U.S., Russian Perspectives on New START

May 13, 2010
Russian Ambassador Antonov and U.S. Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller in New York

About the Author: Rose Gottemoeller serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation.

On May 11 I had the opportunity to join Ambassador Anatoly Antonov of the Russian Federation at a U.S.-Russian-sponsored side event at the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York. Ambassador Antonov and I worked closely together negotiating the New START Treaty, which was signed April 8 in Prague by President Obama and President Medvedev. The discussion offered an opportunity to share some of our thoughts on the Treaty with other delegations to the NPT RevCon, and some of the many non-governmental groups that are participating in the conference. Afterward I also had the opportunity to speak with members of the press as well.

The New START Treaty, which President Obama will soon transmit to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification, limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads in the U.S. and Russian arsenals to the lowest level since the 1950s. The Treaty also includes a strong and effective verification regime, which further stabilizes the relationship between our two countries as well as reducing the risks of miscommunication or miscalculation.

This verifiable reduction by the world's two largest nuclear powers reflects a shared commitment to the basic bargain of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- all nations have the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, but they also have the responsibility to prevent nuclear proliferation, and those that do possess these weapons must work toward disarmament. The signing of the New START Treaty highlights the United States and Russian commitment to strengthening the international nonproliferation regime, of which the NPT is the cornerstone, to meet the new challenges and risks of the 21st century. By demonstrating the seriousness with which we treat our commitments under all three pillars of the NPT (nonproliferation, disarmament, peaceful use of nuclear energy), we hope to encourage other Parties to meet their own obligations.

The threat posed by nuclear weapons is global, making the disarmament steps that New START represents of interest to all nations. That is why Ambassador Antonov and I agreed to participate in Tuesday's event presenting our positions and discussing our commitments under the new treaty with the rest of the nearly 190 NPT Parties gathered at the U.N. this month, and highlighting the importance we place on transparency in this process. The New START Treaty is part of a larger agenda, in which the United States hopes to address strategic and non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed nuclear weapons in the bilateral context; eventually, we will move these efforts multilaterally in our pursuit to achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Just as nuclear proliferation threatens the whole world, the progress embodied by the New START Treaty is also relevant to all of us. I was heartened by the strong engagement evidenced by our audience, and by the quality and depth of the many questions posed by NGO and delegation representatives. They made clear that interest in New START extends far beyond the two nations that negotiated it, and makes me hopeful for the overall prospects for a productive and constructive NPT Review Conference this month.

Want to learn more?

Read the Joint Statement by the Delegations of the Russian Federation and the U.S. on New Start Treaty

Read about the first U.S. side event on disarmament

Read more about the New START Treaty

Watch Secretary Clinton's Opening Review Conference StatementPresident Obama's Statement on the start of the Review Conference

Remarks by President Obama in Prague

Visit our New START Homepage

Visit our NPT Homepage

Visit the UN's Review Conference Website



Steven S.
Missouri, USA
May 26, 2010

Steven S. in Missouri writes:

Dear Assistant Secretary of State Gottemoeller,

Congratulations on the completion of the START agreement and for your successful joint briefing with Ambassador Antonov at the NPT. I was in the audience that day, and you were kind enough to allow me to ask a question relating to the environmental consequences of nuclear war.

If you recall, I asked if you or the Ambassador were familiar with the recent studies that predict the detonation of less than 1% of the operational U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals would cause catastrophic changes in the global climate and massive destruction of the protective ozone layer. Since you indicated you had not seen this research, I would like to provide you with a couple links: see the January, 2010 Scientific American article, “Local Nuclear War, Global Suffering” at climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/RobockToonSciAmJan2010.pdf and the recent ICNND publication, “Catastrophic Climatic Consequences of Nuclear Conflict” at icnnd.org/research/Starr_Nuclear_Winter_Oct_09.pdf

The peer-reviewed studies referenced in these articles used the same NASA computer models employed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and they predict (with a high degree of certainty) that the environmental consequences of the detonation of the U.S. and Russian arsenals in conflict could cause most humans and large animal populations to die from famine.

I urge you to review this work and to discuss it with the Russians. It is a mistake to maintain thousands of strategic nuclear weapons on high-alert when we know that their use will eliminate our nations, as well as all other nations and peoples.

Best regards,
Steven S.


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