United States, Russia will sign Nuclear Arms Treaty
Marked by Significant Reductions in Strategic Missiles
Colleagues, President Barack Obama will meet with Russian President Dimitri Medvedev in Prague on April 8 to sign a new strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty that will mandate significant reductions in each country’s long range arsenals. The agreement replaces the 1991  START treaty that expired last December.
The new agreement requires each nation to reduce their intercontinental missile forces by about 30%, allowing the two countries to maintain about 1,500 warheads apiece. It limits deployed and non-deployed missile launchers and heavy bombers to 700 deployed–about half of which each nation now possesses.
Concerns about the new treaty are three-fold: (1) Does it restrict the U.S.’s ability to deploy effective missile defense systems; (2) Will we be able to maintain a safe and reliable force; (3) Is the Treaty verifiable.
A first glance at the proposed Treaty would indicate that the areas of concern will not impede the ratification of the agreement. The Joint Chiefs strongly endorsed both the reductions and ascertained the verifiability of the agreement. There does not seem to be any language restricting our missile defense efforts; indeed, that program is constrained more by a demonstrated lack of success to date (despite some impressive tests).
From my perspective, I think the Treaty serves America’s strategic interests quite well. Reducing the arsenal of nuclear weapons to 1,500 still gives us the theoretical possibility of blowing up the world some 100 times. We still maintain the three-legged Triad of delivery systems–ICBMs, bombers and submarine-launched intercontinental missiles. And we should be able to verify Russian reductions.
I am more concerned with the rhetoric accompanying this treaty, as Obama declared that this agreement represents “the start of a new effort’ toward a world without nuclear weapons. I think it would be a mistake for the United States to attempt to move towards zero in a world where our potential adversaries may possess convention force advantages. Further, I think we need to maintain the ability to develop and test existing and new nuclear weapons, something we haven’t done since 1992. The inventory, frankly, may not be as reliable as we might believe.
Finally, while the Treaty language I have seen does not make any side promises to Moscow, I would like assurances that the Administration has not made any pledges or “understandings” to Russia regarding our future intentions with respect to missile defenses, testing, and deployments of tactical nuclear weapons.
For those interested in reading further, I have appended below the official White House statement and backgrounder on the agreement. It reflects a little bit of giddiness over this Treaty, following the signing of the massive health care “reform”. Also, I like Secretary Clinton’s promise–and enthusiasm–about sending White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to Moscow to assist Medvedev in securing passage of the Treaty through the Russian parliament (Duma). Especially if it required a lengthy time away!


Office of the Press Secretary



March 25, 2010

Readout of the President’s call with Russian President Medvedev

In a phone call this morning, President Obama and President Medvedev agreed to meet in Prague, the Czech Republic, on Thursday, April 8, to sign the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures to Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the “New START Treaty”).

This landmark agreement advances the security of both nations, and reaffirms American and Russian leadership on behalf of nuclear security and global non-proliferation.  This was the 14th direct meeting or phone call between the Presidents addressing New START, and represents their shared commitment to “reset” U.S.-Russia relations so that we cooperate substantively and effectively on issues of mutual interest along many dimensions.

The new Treaty will contain limits on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces significantly below the levels established by the START treaty signed in 1991, and the Moscow Treaty signed in 2002.  The new START Treaty will specify limits of:

·         1,550 deployed warheads, which is about 30% lower than the upper warhead limit of the Moscow Treaty;

·         800 deployed and non-deployed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear weapons; and

·         700 for deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear weapons.

The New START treaty’s verification regime will provide the ability to monitor all aspects of the Treaty.  At the same time, the inspections and other verification procedures in this Treaty will be simpler and less costly to implement than the old START treaty.  In part, this is possible due to the experience and knowledge gained from 15 years of START implementation.

The Presidents agreed that the new Treaty demonstrates the continuing commitment of the United States and Russia – the world’s two largest nuclear powers – to reduce their nuclear arsenals consistent with their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Such actions invigorate our mutual efforts to strengthen the international nonproliferation regime and convince other countries to help curb proliferation.

