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The New START Treaty: Signed

The President signs a landmark nuclear arms treaty with Russia, New START, which will advance our security, our relations with Russia, and our progress toward a world not imperiled by nuclear weapons.
President Obama Signs the New START Treaty

President Barack Obama signs the instrument of ratification of the New START Treaty in the Oval Office, Feb. 2, 2011. Participants include, from left: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen; Energy Secretary Steven Chu; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; and Vice President Joe Biden. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Today the President ratified a landmark nuclear arms treaty with Russia, New START.  As the President said during the end of the last Congress, the treaty is "a national security imperative" as well as "a cornerstone of our relations with Russia" as we continue to work with them on everything from Iran to Afghanistan.  With the Senate having approved the treaty with a strong bipartisan vote late last year, today's signing marks a final step in the process.  That process began when President Obama and President Medvedev initially signed the agreement in Prague last April, a fitting location given that one year before that President Obama had been there for a major speech commiting to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

You can read the Treaty (pdf) and Protocol (pdf) themselves, but here's a quick overview from our fact sheet at the time:

Strategic Offensive Reductions:  Under the Treaty, the U.S. and Russia will be limited to significantly fewer strategic arms within seven years from the date the Treaty enters into force.  Each Party has the flexibility to determine for itself the structure of its strategic forces within the aggregate limits of the Treaty.  These limits are based on a rigorous analysis conducted by Department of Defense planners in support of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review. 

Aggregate limits:

  • 1,550 warheads.  Warheads on deployed ICBMs and deployed SLBMs count toward this limit and each deployed heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armaments counts as one warhead toward this limit.
    • This limit is 74% lower than the limit of the 1991 START Treaty and 30% lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty. 
  • A combined limit of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.
  • A separate limit of 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.
    • This limit is less than half the corresponding strategic nuclear delivery vehicle limit of the START Treaty.

Verification and Transparency:  The Treaty has a verification regime that combines the appropriate elements of the 1991 START Treaty with new elements tailored to the limitations of the Treaty.  Measures under the Treaty include on-site inspections and exhibitions, data exchanges and notifications related to strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the Treaty, and provisions to facilitate the use of national technical means for treaty monitoring.   To increase confidence and transparency, the Treaty also provides for the exchange of telemetry.

Treaty Terms:  The Treaty’s duration will be ten years, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement.   The Parties may agree to extend the Treaty for a period of no more than five years.  The Treaty includes a withdrawal clause that is standard in arms control agreements.  The 2002 Moscow Treaty terminates upon entry into force of the New START Treaty.  The U.S. Senate and the Russian legislature must approve the Treaty before it can enter into force.

No Constraints on Missile Defense and Conventional Strike:  The Treaty does not contain any constraints on testing, development or deployment of current or planned U.S. missile defense programs or current or planned United States long-range conventional strike capabilities.

President Obama's Signature on New START Treaty

President Barack Obama's signature on the instrument of ratification of the New START Treaty in the Oval Office, February 2, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)