| JRL Home | JRL Simple/Mobile | RSS | Newswire | Archives | JRL Newsletter | Support | About
Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

CAST Director Ruslan Pukhov Comments on START III Implementation

U.S. ICBM in SiloArticle by Director of Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov for RIA Novosti under rubric "Defense and Security": "START III Gets Down to Business"

Baku, Novosti-Azerbaijan -- Russia and the United States began practical implementation of one of the important aspects of the Strategic Arms Treaty (START III) signed in Prague last year. This is about the exchange of data on the sides' strategic potentials and implementation of the regime of mutual inspections of the sides' strategic arms. Full-fledged mutual inspections of strategic offensive arms begin in April.

START III, like the Soviet-American START I which preceded it and was in effect from 1991, prescribes that the sides exchange and regularly update data on their strategic forces and notify each other about specific changes in composition, structure, and location. The sides must inform each other about all movements or changes in status of existing strategic offensive arms and delivery vehicles.

In addition to the official exchange of data, START III, like START I, gives both sides the right to make agreed-upon "on site" inspections of the opposite side's strategic arms. This is necessary for monitoring actual conformity of parameters of particular kinds of arms to those declared in the exchange of data.

True, START III significantly reduced the scope of the inspection regime compared with START I. While under START I each side had the right to 28 inspections a year, under the new Treaty it is only 18 annual inspections.

START III envisages two types of inspections. "Type One" inspections will be conducted at facilities with deployed strategic offensive arms -- bases of ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM's), bases where PLARB's (SSBN's) (nuclear submarines with ICBM's) are located, and strategic aviation air bases. "Type Two" inspections will be conducted at other facilities such as ICBM loading sites, missile repair and storage sites, educational institutions, and previously declared facilities. The agreement protocol specifies that each side can hold up to 10 "Type One" and 8 "Type Two" inspections annually. "Type One" inspections are necessary to confirm validity of declared numbers of deployed strategic offensive arms. Technically one of the main tasks of such an inspection is to confirm the number of deployed nuclear warheads on deployed ICBM's or deployed BRPL's (SLBM's) (ballistic missiles on submarines).

According to the new Treaty protocol, one side's inspection team can arrive at the ICBM or SSBN base of the side being inspected and the latter must present the inspectors with stipulated information, including the number of warheads on each deployed ICBM or SLBM in base. Inspectors have the right to choose arbitrarily one of the deployed SLBM's for inspection to confirm accuracy of the information provided. Inspectors cannot inspect more than one deployed missile in each inspection. A feature of START III is the requirement to introduce unique identifiers for each ICBM, SLBM, and heavy bomber. This is done to facilitate the inspection procedure.

The reduced number of inspections under the new START III is more of a success for Russia. The United States always was more interested in such inspections, and in Cold War years the inspections generally became a kind of "idee fixe" of the Americans (suffice it to recall Ronald Reagan's inclination to repeat the saying "trust, but verify").

The Americans believe that by virtue of features of Soviet/Russian society and the Russian system of secrecy, Moscow has more opportunities to conceal the true capabilities of its nuclear forces (or at the very least certain of their parameters). The maximum number of inspections is necessary to counter such concealment.

But in reality Russia now also is interested in the regime of inspections of American nuclear forces, especially because the United States has a significant number of non-deployed arms (the so-called "upload potential"). Evidently it was the Russian side's concern on this score that gave rise to the fact that eight of the 18 authorized annual inspections under START III are "Type Two." The reduced number of "Type One" inspections will significantly reduce the Americans' quantitative opportunities for inspecting Russian mobile ICBM's -- it was these inspections of mobile ICBM's that generated the Russian side's particular dissatisfaction, since they were not balanced by similar inspections on Russia's part.

In START III Russia succeeded in getting two more significant achievements in its favor with respect to the "information and inspection regime." First, under the Treaty the permanent presence of American inspectors at Votkinsk Machine Building Plant in Udmurtia is canceled.

