New START: All you need to know about US-Russia nuclear arms control treaty
The Russian parliament on Wednesday ratified the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, also known as New START, in a fast-track action days before its expiration. The treaty is the last remaining nuclear arms control between Washington and Kremlin which was signed by US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.
The New START was set to expire on February 5 but the newly-elected US President, Joe Biden, proposed extending the treaty for five more years, which was quickly welcomed by Russia. United Nations’ chief Antonio Guterres has also been encouraging the United States and Russia for a long time to extend their nuclear arms reduction treaty.
Here’s all you need to know about the New START:
The New START entered into force on February 5, 2011, and was expected to last at least until February 5, 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. The two parties are allowed to extend the treaty for a period of no more than five years.
The treaty limits Russia and the US to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.
It also limits both countries to 800 deployed and non-deployed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.
It further envisages sweeping on-site inspections, exhibitions, and data exchanges to verify compliance. It also provides for an annual exchange of telemetry on an agreed number of ICBM and SLBM launches.
Each side is allowed to conduct ten ‘Type One’ inspections and eight Type Two inspections every year. The ‘Type One’ inspections focus on sites with deployed and non-deployed strategic systems, while the ‘Type Two’ inspections focus on sites with only non-deployed strategic systems.
According to the US state department’s website, the US and Russia conducted two inspections in the tenth year of the treaty. The two parties have exchanged 21,403 notifications as of January 21, 2021. The treaty provides for 18 on-site inspections annually.
The treaty doesn’t put a constraint on testing, development, or deployment of current or planned US missile defence programs or long-range conventional strike capabilities.
New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries after they withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019.