On December 22 the United States Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). This was an essential step as we work in parallel with Russia to bring the Treaty into force. The next step will be approval by the Russian Duma and Federal Council, followed by exchange of Instruments of ratification, upon which the Treaty immediately enters into force.
The United States Senate approved the Resolution of Advice and Consent by a vote of 71 to 26. The Senate Resolution includes conditions, understandings and declarations that direct the President to consult with the Senate in certain circumstances and to make certain certifications or reports to the Senate, and contain interpretive statements that clarify but do not change the provisions of the Treaty nor create any new obligations. This was an absolute red line for us.
Twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union and the United States each had about 25,000 nuclear warheads. In the decades since, that number has been reduced by over 70 percent. That progress would not have been possible without strategic arms control treaties.
The New START Treaty is a continuation of the international arms control and nonproliferation framework that the United States and the Soviet Union, and now the Russian Federation, have worked hard to foster and strengthen.
When the New START Treaty is fully implemented, it will result in the lowest number of deployed nuclear warheads since the 1950s. Further, the limits on deployed and non-deployed ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers that can carry nuclear warheads will be well below previous limits.
Since the expiration of the original START Treaty on December 5, 2009, the United States and Russia have not exchanged data on strategic forces and there have been no inspections of each other’s strategic nuclear bases. These activities are critical for strategic stability and predictability between our two nations. With the entry into force of the New START Treaty, data exchanges and on-site inspections can resume.
Prompt approval of the New START Treaty in the Russian legislature will help promote strategic stability between the two leading nuclear powers, bolster international security by demonstrating our unwavering commitment to reducing the risk of a nuclear incident, and strengthen the role of our two nations in reducing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The United States and Russia control more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. By providing stability and transparency to the relationship between the United States and Russia at lower levels of nuclear forces, we give tangible evidence of the commitment by our nations to the objectives concerning nuclear disarmament expressed in Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The United States awaits the completion of the Russian Federation’s ratification procedures. We look forward to bringing the Treaty into force and working with Russia on its successful implementation.