Jeffrey LewisjumpSTART

Hey folks, sorry for the long absence. Xiamen is fantastic … much more exciting than the blue glow of my laptop. What little time I’ve spent online has been sunk on my book, a forthcoming article and, you know, managing the atom.

Anyway, I came all the way to China to learn something about Russia.

Seems like there is some movement toward negotiating another Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), or at least some arrangement to continue the verification protocols that expire with the treaty in 2009

I mentioned this as a looming issue back in December 2004 (See: “IC Can’t Verify Moscow Treaty”), when the intelligence community produced an estimate that revealed it would not be able to verify Russian compliance with Moscow Treaty after 2009. The debate restarted this summer, when Vladimir Putin called for new negotiations to continue to the START process:

We want our dialogue on the most crucial disarmament issues to be resumed. We call on our American partners to launch a negotiating process to replace the START.

(You can watch Putin’s address here—p.s. you gotta use IE.)

Inside Defense reported that Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak planned to meet in Washington in mid-September.

Details from the meeting are hazy; Wade Boese summarizes
the limited information that has leaked regarding the talks.

The Bush Administration hasn’t seemed eager to restart such talks—“We’re like ‘Arms control, what’s that?’”—so I wonder about the impetus for change. There is some murmuring that STRATCOM Commander James Cartwright has been able to make a real difference on this front—he has, at least, been talking about getting JDEC up and running with the Russians and inviting the Chinese to participate.

Anyway, this post is mostly a summary—an invitation to gossip, as it were.

The main issues associated with resuming the START process haven’t received too much attention beyond a new article in Arms Control Today (Anatoli Diakov and Eugene Miasnikov, “ReSTART: The Need for a New U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Agreement,” Arms Control Today, September 2006) and a recent Carnegie Endowment Conferenc with Alexei Arbatov, Vladimir Dvorkin and John Steinbruner (Beyond Nuclear Deterence: Transforming the US-Russia Equation, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, September 20, 2006).

As I say, I hope to get a little more gouge on this subject.


  1. Amyfw (History)

    My thoughts—Actually, this is based on about 10% history, 10% knowledge, and 80% conjecture and guesses, so take what you want from it.

    First, history. During testimony on the Moscow Treaty, either Rummy or Powell (or both, I don’t recall) were asked about our ability to monitor compliance without START. The answer was that we didn’t care. We didn’t care if Russia cheated because we were no longer sizing and structuring our forces to meet the “Russian threat.” So we didn’t care what they did under the Moscow Treaty. Even if the experts say we can’t verify, the politicians say, “so what.”

    Knowledge: Cartwright’s interest in JDEC has nothing to do with START or arms control monitoring. JDEC has nothing to do with arms control monitoring; its an early warning mechanism that grew out the Y2K fears and concerns about Russia’s early warning system. Cartwright’s sudden interest is a part of his sell for the conventional Trident. If we had the JDEC (and something like it for China), we might solve the “misunderstanding problem” with a conventional ballistic missile launch by having a forum to communicate with the people we didn’t want to scare into shooting back.

    More knowledge: The Pentagon and its components want to get out from under START monitoring rules like crazy. The inspections, the telemetry sharing, the locational limits, its all a huge burden, with no perceived benefit since we no longer care what Russia does, and we know Russia is going to reduce anyway.

    Conjecture: We will not have new Treaty under this Administration. There’s nothing in it for the U.S. Putin wants it, but we don’t care what he wants. He wants us to reduce our forces with him; we want the flexibility to do what we want.

    START may be extended, but probably won’t. We don’t care about monitoring the Moscow Treaty and we don’t want the constraints on peripheral activities (there’s a missile defense testing issue here, too.)

    We may have some kind of joint statement/joint extension of the monitoriing provisions in START, but I don’t think that’s on the top of anyone’s list in the U.S. It would be done mostly to appease Russia, but again, the Pentagon is really opposed.

    The real wild card is that the Treaty does not expire until the end of 2009; that gives the next Administration a crack at it. And what they do depends on who they are….