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Diplomacy in Action

Future Nuclear Arms Control and Nonproliferation: New START and Beyond

Rose Gottemoeller
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation
Remarks at National Defense University, Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction 10th Annual Symposium
Washington, DC
May 5, 2010



Thank you. I am very pleased to be here and participate in your 10th annual symposium. It is exciting to do so at a time when there is much to discuss in the area of arms control and nonproliferation. The last twelve months, in particular, have been extremely eventful.

It was just over a year ago, on April 1, 2009, that President Obama and President Medvedev met in London and agreed to launch the negotiations toward a replacement treaty for START.

A little more than a year later, the New START Treaty and its Protocol were completed and the Presidents signed both at Prague on April 8. Soon, the Treaty, Protocol, and associated documents will be submitted formally to the United States Senate. I believe there is a very compelling case for this new strategic arms agreement and I expect the Senate to provide its advice and consent to ratification. The New START Treaty will ensure and maintain the strategic balance between the United States and Russia at lower, verifiable weapons levels, appropriate to the current security environment. It will promote strategic stability by ensuring transparency and predictability regarding U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces over the life of the Treaty. In sum, the New START Treaty will definitively strengthen U.S. national security.

New START Treaty

I would like to take a step back for a minute and discuss how we reached agreement with the Russian Federation on the New START Treaty.

Our work on this treaty began on the strong foundations established by the INF Treaty, the START Treaty, and the Moscow Treaty. Our many years of joint experience in implementing those treaties served as guiding principles as we negotiated this new Treaty.

This negotiation clearly benefitted from the experience and legacy of those earlier negotiations. Arms control treaties of the past were negotiated when we did not have the experience of having implemented START and INF under our belts. This experience helped enormously with the pace of negotiation. When our delegations sat across the table from each other, we had a better understanding of the other’s strategic focus. Many of the U.S. and Russian experts on our delegations were inspectors under START. Multiple times they had visited each others’ ICBM bases, SLBM bases, heavy bomber bases, and storage facilities. Communication lines are also well-established. For more than 22 years, the United States and Russia have communicated on START and INF through our respective Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers. And we speak each other’s languages. There were probably as many Russian speakers on the U.S. delegation as English speakers on the Russian delegation—many of them, again, from the cadre of inspectors.

This is not to say the negotiation was easy. Quite frankly, it was tough and there were difficult and challenging issues to resolve, including those that required direct intervention by our Presidents. Secretary Clinton also intervened multiple times with Minister Lavrov. And Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen played an important role at several critical junctures during the negotiations, meeting and speaking many times with his Russian counterpart General Makarov. Under Secretary Tauscher provided the negotiating team critical support throughout the negotiations.

There was a high degree of professionalism and expertise on both sides of the table, and the two teams were able to work together in a very intense and productive way. What we achieved is an agreement that mutually enhances the security of the Parties and provides predictability and stability in strategic offensive forces.

Details of the Treaty

I would like to walk through some of the main points of the new START Treaty:

  • The new treaty will limit deployed strategic warheads to 1550 on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, as well as those nuclear warheads counted for nuclear-capable heavy bombers. This is about 30 percent below the maximum of 2200 warheads permitted by the Moscow Treaty. When it is fully implemented, the treaty will result in the lowest number of deployed nuclear warheads since the 1950s, the first full decade of the nuclear age.

  • The treaty has a limit of 700 for deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and deployed nuclear-capable heavy bombers. This limit is more than 50 percent below the START limit of 1600 deployed strategic delivery vehicles.

  • There is a separate limit of 800 on the total number of deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and nuclear-capable heavy bombers.

The new Treaty gives each side’s military the flexibility to deploy and maintain its forces in ways that best meet each nation’s national security interests. We will maintain our triad of bombers, submarines and ICBMs for nuclear missions.

There are several ways in which this treaty takes us beyond where we were under START. With new and innovative provisions, this treaty is unique and appropriate for this era, a time that is very different from 1991 when President Bush and President Gorbachev signed START.

