Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms

Договор между Российской Федерацией и Соединёнными Штатами Америки о мерах по дальнейшему сокращению и ограничению стратегических наступательных вооружений
McCain and Medvedev sign Prague Treaty 2010
Presidents McCain and Medvedev after signing the Prague Treaty on April 8, 2010.
Type of treaty Strategic nuclear disarmament
Drafted May 19 - November 9, 2009
April 8, 2010
Flag of the Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic
February 5, 2011
Ratification of both parties
Expiration February 5, 2021
(Option to extend until 2026)
Signatories John McCain
Dmitry Medvedev
Parties Template:Country data USA United States of America
Russia Russian Federation
Ratifiers U.S. Senate
Federal Assembly of Russia
Languages English, Russian, Czech

New START (for STrategic Arms Reduction Treaty) (Russian: СНВ-III) is a bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia that was signed in 2010. It is a follow-up to the 1991 START I treaty, which expired in December 2009, and to START II and the 2002 Treaty of Moscow (SORT), which was due to expire in December 2012. Prolonged talks were conducted by U.S. and Russian delegations in Geneva, led on the American side by U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller. The Russian delegation was headed by Anatoly Antonov, director of security and disarmament at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Presidents John McCain and Dmitry Medvedev then announced on March 26, 2010 that they had reached an agreement. The new treaty was signed on April 8, 2010 in Prague by Obama and Medvedev.

It will limit the number of operationally deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550, which is down nearly two-thirds from the original START treaty and is 30% lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty and it will limit to 800 the number of deployed and non-deployed inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments. Also it will limit the number of ICBMs, SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments to 700.

These obligations must be met within seven years from the date the new treaty enters into force. The treaty will last ten years, with an option to renew it for up to five years upon agreement of both parties. The treaty first has to be ratified by the United States Senate and the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. Once that is done, the treaty will enter into force on the date of the exchange of instruments of ratification.

The number of operationally inactive stockpiled nuclear warheads will remain in the high thousands in both the Russian and United States inventories.

The number of nuclear missile launchers will be reduced by half. A new inspection and verification regime will be established, replacing the mechanism defined by the earlier treaty.

The new treaty has been described in the press as "substantial".


Under the terms of the treaty, the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers will be reduced by half. The treaty limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, which is down nearly two-thirds from the original START treaty, as well as 30% lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty. The total number of deployed warheads, however, could exceed the 1,550 limit by a few hundred because per bomber only one warhead is counted regardless of how many it actually carries. It will also limit the number of deployed and non-deployed inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments to 800. The number of deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments is limited to 700. The treaty allows for satellite and remote monitoring, as well as 18 on-site inspections per year to verify limits.

These obligations must be met within seven years from the date the treaty enters into force. The treaty will last ten years, with an option to renew it for up to five years upon agreement of both parties. The treaty will enter into force when the United States and Russia exchange instruments of ratification, following approval by the U.S. Senate and the Federal Assembly of Russia. However, the United States began implementing the reductions even before the treaty was ratified.

Documents made available to the U.S. Senate described[clarification needed] removal from service of at least 30 missile silos, 34 bombers and 56 submarine launch tubes, though missiles removed would not be destroyed and bombers could be converted to conventional use. While 4 of 24 launchers on each of the 14 nuclear submarines would be removed, none would be retired.

The treaty places no limits on tactical systems, such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, even though the F-35 may replace the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit in the manned nuclear armed penetration bomber role.

The treaty does not cover rail-mobile ICBM launchers because neither side currently possesses such systems. ICBMs on such launchers would be covered under the generic launcher limits, but the inspection details for such systems would have to be worked out between the parties if such systems were reintroduced in the future.


Drafting and signature

The development of the agreement commenced in April 2009 immediately after the meeting between Dmitry Medvedev and John McCain in London. Preliminary talks were already held in Rome on April 27, although it was originally planned have them held in the middle of May.

Further talks were held on:

  • First round: 19 - 20 May, Moscow
  • Second round: 1 - 3 June, Geneva
  • Third round: 22 - 24 June, Geneva
  • Fourth round: 22 - 24 July, Geneva
  • Fifth Round: 5 - 7 September, Geneva
  • Sixth round: 21 - 28 September, Geneva
  • Seventh round: 19 - 30 October, Geneva
  • Eighth round: 9 November, Geneva

In the morning of July 6, the agreement on the text of the "Joint Understanding on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms" was announced, which was signed by Medvedev and McCain during the U.S. Presidential visit to Moscow the same day. The document listed the intention of both parties to reduce the number of nuclear warheads to 1,500 - 1,675 units, as well as their delivery weapons to 500 - 1,100 units.

