New START to Enter Into Force

February 2, 2011

President Obama formally signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty this morning, after the Senate gave bipartisan approval to the accord in December.  On Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will bring the treaty into force:  reinstating a stringent verification regime of inspections and data exchanges after a yearlong lapse. The completion of New START marks a significant accomplishment and offers an opportunity for the U.S. and its partners to build upon this success.  The nuclear security agenda has already made the U.S. and its allies safer and stronger-its next steps to limit the spread and production of nuclear material, and further reduce weapons, deserve the same bipartisan support.

With strong bipartisan backing, President Obama signs the New START Treaty. The AP reports, “President Barack Obama will push the New START Treaty another step toward completion Wednesday morning when he signs documents for the nuclear weapons pact in the Oval Office… The agreement has already been approved by Russia’s parliament and president, and becomes final when both sides exchange the signed papers.”  The treaty comes into force with the support of a broad bipartisan consensus of military and national security leaders. As President Obama said last December, “Ratifying a treaty like START isn’t about winning a victory for an administration or a political party. It’s about the safety and security of the United States of America. That’s why this treaty is supported by both Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. That’s why it’s supported by every living Republican Secretary of State, our NATO allies and the leadership of the United States military. Indeed, the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hoss Cartwright, said this week that the military needs this treaty, and they need it badly. And that’s why every President since Ronald Reagan has pursued a treaty like START, and every one that has been reviewed by the Senate has passed with strong bipartisan support.” [AP, 2/2/11. FP, 1/1/11. Barack Obama, 12/18/10]

As New START enters into force, verification regime set to resume.  As Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller explained last month, “The Treaty will put in place an effective verification regime to confirm Russian and U.S. compliance with the Treaty, including data exchanges on strategic offensive arms, notifications of changes to that data, and on-site inspections to confirm that data. None of these activities have been occurring since the original START Treaty expired over a year ago. We are preparing for entry into force of New START, including for the exchange of Treaty-required notifications that begins immediately upon entry into force and the initial exchange of data on missiles, launchers, heavy bombers and warheads subject to the Treaty, which is required 45 days after entry into force. And much work is taking place to prepare for the first on-site inspections. The right to conduct on-site inspections begins 60 days after entry into force.”  [Rose Gottemoeller, 1/19/11]

Next steps for the nuclear security agenda.  The administration and Congress can take significant steps in the coming months and years to build upon the success of the New START Treaty.

New START Follow-on.  As Brookings Senior Fellow Steve Pifer has suggested, “The next negotiation… will be a longer, more complex process than the one that produced New START. The United States and Russia will need to address a number of issues: How much further are they prepared to go in reducing deployed strategic warheads? Will they agree to parallel cuts in New START’s limits on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and nuclear-capable heavy bombers? When signing New START this past April, Obama stated, ‘[G]oing forward, we hope to pursue discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical weapons, including nondeployed weapons.’ This opens the possibility that, for the first time, negotiations might cover all U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads.” [Steve Pifer, via Arms Control Today, 12/10]

Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.  A Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty would end the production of the material that is required to build nuclear weapons.  Global agreement to move forward to begin negotiating such a treaty is close; the State Department is working with Pakistan, the one state that is resistant.  State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley recently confirmed, “We believe in the value of the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. And through our Strategic Dialogue we are encouraging Pakistan to engage constructively on efforts to conclude the FMCT.” [P.J. Crowley, via The Cable, 2/1/11.]

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  Presidents from both parties have agreed for more than 18 years that the U.S. should not conduct nuclear tests; progress toward joining the treaty would strengthen to global consensus against testing and pressure other holdouts, some of whom have said explicitly that they are waiting for the U.S. to act.  Gottemoeller noted last month that “The Obama Administration will continue to lay the groundwork for positive U.S. Senate consideration of the CTBT, working closely with the Senate, and to bolster international support for the Treaty. While the Administration prepares for U.S. Senate consideration of the Treaty, the United States has increased its level of participation in all of the activities of the CTBTO’s Preparatory Commission in preparing for the entry into force of the CTBT, especially with respect to the Treaty’s verification regime. [Rose Gottemoeller, 1/27/11]

Nuclear Security Summit Follow-up and Funding.  In April 2010, the U.S. convened an unprecedented Nuclear Security Summit, which brought together heads of state from nearly 50 countries to take action against the worldwide threat posed by nuclear terrorism. The summit resulted in an outpouring of important deliverables from a range of countries, including Ukraine, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, India, Japan and Pakistan-and a commitment to meet again in 2012 in Seoul, South Korea.  Since April 2009, when President Obama pledged to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years, the U.S. has secured 3,085 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium – enough nuclear material to make more than 120 nuclear weapons.  In the coming months and years, that administration will continue its work to secure all vulnerable nuclear material. Thomas D’Agostino, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, recently tallied the progress: “Nineteen down, 16 to go… We’re over halfway. We still have a lot more work to do. And with the support, the increased budgets that we have in this area that the president is proposing, specifically to lock this stuff down, we think we’re going to get this job done. That’s our plan.”  Congress must fully fund the programs that are critical to securing and safeguarding nuclear weapons and materials in order to make this a reality.  The Continuing Resolution that was passed in December fell short of this goal, resulting in a decrease in funding over the previous fiscal year.  In order to lock down vulnerable materials and protect America’s national security, essential threat reduction and nonproliferation programs must be fully funded.  [NSN, 4/14/10. Thomas D'Agostino, 12/30/10]

What We’re Reading

Egypt’s Internet has been reestablished after more than five days of darkness, and a cacophony of Egyptian voices returned to social-networking sites to express their anger over last night’s speech by President Hosni Mubarak.

Satellite network Al Jazeera says its broadcasts have been disrupted throughout the Arab region.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, an important U.S. ally in the region, says he will not seek reelection or pass authority to his son.

At least 15 protesters have been detained overnight in Sudan’s capital, as demonstrations over high prices spread to other towns.

A British Airways worker accused of feeding information to radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki went on trial in London.

Four Russian police officers were killed by gunmen in the North Caucasus.

In response to privacy concerns, the Transportation Safety Administration began testing new software designed to make its airport security scanners less intrusive.

Officials from the United States and several European countries are meeting in Warsaw, Poland, to discuss raising money to support the democratic opposition in Belarus.

A Human Rights Watch report accuses the Iraqi government of continuing to hold and torture detainees in secret jails.

The No. 2 commander in Afghanistan said the United States and NATO could succeed in the war even if Pakistan refused to shut down militant access to its tribal areas.

Israel is maintaining its ability to fight a two front war despite its peace treaty with Egypt, due to the recent unrest.

Commentary of the Day

Shadi Hamid says the fear of Islamists coming to power has long paralyzed U.S. policy, but that shouldn’t guide our approach to Egypt.

Paul Pillar contends that killing or capturing bin Laden probably won’t be a national security panacea.

Mark Green, Jim Kolbe & Rob Mosbacher write foreign assistance accounts for less than 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget, and policymakers should focus on making it better instead of slashing budgets.

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