First, the counting rules in this treaty are a significant innovation. Under the new Treaty, the actual number of warheads carried on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs will be counted. As a significant step forward in information sharing, data on the aggregate number of warheads each Party deploys on ICBMs and SLBMs will be exchanged and made publicly available. Furthermore, since heavy bombers on both sides are no longer on alert, and no longer carry warheads on a day-to-day basis, we agreed on an attribution rule of one warhead per heavy bomber rather than counting heavy bombers at zero warheads. We agreed that an attribution rule was needed since these bombers have the capability to deliver nuclear weapons, even if they are not ready to do so on a day-to-day basis.

Second, the notifications required under the treaty will provide for a “living database,” which will be updated on a continuing basis throughout the life of the Treaty. The new Treaty puts in place a system for providing regular updates that will give us important insights into changes and shifts in Russian strategic forces as they move through their lifecycle from production to elimination. The New Treaty requires that each ICBM, SLBM and heavy bomber be assigned a unique identifier that will enable us to monitor individual systems over the life of the treaty.

Third, the treaty contains detailed provisions that supplement national technical means to form a strong and effective verification regime that will also reduce implementation costs and mitigate operational disruptions to strategic nuclear forces that each side experienced during the 15-year implementation of START. The regime calls for onsite inspections of both deployed and non-deployed systems at the same types of facilities that were subject to inspection under START and it includes exhibitions and demonstrations. The treaty allows for onsite inspections of reentry vehicles that are more intrusive than what we were able to do under START. We will be able to confirm the actual number of deployed warheads on a missile rather than just confirming there are no more than the number of warheads attributed, as was the case in START. This is important not only for verification of this treaty but it sets the stage for possible future agreements that may include looking at non-deployed warheads in storage facilities. This will be an increasingly critical part of verification as numbers of warheads are reduced.

The treaty provides for an exchange of telemetric information on up to five ballistic missile flight tests per year by each side. Exchanging telemetric data is not required to verify the provisions of the new Treaty, but exchanging such information is an important transparency measure under this treaty.

When we began this negotiation, we set out to ensure there would be no constraints on our current or planned ballistic missile defenses. I want to emphasize that the treaty in no way constrains development, testing, or deployment of our current or planned missile defense programs. We were completely successful in ensuring the Treaty would in no way impinge on our missile defense programs. In addition, our ability to develop and deploy global strike capabilities is also protected should we opt to pursue such capabilities.

A Look to the Future

As the NPT Review Conference gets underway in New York this week, the New START Treaty sets a powerful example of responsible U.S.-Russian leadership in managing and reducing our remaining nuclear arsenals. The United States and Russia control more than 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenal, and we know that the world looks to us for leadership in securing nuclear materials globally and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Thus, the new Treaty sets the stage for engaging other powers in fulfilling the goals of the NPT.

In his statement to the participants of the Review Conference President Obama reiterated the vision he first articulated in Prague a little over a year ago to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. “Building on our new START Treaty with Russia and our Nuclear Posture Review, which reaffirms the central importance of the NPT, the United States is meeting its responsibilities and setting the stage for further cuts,” he stated.

Secretary Clinton in her remarks at the Review Conference reaffirmed our commitment to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and noted we are ready to start multilateral negotiations on a verifiable Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.

In addition, the United States released newly declassified information on the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. As of September 30, 2009, the U.S. stockpile of nuclear weapons included 5,113 warheads, an 84 percent reduction from the stockpile’s maximum in 1967 and a more than 75 percent reduction since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In addition 8,748 nuclear warheads were dismantled between 1994 and 2009.

Increasing transparency of global nuclear stockpiles is important to non-proliferation efforts and to pursuing follow-on reductions after the ratification and entry into force of the New START Treaty.

Each of these steps moves us closer to President Obama’s vision of reducing – and ultimately eliminating – nuclear weapons.

There will be obstacles along the way; this work will be difficult, and will require enormous efforts from governments, NGOs, think tanks, academics, scientists and others to address the insecurities in many regions around the world that may lead some to seek nuclear weapons. But it is work in which all of us must engage. We do not want a world where there is even one more nuclear-armed country and we must also prevent terrorists from getting their hands on nuclear weapons.

The agenda is ambitious with a short term focus on ratifying the New START Treaty. Each of us has a role to play in these efforts and I look forward to working with all of you on this important agenda in the months and years ahead. But now I look forward to your questions and comments.

Thank you.

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