U. S., Russia Sign Treaty Cutting Deployed Nuclear Forces

By Bleek, Philipp C. | Arms Control Today, June 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

U. S., Russia Sign Treaty Cutting Deployed Nuclear Forces

Bleek, Philipp C., Arms Control Today

AT THEIR MAY 24 summit meeting in Moscow, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed a treaty under which the United States and Russia will cut their deployed strategic nuclear forces to 1,700-- 2,200 warheads each-approximately a two-thirds reduction from current levels.

The agreement, the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, is the first strategic reductions pact signed by the two countries in almost a decade. It requires reductions in deployed forces substantially below the level of the START I agreement, and it effectively supersedes the START II accord, which never entered into force.

At a press conference following the signing ceremony, Bush said that the agreement "liquidates the Cold War legacy of nuclear hostility" between the United States and Russia. Putin was more reserved in his assessment, characterizing the accord as a "serious move ahead" but also noting that the two sides have agreed to continue their work toward resolving remaining differences.

The treaty marks the conclusion of a process begun November 13, when Bush announced that the United States would unilaterally reduce its "operationally deployed" strategic nuclear weapons to 1,700-- 2,200 and Putin said Russia would "try to respond in kind." (See ACT, December 2001.) Bush initially expressed skepticism about formalizing the reductions in a binding agreement. But Moscow insisted on such a pact, and in February Secretary of State Colin Powell announced the United States had agreed to codify the reductions. (See ACT, March 2002.)

Composed of fewer than 500 words-- a sharp contrast to START I's several hundred pages-the agreement does not define which strategic warheads it covers (deployed, reserve, or both), nor does it define how warheads are to be counted. However, the document references previous statements by Bush and Putin, including the November 13 announcement in which Bush said he intended to reduce the number of "operationally deployed" strategic weapons, suggesting the treaty covers only those warheads that are mated to their delivery vehicles and ready for launch.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has explicitly rejected that interpretation, noting in a May 22 statement that the treaty does not include the term "operationally deployed warheads" and that the treaty's implementation will be "tackled" in the Bilateral Implementation Commission called for by the treaty.

In the weeks prior to the summit, negotiations between the two sides had appeared to bog down as they wrangled over how much flexibility the treaty should allow. Russia had sought a START I-style approach that would have counted the maximum number of warheads that deployed missiles and bombers can carry, while the United States had insisted on counting only those warheads ready for immediate use. The U.S. approach provides considerably more leeway because warheads removed from multiple-warhead missiles and bomber-based weapons removed from operational storage bunkers can be counted as reductions even though they can be quickly redeployed.

The related issue of whether each side would have to destroy warheads and delivery vehicles removed from service was also contentious, with Russia publicly calling for the verifiable destruction of both warheads and delivery systems and the United States wanting to retain the option to store warheads removed from deployment.

The treaty makes no mention of the issue, effectively supporting the U.S. position. As Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, pointed out in a May 28 op-ed, "The treaty does not require the actual destruction of a single missile or warhead," a point other critics have also highlighted.

Although START I and START II did not call for warhead destruction, they did require the verifiable destruction of most delivery systems removed from service. And in 1997 Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin agreed to pursue a START III pact that would include "measures relating.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

U. S., Russia Sign Treaty Cutting Deployed Nuclear Forces


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?