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START Treaty signed 20 years ago

July 31, 2011 - MOSCOW

The United States and the Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) on 31 Jul 1991. The pact called for the two countries to reduce their strategic nuclear forces over seven years to 1600 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and 6000 warheads, with no more than 4900 on ballistic missiles. The pact expired on 5 Dec 2009. Its successor, New START, has been signed and ratified ahead of the 20th anniversary. US Democratic President Barak Obama had made approval of New START treaty his top foreign policy priority for the waning days of the present Democrat-led Congress. Opposition to the principle of arms reduction, which underpins New START at a time when China is ramping up its military muscle held up ratification by the US Senate until Dec 22 in 2010. The Russian Federation Council, or the upper house of parliament, ratified it on 26 Jan.

The United States and the Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) on 31 Jul 1991. The pact called for the two countries to reduce their strategic nuclear forces over seven years to 1600 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and 6000 warheads, with no more than 4900 on ballistic missiles. The pact expired on 5 Dec 2009. Its successor, New START, has been signed and ratified ahead of the 20th anniversary. US Democratic President Barak Obama had made approval of New START treaty his top foreign policy priority for the waning days of the present Democrat-led Congress. Opposition to the principle of arms reduction, which underpins New START at a time when China is ramping up its military muscle held up ratification by the US Senate until Dec 22 in 2010. The Russian Federation Council, or the upper house of parliament, ratified it on 26 Jan. The endorsement of New START by former Republican President George H.W. Bush, who signed the START 1 pact with Russia in 1991, lends a prominent opposition Republican Party voice to the president's. Other influential Republicans have also come forward in support of ratification, but partisan politics could prevail. The Republican Party, which assumes majority control of the House of Representatives in January, opposes ratification and is eager to prevent the Democratic president from being able to claim victory of any kind during his administration. New START would oblige both nations to cap their fielded strategic nuclear weapons to 1550 warheads, down from the maximum of 2200 allowed each country by 2012 under the 2002 Moscow Treaty. The deal would also limit US and Russian deployed nuclear delivery vehicles to 700, with another 100 platforms allowed in reserve. The verification procedures of START I have been streamlined to do away with redundant monitoring procedures&mdashfor instance, ending the permanent monitoring at Votkinsk and reducing telemetry access. The New START does, however, call for more on-site inspections. A START II pact was signed but never ratified, and so died.

START treaties (Encyclopedia Britannica)

START has support of at least one George Bush (WP 9 Dec 2010)

Putin warns Russia will step up nuclear defense without new arms deal (CNN 1 Dec 2010)

National Review: Beijing's Build-up and New START (NPR 9 Dec 2011)

Russia's Opposition Lawmakers Rally Against "New START" (Global Security Newswire/Russia Today 12 Jul 2010) (

Obama's Russia reset is crucial for European security (Guardian 18 Nov 2010)

Obama & Colin Powell Push For Ratification of the New START Treaty (1 Dec 2010)

Date written/update: 2011-07-31