Jeffrey LewisPrague Treaty Fact Sheet

Here is the White House Fact Sheet on the terms of the New START Treaty (which we will be calling the Prague Treaty). I’ve got a bunch of meetings all day, but will try to put something up over the weekend:

Office of the Press Secretary
March 25, 2010
Key Facts about the New START Treaty

Treaty Structure: The New START Treaty is organized in three tiers of increasing level of detail. The first tier is the Treaty text itself. The second tier consists of a Protocol to the Treaty, which contains additional rights and obligations associated with Treaty provisions. The basic rights and obligations are contained in these two documents. The third tier consists of Technical Annexes to the Protocol. All three tiers will be legally binding. The Protocol and Annexes will be integral parts of the Treaty and thus submitted to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.

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.


No, the “separate” and “combined” limits do not make intuitive sense to me yet, but I will let you know.

Update | 11:51 You can watch the official briefing at the White House.


  1. Pavel

    The difference between the two limits is roughly four submarines. Two in overhaul and two in port?

  2. jeannick

    during the press briefing sec. Gates mentioned five telemetry transfer per year ?
    that would be a sop to Russia I guess , also the reload capacity seems to be covered by the “ deployed non- deployed “ ceiling or is it ? does it include dual use B52?

  3. Scott Monje (History)

    The separate limits relate to missiles and the combined limits to missile launchers. Is an SLBM launcher a tube or a whole submarine? And why would a bomber count as a single warhead?

  4. FSB

    Very clever of the Russians to allow us the opportunity to bankrupt ourselves via missile defense [sic].

    Da Darling.

  5. anon (History)

    Separate limits: 800 launchers and bombers, 700 ICBMs and SLBMs and deployed bombers. Unlike in START, empty launchers won’t count against the 700. Pavel, I don’t think that means subs in port. I think it means empty IC silos and bombers on conventional missions.

    Also, on the issue of bombers counting as one warhead — that was Ronald Reagan’s idea in START!!! Slow-fliers aren’t as threatening as fast missiles (according to Reagan). Russia doesn’t count bomber weapons under Moscow Treaty, so this may have been their idea, but it sure helps us out with the warhead total.

    We need treaty text….

  6. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    It turns out, 700 is the number for delivery vehicles (we are currently at 833).

    For non-deployed, think about how you would count the two submarines in overhaul (another 48 tubes) and any empty silos (currently 100).

    Delivery vehicles that have been converted to conventional missions, like the B1 or converted SSBNs, are off the books.

    The one exception, as far as I can tell, would be any conventional warheads on SLBMs, which count as nuclear.

  7. Nik (History)

    Off topic, but i just saw an ad for a new book on China’s nuclear forces by your good self on the sidebar which subsequently vanished when i clicked on it. Am i imagining things?

  8. Andrew Tubbiolo (History)

    No constraints on conventional ballistic strike? Okay I plead ignorance, how is a monitoring party to know when a vehicle in flight is a conventional strike and not a nuclear strike? Do we now live in a world where if the US wants to hit say a target in Pakistan the Russians will grant us overflight rights for the RV? What about dumping rights of stages I and II? And once conventional strike becomes reliable enough, what does it mean when you can attack silos or maybe even mobile launchers with a conventional slug?

  9. George William Herbert (History)

    Non-deployed might also count the ICBM/SLBM inventories stocked for replenishment of ongoing reliability flight testing, but I haven’t read the source docs yet…

  10. MarkoB

    This treaty is what Bush’s state department was after i.e. a SORT plus treaty. Absent the provisions on BMD and PGS that this treaty was supposed to have according to the 2009 memo of understanding it most likely will not be superseded during Obama’s term/s of office unless Yeltsin makes a return from the grave.It’s a treaty that is
    (a) NSPD-14 friendly
    (b) Does not constrain BMD or PGS
    ©Has some, but limited verification protocols as Bush’s state department called for during its second term.

    This treaty is basically SORT plus i.e. a dubya type of treaty.If Bush was able to go to three terms this is what we would have got.

    This treaty is something, OK. But it ain’t a downpayment on Obama’s “vision” of “going to zero.” The arms control community should not be spinning it as such.

  11. Heisenberg (History)

    There are 100 unused MMIII LFs? They weren’t imploded?

  12. Distiller (History)

    VERY conservative treaty. Does anything change at all??

    As of now it would/could bring back the (manned) airbreathing bomber big time. Like building 1.500 bombers (or converted airliners) hang 24 long-range cruise missiles on each and voila – 1.500 legal treaty warheads, but 30.000 effective warheads.

    That would make it an economically limited force, not a treaty limited force.
    Strange. Am I missing anything here?

    Lets wait for the signed treaty and especially the two annexes before saying anything definitive!

  13. Distiller (History)

    Ah! Yess! Correction!

    That would make it a 700 aircraft bomber force (not 1500). Well, still 15.000 cruise missiles …

    Changes only the quantity, not the idea.

  14. nukem (History)

    Focus on the limit of 700 Deployed. The combined limit of 800 allows for 100 nondeployed. 700 Deployed is the key number. Forget 800.

  15. FSB
  16. Heisenberg (History)


    A couple of big picture constraints to your posted concern: 1) As you caught on, even though Heavy Bombers count as One WH, each Bomber counts as One Delivery Vehicle against the 800 deployed and non-deployed and 700 deployed totals. 2) There is no way on Earth that the U.S. will build more bombers at the expense of the SLBM and ICBM launch tubes wrt the delivery system limits…No Way. The differences in AD capabilities are just too extreme vice ICs and SLs. 3) I recommend everyone read the Mitchell Air Power Institute’s recent white paper recommending an ‘Effective Dyad’ of SLs and ICs, with a small number of bombers kept for ‘boutique missions’. The Mitchell Air Power Institute is associated with the Air Force Association, I believe.
    Also, I still question Jeffrey’s assertion that there exists 100 unused MMIII LFs.

  17. Heisenberg (History)

    @ FSB:

    It matters not what the Senate and/or Duma ratify or don’t ratify. The numbers in the ‘Prague Treaty’ will come to pass at some point sooner than later due to certain overarching realities, which are invariant to the petty political gamesmanship certain people/tribes will play. Economics describes how people/organizations/governments allocate scarce, finite resources against potential unlimited wants…all parties find it more imperative and ‘sexy’ to spend their bucks on the Buck Rodgers of cyberwarfare, space, C4ISR, Directed Energy, and a few other interesting areas. Don’t forget that there is the continuing imperative to fund ‘boots on the ground’ in far-flung areas to ‘fight the war on terror’ and whatever other aims those actions seek to achieve ‘in the sandbox’.

  18. anon (History)

    So many questions, I may have a few answers… As Jeffrey said, B-1s and SSGNs are off the books, as are bombers in the bone yard. We currently have 100 empty silos (no they were not impoloded) and 48 empty SLBM tubes when subs are in overhaul. Remember that the treaty has a 7-year implementation period, so the number of deployed and nondeployed weapons may look different by then. For example, some of those 100 silos may not count any more (treaty elimination rules may be less rigourous than START), but there could be more empty silos by then (just guessing; we’ll have to wait for NPR to know). Also, not all bombers may stay nuclear, some, if fully conventional, may qualify as “nondeployed.” Won’t know until we see treaty text on the definitions.

    On PGS, recall that we don’t have any conventional ballistic missiles right now, and we may not have them for several years (if at all in the treaty time frame.) And then the numbers will be small. Russia may be able to distinguish these from nuclear missiles if we develop them with distinguishability in mind — either a different deployment area, or inspections, or notifications, or something. The Air Force has been working on this for years.

    This is not what a Bush Treaty would have looked like. Bush Treaty would have had no counting rules or definitions, no limits on delivery vehicles. We would have declared a warhead number, using our own internal definitions. Monitoring regime attached to a Bush treaty would have bene voluntary — each side would invite the other for visits to allow openness. But it would not have been verification because, without any definitions or counting rules, there would have been nothing to verify. We would know what they chose to show us, but since we wouldn’t have any definitions of treaty-limited items, we wouldn’t know if what they showed us was consistent with our (or their) interpretation of the obligations.

    Finally, on the all bomber force… although it is theoretically possible, we’d never spend the money to such a thing (although it would be crisis stabilizing…) This treaty is not supposed to constrain imaginary future options (like past treaties did, does anyone else remember air-launched ballistic missiles in SALT II?). Its designed to provide for the orderly build down of existing forces. So you start with what we have and subtract. Then you add in new things that we or the Russians might build in the next 5-10 years. Given the slow pace of strategic programs in both countries, there should not be many (or any) surprises here.

