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The New START Treaty and Protocol

Earlier today, President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia signed the New START treaty and its protocol. Read the text of the treaty and the President's remarks..

Earlier today, President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia signed the New START treaty and its protocol.  PDF versions of these documents are available here:

 UPDATED with video:



After signing these documents, both presidents gave remarks and answered questions.  Read the full transcript,  video will be posted here later today.  An excerpt of President Obama's opening remarks is below:

Finally, this day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia -- the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons -- to pursue responsible global leadership.  Together, we are keeping our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which must be the foundation for global non-proliferation.
While the New START treaty is an important first step forward, it is just one step on a longer journey.  As I said last year in Prague, this treaty will set the stage for further cuts.  And going forward, we hope to pursue discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical weapons, including non-deployed weapons.
President Medvedev and I have also agreed to expand our discussions on missile defense.  This will include regular exchanges of information about our threat assessments, as well as the completion of a joint assessment of emerging ballistic missiles.  And as these assessments are completed, I look forward to launching a serious dialogue about Russian-American cooperation on missile defense.
But nuclear weapons are not simply an issue for the United States and Russia -- they threaten the common security of all nations.  A nuclear weapon in the hands of a terrorist is a danger to people everywhere -- from Moscow to New York; from the cities of Europe to South Asia.  So next week, 47 nations will come together in Washington to discuss concrete steps that can be taken to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years.
And the spread of nuclear weapons to more states is also an unacceptable risk to global security -- raising the specter of arms races from the Middle East to East Asia.  Earlier this week, the United States formally changed our policy to make it clear that those [non]-nuclear weapons states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and their non-proliferation obligations will not be threatened by America’s nuclear arsenal.  This demonstrates, once more, America’s commitment to the NPT as a cornerstone of our security strategy.  Those nations that follow the rules will find greater security and opportunity.  Those nations that refuse to meet their obligations will be isolated, and denied the opportunity that comes with international recognition.
That includes accountability for those that break the rules -- otherwise the NPT is just words on a page.  That’s why the United States and Russia are part of a coalition of nations insisting that the Islamic Republic of Iran face consequences, because they have continually failed to meet their obligations.  We are working together at the United Nations Security Council to pass strong sanctions on Iran.  And we will not tolerate actions that flout the NPT, risk an arms race in a vital region, and threaten the credibility of the international community and our collective security.
While these issues are a top priority, they are only one part of the U.S.-Russia relationship.  Today, I again expressed my deepest condolences for the terrible loss of Russian life in recent terrorist attacks, and we will remain steadfast partners in combating violent extremism.  We also discussed the potential to expand our cooperation on behalf of economic growth, trade and investment, as well as technological innovation, and I look forward to discussing these issues further when President Medvedev visits the United States later this year, because there is much we can do on behalf of our security and prosperity if we continue to work together.
When one surveys the many challenges that we face around the world, it’s easy to grow complacent, or to abandon the notion that progress can be shared.  But I want to repeat what I said last year in Prague:  When nations and peoples allow themselves to be defined by their differences, the gulf between them widens.  When we fail to pursue peace, then it stays forever beyond our grasp.

Updated: For even more information, a series of fact sheets on individual aspects of the New START Treaty are included after the break.

Table of Contents

  1. The New START Treaty at a glance
  2. New START and U.S. National Security Interests
  3. Senate consideration of treaties - a primer
  4. The New START – Limits
  5. The New START - Verification
  6. The Triad/U.S. Nuclear Force Structure
  7.  Missile Defense Fact Sheet


Treaty Structure:  The New START Treaty is organized in three tiers of increasing level of detail.  The first tier is the Treaty text itself.  The second tier consists of a Protocol to the Treaty, which contains additional rights and obligations associated with Treaty provisions.  The basic rights and obligations are contained in these two documents.  The third tier consists of Technical Annexes to the Protocol.  All three tiers will be legally binding, and all three tiers will be submitted to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.  
Strategic Offensive Reductions:  Under the Treaty, the U.S. and Russia will be limited to significantly fewer strategic arms within seven years from the date the Treaty enters into force.  Each Party has the flexibility to determine for itself the structure of its strategic forces within the aggregate limits of the Treaty.  These limits are based on a rigorous analysis conducted by Department of Defense planners in support of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.  
Aggregate limits:

  • 1,550 warheads.  Warheads on deployed ICBMs and deployed SLBMs count toward this limit and each deployed heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armaments counts as one warhead toward this limit.  This limit is 74% lower than the limit of the 1991 START Treaty and 30% lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty.  
  • A combined limit of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.
  • A separate limit of 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.  This limit is less than half the corresponding strategic nuclear delivery vehicle limit of the START Treaty. 

