What the START Treaty Actually Does

Us-Russian treaty expected to pass today
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2010 7:51 AM CST
In this April 15, 1997 picture, airmen mount a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile inside an underground silo in Scottsbluff, Neb.   (AP Photo/Eric Draper)
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(Newser) – START, the US’ new nuclear arms treaty with Russia, is expected to pass today, after a good bit of political wrangling. So just what does this new treaty mean? The AP breaks it down:

  • Limits on nuclear weapons: Each side will have to reduce their ready-to-launch nuclear arsenals to a mere 1,500 warheads. That may sound like a whole lot of nuclear death, but it’s down 30% from the country’s last deal in 2002.

  • Limits on delivery systems: Each side will be limited to 800 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, heavy bombers, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and only 700 can be nuclear armed. Those levels are half of what the 1991 START deal laid out.
  • Inspectors: Both sides can once again send inspectors to ensure the other side is sticking to the treaty, something that stopped a little over a year ago when an old treaty expired. The inspection system has also been revamped in ways the Obama administration says will make it cheaper and easier.
  • What it doesn’t do: The treaty doesn’t regulate stored warheads that aren’t ready to launch, and doesn’t regulate short-range tactical nuclear weapons. President Obama says he’d like to negotiate another treaty covering both.

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