News

Verification Key Component of New START Treaty

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has begun ratification hearings on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty - or START. Our correspondent looks at a key element of the treaty - the verification provisions.

The New START Treaty, recently signed by Washington and Moscow, replaces the 1991 START I accord that expired last December.

The New START Treaty sets a limit of 1,550 deployed strategic - or long-range - nuclear warheads. It also sets a limit of 700 operationally deployed strategic nuclear delivery systems such as long-range launchers and heavy bombers.

The accord also provides for what the Obama administration calls strong verification measures - provisions that ensure each side complies with its treaty obligations.

During a recent appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described some of the specific verification provisions.

"For the first time to be able to look into and see the number of weapons that are on top of any particular missile, where we haven't been able to do that before," said Admiral Mullen. "We will be able to count weapons on bombers which we haven't been able to do before. We will be able to, in fact, confirm [military] facility elimination - there are very robust national technical means provisions in this treaty and a specific provision which does not permit interference with that. The unique identifier which will be on every single weapon is a brand new provision for verification."

But former Secretary of State James Baker, who negotiated much of the 1991 START I treaty, described to senators his view of the new provisions.

"This verification regime is nowhere near as intrusive and extensive as what we negotiated in START ," said James Baker. "It's my understanding that we only have 27 Russian nuclear facilities that we have to inspect under this treaty, whereas under START I we had 73."

In her appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed verification.

"We spent a lot of time on the inspections issue," said Hillary Clinton. "And I have to confess, at first, I wasn't quite sure what the numbers were. But then one of our very able negotiators showed me a map of all the sites in the former Soviet Union that we were inspecting. And then thanks to Senator [Richard] Lugar and other efforts, those sites have been closed, they have been shrunk, they have been dismantled because it wasn't just in Russia - it was in Kazakhstan and Belarus and other places."

Experts say today there are simply fewer Russian military installations to inspect.

Daryl Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, a private research firm:

"A superficial analysis of the two treaties' verification regimes might lead somebody to believe that the New START Treaty is not as robust as the old START Treaty," said Daryl Kimball. "But the reality is that verification systems are developed to monitor compliance with the limits that the treaty establishes. The START I treaty had a variety of sub-limits that required a variety of additional information exchanges and inspections. If we look at what is required to monitor this New START Treaty, we see a verification system that is modern, it's more focused on the task at hand and it's more than sufficient to make sure that each side is doing what they say they are supposed to be doing."

Frank Miller, former senior official on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush puts it this way:

"Verification is not a means in and of itself," said Frank Miller. "Verification is a mechanism by which to ensure that the treaty terms are being complied with. And so the verification regime, in any treaty, is tailored to the specifics of the treaty. It is not as intrusive as START I's verification regime but it doesn't have to be given the terms of the treaty to which it is applied."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee continues its hearings on the New START Treaty ahead of a full Senate ratification vote, expected later this year. Experts say lawmakers will closely scrutinize the verification provisions as they decide whether the new pact serves U.S. interests.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs