Ballistic Missile Defense and New START Treaty

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation
April 8, 2010

[This fact sheet has been updated. See current version.]

Key Point: The New START Treaty does not contain any constraints on testing, development or deployment of current or planned U.S. missile defense programs or current or planned United States long-range conventional strike capabilities.

The United States is developing and fielding missile defenses to defend the United States, our forces abroad, and our allies and partners against the threat of ballistic missile attack.

The New START Treaty contains no limits on our ability to continue developing and fielding missile defenses. The Treaty does contain a statement in the preamble acknowledging the interrelationship of missile offense and missile defense, as President Obama and President Medvedev agreed in their Joint Statement of July 2009. This provision is not a binding obligation.

As was done in the case of START, Russia has made a unilateral statement regarding missile defenses. Its statement is not legally binding and therefore does not constrain U.S. missile defense programs. In fact, we have also made a unilateral statement, making clear that nothing in the Treaty will limit current or planned U.S. missile defense programs. Such unilateral statements are documents associated with the Treaty, but are not part of the Treaty. These statements will not be subject to Senate advice and consent, though they will be shared with the Senate.

The Treaty prohibits the conversion of ballistic missile defense interceptor launchers to intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or submarine- launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and vice versa. This provision has no effect on our ability to develop and field missile defenses.

  • The United States is currently building 14 Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) silos at Ft. Greely, Alaska. New construction of silo launchers for missile defense purposes at Ft. Greely, Vandenberg Air Force Base, or anywhere else is not limited by the New START Treaty.

  • The five existing GBI silos at Vandenberg Air Force Base, which were converted from ICBM silos prior to treaty signature, are grandfathered under the Treaty, and thus are not constrained by the Treaty.

The United States will continue to invest in improvements to both strategic and theater missile defenses, both qualitatively and quantitatively, as needed for our security and the security of our allies. The Administration’s approach to sustaining and enhancing our ballistic missile defense program is detailed in the February 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report and reflected in the FY 2011 $9.9 billion request for missile defense, almost $700 million more than FY 2010.