The New START Treaty Fact Sheet

Feb 18, 2010

History of the START agreement

The original START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement between the United States and Russia expired on December 5, 2009. The treaty was originally negotiated in the 1980s and early 1990s under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush's presidencies, and it was ratified in the U.S. Senate in 1992.

The treaty allowed for inspections and information sharing between the U.S. and Russia for verification purposes. It also allowed for no more than 6,000 deployed nuclear weapons and no more than 1,600 delivery systems for each country. With the expiration of the treaty in December, the verification procedures also expired, making it necessary that the New START treaty be ratified as soon as possible, if verification were to continue.

Details of the new START follow-on agreement

As in the original START agreement, verification is a crucial element of the New START treaty. Many of the verification methods in the original treaty will be continued. Improved verification methods will be added. Examples of improved verification methods are information sharing regarding missile tests and on the ground inspections. It does not limit missile shield systems in either country.

The New START treaty sets limits on the number of deployed strategic weapons in each country. Each country is limited to 1,550 deployed strategic weapons, a 30 percent reduction from the "Moscow Treaty" signed with Russia in May 2002 - called SORT (Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty). SORT expires 2012.

Benefits of the START follow-on agreement

The New START treaty has strong bipartisan support. Various foreign policy experts support the agreement, including former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sam Nunn, former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, and former START negotiator Ambassador Linton Brooks

The treaty enjoys this support because it will make the United States safer, as it ensures continued inspections and verification and because it takes another step to further reduce the number of strategic weapons in U.S. and Russian arsenals.

Also, the New START treaty will help maintain a stable strategic relationship with Russia. Improved verification procedures and increased data sharing will build confidence that the nuclear threat has been reduced, improving the relationship between the two countries.

What is the status of the treaty now?

Russian President Medvedev and American President Obama signed the New START treaty on April 8, 2010 in Prague, Czech Republic. The treaty was submitted to the Senate in early May, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings in May and June. It is expected to be reported out of the Foreign Relations Committee before the Senate summer recess begins on August 6.

A total of 67 votes are required for ratification of the treaty by the Senate. Thus, bipartisan support is essential for the treaty's ratification.. Ratification is possible with your grassroots lobbying. Contact your senators to encourage them to support the New START treaty.

Reviewed: 07/27/10

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