This report is submitted in accordance with Section 1237(d)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (Public Law 116-92).
The New START Treaty entered into force on February 5, 2011. Both parties to the New START Treaty have successfully complied with the treaty’s central limits since those limits took effect on February 5, 2018:
i. 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers;
ii. 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs and warheads counted for deployed heavy bombers; and
iii. 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers.
This is reflected in the aggregate forces data exchanged by the parties, most recently in September 2019:
NEW START TREATY AGGREGATE NUMBERS OF STRATEGIC OFFENSIVE ARMS (as of September 1, 2019)
|Category of Data||United States of America||Russian Federation|
|Deployed ICBMs, Deployed SLBMs, and Deployed Heavy Bombers||668||513|
|Warheads on Deployed ICBMs, on Deployed SLBMs, and Nuclear Warheads Counted for Deployed Heavy Bombers||1,376||1,426|
|Deployed and Non-deployed Launchers of ICBMs, Deployed and Non-deployed Launchers of SLBMs, and Deployed and Non-deployed Heavy Bombers||800||757|
WHETHER THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION REMAINS IN COMPLIANCE
WITH ITS OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE NEW START TREATY
Based on the information available as of the date of this report, the United States assesses the Russian Federation to be in compliance with its obligations under the New START Treaty, although the United States has raised some implementation-related questions with the Russian Federation through diplomatic channels and in the context of the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC). Discussions of these questions are ongoing, and the substance of the questions is described in the classified version of each year’s implementation report prepared pursuant to section (a)(10) of the Senate’s Resolution on Advice and Consent to New START. The New START Treaty established the BCC to promote the objectives and implementation of the provisions of the treaty. This forum for discussing questions relating to implementation and compliance consists of members from both the United States and the Russian Federation and meets twice annually.
WHETHER CONTINUING IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NEW START
TREATY REMAINS IN THE NATIONAL SECURITY INTERESTS
OF THE UNITED STATES
The New START Treaty’s limitations on the size of the strategic nuclear force that the Russian Federation can deploy and the verification regime established by the treaty both regulate competition and provide key data, information, and insights regarding Russian strategic nuclear forces. The treaty also increases transparency, predictability, and stability in the U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear relationship. Currently all of Russia’s deployed intercontinental-range delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons are accountable under New START.
Russia’s strategic forces are undergoing a comprehensive modernization in their force structure, operations, and planning. The New START Treaty does not restrict the modernization and replacement of strategic offensive arms and states that each Party has the right to determine for itself the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms within the treaty’s aggregate limits. The treaty also permits the Parties to deploy new types of ICBMs, SLBMs, and nuclear-equipped heavy bombers, again within the treaty’s aggregate limits.
However, the New START Treaty does not restrain Russia from developing and deploying new, advanced kinds of strategic nuclear weapons systems that are not covered by the treaty. In a March 1, 2018 speech, President Vladimir Putin spoke about the development of five new nuclear-armed systems: a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile called Burevestnik or by its NATO designator, Skyfall (this program is associated with the reactor criticality accident that occurred on August 8, 2019, during a recovery operation from a previous flight test that caused at least seven fatalities and a radiation release); a nuclear-powered autonomous underwater vehicle with intercontinental range called Poseidon; an air-launched ballistic missile called Kinzhal; the Avangard “gliding wing unit;” and the Sarmat heavy ICBM. Of these five systems, only the Avangard and Sarmat systems are, or will be, accountable under the terms of the treaty.
The treaty does not restrict Russia from continuing to develop and deploy non-strategic nuclear weapon (NSNW) systems. On May 29, 2019, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Robert Ashley publicly reported that Russia currently has up to 2,000 non-strategic nuclear warheads. LTG Ashley assessed that Russia’s overall nuclear stockpile is likely to grow significantly over the next decade primarily driven by a significant projected increase in the number of Russia’s NSNW. Additionally, because the New START Treaty is bilateral and applies only to the United States and Russia, the treaty does not impose constraints on China’s nuclear forces, which are undergoing a rapid and comprehensive modernization that will likely result in a doubling of their numbers over the next decade.
Much has changed since 2010. Continued implementation of New START contributes to U.S. national security by constraining growth in the nuclear systems covered by the treaty and by providing continued transparency and predictability regarding the systems covered. However, as noted, Russia is making significant investments in systems not covered by New START. Whether continuing implementation of New START remains in the national security interests of the United States depends on a policy judgement taking into account a number of factors at the time of the decision, such as: the impact the absence of New START has on the ability of the United States to achieve a new, more comprehensive arms control agreement with Russia and China, the potential risks and costs of having no verifiable constraints on Russian strategic nuclear forces, the potential risks and benefits of having no constraints on U.S. strategic nuclear forces, and the potential impact the absence of New START would have on U.S. allies and the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Based on the information available as of the date of this report, the United States assesses the Russian Federation to be in compliance with its obligations under the New START Treaty.
The New START Treaty’s limits on Russia’s strategic nuclear force, establishment of data exchanges including the locations, numbers, and technical characteristics of weapons systems and facilities, and its verification provisions, which grant the United States access to Russian facilities containing deployed or non-deployed strategic systems, currently contribute to the national security of the United States.
However, unconstrained and unverified nuclear forces pose threats to the United States, our allies, and our partners. Much has changed in the near-decade since the New START Treaty was signed in 2010, including the development of new Russian and Chinese nuclear capabilities. The Administration is seeking arms control that can deliver real security to the United States and its allies and partners, and has not yet made a decision regarding whether extension of the New START Treaty will be an element of that effort. This effort must account for changes in the strategic environment, broader concerns regarding Russia’s non-compliance with many of its international obligations and non-adherence to many of its commitments, and the expanding nuclear arsenals of both the Russian Federation and China. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review described how the Administration would respond to these challenges through maintaining both effective and flexible U.S. nuclear capabilities and pursuing effective arms control that is verifiable and enforceable, increases transparency and predictability, and manages strategic competition in order to advance U.S., Allied, and partner security. Ensuring a strong U.S. nuclear deterrent will help convince other countries to engage in meaningful arms control initiatives.