U.S. President Barack
Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev are expected to
review progress later this month on a follow-on treaty to replace the
Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I, that expires this
During a July summit meeting in Moscow, Presidents
Obama and Medvedev agreed on the basic principles of a treaty to
replace the existing START I accord that expires December 5.
than 1,000 pages long, the START agreement is one of the most complex
treaties in history dealing with reducing nuclear weapons. It was
signed in 1991 by U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush and Soviet
President Mikhail Gorbachev. It came into force in 1994.
say the United States has about 2,200 strategic nuclear warheads
deployed on approximately 1,000 delivery systems - land-based or
sea-based missiles and heavy bombers. Russia has approximately 2,700
strategic nuclear warheads deployed on about 700 delivery systems.
Andreasen, an arms control expert at the University of Minnesota, says
at their July summit, Presidents Obama and Medvedev sketched out the
parameters of a new accord to replace START I.
that in terms of strategic nuclear warheads to be limited, the two
sides would basically work to get to a range of 1,500 to 1,675 warheads
on both sides. And they also agreed that on the question of limiting
nuclear delivery vehicles, they would agree to limitations in a range
between 500 and 1,100," he said.
The START I treaty also established stringent and very intrusive verification procedures.
Miller, former senior official on the National Security staff under
President George W. Bush, says those provisions were a crucial part of
"They were extremely important, certainly to [U.S.
Senate] ratification," he said. "They overcame a long period of
distrust between the United States and the then Soviet Union because it
allowed each side to have greater confidence that the other side was
abiding by the rules in the treaty."
Many experts, including
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a
private research firm, say one of the key issues facing current U.S.
and Russian negotiators is verification.
"How many of the
verification and monitoring provisions from the existing START
agreement will be carried over in the future. Those provisions were
negotiated during a time when there was much less trust and
transparency between the two countries. Today, both sides agree that
fewer inspections are needed, fewer monitoring techniques are needed -
but they still need to agree on which ones," he said.
also say negotiators have to agree on so-called "counting rules" -
what strategic nuclear delivery systems will be counted in the new
accord and how many warheads will be attributed to those delivery
"The Russians want
to count delivery systems. The Americans would rather just count the
warheads. There will be some compromise in the end," said Daryl Kimball.
control negotiators are racing to get the treaty completed by the
December 5 deadline. To enter into force, the new pact will have to be
ratified by the Russian parliament - or Duma - and the U.S. Senate.
Former senior National Security official Frank Miller says it is doubtful the ratification deadlines will be met.
have talked with people on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations
committee and they suggest that it would take several months for the
Senate to organize itself and to hold proper hearings, which would
allow U.S. Senate advice and consent to the treaty, ratification of the
treaty. So we do face a prospect that the START treaty will expire
without a replacement actually being in place by December 5th," he said.
Miller looks at some alternatives available to negotiators.
if the parties are negotiating in good faith, they can agree that they
will continue the existing treaty in force, in a de facto if not de
jure manner, until the new treaty is in place," he explained. "They can
agree not to take any steps which would undercut the START I treaty and
the follow-on treaty that is being negotiated, until such time as the
follow-on treaty is ratified and in place."
Recent statements by
American and Russian officials indicate progress has been made since
Presidents Obama and Medvedev in July gave their negotiators the
parameters of a START I follow-on treaty.
But experts say it
is unclear whether the progress is enough to complete a new strategic
arms control pact by the end of the year.