Verification and Transparency:  The Treaty has a verification regime that combines the appropriate elements of the 1991 START Treaty with new elements tailored to the limitations of the Treaty.  Measures under the Treaty include on-site inspections and exhibitions, data exchanges and notifications related to strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the Treaty, and provisions to facilitate the use of national technical means for treaty monitoring.  To increase confidence and transparency, the Treaty also provides for the exchange of telemetry.
Treaty Terms:  The Treaty’s duration will be ten years, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement.  The Parties may agree to extend the Treaty for a period of no more than five years.  The Treaty includes a withdrawal clause that is standard in arms control agreements.  The 2002 Moscow Treaty terminates upon entry into force of the New START Treaty.  The U.S. Senate and the Russian legislature must approve the Treaty before it can enter into force.
No Constraints on Missile Defense and Conventional Strike:  The Treaty does not contain any constraints on testing, development or deployment of current or planned U.S. missile defense programs or current or planned United States long-range conventional strike capabilities.


The New START Treaty makes America more secure.

The New START Treaty will enhance U.S. national security by stabilizing the strategic balance between the United States and the Russian Federation at lower levels of nuclear forces.  The Treaty will establish lower limits for U.S. and Russian nuclear forces of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 700 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.  It also will limit to 800 the total number of deployed and non-deployed ICBM and SLBM launchers and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.  

The Treaty’s lower strategic force limits were validated through rigorous analysis conducted by Department of Defense Planners in support of the Nuclear Posture Review.  The New START Treaty allows the United States to determine our own force structure, giving us the flexibility to deploy and maintain our strategic nuclear forces in a way that best serves U.S. national security interests.  As long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal to deter any adversary and protect our allies.

The New START Treaty’s verification provisions provide visibility into Russia’s nuclear forces and thereby help to mitigate the risks of surprises, mistrust, and miscalculations that can result from excessive secrecy or decisions based on worst-case assumptions.  The Treaty will give us a vital window into the Russian strategic arsenal.  This goal is achieved through a verification regime that is adapted from START, but is simplified, less costly to implement, and tailored to the specific provisions of the new Treaty, as well as transparency measures such as the exchange of telemetry on flight tests.
3.    Senate Consideration of Treaties – A Primer

  • Under Article II of the Constitution, the President “makes” treaties, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.  Approval of a treaty requires a supermajority of two-thirds of the senators present (assuming all 100 senators are present, 67 votes are required for approval).
  • After signature of the New START Treaty on April 8, the U.S. and Russian negotiators will complete their work on several technical annexes.  Only then will the President be able to submit the treaty to the Senate (expected to be later this spring).  In addition to the text of the treaty, protocol and annexes, the President will submit to the Senate a detailed analysis of the treaty.
  • The treaty will be referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, which under the Senate rules has exclusive jurisdiction over treaties.  If past practice on major arms control treaties is a guide, the Foreign Relations Committee will likely conduct several hearings on the New START Treaty.  The Committee held four hearings on the last such treaty, the Moscow Treaty, in 2002. 
  • Similarly, past practice suggests that other Senate committees, such as the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, may also conduct hearings and report their views to the Foreign Relations Committee, but the treaty would not be formally referred to those committees.
  • Once the Foreign Relations Committee has completed its review of the treaty, it would draft its recommendations for a resolution of advice and consent, which is the document by which the Senate approves treaties, and vote in a formal markup session.  Then it would file a detailed report with the Senate analyzing the treaty and the Committee’s findings resulting from its review.
  • Once the Committee reports the treaty to the Senate, it is placed on the Senate’s Executive Calendar.  Unlike bills, the decision of the Senate to begin consideration of a treaty (the motion to proceed) is not subject to a filibuster.
  • The Senate typically takes at least two or three days to consider a major treaty, and to vote on amendments to the resolution of advice and consent.
  • If approved, the treaty is then returned to the President, for the formal act of ratification. Specifically, he will sign an instrument of ratification. 
  • The treaty must also be approved by the Russian parliament, or Duma.  If both the Senate and the Duma approve the New START Treaty, it will enter into force on the date that the United States and Russia exchange the instruments of ratification.
  • Senate votes on recent major strategic arms control treaties:
    • Moscow Treaty (approved 2003):  95-0
      • START II (1996): 87-4
      • START I (1992): 93-6

On Ratification

Secretary of State Clinton: “Some of the time that had to be taken in order to really get the point where we both felt like we had the package necessary to go to our legislative bodies.”

