Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

  • Top Posts

  • Postings By Date

    November 2019
    M T W T F S S
    « Jul    
  • Blog Stats

  • Join 10 other followers

Archive for the ‘START Treaty’ Category

All Wrapped Up: U.S.-Russia Set to Sign START Treaty Replacement

Posted by K.E. White on March 24, 2010

Apparently a new U.S.-Russia arms control treaty has been finally hammered out.  While many outlets chronicle the slow pace of negotiations and focus on the signing location of the treaty (Prague), sheds some light on 1) the details of the agreement and 2) what may have been behind the delay.

The START treaty expired last December, but the United States and Russia have been voluntarily conforming to the parameters of the agreement.

Two quick notes.  First, the treaty is of considerable size–especially compared to other recent nuclear agreements.  At 20 pages, this new arms control  treaty definitely offers more detail the SORT/Moscow Treaty (3 pages) concluded under the George W. Bush administration or the legislatively-authorized US-India nuclear deal.  Related to the length, the treaty includes a verification protocol.  This, again, represents a large departure from Bush-era arms control policy.

Why is the second point important?  The key to reducing nuclear arms or restricting their use is in the verification of such efforts.  The Bush administration treaty, while obtaining a large cut in nuclear arsenals, mainly trimmed bloated stock-piles, and pegged to its verification standards to START.  Getting countries to promise to cut arsenals is one thing; forcing countries to verify they actually eliminated them is another–more complicated–endeavor.  And with the SORT treaty expiring in 2012, the expiration of the START treaty risked making SORT irrelevant.

Granted, it seems that this treaty will not represent a bold step in reining in the countries’ nuclear arsenals.  But it represents forward progress, and presumably lays the foundation for future agreements.

From the article:

The Kremlin source, speaking by telephone to The Associated Press, said the documents included the treaty and protocol. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last week that the treaty was 20 pages long, with an extensive protocol attached.

Russian negotiators have balked at including some intrusive weapons verification measures in the new treaty. The Obama administration has warned that without these, Senate ratification could prove difficult.

Any agreement would need to be ratified by the legislatures of both countries and would still leave each with a large number of nuclear weapons, both deployed and stockpiled.

Posted in START Treaty | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Explaining the START Slowdown

Posted by K.E. White on March 23, 2010

START renewal talks have stalled between the United States and Russia.  TIME Magazine offers theories behind the slow-down, while sketching out the supposed template of the agreement.

Possible road blocks?  First, Russian fears that Obama has not completely shelved plans for a missile shield in Eastern Europe.  Another theory points to Russian domestic politics, and differing interests between Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.

This Voice of Russia article highlights Russian objections to possible U.S. missile defense schemes in Eastern Europe.  Yet, the article still considers the agreement “95 percent ready, with both sides expected to sign the document ahead of the international security summit slated for April 12 in Washington.”

For those readers hungry for more detail, Arms Control Association offers fantastic resources:  especially Daryl G. Kimball’s recent Moscow Times editorial and Greg Thielmann’s New START Verification: Fitting the Means to the Ends.

From the article:

Currently, it is not clear what is holding up START negotiations. The basics of an agreement have been locked down since a joint Obama-Medvedev meeting last July: the White House reported that the two sides were ready to commit to reduce their arsenals to somewhere between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads and between 500 and 1,100 delivery systems, i.e. missiles and long-range bombers. Currently, the treaty allows each side a maximum of 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles.

Early on in the talks, Russia raised concerns about U.S. plans for a missile-defense system in Europe, which could potentially give the U.S. an edge if it could neutralize parts of Moscow’s arsenal. Many hoped that concern had been addressed by Obama’s pledge last September to scrap a Bush-era plan to station interceptor missiles in Poland and by promises to include missile defense in negotiations of any further arms-control treaties. But Moscow remained concerned over the alternatives to the Polish scheme being considered by the U.S, for deployment in Europe. Last week the Speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Boris Gryzlov, said that the Duma would not ratify a START treaty until all U.S. plans for a Europe-based missile-defense system were shelved.

“There are all sorts of rumors for why [a new treaty] hasn’t been signed,” says Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists. “At a deeper level the delay hints at lingering distrust between the United States and Russia.”

Potter, however, believes that domestic tensions in Russia rather than a rift between the two countries is responsible for the delay. “The delay has had more to do with Russian domestic politics and involves disputes between Russian military and political figures about the role of nuclear weapons in Russian security policy and the importance of improved Russian relations with the United States,” he explains. “Some Russian analysts also have suggested that President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin have different interests in rapid conclusion (and ratification) of the treaty, which is related to their positioning for the next presidential contest.”

Posted in START Treaty | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

START Treaty Expiration Road: Is the Bush Administration Jettisoning Arms Control Completely?

Posted by K.E. White on March 7, 2007

The Washington Times reports today on the looming expiration of the START Treaty, and the failure of Russian and American diplomats to agree on extending the agreement.

