About the Author: Jamie Mannina is a Special Assistant to Rose E. Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.
For a period of 15 years, U.S. weapons inspectors could travel to Russia and inspect its strategic nuclear forces under the terms of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START. Those inspections provided important data and information and established working relationships between U.S. and Russian officials, all of which helped lead to a more stable relationship between our two countries.
But the START Treaty expired last December and the United States lost its ability to conduct inspections inside the Russian Federation. Our inspectors have no access to look "under the hood" of Russia's nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles, according to a U.S. military official.
The New START Treaty, which the Senate is considering for approval, will restore crucial on-site inspection and verification measures.
The Treaty will impose lower limits on the world's two largest nuclear arsenals to levels not seen since the 1950s and put our countries on a path toward future deeper arms reductions.
The Treaty is focused on both countries' strategic offensive forces and will not prevent us from developing, testing, and deploying the most effective missile defenses and long-range conventional strike systems possible. The United States also will be free to modernize its nuclear weapons complex.
The bottom line is that the Treaty will enhance the national security of the United States and demonstrate our leadership in reducing global nuclear dangers.
Here are some key facts about the Treaty:
• 1,550 strategic warheads. Warheads on deployed ICBMs and deployed SLBMscount toward this limit and each deployed heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armaments counts as one warhead toward this limit.
This limit is 74 percent lower than the limit of the 1991 START Treaty and 30 percent lower than the upper 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.
Under the Treaty, each party has the flexibility to determine the structure of its strategic forces within the aggregate limits of the Treaty. The foundation for these negotiated limits was an analysis conducted by Department of Defense planners in support of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.
The Treaty has a strong verification regime that combines the appropriate elements of the 1991 START Treaty with new elements tailored to the limitations of the New START 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; unique identifiers on all ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers; 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.
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 U.S. long-range conventional strike capabilities.