“I believe that a vast majority of the Senate at the end of the day will see that this is in America's interest and it goes way beyond politics.”

“I'm not going to, you know, set any timetables, but we're confident that we'll be able to make the case for ratification.”

Secretary of Defense Gates: “Let me first say a word about ratification from my perspective. There has been a very intense continuing consultation on the Hill as the negotiations have proceeded. Two of the areas that have been of concern in the Senate, among senators: Are we protecting our ability to go forward with missile defense? And are we going to make the investment in our nuclear infrastructure so that the stockpile will remain reliable and safe?”

“We have addressed both of those. Missile defense is not constrained by this -- by this treaty. And we have in our budget, the president's budget that went to the Hill for F.Y. '11, almost $5 billion for [new] investment in the nuclear infrastructure and maintaining the stockpile. So I think we have addressed the concerns that there may have been on the Hill, and so I echo the sentiments of Secretary Clinton. I think the prospects are quite good.”

The Treaty reduces by about 30 percent the limit on the number of Russian nuclear weapons and helps us better track the remaining ones.  At the same time, the United States retains the nuclear force level we need to protect ourselves, as validated by the Defense Department’s planners through rigorous analysis in the Nuclear Posture Review. 
The principal U.S. objective in bilateral strategic arms control is to increase stability in the U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship at significantly lower levels of nuclear weapons.  The New START Treaty sets aggregate limits which are 56% lower than the limit for deployed strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and 74% lower than the limit for deployed warheads established in the 1991 START Treaty, which expired in December 2009.  The New START Treaty limit for deployed warheads will be 30% lower than the limit for deployed strategic warheads established under the 2002 Moscow Treaty, which the New START Treaty will supersede.  The New START Treaty provides the United States the flexibility to determine for ourselves the structure of our strategic forces within the aggregate limits of the Treaty.
The Central Limits of the New START Treaty are:

Deployed Warheads: 1,550
            All warheads emplaced on deployed ICBMs
                        and SLBMs are counted under this limit
            Deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments
                        are each counted with one warhead

Deployed and Non-Deployed Launchers and Heavy Bombers: 800
            Deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers
            Deployed and non-deployed SLBM launchers
            Deployed and non-deployed heavy bombers
                        equipped for nuclear armaments

Deployed Ballistic Missiles and Heavy Bombers: 700
            Deployed ICBMs
            Deployed SLBMs
            Deployed heavy bombers equipped for
                        nuclear armaments

Timetable for Limitations: Limits begin to apply seven years from the date the Treaty enters into force

Duration of Agreement: Ten years with an option to extend, if both sides agree, by no more than five years

5.    Strong verification measures are built into the New START Treaty so that we monitor compliance with the Treaty. 

The New START Treaty can be effectively verified with a verification regime that builds on lessons learned from 15 years of implementing START.  The regime, which will be simpler and less costly to implement than START, provides for data exchange and notifications regarding strategic systems and facilities covered by the Treaty, two types of on-site inspections, exhibitions, and as a transparency measure provides for the exchange of telemetric information.

  • NATIONAL TECHNICAL MEANS (NTM) – The Treaty provides for the use of and non-interference with national technical means of verification (e.g. satellites).  There are explicit provisions that prohibit interference with NTM and the use of concealment measures that may impede monitoring by NTM.  As in the 1991 START Treaty, the prohibition against concealment measures does not apply to cover or concealment practices at ICBM bases or to the use of environmental shelters.
  • DATA EXCHANGE AND NOTIFICATIONS – The sides will exchange data on numbers, locations, and technical characteristics of weapons systems and facilities that are subject to the Treaty and will provide regular notifications and updates.
  • ON-SITE INSPECTIONS – The Treaty provides for 18 on-site inspections per year.  There are two basic types of inspections.  Type One inspections focus on sites with deployed and non-deployed strategic systems; Type Two inspections focus on sites with only non-deployed strategic systems.  Permitted inspection activities include confirming the number of reentry vehicles on deployed ICBMs and deployed SLBMs, confirming numbers related to non-deployed launcher limits, counting nuclear weapons onboard or attached to deployed heavy bombers, confirming weapon system conversions or eliminations, and confirming facility eliminations.  Each side is allowed to conduct ten Type One inspections and eight Type Two inspections annually.
  • UNIQUE IDENTIFIERS – Each ICBM, SLBM, and heavy bomber will be assigned a unique identifier (number), which will be included in the applicable notifications and may be confirmed during inspections.
  • TELEMETRIC INFORMATION – During ICBM and SLBM flight tests, measurements of various technical parameters are made to monitor missile performance.  To enhance transparency and supplement verification provisions, the Parties have agreed to an annual exchange of telemetric information on a parity basis, for up to five ICBM and SLBM launches per year.
  • COMPLIANCE – The Treaty establishes the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC) as a compliance and implementation body that will meet at least twice each year, unless otherwise agreed.  Compliance or implementation questions may be raised by either Party in the BCC.


The New START Treaty ensures our own military the flexibility to deploy and maintain our forces – including bombers, submarines, and missiles – in ways that best meet U.S. national security interests.
An early task for the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) was to develop U.S. positions for the New START negotiations.  The Treaty’s lower strategic force levels are based on analysis conducted last year, at the initial phase of the 2010 NPR process, which also considered how U.S. forces should be structured at the levels established by the new agreement.  The NPR reached the following conclusions:

  • Stable deterrence can be maintained while reducing U.S. strategic delivery vehicles by about 50 percent from the START I level and reducing deployed strategic warheads by about 30 percent from the 2002 Moscow Treaty level. 
  • Contributions by non-nuclear systems to U.S. deterrence and reassurance goals should be preserved by avoiding limitations on missile defenses and preserving options for using heavy bombers or long-range missile systems in conventional roles.
  • During the ten-year duration of New START, the triad of ICBMs, SLBMs, and nuclear-capable heavy bombers will be maintained, keeping all 14 Ohio-class strategic submarines (SSBNs) in the force at least for the near term and “de-MIRVing” all Minuteman III ICBMs to a single warhead each to increase stability in a crisis. The FY 2011 budget request includes funds to sustain the Triad, including: continuing the Minuteman III life extension program; developing new technologies to replace the current fleet of Ohio-class SSBNs, which begin to retire in the 2027 timeframe; and investing over $1 billion over the next five years to support upgrades to the B-2 stealth bomber. 
  • The New START Treaty affirms the right of the United States to determine the composition and structure of our strategic offensive arms within the Treaty’s overall limits.  This allows the United States to adjust our force structure over time as appropriate to the strategic circumstances.  The Treaty limitations take effect seven years after the date the Treaty enters into force.

7.    Fact Sheet on U.S. Missile Defense Policy –A "Phased, Adaptive Approach" for Missile Defense in Europe

President Obama approved the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a phased, adaptive approach for missile defense in Europe.  This approach is based on an assessment of the Iranian missile threat, and a commitment to deploy technology that is proven, cost-effective, and adaptable to an evolving security environment.

Starting around 2011, this missile defense architecture will feature deployments of increasingly-capable sea- and land-based missile interceptors, primarily upgraded versions of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), and a range of sensors in Europe to defend against the growing ballistic missile threat from Iran.  This phased approach develops the capability to augment our current protection of the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats, and to offer more effective defenses against more near-term ballistic missile threats.  The plan provides for the defense of U.S. deployed forces, their families, and our Allies in Europe sooner and more comprehensively than the previous program, and involves more flexible and survivable systems.

The Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended to the President that he revise the previous Administration’s 2007 plan for missile defense in Europe as part of an ongoing comprehensive review of our missile defenses mandated by Congress.  Two major developments led to this unanimous recommended change:

New Threat Assessment:  The intelligence community now assesses that the threat from Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles is developing more rapidly than previously projected, while the threat of potential Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities has been slower to develop than previously estimated.  In the near-term, the greatest missile threats from Iran will be to U.S. Allies and partners, as well as to U.S. deployed personnel – military and civilian –and their accompanying families in the Middle East and in Europe.

Advances in Capabilities and Technologies:  Over the past several years, U.S. missile defense capabilities and technologies have advanced significantly.  We expect this trend to continue.  Improved interceptor capabilities, such as advanced versions of the SM-3, offer a more flexible, capable, and cost-effective architecture. Improved sensor technologies offer a variety of options to detect and track enemy missiles.