From the Washington Times: Where have the good times gone?

The Bush administration has rebuffed Russian overtures to negotiate a legally binding replacement of the 1991 START I treaty that reduced the two countries’ strategic nuclear forces but is set to expire in 2009, U.S. and Russian officials said yesterday…

While the Russians insist on a legally binding agreement, the Americans have focused on “transparency and confidence-building measures” that would still allow both sides to verify each others’ arsenals and capabilities.

The Washington Times provides this historical overview:

START I, signed by President George Bush in 1991, obliged Moscow and Washington to cut their deployed strategic nuclear forces of about 10,000 warheads apiece down to 6,000 each. The treaty can be extended, but either side must notify the other one year before it expires on Dec. 5, 2009.

START II, which was negotiated in 1993, never entered into force because the U.S. Senate and the Russian parliament ratified two different versions. Moscow repudiated the accord a day after the June 13, 2002, U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) that banned strategic missile defense systems.

To replace the ABM, the current Bush administration negotiated SORT, which obligated the United States and Russia to reduce their deployed offensive nuclear forces to 1,700 to 2,200 strategic warheads each by Dec. 31, 2012, when the accord expires.


So why the divide? It actually is nothing new: The Bush administration has consistently sort to revise the arms control regime. Supporters of the approach laud it’s focus on the real threats facing America—international terrorism, in particular—and the move away from important, but largely irrelevant features like the number of warheads dismantled.

Jeffrey Larsen advocated this view in his 2005 publication, “National Security and Neo-Arms Control in the Bush Administration”:

The Bush administration’s preemptive policy and the NPR’s recommendations all meet Schelling’s and Halperin’s criteria. They represent a new, radically different means of handling international challenges formerly dealt with through arms control. In effect, and in what will seem to many a counterintuitive concept, the NPR and its related documents are arms control – but what we might call “neo-arms control”. Paradoxically, the administration itself does not seem to recognise it as such, and have accordingly failed to mount a good public relations effort to highlight their approach.

But to critics, it’s anything but a “neo-arms control.”

This is a selection from Michael Krepon’s 2004 publication, “The Bush Administration’s Record on Proliferation and Arms Control”:


The unbalanced approach adopted by the Bush administration has not fostered the conditions necessary for the progressiveMichael Krepon reduction and elimination of the most deadly, indiscriminate weapons. The pursuit of greater U.S. military supremacy only builds confidence in those pursuing it, but not where that dominance might someday be applied. As a consequence China and Russia are hedging their bets, and without their active support, the toughest proliferation cases will get tougher. If Beijing and Moscow perceive that the pursuit of even greater U.S. dominance is designed to negate their deterrents, they will take compensating measures. They will also confine their cooperation with U.S. efforts to stem, reverse, and eliminate deadly weapons to very narrow definitions of national interest.


Thus for many arms control advocates, the START Treaty represents another Bush assault on cooperative arms reductions agreements. Daryl Kimball lays out the proper narrative in which to view this latest START crisis :

Daryl KimballThe Cold War may be over, but the nuclear-armed missiles and suspicions remain. Now, Washington’s plan to deploy ground-based missile interceptors in the former Eastern Bloc—coupled with the expansion of NATO and the Bush administration’s resistance to further offensive nuclear reductions—are increasing Moscow’s anxieties about U.S. strategic missile capabilities.

U.S. officials say their anti-missile systems are designed to deal with a potential Iranian missile force not Russia’s. They correctly note that even if 10 U.S.-controlled missile interceptors are eventually stationed in Poland, Russia’s missiles could overwhelm and evade the defenses with far cheaper countermeasures.

And as Valdimir Frolov adds to the drama surrounding Bush administration plans for a European missile defense shield. He compares the quiet mumbling that accompanied the death of the ABM Treaty in 2002 against the recent rancor between Russia and America.

Nuclear anxieties are back, and with a vengeance.

The Bush administration does have a legitimate strategic concern: if—not when, it seems—Iran obtains nuclear weapons, the United States must be prepared. The old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty bargain no longer works: Countries that want nukes are going to get them.

But, by undermining relations with Russia, Washington is making effective multilateral diplomacy with Iran impossible. Unless America can get Russia and China behind any Iranian diplomatic action, there will be no way to avert the nuclear crisis with Tehran.

The START Treaty drama, and the overall arms control dialog it plays a part within, shows that while the Bush administration may be written off by the American public, it still plays a large and precedent-setting role when it comes to America’s strategic posture and those of over nations.

What arms-control template—“neo” or “traditional”—the Bush administration is able to push through, will constrain the options of the next administration.

And may just make our world that much more prone to nuclear peril.

Posted in America, Arms Control, Bush administration, Daryl Kimball, Jeffrey Larsen, Michael Krepon, Nuclear Weapons, Putin, Russia, START Treaty, Washington Times | Leave a Comment »