaty sets equal ceilings on the number of strategic nuclear
weapons that either side can deploy. The Treaty sets ceilings in two
phases: Phase One, to be completed seven years after entry into force
of the START I Treaty (START I entered into force on December 5, 1994);
and Phase Two, to be completed by the year 2003.
(On September 27, 1997, US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov signed a Protocol to
the Treaty extending the time periods for completion of Phase One until
December 31, 2004, and Phase Two until December 31, 2007. The Secretary
and the Foreign Minister also signed and exchanged letters committing
to the deactivation, by December 31, 2003, of the US and Russian strategic
nuclear delivery vehicles that will be eliminated under START II. A
Joint Agreed Statement recording the agreement between the United States
and the Russian Federation that the United States can carry out Minuteman
III ICBM downloading under START II at any time before December 31,
2007, was also issued. The START II Protocol, together with the Joint
Agreed Statement, and the letters on early deactivation are subject
to ratification or approval in accordance with the constitutional procedures
of each state.)
The Treaty sets ranges for some of the central limits:
The Treaty allows for a reduction in the number of warheads on certain
ballistic missiles. START II permits such "downloading" in
a carefully structured fashion, modifying the rules agreed to in START
Thus, the three-warhead US Minuteman III ICBM and 105 of the six-warhead
Russian SS-19 ICBMs may be downloaded to a single warhead, to comply
with the requirement to eliminate all MIRVed ICBMs. The US Peacekeeper
ICBM and the Russian SS-18 heavy ICBM and SS-24 ICBMs must all be eliminated,
in accordance with START procedures.
Missile System Elimination
In START I, the sides may remove deployed SLBMs and most deployed
ICBMs from accountability either by destroying their launchers (silos
for fixed ICBMs, and submarine launchers for SLBMs), or by converting
those launchers so that they can only carry another type of permitted
missile. The one exception is the SS-18; under START I, the requirement
to eliminate 154 deployed SS-18s must be met through silo destruction,
Under START II, those rules generally continue to apply. The major
exception is again the SS-18. Russia may convert ninety SS-18 silos
to carry a single-warhead missile, which it has said will be an SS-25-type.
The Treaty lays out specific procedures, including on-site inspections,
to ensure that the converted SS-18 silos will never again be able to
launch a heavy ICBM. Russia will have to destroy the remaining 64 SS-18
silos subject to this Treaty.
In exchange for the right to retain up to 90 converted SS-18 silos,
the Treaty requires that all SS-18 missiles and canisters, both deployed
and non-deployed, be eliminated no later than January 1, 2003. This
is a major change from the START I Treaty. Generally, START I did not
seek destruction of missiles. However, in START II, the Russians agreed
to eliminate all SS-18 missiles, both deployed and non-deployed. This
would fully achieve a long-standing US goal, the complete elimination
of heavy ICBMs.
In START I, nuclear equipped heavy bombers are subject to more flexible
counting rules than are ballistic missiles. Each heavy bomber equipped
to carry only short-range missiles or gravity bombs counts as one warhead.
US heavy bombers equipped to carry long-range nuclear air-launched cruise
missiles (LRNAs) each count as ten warheads, and Soviet heavy bombers
equipped to carry LRNAs each count as eight warheads.
In START II, heavy bombers will be counted using the number of nuclear
weapons -- whether LRNAs, short-range missiles or gravity bombs -- for
which they are actually equipped. This number will be specified in the
Treaty Memorandum on Attribution and will be demonstrated by a one-time
exhibition and confirmed by routine START on-site inspections.
Another new feature of this Treaty is the provision that each side
may reorient up to 100 heavy bombers that have never been accountable
under the START I Treaty as LRNA heavy bombers to a conventional role.
Such bombers will not count against the START II Treaty warhead limits.
They must be based separately from heavy bombers with nuclear missions,
must be used only for non-nuclear missions, and must have observable
differences from other heavy bombers of the same type that are not reoriented
to a conventional role. The sides may return such heavy bombers to a
nuclear role after three months notification, but then may not reorient
them to a conventional role again.
The comprehensive START I verification regime will continue to apply to the new Treaty. In addition, START II includes some new verification measures, such as observation of SS-18 silo conversion and missile elimination procedures, exhibitions and inspections of all heavy bombers to demonstrate actual weapon loads, and exhibitions of heavy bombers reoriented to a conventional role to confirm their observable differences.