These changes in the threat as well as our capabilities and technologies underscore the need for an adaptable architecture. This architecture is responsive to the current threat, but could also incorporate relevant technologies quickly and cost-effectively to respond to evolving threats.  Accordingly, the Department of Defense has developed a four-phased, adaptive approach for missile defense in Europe.  While further advances of technology or future changes in the threat could modify the details or timing of later phases, current plans call for the following:

Phase One (in the 2011 timeframe) – Deploy current and proven missile defense systems available in the next two years, including the sea-based Aegis Weapon System, the SM-3 interceptor (Block IA), and sensors such as the forward-based Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system (AN/TPY-2), to address regional ballistic missile threats to Europe and our deployed personnel and their families;

Phase Two (in the 2015 timeframe) – After appropriate testing, deploy a more capable version of the SM-3 interceptor (Block IB) in both sea- and land-based configurations, and more advanced sensors, to expand the defended area against short- and medium-range missile threats;

Phase Three (in the 2018 timeframe) –  After development and testing are complete, deploy the more advanced SM-3 Block IIA variant currently under development, to counter short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missile threats; and 

Phase Four (in the 2020 timeframe) – After development and testing are complete, deploy the SM-3 Block IIB to help better cope with medium- and intermediate-range missiles and the potential future ICBM threat to the United States. 

Throughout all four phases, the United States also will be testing and updating a range of approaches for improving our sensors for missile defense.  The new distributed interceptor and sensor architecture also does not require a single, large, fixed European radar that was to be located in the Czech Republic; this approach also uses different interceptor technology than the previous program, removing the need for a single field of 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland.  Therefore, the Secretary of Defense recommended that the United States no longer plan to move forward with that architecture.

The Czech Republic and Poland, as close, strategic and steadfast Allies of the United States, will be central to our continued consultations with NATO Allies on our defense against the growing ballistic missile threat.

The phased, adaptive approach for missile defense in Europe:

  • Sustains U.S. homeland defense against long-range ballistic missile threats.  The deployment of an advanced version of the SM-3 interceptor in Phase Four of the approach would augment existing ground-based interceptors located in Alaska and California, which provide for the defense of the homeland against a potential ICBM threat. 
  • Speeds protection of U.S. deployed forces, civilian personnel, and their accompanying families against the near-term missile threat from Iran.  We would deploy current and proven technology by roughly 2011 – about six or seven years earlier than the previous plan – to help defend the regions in Europe most vulnerable to the Iranian short- and medium-range ballistic missile threat.
  • Ensures and enhances the protection of the territory and populations of all NATO Allies, in concert with their missile defense capabilities, against the current and growing ballistic missile threat.  Starting in 2011, the phased, adaptive approach would systematically increase the defended area as the threat is expected to grow.  In the 2018 timeframe, all of Europe could be protected by our collective missile defense architecture.
  • Deploys proven capabilities and technologies to meet current threats.  SM-3 (Block 1A) interceptors are deployed on Aegis ships today, and more advanced versions are in various stages of development.  Over the past four years, we have conducted a number of tests of the SM-3 IA, and it was the interceptor used in the successful engagement of a decaying satellite in February 2008.  Testing in 2008 showed that sensors we plan to field bring significant capabilities to the architecture, and additional, planned research and development over the next few years offers the potential for more diverse and more capable sensors.
  • Provides flexibility to upgrade and adjust the architecture, and to do so in a cost-effective manner, as the threat evolves.  Because of the lower per-interceptor costs and mobility of key elements of the architecture, we will be better postured to adapt this set of defenses to any changes in threat.

We will work with our Allies to integrate this architecture with NATO members’ missile defense capabilities, as well as with the emerging NATO command and control network that is under development.  One benefit of the phased, adaptive approach is that there is a high degree of flexibility – in addition to sea-based assets, there are many potential locations for the architecture’s land-based elements, some of which will be re-locatable.  We plan to deploy elements in northern and southern Europe and will be consulting closely at NATO with Allies on the specific deployment options.

We also welcome Russian cooperation to bring its missile defense capabilities into a broader defense of our common strategic interests.  We have repeatedly made clear to Russia that missile defense in Europe poses no threat to its strategic deterrent.  Rather, the purpose is to strengthen defenses against the growing Iranian missile threat.  There is no substitute for Iran complying with its international obligations regarding its nuclear program.  But ballistic missile defenses will address the threat from Iran’s ballistic missile programs, and diminish the coercive influence that Iran hopes to gain by continuing to develop these destabilizing capabilities.

Through the ongoing Department of Defense ballistic missile defense review, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff will continue to provide recommendations to the President that address other aspects of our ballistic missile defense capabilities and posture around the world.