U.S., Russia Complete START I Reductions

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THE UNITED STATES and Russia completed nuclear weapons reductions required by the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) on December 5, seven years after the accord entered into force.

Under the treaty, the two countries have reduced their strategic nuclear arsenals by more than 40 percent over the past decade, decommissioning more than 4,000 strategic warheads since exchanging baseline stockpile information in September 1990. Reductions were implemented under a comprehensive monitoring and verification regime that included periodic information exchanges and intrusive monitoring and inspection provisions.

The accord requires Washington and Moscow to deploy no more than 1,600 long-range missiles and strategic bombers and caps deployed strategic warheads at 6,000, using rules that slightly undercount the number of warheads actually deployed. In addition, the countries must meet sublimits on ICBMs and submarine-- launched ballistic missiles.

Signed by Presidents George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev in July 1991, START I was the first treaty to substantially reduce the number of strategic nuclear weapons deployed by the United States and Soviet Union. The accord built on the first strategic arms pact between the two superpowers, an interim agreement that emerged from the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks in the early 1970s and capped-but did not reduce-the countries' arsenals.

Shortly before leaving office, Bush also signed a START II agreement with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in January 1993. That agreement would have reduced U.S. and Russian arsenals to 3,500 deployed strategic warheads by 2007, but it has not entered into force, largely due to disagreements over U.S. national missile defense efforts.

In 1997 the United States and Russia also agreed to a framework for START III negotiations, which would have reduced the two sides' strategic arsenals to 2,500 warheads by 2007. …