As articulated by President Obama in his Prague speech one year ago, this Treaty is one of a series of concrete steps the United States will take to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons and to set the stage for further reductions in global nuclear stockpiles and materials.



Office of the Press Secretary



March 25, 2010

Key Facts about the New START Treaty

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.  The Protocol and Annexes will be integral parts of the Treaty and thus 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.



Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release                        March 26, 2010



James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

10:47 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  I just concluded a productive phone call with President Medvedev.  And I’m pleased to announce that after a year of intense negotiations, the United States and Russia have agreed to the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades.

Since taking office, one of my highest priorities has been addressing the threat posed by nuclear weapons to the American people.  And that’s why, last April in Prague, I stated America’s intention to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, a goal that’s been embraced by Presidents like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

While this aspiration will not be reached in the near future, I put forward a comprehensive agenda to pursue it — to stop the spread of these weapons; to secure vulnerable nuclear materials from terrorists; and to reduce nuclear arsenals.  A fundamental part of that effort was the negotiation of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

Furthermore, since I took office, I’ve been committed to a “reset” of our relationship with Russia.  When the United States and Russia can cooperate effectively, it advances the mutual interests of our two nations, and the security and prosperity of the wider world.  We’ve so far already worked together on Afghanistan.  We’ve coordinated our economic efforts through the G20.  We are working together to pressure Iran to meet its international obligations.  And today, we have reached agreement on one of my administration’s top national security priorities — a pivotal new arms control agreement.

In many ways, nuclear weapons represent both the darkest days of the Cold War, and the most troubling threats of our time.  Today, we’ve taken another step forward by — in leaving behind the legacy of the 20th century while building a more secure future for our children.  We’ve turned words into action.  We’ve made progress that is clear and concrete.  And we’ve demonstrated the importance of American leadership — and American partnership — on behalf of our own security, and the world’s.

Broadly speaking, the new START treaty makes progress in several areas.  It cuts — by about a third — the nuclear weapons that the United States and Russia will deploy.  It significantly reduces missiles and launchers.  It puts in place a strong and effective verification regime.  And it maintains the flexibility that we need to protect and advance our national security, and to guarantee our unwavering commitment to the security of our allies.

With this agreement, the United States and Russia — the two largest nuclear powers in the world — also send a clear signal that we intend to lead.  By upholding our own commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we strengthen our global efforts to stop the spread of these weapons, and to ensure that other nations meet their own responsibilities.

I’m pleased that almost one year to the day after my last trip to Prague, the Czech Republic — a close friend and ally of the United States — has agreed to host President Medvedev and me on April 8th, as we sign this historic treaty.  The following week, I look forward to hosting leaders from over 40 nations here in Washington, as we convene a summit to address how we can secure vulnerable nuclear materials so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.  And later this spring, the world will come together in New York to discuss how we can build on this progress, and continue to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime.

Through all these efforts, cooperation between the United States and Russia will be essential.  I want to thank President Medvedev for his personal and sustained leadership as we worked through this agreement.  We’ve had the opportunity to meet many times over the last year, and we both agree that we can serve the interests of our people through close cooperation.

I also want to thank my national security team, who did so much work to make this day possible.  That includes the leaders with me here today — Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, and Admiral Mullen.  And it includes a tireless negotiating team.  It took patience.  It took perseverance.  But we never gave up.  And as a result, the United States will be more secure, and the American people will be safer.

Finally, I look forward to continuing to work closely with Congress in the months ahead.  There is a long tradition of bipartisan leadership on arms control.  Presidents of both parties have recognized the necessity of securing and reducing these weapons.  Statesmen like George Shultz, Sam Nunn, Henry Kissinger, and Bill Perry have been outspoken in their support of more assertive action. Earlier this week, I met with my friends John Kerry and Dick Lugar to discuss this treaty, and throughout the morning, my administration will be consulting senators — my administration will be consulting senators from both parties as we prepare for what I hope will be a strong, bipartisan support to ratify the new START treaty.

With that, I’m going to leave you in the able hands of my Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, as well as Secretary of Defense Gates and Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen.  So I want to thank all of you for your attention.