US and Russia Continue Negotiations for New START treaty

 In Nuclear Weapons

This weekend, the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the US and Russia expired, but negotiators for both countries are working hard to finalize a new treaty, or “New START,” on verifiable nuclear weapons reductions by the end of the month. On Friday, the US and Russia issued this simple Joint Statement to help address concerns over the expiration of the treaty and its verification and inspection provisions:

Recognizing our mutual determination to support strategic stability between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, we express our commitment, as a matter of principle, to continue to work together in the spirit of the START Treaty following its expiration, as well as our firm intention to ensure that a new treaty on strategic arms enter into force at the earliest possible date.

Back in July, President Obama and Russia President Medvedev issued a Joint Statement laying out the parameters of New START:

On July 6, Presidents Medvedev and Obama signed a Joint Understanding to guide the remainder of the negotiations.  The Joint Understanding commits the United States and Russia to reduce their strategic warheads to a range of 1500-1675, and their strategic delivery vehicles to a range of 500-1100.  Under the expiring START and the Moscow treaties the maximum allowable levels of warheads is 2200 and the maximum allowable level of launch vehicles is 1600.

These numbers reflect a new level of reductions of strategic offensive arms and delivery vehicles that will be lower than those in any existing arms control agreements.  The new treaty will include effective verification measures drawn from the experience of the Parties in implementing START.  The new agreement will enhance the security of both the U.S. and Russia, as well as provide predictability and stability in strategic offensive forces. A follow-on agreement to START directly supports the goals outlined by the President during his speech in Prague and will demonstrate Russian and American leadership in strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Once New START is finalized, Presidents Obama and Medvedev will need to sign it, and the treaty will be sent to the US Senate and the Russian Duma for ratification. Treaty ratification requires a super-majority of 67 votes for approval in the senate, which means a minimum of 7 Republican senators will have to support the new treaty.

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