"The ratification today by a vote of 71-26 in the US Senate of the bilateral New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) between Russia and the United States marks an historic step forward in the global elimination of nuclear weapons,” stated Dr. Paul Walker, director of the Security and Sustainability Program of Global Green USA. “While almost two years in the making, this new decrease in dangerous and costly nuclear arsenals sets the stage for not only improved Russian-American relations, but also for much more effective global nonproliferation policies.” The United States and Russia signed New START on April 8, 2010, one year after formal negotiations began under the new Obama Administration. The treaty reduces both Russian and US strategic nuclear forces to no more than 1,550 nuclear warheads deployed on 700 missiles and bombers and re-establishes a bilateral, on-site inspection and verification regime in both countries. The New START agreement will now also provide up to 18 on-site inspections annually, including direct monitoring of nuclear warheads, never before allowed.
The original START I treaty, signed by Russia and the United States on July 31, 1991, entered into force on December 5, 1994. It expired fifteen years later on December 5, 2009, ending the bilateral on-site inspection regime which had built confidence and transparency between both countries over this period. “Once the Russian Federation Council also ratifies New START, likely in the next few months, this arms control treaty will renew the mutual trust building measures on which nuclear reductions have long been based,” Walker stated. “The verification gap of the past year will now be eliminated, one major step in improving East-West relations, integrating Russia into NATO, and negotiating deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals in the future.”
“We applaud the American negotiating team, including US lead negotiator Rose Gottemoeller, and the leadership of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and Ranking Minority Member Richard Lugar for their bipartisan guidance in facilitating New START through 20 or more congressional hearings and over 1,000 formal questions from legislators this year,” Walker stated.
The New START accord follows five prior bilateral strategic arms agreements – SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) I and II in 1972 and 1979, START I and II in 1991 and 1993, and the SORT (Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty or “Moscow Treaty”) agreement in 2002. Two of these – SALT II and START II – never fully entered into force due to political complications in both the US and Soviet Union/Russia.
Global Green USA is the US national affiliate of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross International. The Security and Sustainability Program (formerly called the Legacy of the Cold War Program) has worked for over 15 years to advocate and facilitate safe and sound elimination of all weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, chemical, and biological – and has promoted threat reduction, nonproliferation, and Global Partnership programs internationally.