  19. John Schilling (History)

    W/re conventional strike: For most any plausible strike, the RVs would either bypass Russia entirely or “overfly” it at an altitude that is clearly “outer space” – per the Sputnik precedent, no permission is required. And the spent stages will fall well short of the Russian border. That much is a non-issue.

    The real issues are, A: would the Russians panic and mistake a conventional-strike missile headed for Afghanistan with a nuke headed for Russia, and B: would they see a deployed US arsenal of 450 Minutemen and 288 Tridents as being a treaty violation even if 100 of the Minutemen are conventional?

    I expect that both of these can be addressed using a combination of notification and on-site verification. The US invites Russian inspectors visit every missile silo in e.g. Montana, repeatedly, and verify that they all have conventional warheads – the nukes are in North Dakota. This satisfies all concerned that the treaty is being obeyed, and if the Russians spot a launch from Montana they don’t need to panic. Would help, of course, if their first warning was a phone call from Washington saying “we’re going to launch a conventional missile from Montana to Afghanistan in ten minutes, as we are allowed to do, so please don’t panic”.

    Conventional strike vs. Russian ICBMs, I think we have discussed that here before and it doesn’t seem like a major issue on the 10-15 year timeframe of this treaty.

  20. FSB
  21. jeannick (History)

    On bombers count in SALT I

    “ Heavy bombers are subject to favorable attributed-warhead counting rules under the Treaty-known as “discount rules.”
    START attributes one warhead to each non-LRNA nuclear equipped heavy bomber regardless of the number of nuclear weapons it actually carries.
    The B-1B, therefore, would count as 1 warhead against the 6,000 ceiling even if it carried 16 gravity bombs.
    For LRNA-equipped heavy bombers, the first 150 so-equipped US heavy bombers each count as 10 attributed warheads
    against the 6,000 attributed warhead ceiling, although they may each carry up to 20 LRNA.
    The Treaty attributes Heavy bombers above the 150 threshold with the maximum number of warheads that any heavy bomber of the same type
    and variant is actually equipped to carry (12 for B-52G, 20 for B-52H).
    The Treaty limits the United States to a maximum of 20 LRNA on any existing or future heavy bomber.
    Additionally, the Treaty bans LRNAs equipped with more than one warhead.”

    And the official numbers as of now

  22. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    Well, Heisenberg, if it makes you feel any better, I question my assertion, too.

    All I have is the April 2009 START MOU data that counts 550 MMIII ( launchers and Admiral Winnefeld’s 2009 testimony that “under START, 50 Peacekeeper missile silos and 50 Minuteman III silos that are currently empty and no longer usable (or intended for use) still count.”

    Hell if I know.

  23. anon (History)

    The assertion that there are 100 empty silos is absolutely true. I don’t know why there would be any question about this. They are empty and they haven’t been destroyed according to START rules. They have not been blown up or excavated to 8 meters. But we don’t know (at least I don’t know) if the elimination rules under new START are the same. Right now they seem to fit into the “nondeployed” category (they don’t have missiles deployed in them). But one could imagine a new elimination procedure that would allow us to disable to remove them from accounting (like the SSGNs and B-1s). Since Russia also has empty silos, it may be open to something like this. This would leave room for the U.S. to empty out some more silos.

  24. John Bragg (History)

    There are serious economic incentives at work. I expect that the negotiators will/have come up with the cheapest possible solution to “eliminating” silos.

    Then again, how expensive is filling holes with concrete?

  25. Jeffrey Lewis (History)


    That’s my understanding. I don’t know, but I suspect, there will be a new procedure, since local opposition to explosive elimination of silos prohibits the most cost-effective of the START methods.

  26. Heisenberg (History)

    Jeffrey and anon,

    Thank you for the clarification. The only reason I asked the Q was that I didn’t know the answer and had erroneously thought the answer was otherwise…my apologies, I was not casting stones. This data potentially makes the treaty implementation more interesting.

  27. John Bragg (History)

    I’m going to ask an ignorant question.

    Why is closing the blast doors and pouring a few feet of concrete on top not an effective and cheap way of eliminating a silo?

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