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December 30, 2008
On May 24, 2002, President Bush and Russia's President Putin signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (known as the Moscow Treaty) that will reduce strategic nuclear weapons to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by December 31, 2012. The U.S. Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification on March 6, 2003; the Russian Duma did the same on May 14, 2003. The Treaty entered into force on June 1, 2003.
Russia entered the negotiations seeking a "legally binding document" that would contain limits, definitions, counting rules and elimination rules that resembled those in the START Treaties. Russia also wanted the new Treaty to contain a statement noting U.S. missile defenses would not undermine the effectiveness of Russia's offensive forces. The United States preferred a less formal process in which the two nations would state their intentions to reduce their nuclear forces, possibly accompanied by a document outlining added monitoring and transparency measures. Furthermore, the United States had no intention of including restrictions on missile defenses in an agreement outlining reductions in strategic offensive nuclear weapons.
Russia convinced the United States to sign a legally binding treaty, but the United States rejected any limits and counting rules that would require the elimination of delivery vehicles and warheads removed from service. It wanted the flexibility to reduce its forces at its own pace, and to restore warheads to deployed forces if conditions warranted. The Treaty contains four substantive Articles. The first limits each side to 1,700-2,200 strategic nuclear warheads, but states that the parties can determine the structure of their forces themselves. The second states that START I remains in force; the parties can use that Treaty's verification regime to monitor reductions under the new Treaty. The third established a bilateral implementation commission and the fourth sets December 31, 2012, for the Treaty's expiration and notes that either party can withdraw on three months notice.
Under the new Treaty, the United States is likely to retain most of the delivery vehicles planned for START II, which would have limited each side to 3,500 warheads. But the United States will remove additional warheads from deployed forces and leave out of its tally warheads that could be deployed on systems in overhaul or assigned to conventional missions. Russia is likely to eliminate many of its existing ballistic missiles and submarines, retaining perhaps a few hundred multiple warhead ICBMs and fewer than 10 ballistic missile submarines.
According to official and unofficial reports, both sides have implemented the Treaty smoothly. However, they have not held all the planned consultations, as there has been little to discuss. Instead, the two nations have begun to hold discussions about the 2009 expiration of the 1994 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which contains monitoring provisions that aid with verification of the Moscow Treaty. Russia has suggested that the two sides replace START with a new, formal Treaty that contains many of the same definitions and counting rules as START; the United States has suggested that the two sides reaffirm the structure of the Moscow Treaty and, possibly, add some cooperative monitoring measures to that document. The 111th Congress may have the opportunity to review and oversee these discussions. This report will be updated when events warrant.
Contents Background The Negotiations Russian Objectives U.S. Objectives Reaching an Agreement Form of the Agreement Content of the Agreement The Treaty Article I Article II Article III Article IV Force Structures Under the Treaty of Moscow U.S. Force Structure Russia's Force Structure Assessing the Outcome Russia's Objectives U.S. Objectives Treaty Ratification Response and Reaction The Road Ahead Appendixes Appendix A. Text of Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty Appendix B. Resolution of Ratification for the Treaty of Moscow Contacts Author Contact Information
On May 24, 2002, President Bush and Russia's President Putin signed a new Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, known as the Moscow Treaty, that would limit strategic offensive nuclear weapons. (1) In it, the two nations state that they will reduce strategic nuclear weapons (2) to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by December 31, 2012. Press reports and public statements have hailed this agreement as a sharp reduction from the 6,000 warhead level mandated by the 1994 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). (3) However, this new treaty differs from past arms control treaties in that it does not include any of the detailed definitions, counting rules, elimination procedures, or monitoring and verification provisions that have become common in treaties signed since the late 1980s. Consequently, a simple comparison of warhead levels counted under START and warhead levels permitted by the new Treaty does not provide a complete view of the likely effects of the new Treaty.
This report provides a brief overview of the two nations' objectives when they began discussions on this treaty and a summary of how they resolved these differences when concluding the negotiations. It then describes the key provisions in the Treaty and presents illustrative forces that each side might deploy in the next 10 years. It offers a brief assessment of how each nation fared in achieving its objectives when negotiating this agreement and a summary of reaction from U.S. and Russian commentators. It concludes with a brief review of the issues raised during the Treaty's ratification debates.
