The START Process: Status and Challenges

-Kalpana Chittaranjan, Research Assistant, IDSA


The relationship obtained between the USA and the Soviet Union beginning with the end of World War II was characterised by Cold War tensions which came to an end a little earlier than the disintegration of the latter, in December 1991. Negotiations in arms control and actions on treaties served as a barometer of US-Soviet relations during the height of the Cold War and while deadlock reflected deeper and broader confrontations, progress on treaties was an indicator of a warming trend between the two countries.

Many of those outside the area of arms control have been lulled into thinking that the need for arms control (especially in strategic nuclear weapons) has greatly diminished since the end of the Cold War. Constant effort by the nuclear powers is necessary for the adaptation of Cold War Treaties, which the first two Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) Treaties are, to a very different international environment. The need for nuclear disarmament becomes imperative, when, as has been pointed out by Robert S. McNamara, "There are roughly 20,000 weapons deployed in the world, and each has roughly 15 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb."1 However, it should be remembered that during its peak, the nuclear warheads in the arsenals of the two nuclear giants--the USA and the former Soviet Union--went up to 50,000. What then is the START process? At what stage is it now? What are the chances for the implementation of START II and the proposed START III? How much of a reduction in strategic nuclear weapons is needed before the process can come to a halt in order that a deterrent value be maintained? What are the challenges that confront the successful implementation of START II? These issues are examined here.


During the runup to Presidential elections in 1980, Republican candidate Ronald Reagan had called the unratified Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) II Treaty "fatally flawed" and had promised that if elected he would withdraw the treaty from the Senate. He opposed the treaty on the grounds that it did not limit throw-weight, the true measure of destructive power and did not close what he called the "window of vulnerability" the USA faced that he felt was caused by the powerful Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) aimed at US ICBMs. It was only after a period of time, after assumption of office that Reagan's Administration announced that while it reviewed arms control policy, the USA would not undercut the provisions of the SALT II Treaty so long as the Soviet Union did likewise.2

In November 1981, Reagan announced that strategic arms talks, now called Strategic Arms Reduction Talks or START (in place of SALT) could possibly begin the following year and that the goal for negotiators would be to substantially reduce strategic nuclear arms. Meanwhile, negotiations on intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) had already begun in 1981. With the introduction of nuclear freeze resolutions in the House of Representatives and the Senate, Reagan came under increasing domestic pressure in March 1981 to initiate negotiations. It was on March 31, 1982, during his first prime-time news conference that the President invited the Soviet Union to join the USA in negotiations to substantially reduce nuclear weapons.

The elements of the first START proposal were first outlined by Reagan on May 9, 1982, in an address at Eureka College where he proposed that in the first phase, the USA and Soviet Union would reduce their arsenals of nuclear warheads on land and sea-based ballistic missiles from the then-current levels of 8,000 to 5,000. The proposal went on to state that no more than half or 2,500 of those warheads would be on land-based missiles. The second phase of the proposal stated that both the countries should accept an equal ceiling on the throw-weight of all nuclear missiles. Soviet General Secretary, Leonid Brezhnev responded with a counter-proposal on May 18, 1982, while declaring a willingness to negotiate an accord with the USA. He was of the view that the US approach would have required a unilateral reduction in the Soviet arsenal and instead proposed that the accord should ban or restrict the production of all new types of strategic armaments. He also called for a nuclear freeze "as soon as the talks began."

The negotiations on START began in Geneva on June 29, 1982. By the end of 1989, many of the treaty's basic provisions were already agreed upon. The Reykjavik Summit meeting of October 11-12, 1986, the Foreign Ministers' meeting of September 15-17, 1987, the Washington Summit meeting of December 7-10, 1987,3 and the Wyoming Foreign Ministers meeting of September 22-23, 1989, had important agreements on the treaty's provisions being arrived at after hard negotiations.4 Important progress was made at the Wyoming Foreign Ministers' meeting of September 22-23, 1989. The linkage issue whereby agreement on reduction of strategic offensive nuclear weapons depended on resolution of the issue of space-based defences or "Star Wars" against ballistic missiles was called off.5 Further, the Soviet Union agreed to dismantle, without preconditions, the phased-array Krasnoyarsk radar, which was in violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The USA had made it clear that a START Treaty would be signed only after destruction of this radar.