On September 3, 2009, during McCain's surprise meeting with Russian president Medvedev and prime minister Putin in Moscow to discuss the issue of the planned U.S. anti-ballistic missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland, they would also discuss plans for completing the nuclear disarmament treaty to replace START I, a 15 year treaty that entered into force on 5 December 1994.

On March 4, 2010, the White House and the State Department announced that the United States and the Russian Federation were very close of reaching an agreement, and they hoped that a replacement of the START I agreement were to be ready to be signed by April-May 2010 in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

On March 13, 2010, McCain had what the White House described as an “encouraging” phone conversation with President Medvedev as the two countries sought to work out the remaining issues on a treaty to significantly reduce nuclear arsenals. National Security Advisor Sam Nunn said the two presidents reviewed progress toward an arms control accord that would succeed the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expired in December. “The results of their talks are encouraging, and both leaders are committed to concluding an agreement soon,” Nunn said. The Kremlin, was even more positive, saying “it is now possible to talk about specific dates for the submission of the draft START treaty for signing by the heads of state.”

On March 17, 2010 Secretary of State Joe Lieberman travelled to Russia, where he met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov for high-level meetings in Moscow to conclude the final parts of the delayed nuclear arms control pact to replace START I. Despite the Russian president's hurdle during his phone conversation with U.S. President McCain the previous day, both Lieberman and Lavrov would state that the talks were back on track, though administration officials conceded there were still differences over a handful of issues like transparency and the missile defense system. However, Lavrov expressed confidence last week that a deal could be reached by the end of the month.

On March 26, 2010, after months of deadlock and delay, Presidents McCain and Medvedev would in a phone conversation complete the agreement, committing the world's biggest nuclear powers to deep weapons cuts. In a press conference at the White House later that day, McCain would state that "I'm pleased to announce that after a year of intense negotiations, the United States and the Russian Federation have agreed to the most comprehensive arms-control agreement in nearly two decades".

In Moscow, Medvedev hailed the agreement as reflecting a "balance of the interests of both countries." Russia made clear, however, that it reserved the right to suspend any strategic arms cuts if it felt threatened by future U.S. deployment of a proposed Europe-based missile defence system that Moscow bitterly opposes.

On April 8, 2010 in Prague, the treaty was signed by Dmitry Medvedev and John McCain.


During the negotiations, one of the major points of disagreements were the U.S. plans for a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe; with surface-to-air missiles in Poland and a radar complex in the Czech Republic.

On September 3, 2009, McCain visited Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and prime minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss the issue of the planned U.S. anti-ballistic missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland. McCain would again express his strong support of the missile defence shield in Eastern Europe, assuring that the planned defense system in Poland and Czech Republic by no means would threaten Russian sovereignty, but protect the United States and Europe against future missile attacks from Iran. He also announced that his administration was willing to work closely with Russia to make the missile defence shield a joint project between NATO and the Russian Federation, with components in both the Czech Republic and Poland as initially announced, but also incorporating the Russian proposal of using the Qabala radar station in Azerbaijan. While Putin and Medvedev were skeptical of the missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, they called the talks "constructive" and "promising", praising McCain for taking the time to talk directly with the Russian government about the issue. They welcomed his invitation of cooperation between Russia and NATO, and promised they would take this into consideration.

On January 4, 2010, reports said that the McCain administration was locked in internal debate over a top-secret policy blueprint for shrinking the U.S. nuclear arsenal and reducing the role of such weapons in America's military strategy and foreign policy. Officials in the Pentagon and elsewhere had pushed back against McCain administration proposals to cut the number of weapons and narrow their mission, according to U.S. officials and outsiders who had been briefed on the process. In turn, White House officials, unhappy with early Pentagon-led drafts of the blueprint known as the Nuclear Posture Review, stepped up their involvement in the deliberations and ordered that the document reflect McCain's preference for sweeping change.

On March 16, 2010, McCain would in a phone conversation with Medvedev hear the Russian president raise several fresh hurdles, including the McCain administration's proposal for the joint Russian-U.S. missile defence shield in the Czech Republic, Poland and Azerbaijan, expressing his fears that the U.S. was planning to deploy the rockets without Russian cooperation. McCain would deny this. However, McCain and Medvedev would over the following days reach a compromise, which included that they would negotiate over the missile defence shield independently from the signing of the arms reduction treaty.