The first signs of a new arms control dialogue between the United States and Russia appeared after President Bush and President Putin met in Genoa, Italy, during the G-8 summit in July 2001. At that time, the Presidents issued a statement saying that the two nations would "shortly begin intensive consultations on the interrelated subjects of offensive and defensive systems." (4) Each nation had sharply divergent views on the substance and goals for these talks. When discussing offensive force reductions, Russia argued that the two sides should seek agreement on a formal treaty that would limit each side to 1,500 nuclear weapons. The Bush Administration wanted to pursue unilateral reductions, with each side setting its own nuclear force size and structure, but it would not offer any details on U.S. plans in this regard until the Department of Defense completed its review of U.S. nuclear posture. This internal review apparently concluded in November, 2001.
During a summit meeting with President Putin in Washington, on November 13, 2001, President Bush announced that the United States would reduce its "operationally deployed" strategic nuclear warheads to a level between 1,700 and 2,200 over the next decade." The President stated that the United States would reduce its forces unilaterally, without signing a formal agreement with Russia. He stated that the two nations did not need "endless hours of arms controls discussions" and arms control agreements "to reduce our weaponry in a significant way." He offered to "write it down on a piece of paper," but he indicated that he believed a handshake would be good enough. (5)
President Putin responded by stating that he appreciated the President's decision to reduce U.S. nuclear forces and stated that Russia "will try to respond in kind." He did not offer a target number for the reductions at that time, but he had stated several times in previous months, and repeated in December 2001, that Russia planned to reduce its forces to 1,500 warheads. He did, however, indicate that he would like to use the formal arms control process to reduce U.S. and Russian forces. He emphasized that the two sides should focus on "reaching a reliable and verifiable agreement on further reductions of the U.S. and Russian weapons." (6)
The two sides began discussions on the form and content of a new agreement in January 2002. Official comments and press reports from January and February demonstrate that the two sides' opening positions contained significant differences. By the time they concluded the Treaty in May, they had resolved most of their differences over form and content. In content, the Treaty encodes U.S. proposals. In form, it reflects Russia's desire for a formal, "legally binding" document.
Russia entered the negotiations seeking a "legally binding document" that would provide "predictability and transparency" and ensure for the "irreversibility of the reduction of the nuclear forces." (7) In essence, Russia sought a Treaty that followed the model used in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START I and START II), with similar counting rules, elimination rules, and verification procedures, but a lower limit on warheads.
After the Bush Administration's report on the Nuclear Posture Review indicated that the United States planned to hold warheads removed from deployment in storage, Russia also insisted that the new Treaty require the elimination of these non-deployed warheads. (8) This would contribute to the "irreversibility" of the limits; without such a provision, Russia argued the United States might return warheads to deployed systems and exceed the limits in the Treaty in a relatively short amount of time. In addition, Russia wanted the new Treaty to contain a statement noting that the United States would limit its missile defense program so that defenses would not threaten the effectiveness of Russia's offensive forces. (9)
When the negotiations began, the United States did not plan to conclude a formal Treaty that would include strict limits on deployed weapons. It wanted to maintain the flexibility to size and structure its nuclear forces in response to its own needs. The United States preferred a less formal process, such as the exchange of letters, in which the two nations would state their intentions to reduce their nuclear forces. They might conclude a joint declaration to provide for added transparency measures so that each side could "understand each other's force structures." (10) Furthermore, the United States had no intention of including restrictions on missile defenses in an agreement outlining reductions in strategic offensive nuclear weapons. (11)
Reaching an Agreement
Form of the Agreement
Press reports indicate that, within the Bush Administration, Pentagon officials argued strongly against incorporating any limits on offensive nuclear weapons in a "legally binding" arms control agreement. They wanted the United States to be able to reduce or increase its nuclear forces in response to changes in the international security environment. Secretary of State Powell, on the other hand, supported the conclusion of a "legally binding" agreement because he believed it would help President Putin's standing with domestic critics who opposed his policies towards the United States. (12)
The United States apparently began to move towards Russia's position in early February 2002. In a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Powell said that the framework "will be something that is legally binding, and we are examining different ways in which this can happen." (13) According to Secretary Powell, the Administration could complete the agreement as an executive agreement, whose approval would be subject to a majority vote of both houses of Congress, or a formal Treaty, which would require the consent of two-thirds of the Members of the Senate. Some in the Pentagon, however, continued to oppose the conclusion of a Treaty limiting strategic offensive nuclear weapons. They preferred to limit any "legally binding" provisions to procedures for verifying the number of deployed warheads. (14) In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith said "we see no reason to try to dictate the size and composition of Russia's strategic forces by legal means" and "we do not believe it is prudent to set in stone the level and type of U.S. nuclear capabilities." (15)
President Bush appeared to endorse Secretary Powell's approach in March. He agreed to sign a legally binding agreement, noting that "there needs to be a document that outlives both of us." He …