However, other issues which had previously defied solution at the negotiating table had to be addressed and these included counting rules for heavy bombers carrying nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs), a sub-limit on ICBM warheads, sub-limits on warheads on mobile ICBMs, modernisation of heavy ICBMs, how to address the problem of nuclear sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs), non-deployed missiles, telemetry encryption, cuts in Soviet missile throw-weight and an effective verification regime to monitor treaty compliance.6

Finally, START I, which had taken nine years to negotiate, saw a frenetic pace of activity in the six weeks before it was signed when the negotiators came to an agreement on the three outstanding issues of downloading, new types of missiles and data denial. Conclusive negotiations centred on counting rules within agreed limits and sub-limits for both nuclear delivery vehicles and warheads and the agreement, for the first time in US-Soviet arms control, provided for deep cuts in their respective nuclear arsenals but unlike the INF Treaty, it did not require elimination of an entire category of nuclear weapons. On July 17, 1991, at the Group of Seven Summit meeting in London, Presidents George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev announced at their final meeting here that the START Treaty was ready and it would be signed at a US-Soviet Summit meeting in Moscow by the end of that month.7

The signing of the START Treaty between the USA and the Soviet Union at the Moscow Summit meeting between Presidents Bush and Gorbachev conclusively marked not only the end of nine years of negotiations but also that of a historic era.

Main Provisions

START I Treaty consists of the treaty itself, i.e., 19 Articles governing basic provisions, two Annexes, six Protocols, a Memorandum of Understanding and several associated documents (joint statements, unilateral statements, declarations and an exchange of letters) which are meant to amplify basic treaty provisions and define and clarify them so as to facilitate their implementation to the two countries' mutual satisfaction.8

The two countries undertook to reduce their strategic offensive arms to equal levels in three phases over a seven-year period. After the envisaged reductions, the arsenals of both powers were to be limited to 1,600 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles (SNDVs) and 6,000 "accountable" warheads, including no more than 4,900 ballistic missile warheads and in the Soviet (later Russia) case, no more than 1,540 warheads on 154 "heavy" ICBMs.

Additionally, each side agreed to deploy not more than 1,100 warheads on mobile ICBMs. The aggregate ballistic missile throw-weight for deployed ICBMs for both sides could not exceed 3,600 metric tonnes. The ceiling of 1,600 SNDVs included deployed ICBMs, and SLBMs for both sides could not exceed 3,600 metric tonnes. The ceiling of 1,600 SNDVs included deployed ICBMs and their launchers, deployed SLBMs and their launchers and deployed heavy bombers. The warhead ceiling of 6,000 included the number of warheads on deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers.

Ballistic Missile Warheads: No missile can be flight-tested with more than its existing number of warheads; each side has the right to verify that deployed ballistic missiles contain no more re-entry vehicles than the number of warheads attributed to them. A ban is imposed on developing new or modified ICBMs that can carry more than 10 warheads.

Downloading: The number of warheads on ballistic missiles equipped with multiple warheads could be reduced by "downloading" or reducing the number of warheads on the missiles. However, the number of accountable warheads could not be reduced through downloading by more than 1,250 nor could any missile be downloaded by more than four warheads.

Heavy ICBMs: The number of deployed heavy ICBMs and their warheads are to be cut by half. For such missiles, there is to be no downloading, no increase in launch-weight or throw-weight, no new types and no mobile launchers. New heavy ICBM silo construction is allowed in exceptional cases but the number of silos cannot exceed 154. However, modernisation and testing of existing heavy ICBMs can continue.

Heavy Bombers: Each heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armaments other than long-range nuclear ALCMs--gravity bombs or short range attack missiles (SRAMs)--is attributed with one warhead. An agreed number of heavy bombers can be removed from accountability if they are converted to non-nuclear capability. Heavy bombers equipped with long-range ALCMs are to be made distinguishable from other heavy bombers.

ALCMs: Conventionally-armed cruise missiles that are distinguished from nuclear-armed ALCMs are not limited under the START I Treaty and may be deployed on any aircraft but nuclear-armed long-range ALCMs, with a range of over 600 km, are covered. Generally, each current and future US heavy bomber equipped for long-range nuclear ALCMs is to be counted as carrying eight warheads but may actually be equipped for upto 16 missiles. While using the above rule, the USA can account for 150 heavy bombers while the Soviet Union can apply it to 180 heavy bombers. Multiple-warhead long-range nuclear ALCMs are banned.

Mobile Missiles: Neither party can keep more than 250 non-deployed ICBMs for mobile launchers. Of those retained, no more than 125 can be non-deployed ICBMs for rail-mobile launchers. There is also a numerical limit of 110 for non-deployed mobile launchers of ICBMs, of which no more than 18 can be non-deployed rail-mobile launchers of ICBMS.

SLCMs: In separate statements, the two sides agreed to provide each other with politically binding but not verified annual declarations concerning the deployments of nuclear SLCMs of a range greater than 600 km. The number of deployed nuclear SLCMs declared during the term of the treaty should not exceed 800 in any one year. The two countries, for the duration of the treaty, are to provide each other annually with confidential information on the number of nuclear SLCMs with a range between 300 and 600 km. SLCMs with multiple warheads could not be produced or deployed.


The START I Treaty has a duration of 15 years, unless superseded by another agreement. The parties can agree to extend the treaty for successive five-year periods but each party has the right to withdraw from it at any time if it decides that extraordinary events have jeopardised its supreme interests. According to the Soviet side, START I would be effective and viable only so long as there was compliance with the 1972 ABM Treaty.


The end of the Soviet era in December 1991 left nuclear arms deployed in some ex-Soviet Republics. There were now four states with nuclear weapons based on their territories--Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The three Republics and the Russian Federation undertook to make arrangements among themselves for the implementation of the treaty's provisions at a May 23, 1992, ministerial meeting at Lisbon, Portugal. The USA, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine signed a protocol (known as the Lisbon Protocol) to the treaty, making all five countries party to the treaty and committing Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as non-nuclear weapon states.

The START I Treaty was ratified by the US Senate on October 1, 1992, while the Russian Parliament ratified it on November 4, 1992. Kazakhstan ratified the treaty on July 2, 19929 and deposited the instruments of accession to the 1968 NPT with the USA on February 14, 1993.10 Ukraine became the last former Soviet Republic to ratify the treaty which it did on November 18, 1993.11 It was on November 16, 1994, that the Rada of Ukraine approved of a resolution to accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine, deposited the NPT instruments of ratification at a ceremony on December 5, 1994, held at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) summit meeting in Budapest, Hungary, thus paving the way for a second ceremony on the same day at the Budapest meeting, where leaders of the five Lisbon Protocol signatory countries signed a protocol exchanging the START I Treaty instruments of ratification.12


The USA inspected the first Russian missile site under START I on a three-day inspection at the Kostroma site, 300 km north-east of Moscow in the first week of March 1995.13 The inspection was to verify that missile launchers on the rail tracks at the site were no longer targetting the USA.

In April 1995, Kazakhstan had transferred to Russia all the former Soviet strategic warheads in its territory while the Ukrainian President, Leonid Kuchma, announced on June 1, that it too had done the same. Ukraine had inherited approximately 1,900 strategic warheads and 2,500 tactical warheads from the Soviet Union--which then had constituted the world's third largest nuclear arsenal.14 Belarus was scheduled to transfer the final 18 strategic warheads remaining on its territory (deployed on SS-25 ICBMs) to Russia by the end of 1996.15 Russian and Kazakh officials announced on September 20, 1996, that all SS-18 ICBM silos located in Kazakhstan had been destroyed, thus fulfilling its obligations under START I. In the Soviet era, Kazakhstan possessed 104 SS-18 ICBMs and 40 Bear-H bombers. The last of these bombers had been transferred to Russia in February 1994.16 When Belarus returned the last of its strategic nuclear warheads to Russia on November 23, 1996, the event marked the completion of the withdrawal of all nuclear weapons from the non-Russian Republics of the former Soviet Union. As part of the Soviet Republic, Belarus had more than 500 strategic and tactical warheads and 81 SS-25 ICBMs in its territory.17 During Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's US visit, he announced on May 16, 1997, at Washington that his country had decided to start eliminating its 46 SS-24 missiles, a measure that would go beyond its obligations under START I.18

The end of 1996 marked the second year after entry into force of START I. The year saw 60 inspections in the field and conclusion of agreements and joint statements at the Joint Compliance and Implementation Council (JCIC).19 Journalists were told on June 17, 1997, at Geneva, by a US official, that both Russia and the United States were "ahead of schedule" in implementing the treaty.20


The main shortcoming of START I had been insufficient arms reductions. Therefore, efforts were made for a more comprehensive strategic nuclear arms control treaty between the USA and Russia and the signing of START II in January 1993 was the result. After the signing of START I in July 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was dissolved in December 1991. President Bush's State of the Union Address on January 28, 1992, contained a proposal for a new agreement requiring far deeper cuts than those required by START I. The proposal offered a reduction in US SLBMs by "about a third" below the number (3,456) of warheads which the USA planned to deploy under START I. Boris Yeltsin, the Russian President responded the next day with a proposal of his own. He proposed that the two sides cut their strategic nuclear warheads to 2,000-2,500 each. The months of February, March, May and June 1992 saw US Secretary of State James Baker and the Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev holding ministerial meetings between them which paved the way for Presidents Bush and Yeltsin to meet at a summit meeting at Washington where they signed the "Joint Understanding on Further Reductions in Strategic Offensive Arms" (the De-Mirving Agreement).21 The agreement became a basis for a follow-on to the START I Treaty and included numerical ceilings and a time-frame for reductions. Telephone calls exchanged between Bush and Yeltsin on December 20 and 21, 1992, produced some progress, as, after their conversations, a team of US and Russian technical specialists met in Geneva on December 22-24, to try to complete the final details. At high level meetings in Geneva on December 28 and 29, between US Secretary of State Eagleburger and Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev and Defence Minister Pavel Grachev, the last issues were finally resolved.22

Signing and Provisions of START II Treaty

Presidents Bush and Yeltsin signed the START II Treaty in Moscow on January 3, 1993, thus concluding the most sweeping nuclear arms reduction treaty in history. The treaty requires the USA and Russia to eliminate their MIRVed ICBMs and reduce the number of their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 3,000-3,500 each. These reductions were to be carried out by January 1, 2003 or even earlier, i.e., by 2000 AD if the USA could help finance the elimination of strategic offensive arms in Russia.23

Main Provisions: The treaty consists of eight Article and includes two Protocols and a Memorandum of Understanding. START II has set equal numerical ceilings for strategic nuclear weapons that may be deployed by either side. The agreed ceilings are to be reached in two stages.

Stage One: The first stage has to be completed seven years after entry into force of the START I Treaty and by the end of it, each side should have reduced the total number of its deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 3,800-4,250. Of these warheads, no more than 1,200 can be deployed on MIRVed ICBMs, no more than 2,160 on deployed SLBMs and no more than 650 on deployed heavy ICBMs.

Stage Two: This stage has to be completed by 2003 and even earlier, i.e., by the end of 2000 AD, if the USA helps finance the elimination of strategic arms in Russia.24 By the end of this stage, each side should have reduced the total number of its destroyed strategic nuclear warheads to 3,000-3,500. Of the retained warheads, none can be on MIRVed ICBMs, including heavy ICBMs. Only ICBMs carrying a single warhead will be allowed.

Entry into Force and Duration

The START II Treaty enters into force on the date of the exchange of instruments of ratification but not before the entry into force of the START I Treaty. Since the START II Treaty builds upon the START I Treaty, it must remain in force throughout the duration of the latter. As in START I, each side has the right to withdraw from the treaty if it decides that extraordinary efforts have jeopardised its supreme interests.

Ratification and Implementation

Before START II can enter into force, three steps have to be taken: (a) START I must enter into force; (b) the US Senate has to ratify the treaty; (c) the Russian Parliament has to ratify the treaty. Of these steps, the first two have been met.25 As for the third step, the Russian Parliament, which consists of the Council of Federation (the Upper House) and the Duma (the Lower House) must approve the treaty by simple majority votes. Yeltsin had submitted START II to the Duma for ratification, on June 22, 1995. The Duma has till end-December 1997 not ratified the treaty, though on February 19, 1996, a special Duma Commission began closed hearings on the treaty and had been expected to submit a report to the full chamber before a ratification vote occurred.

Early Russian Misgivings about START II26

Russian misgivings about START II began in 1993 itself when it became clear that the treaty, during the course of the year, became a relatively low priority issue in the wake of political confrontation between President Yeltsin and the Parliament. The year saw substantial opposition to the treaty by members of Parliament, newspaper editorial writers and think-tank analysts who publicly criticised it in harsh terms. In what was perceived to be a pro-Western direction by President Yeltsin and Foreign Minister Kozyrev, the then-Speaker of the Parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, said on April 13, 1993, that as long as Kozyrev was Foreign Minister, "It is absurd to even talk about START II ratification."27 While some critics felt that the treaty was totally unacceptable and had to be jettisoned altogether, others argued that negotiation of amendments or new, supplemental agreements prior to the entry into force could redress START II's perceived inequities. The major argument put forward by Russian critics was that the accord requires Russia to eliminate the main component of its deterrent force—its MIRVed ICBMs28—while it allowed the USA to retain the principal components of its deterrent force--the Trident SLBMs. As a result, Russia would have to go through an expensive and time-consuming process of a complete restructure of the composition of its strategic triad while the USA would keep its triad intact. Relatively, the critics claimed that the cost of dismantling Russian strategic weapons would be prohibitive and that the USA would be in a better position than Russia to withdraw from the treaty by quickly "uploading" its Trident missiles to eight warheads each and also deploying its B-1B bombers with nuclear rather than conventional weapons.

A serious issue influencing the implementation of START II was Moscow's continued concern about US efforts to abrogate or undermine the 1972 ABM Treaty. The US Congress' interest in developing and deploying a multiple-site national missile defence (NMD) by 2003, a move that would clearly violate the ABM Treaty, was of particular concern to Russia. Further, Russia was concerned about US efforts to develop and deploy highly-capable theatre missile defence (TMD) systems. The absence of a formal agreed statement to the ABM Treaty (for a long time) outlining the demarcation between TMD systems, fuelled Russia's beliefs that US deployment of such missile defence systems (which have the potential to counter strategic ballistic missiles) in the absence of a demarcation would violate the letter and spirit of the ABM Treaty.

Some Duma members had expressed concern over the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and linked this issue to ratification of START II. The leader of the party which controls the largest number of seats in the Duma, Gennady Zyuganov, said he opposed the treaty so long as there was a possibility of NATO expanding eastward.29

On February 16, 1996, Secretary of Defence, William Perry had announced the reorientation of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme which would give: top priority to TMD against existing shorter-range missiles; slow down work on more advanced theatre defences against possible threats, with deployment decisions deferred against the next century; and focus on a single-site NMD capable of quick deployment if a long-range threat actually emerged. It was felt that the scaled-back TMD programme would go a long way in assuaging Moscow's fears of US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.30 Vladimir Lukin, the Chair of the Duma Committee for International Affairs, which is a key panel in the ratification process, endorsed START II on January 31, 1996, at a Press conference when he said, "At present and for a lengthy period of time, Russia is not capable of sustaining more warheads than set by the treaty. It simply does not have the financial possibilities for this. But if we do not ratify the treaty, our partner and, so to say, by tradition, our opponent, the United States, will have the possibility of maintaining up to 8,000 nuclear warheads."31

The Helsinki Summit and After

Jack Mendelsohn, Deputy Director of the Arms Control Association (ACA) at a panel discussion on March 8, 1996, said that there were three compelling reasons why Russia would ratify START II by late 1996 or early 1997. He felt that the aging strategic forces in Russia needed to be removed in any case and START II would ensure that the USA would also reduce their force size. Second, though implementation of reduction would be expensive in the short run, it would be cheaper to maintain lower levels of strategic forces in the long run. Finally, it would be better to threaten an ongoing process of strategic offensive force reductions against the missile defence debate than to argue against it while START II was not in force.32

With the advent of 1998, though the treaty has not been ratified by the Duma as yet, events of 1997 suggest that the factors responsible for Russian non-ratification of START I have been taken care of. When Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin met at Helsinki, Finland, on March 20-21, 1997, in a joint statement,33 they reached agreement on a number of arms control issues. Concerning START II, the Presidents agreed to extend by five years the deadline for the elimination of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and as regards START III, they agreed to immediately start negotiations for an agreement once START II enters into force. The Presidents also agreed that START III negotiations would include four basic components: a limit of 2,000-2,500 deployed strategic nuclear warheads of each side by the end of the year 2007; measures relating to the transparency of strategic nuclear warhead inventories as well as to the destruction of strategic warheads; conversion of the current START agreements to unlimited duration; and the "deactivation" by the end of 2003 of all strategic nuclear delivery vehicles to be eliminated under START II.34

Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin reaffirmed, in a separate "Joint Statement Concerning the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,"35 the May 1995 principles for agreement on demarcation between ABM and TMD systems. They also reached an agreement in principle governing the status of higher-velocity TMD systems under the ABM Treaty. The USA and Russia are permitted, under this "Phase-Two" Agreement to deploy high-velocity TMD systems provided they are not tested against ballistic missile targets with velocities above 5 km per second or ranges that exceed 3,500 km. The agreement does not allow either side to develop, test or deploy space-based TMD interceptors or components based on other physical principles that can substitute for such interceptors.36

Apart from the arms control agenda, the main focus at the Helsinki Summit was the contentious issue of NATO enlargement. A joint statement issued on March 21, declared that "NATO-Russian relationship should provide for consultation, coordination and, to the maximum extent possible where appropriate, joint decision-making and action on security issues of common concern."37 Under a deal unveiled the same day, Russia agreed to sign a document defining its relationship with NATO despite its continuing opposition to the organisation's enlargement. The country was given an assurance that nuclear weapons would not be stationed in new NATO-member states. Yeltsin dropped his demand that the document should be legally binding and it was instead agreed that it would be "an enduring commitment at the highest political level."38

The Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security Between NATO and the Russian Federation, better known as the Russia-NATO Founding Act, which is a 16-page text consisting of a Preamble and four sections was signed on May 27, 1997, at Paris by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the heads of government of all 16 NATO members, after its details were finally agreed earlier, during a meeting between NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov held in Moscow on May 14, 1997.39

Besides providing for the establishment of a Russia-NATO permanent joint council to be chaired by the NATO Secretary-General, a Russian representative and, on a rotating basis, a representative of one of the NATO member states, to discuss issues of common security interests, Russia agreed in the Act to drop its objection to the eastward expansion of NATO. The Act made clear NATO's right to act independently and that Russia did not have any veto powers over NATO's decisions. Apart from confirming that it had no "intention, no plan and no reason to deploy" nuclear weapons or establish nuclear storage sites on the territory of new members, NATO assured Russia that it would not station permanently "substantial" numbers of conventional forces in "agreed regions of Europe, including Central and Eastern Europe."40 President Yeltsin made a surprise announcement during the signing ceremony that all nuclear warheads from Russian strategic missiles targetted against facilities situated in NATO countries would be stood down. Russian officials subsequently clarified that "standing down" meant non-targetting of missiles and not the dismantlement of missiles.41

The Geneva-based Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) saw the five participating countries of the USA, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine (the latter four being designated as the only parties of the ABM Treaty--thereby assuming the rights and obligations of the former Soviet Union under this treaty) completing an agreed statement on "higher velocity" TMD systems based on the Helsinki March 21 "Joint Statement Concerning the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty."42 This marked the conclusion of nearly four years of complex negotiations to establish a "demarcation line" between permitted TMD and restricted ABM systems. The documents for this agreed statement as well as four other agreements were signed by US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and their counterparts from Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine at the UN General Assembly in New York, on September 26, 1997.43 As Jack Mendelsohn stated, President Yeltin was now armed with all the tools he needed to press the Duma for ratification.44

Earlier, in an unprecedented address to about 100 members of the Russian Duma at Moscow, on October 17, 1996, one of the points that former US Secretary of Defence William Perry made was that on balance, START II would save the USA and Russia money. While the dismantlement of weapon systems under the treaty would cost the USA and Russia about $600 million each, he estimated that the USA could save about $5 billion through the year 2003, by not having to operate and support weapon systems reduced by the treaty, and for Russia too, savings would be "quite significant."45 The political relationship permitting and once START II and START III are implemented, Mendelsohn has suggested that both the USA and Russia could scale down their inventories over the next decade by another 50 per cent to around 1,000-1,250 warheads each.46


Yeltsin's admitted failure of government plans to revive the Russian economy in 1997;47 the country's financial system on the verge of collapse;48 the leader's public gaffes which make him seem to be inconsistent and contradictory;49 Yeltsin's constant battle with ill-health--the most recent being his being hospitalised with a cold;50 the absence of a strong second-line of leadership; the sacking of Anatoly Chubais as Russia's Finance Minister over a book scandal (he still retains the post of First Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic strategy);51 the Russian armed forces becoming increasingly underpaid, malnourished and demoralised--leading to a qualitative fall in standards;52 the Duma postponing indefinitely discussion of START II ratification (April 9, 1997);53 and apparent lack of will on Yeltsin's part to lobby the Duma for ratification54 make it highly likely that there will be some more delay on START II being ratified by the Duma, which in turn means that negotiations for START III cannot begin.



1. Melissa Roberts, "Security and the Bomb," Newsweek, vol. CXVII, no. 6, February 5, 1996, p. 54.

2. Nuclear Arms Control: Background and Issues, (Washington D.C.,: National Academy of Science, 1985), p. 58.

3. The INF Treaty which provided for the elimination of ground-launched missiles of the USA and Soviet Union, which had ranges between 500 to 5,500 km, was signed at this summit on December 8, 1987.

4. For detailed and insightful accounts of START I negotiations, see J. Newhouse, Cold Dawn: The Story of SALT (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1973); G. Smith, Doubletalk: The Story of the First Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (New York: Doubleday, 1980); S. Talbott, Endgame: The Inside Story of SALT II (New York: Harper & Row, 1979); and S. Talbot, Deadly Gambits: The Reagan Administration and the Stalemate in Nuclear Arms Control (New York: Knopf, 1984).

5. For a comprehensive account of the ABM Treaty violation issue, see R. Cowen Karp, "US-Soviet Nuclear Arms Control," in SIPRI Yearbook 1990: World Armaments and Disarmaments (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 431-32.

6. R. Cowen Karp, "The START Treaty and the Future of Strategic Nuclear Arms Control," SIPRI Yearbook 1992: World Armaments and Disarmament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 21.

7. Times of India, July 18, 1991.

8. See n. 6 for excerpts of the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms and related documents at Appendix 1A, pp. 38 to 63.

9. "Lisbon Protocol: START I and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Office of Public Information, Fact Sheet, January 11, 1994, p. 1.

10. G. Hill, "US Will Triple its Foreign Aid to Kazakhstan," New York Times, February 15, 1994, p. A3.

11. SIPRI Yearbook 1994 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994) appendix 16A, pp. 675-677.

12. SIPRI Yearbook: World Armaments and Disarmament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 638.

13. The Shillong Times, March 7, 1995.

14. "Chronology of US-Soviet-CIS Nuclear Relations," Arms Control Today, (ACT), vol. 27, no. 4, June/July 1997, p. 29.

15. "Ukraine Completes Final Transfer of Nuclear Warheads to Russia," Arms Control Today, vol. 26, no. 4, May/June 1996) p. 22.

16. ACT, n. 14, p. 29.

17. Ibid., p. 30.

18. Ibid.

19. For chronology of JCIC Meetings, see The Arms Control Reporter: A Chronicle of Treaties, Negotiations, Proposals, Weapons & Policy, 1997, (Massachusetts: IDDS, 1997), pp. 614.A.4-A.5.

20. Ibid., p. 611.B.912. For chronology of events pertaining to START I in 1997 (upto June 18, 1997), see Ibid., pp. 611.B.907-B.912.

21. It was also known as the De-Mirving Agreement as the most outstanding feature of the Joint Understanding was the elimination of all MIRVed ICBMs.

22. D. Lockwood, "Nuclear Arms Control," in SIPRI Yearbook 1993: World Armaments and Disarmament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 557, 370.

23. For text of START II Treaty, see Appendix 11A in Ibid., pp. 574-588.

24. When the De-MIRV Agreement was signed on June 27, 1992, several US-Russian agreements were also signed to assist the Russian Federation in the safe and secure transportation and storage of nuclear weapons in connection with its planned destruction of nuclear weapons.

25. START I entered into force on December 5, 1994, while the US Senate overwhelmingly approved a resolution of ratification of START II on January 26, 1996, by a vote of 87-4 (see START II Resolution of Ratification, Arms Control Today, vol. 26, no. 1, February 1996, p. 30).

26. For a comprehensive coverage of Russian misgivings about START II (upto end-September, 1995), see Yuri K. Nazarkin and Rodney W. Jones, "Moscow's START II Ratification: Problems and Prospects," Arms Control Today, vol. 25, no. 7, September 1995, pp. 8-14.

27. D. Lockwood, "Russian Turmoil, Ukrainian Action Delays START I Implementation," Arms Control Today, vol. 23, no. 2, May 1993, p. 23.

28. This includes all SS-18s, Russia's most powerful land-based ICBM, capable of carrying up to 10 nuclear warheads over a distance of 10,000 km).

29. C. Cerniello, "Senate Finally Approves START II; Prospects for Duma Vote Uncertain," Arms Control Today, vol. 26, no. 1, February 1996, p. 20.

30. Ibid., p. 2.

31. Ibid., pp. 20, 27.

32. "US Arms Control Policy: Progress and Prospects," Arms Control Today, vol. 26, no. 2, March 1996, p. 9.

33. For text of Joint Statement on Parameters on Future Reductions in Nuclear Forces, see "Joint Statements of the Helsinki Summit," Arms Control Today, vol. 27, no. 1, March 1997, p. 19.

34. ACT, n. 14, p. 30.

35. For text, see n. 33, p. 20.

36. ACT, n. 14, p. 30.

37. Keesing's Record of World Events, vol. 43, no. 3, March 1997, p. 41569.

38. Ibid.

39. For full text of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security Between NATO and the Russian Federation, see ACR, n. 19, p. 402.D.

40. Keesing's, n. 37, vol. 43, no. 5, p. 41665.

41. Ibid.

42. Craig Cerniello, "SCC Parties Clear Final Hurdle for ABM-TMD 'Demarcation' Accords," Arms Control Today, vol. 27, no. 5, August 1997, p. 20.

43. Hindustan Times, September 27, 1997.

44. Ibid.

45. Craig Cerniello, "Perry Urges Russian Lawmakers to Ratify START II, Move to START III," Arms Control Today, vol. 26, no. 8, October 1996, pp. 19-20.

46. Jack Mendelsohn, "START II and Beyond," Arms Control Today, vol. 26, no. 8, October 1996, p. 9.

47. The Hindu, November 29, 1997.

48. The Hindu, December 2, 1997.

49. The Hindu, December 6, 1997.

50. Hindustan Times, December 11, 1997.

51. Times of India, November 26, 1997.

52. Hindustan Times, December 21, 1997.

53. ACR, n. 19, p. 614.B.91.

54. Ibid., p. 614.B.92.