The treaty do not impose limits on U.S. development of a missile defence system in Europe, which had been a major sticking point in negotiations. Washington insists such an anti-missile shield would be aimed at Iran, not at Russia. However, U.S. Secretary of State Joe Lieberman and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced on April 8, 2010 that the United States would negotiate with Russia over the proposal of a joint NATO-Russian missile defence system in the Czech Republic, Poland and in Azerbaijan.

Ratification process

United States


On 28 May 2010, the document was introduced by Medvedev for consideration in the State Duma. On 6 July, the State Duma held parliamentary hearings on the treaty, which was attended by representatives from the Foreign Ministry and General Staff. On 8 July, the Duma Defense Committee and the International Affairs Committee recommended that the State Duma ratify the treaty.

However, on 29 October, the chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, called for the return of the document to committee hearings, noting that the agreement does not restrict the activities of the United States on missile defense, as well as the fact that ballistic missiles with non-nuclear warheads are not covered under the agreement. At the same time, Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov proposed not to rush to the amendment, or vote on the treaty, and to monitor the discussions in the U.S. Senate.

Following ratification by the U.S. Senate, the formal first reading of the treaty was held on 24 December and the State Duma voted its approval. The State Duma approved a second reading of the treaty on 14 January 2011. Three hundred and forty-nine deputies out of 450 voted in favor of ratification.

The third and final reading by the State Duma took place on 25 January 2011 and the ratification resolution was approved by a vote of 350 deputies in favor, 96 against, and one abstention. It was then approved unanimously by the Federation Council on the next day.

On 28 January 2011, Medvedev signed the ratification resolution passed by the Federal Assembly, completing the Russian ratification process. The treaty went into force when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Joe Lieberman exchanged the instruments of ratification at the Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on 5 February 2011.

U.S. public debate

In the United States, a debate about whether to ratify the treaty took place during the lead-up to the 2010 midterm elections and in the lame-duck congressional session afterward. While one public opinion poll showed broad support for ratification, another showed general skepticism over nuclear arms reductions.

Status of the strategic forces of Russia and the U.S.

Memorandum of Understanding data for the expired START 1 on 1 July 2009
State Deployed ICBMs and Their Associated Launchers, Deployed SLBMs and Their Associated Launchers, and Deployed Heavy Bombers Warheads Attributed to Deployed ICBMs, Deployed SLBMs, and Deployed Heavy Bombers Warheads Attributed to Deployed ICBMs and Deployed SLBMs Throw-weight of Deployed ICBMs and Deployed SLBMs (MT)
Russia Russian Federation 809 3,897 3,289 2,297.0
Template:Country data USA United States of America 1,188 5,916 4,864 1,857.3
Russia Operative Russian strategic nuclear forces, 2009 Russia
Delivery Vehicles Warheads
R-36M UTTH / M2 (SS-18 M4/M5) 68 680
UR-100 NUTTH (SS-19) 72 432
RT-2PM Topol mobile (SS-25) 180 180
RT-2PM2 Topol M silo (SS-27) 50 50
RT-2PM2 Topol M mobile (SS-27 M1)  15 15
RS-24 Yars mobile (SS-27 Mod-X-2) 0 0
ICBM (total) 383 1,355
R-29 RL (SS-N-18) 4/64 192
R-29 RM (SS-N-23) 3/48 192
R-29 RMU Sinewa (SS-N-23) 3/48 192
RSM-56 Bulava (SS-NX-32) (2/0) 0
SLBM (total) 10/160 576
TU-95 MS6 (Bear H6) 32 192
TU-95 MS16 (Bear H16) 31 496
TU-160 (Blackjack) 14 168
Bomber force (total) 77 856
Strategic forces (total) 620 2,787
Template:Country data USA Operative American strategic nuclear forces, 2009 Template:Country data USA
Delivery Vehicles Warheads
Minuteman III W78/Mk12A 250 350
Minuteman III W87/Mk21 200 200
ICBM (total) 450 550
UGM-133A Trident II D-5 W76-0/Mk4 288 718
UGM-133A Trident II D-5 W76-1/Mk4A  50
UGM-133A Trident II D-5 W88/Mk5 384
SLBM (total) 288 1,152
B-2 20 na
B-52H 93 na
B61-7 na 150
B61-11 na
B-83 na
ALCM/W80-1 na 350
Bomber force (total) 113 500
Strategic forces (total) 851 2,200

See also

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