Production of Russia's main modern strategic missiles (Topol-M, Yars, and Bulava) is concentrated at this plant, and the permanent presence there allowed the Americans to keep their finger "on the pulse" of the main Russian missile production. The similar presence of Russian inspectors at American enterprises was terminated back in 2001 in connection with cessation of production of new ICBM's in the United States.

Secondly, under START III each side is bound to give up encipherment of telemetry during test launches only of five ballistic missiles a year. START I required (with few exceptions) that telemetry of test launches of one's ballistic missiles not be enciphered at all and to pass on the data it had to the opposite side. And the Treaty imposes no technical restrictions on methods of creating new types of missiles.

This is extremely advantageous for Russia, which is developing and beginning the deployment of a number of new ballistic missiles (Yars, Bulava, and in the future also a new liquid-propellant ICBM). Telemetry from their test launches unquestionably would be of great interest to the Americans, especially in light of the development of missile defense systems in the United States.

On the whole, however, despite a certain reduction in the amount of mutual inspections and in the exchange of telemetry, START III preserves and develops the rather stable and effectively operating system that already has formed in the last two decades for a mutual exchange of information and mutual inspections of US and Russian strategic nuclear forces. Both countries are fundamentally interested in maintaining this system (which emerged for a short time in a specific crisis in view of the pause that had appeared between termination of START I validity on 5 December 2009 and entry of the new START III into force).

The first mutual information exchange on the status of the sides' strategic nuclear forces was to occur 45 days after exchange of instruments of ratification, which took place on 5 February 2011 and which signified the entry of START III into force, i.e., 22 March. In fact the American Nuclear Threat Reduction Center passed on information to the Russian side about the status of the US SYaS (Strategic Nuclear Forces) (data on missiles, launchers, heavy bombers, and warheads envisaged by the Treaty) already on 20 March. And on 22 March the Russian side also passed on data to the United States on the Russian SYaS within the scope of the Treaty through the Russian National Nuclear Threat Reduction Center. Both sides also began exchanging reports on changes being made in the database of nuclear facilities to preserve the timeliness of information and ensure continuity in monitoring compliance with the agreement.

Also within the scope of information exchange, the sides provided each other with the opportunity to inspect and receive information "on-site" on a number of kinds of strategic arms. Already on 18 March the United States presented the B-1B heavy bomber to Russian specialists for inspection at the military base at Davis Monthan (Arizona). It should be noted that the United States now does not consider B-1B bombers as platforms for strategic nuclear weapons; they have been reoriented to perform nonnuclear missions. The Russian side formally familiarized itself with nonnuclear refitting of the B-1B bomber to exclude it from the number of strategic platforms under START III. Russia in turn on 21-22 March demonstrated to an American delegation the newest RS-24 Yars mobile ICBM with multiple reentry vehicle. The American delegation was given an opportunity to inspect the Yars mobile launcher in the first (and for now only) missile regiment of 54th Guards Missile Division at Teykovo (Ivanovo Oblast) equipped with these ICBM's, and the missile itself at Votkinsk Machine Building Plant. The Americans were presented information with specifications and performance characteristics of the missile, which distinguishes it from similar missiles of this class in the inventory of the Strategic Missile Troops (above all from Topol-M), as well as necessary photographic materials.

This was the first demonstration of Yars to the American side. The Yars officially went on alert duty in the 54th Division's missile regiment only on 4 March.

According to Treaty terms, the beginning of full-fledged mutual inspections of the sides' strategic offensive arms is envisaged 60 days after the exchange of instruments of ratification, i.e., from 6 April 2011. It already has been announced that the first mutual inspections will take place soon after this date, during April. The beginning of these inspections will signify the actual final entry of START III into force, which unquestionably will have a positive effect both on strategic stability and on the general climate in Russian-American relations.

Keyword Tags:

Russia, Nuclear Issues, Missile Defense - Russia News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

Bookmark and Share - Back to the Top -        


Bookmark and Share

- Back to the Top -        

  Follow Johnson's Russia List on Twitter Tweet