New START Implementation

Rose Gottemoeller
Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security 
Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
June 21, 2012

As prepared

Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, and members of the Foreign Relations Committee, thank you for this opportunity to provide an update on the implementation of the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START). 

As you know, New START celebrated its first birthday this past February. Its ratification and entry into force would not have been possible without the strong bipartisan support of this body. We are grateful to senators on both sides of the aisle for supporting a treaty that has done so much to strengthen global and national security.

When the Treaty is fully implemented, it will result in the lowest number of deployed nuclear warheads since the 1950s, the first full decade of the nuclear age: 1550 warheads deployed on 700 delivery vehicles, that is, intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and bombers.[1] To illustrate the great distance we have traveled in reducing our nuclear weapons, I would like to mention that when the START Treaty was signed in July 1991, the United States and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) each deployed approximately 10,500 nuclear warheads.

The current implementation process is providing ongoing transparency and predictability regarding the world’s two largest deployed nuclear arsenals, while preserving our ability to maintain the strong nuclear deterrent that remains an essential element of U.S. national security and the security of our allies and friends.

The verification regime for New START is a detailed and extensive set of data exchanges and timely notifications covering all strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the Treaty, as well as on-site inspections, exhibitions, restrictions on where specified items may be located, and additional transparency measures.

In negotiating the Treaty, both sides worked hard to find innovative new mechanisms to aid in the verification of the Treaty and the results of that work are already evident. The regime provides for effective verification and, at the same time, is simpler to implement and lessens disruptions to the day-to-day operations of both sides’ strategic forces.

These verification mechanisms are enabling us to monitor and inspect Russia’s strategic nuclear forces to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Treaty. For both the United States and Russia, accurate and timely knowledge of each other’s nuclear forces helps to prevent the risks of misunderstandings, mistrust, and worst-case analysis and policymaking.

To date, the implementation process has been positive and pragmatic. Under New START, we are continuing the professional working relationship that was established during the negotiation process in Geneva.

In the first Treaty year, the United States and the Russian Federation kept pace with each other on conducting inspections. Both Parties conducted the yearly maximum of 18 inspections. So far this Treaty year, the Russian Federation has conducted 8 inspections and the United States has conducted 7 inspections. These inspections have taken place at intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), and heavy bomber bases; storage facilities; conversion or elimination facilities; and test ranges.

Through inspection activities, we have acquired new and valuable information. For example, New START includes intrusive reentry vehicle inspections that are designed to confirm the exact number of reentry vehicles (or warheads) on individual missiles selected for inspection. We are now able to confirm the actual number of warheads on any randomly selected Russian ICBM and SLBM – something we were not able to do under the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

Another new feature in the New START is that each ICBM, SLBM, and heavy bomber has been assigned a unique identifier (UIDs) – a license plate, if you will. These UIDs are helping both sides with a “cradle to grave” tracking of the location and status of strategic offensive arms from arrival at an operating base, movement between facilities, changes in deployment status, maintenance or storage, to eventual conversion or elimination.

Another aspect of Treaty implementation is the exhibition process. The purpose of exhibitions is to demonstrate distinguishing features, to confirm technical characteristics of new types, and to demonstrate the results of conversion of the first item of each type of strategic offensive arms subject to this Treaty. These exhibitions provide both Parties with an opportunity to see new types of strategic offensive arms, view distinguishing features, and confirm declared data. These exhibitions assist in the conduct of on-site inspections. They also serve to enhance transparency and provide a better understanding of each other’s systems.

Both sides have conducted delivery vehicle exhibitions. In March 2011, the United States conducted exhibitions of its B-1B and B-2A heavy bombers. Following that, the Russian Federation conducted exhibitions of its RS-24 ICBM and associated mobile launcher. That was the first time we had a chance to see the RS-24, the new Russian mobile missile with multiple warheads. This exhibition provided us with a great amount of information we would have not otherwise had.

In March 2012, the United States conducted the first of four one-time cruise missile submarine (SSGN) exhibitions. The purpose of these exhibitions is to confirm that the launchers on these submarines are incapable of launching SLBMs.

The United States and the Russian Federation have also been sharing a veritable mountain of data with each other. Since entry into force, we have exchanged over 2,500 notifications through our Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers (NRRC). These notifications help to track movement and changes in the status of systems. For example, a notification is sent every time a heavy bomber is moved out of its home base for more than 24 hours. Additionally, when the United States conducts a flight test of an ICBM or SLBM, the NRRC will notify the Russian National Center one day in advance of the flight test. The Russians provide the same information for their launches. Our center receives from the Russian NRRC the incoming notification via our secure government-to-government communications link. We translate it, make secure telephonic alerts, and issue a State Department cable to concerned U.S. agencies within one hour.

On top of the individual notifications, we exchange a comprehensive database of strategic forces covered by the Treaty every six months. This full account combines with the notifications to create a living, growing document that continuously tracks each side’s strategic nuclear forces.

These data exchanges are providing us with an even more detailed picture of Russian strategic forces than we were able to obtain from earlier exchanges and the inspections allow us to confirm the validity of that data. Of course, the verification regime is backed up by our own National Technical Means of verification, our satellites and other monitoring platforms.

Another feature of the New START Treaty implementation process is the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC). This compliance and implementation body has met three times since entry into force. The BCC has produced Joint Statements and agreements, memorializing shared understandings of technical issues related to implementation activities. As in the implementation of the Treaty overall the environment in the BCC has been one of practical problem-solving on both sides of the table.

The latest session of the BCC was held in Geneva from January 24 to February 7, 2012. During the session, both sides continued their discussion on practical issues related to the implementation of the Treaty. The United States and the Russian Federation reached agreement there on an outstanding issue from the negotiations- the exchange of telemetric information on an agreed number of ICBM and SLBM launches and the procedures for conducting demonstrations of recording media and/or telemetric information playback equipment. Since this agreement, both the United States and the Russian Federation have conducted demonstrations of telemetric information playback equipment and recording media to be used during telemetry exchanges. Telemetric information was exchanged between the Parties on April 6, 2012.

Our experience so far is demonstrating that the New START’s verification regime works, and will help to push the door open to new, more complicated verification techniques for the future. Verification will be crucial to any future nuclear reduction plans and the United States has made it clear that we are committed to continuing a step-by-step process to reduce the overall number of nuclear weapons.

Further, the outstanding working relationship that developed during the negotiations has carried over into the implementation phase, creating an atmosphere of bilateral cooperation to resolve implementation questions as they have arisen. We look forward to reporting further success and additional updates as New START implementation progresses.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak and I look forward to your questions.

[1] The Treaty’s central limits are as follows: 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and deployed heavy bombers; 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs and nuclear warheads counted for deployed heavy bombers; and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers.