Jeffrey LewisJoint Understanding US Full Text

I think lots of people have copies now of the English version of the Joint Understanding — though NSC has not responded to my email request.


Here it is:


The President of the United States of America and the President of the Russian Federation have decided on further reductions and limitations of their nations’ strategic offensive arms and on concluding at an early date a new legally binding agreement to replace the current START Treaty, and directed that the new treaty contain, inter alia, the following elements:

1. A provision to the effect that each Party will reduce and limit its strategic offensive arms so that seven years after entry into force of the treaty and thereafter, the limits will be in the range of 500-1100 for strategic delivery vehicles, and in the range of 1500-1675 for their associated warheads.

The specific numbers to be recorded in the treaty for these limits will be agreed through further negotiations.

2. Provisions for calculating these limits.

3. Provisions on definitions, data exchanges, notifications, eliminations, inspections and verification procedures, as well as confidence building and transparency measures, as adapted, simplified, and made less costly, as appropriate, in comparison to the START Treaty.

4. A provision to the effect that each Party will determine for itself the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms.

5. A provision on the interrelationship of strategic offensive and strategic defensive arms.

6. A provision on the impact of intercontinental ballistic missiles and
submarine-launched ballistic missiles in a non-nuclear configuration on strategic stability.

7. A provision on basing strategic offensive arms exclusively on the national territory of each Party.

8. Establishment of an implementation body to resolve questions related to treaty implementation.

9. A provision to the effect that the treaty will not apply to existing patterns of cooperation in the area of strategic offensive arms between a Party and a third state.

10. A duration of the treaty of ten years, unless it is superseded before that time by a subsequent treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive arms.

The Presidents direct their negotiators to finish their work on the treaty at an early date so that they may sign and submit it for ratification in their respective countries.

Signed at Moscow, this sixth day of July, 2009, in duplicate, in the English and Russian languages.

Russian speakers can compare with the Russian text.


  1. FSB

    Let’s hope we drop the missile defense due to its inherent flaws and not only because Russians want us to. eg. not one realistic test against countermeasures to date. Or tumbling warheads.

    Anyway, what’s the big deal if Iran got nukes?…Israel, a non-NPT member already has them….

  2. V.S. (History)

    Dear FSB,

    I read several of your postings here and I like them. So what I say below I say it with all the respect.

    I really hate the fact that Israel has nuclear weapons and their opacity pisses me off too. Moreover I hate the fact that India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and even more so that both their people/public opinions are thrilled about it. I hate even more that North Korea has nuclear weapons (capabilities). Do you think that I’ll stop there? I also hate the fact that the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France still possess nuclear weapons. And yes I admit that NPT is discriminatory.

    But I’m also sick and tired of the flawed argument that all this cluster**** described above makes it OK or somehow more understandable or a bit more justified that Iran or for that matter any NPT non-nuclear weapon state would vie for acquiring nukes or hedges towards acquiring nukes.

    And since we are to compair the cases of Iran and Israel. Well, there is a qualitative difference between a state that signs a treaty and uptakes a legally binding obligation that later attempts to break on the one hand, and a state that never promised and never took up the same obligation on the other. So let’s not compare pears with apples. The concern by the international community over the case of Iran is fully legitimate and dead serious by itself and is not related to what Israel does.

    The Israeli case then is also serious and the same international community should do something about it and put political pressure. If we start however linking the two cases and try to justify one on the account of the other we’ll get nothing, beyond a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that is.

    Again, with all respect.

  3. wakeymugs (History)

    Provision 7 states – A provision on basing strategic offensive arms exclusively on the national territory of each Party.
    Would this imply that strategic nuclear weapons on board SSBNs would be withdrawn. Most unlikely – there are too many loop holes in the Jt Statement


  4. Distiller (History)

    Pure status quo on both sides. Like that the Messiah won’t get a nuclear free world.

    And again no yield limit or definition of strategic.
    And still bi-lateral instead of an open-to-all basis.

    Re the defensive strategic component: At least they have included the offensive – defensive angle. If followed through this might well be the end of the ground based mid-course interceptor.

  5. Yale Simkin (History)

    Wakeymugs asks if provision 7 requires that nukes be removed from subs.

    No, as this commentary on German Constitutional law demonstrates:

    National territory
    The national territory is a assignable section of the earth’s surface, the interior of the earth under it and the air space above it. Also where appropriate a twelve-mile zone to the open sea (some states claim other distances), warships, trading vessels at sea, airplanes during the flight and exclaves (smaller territories outside the enclosed national territory.

  6. Yale Simkin (History)

    Element 5:
    5. A provision on the interrelationship of strategic offensive and strategic defensive arms.

    is interesting in that it does not state (nor imply) that there is an interrelationship. It simply is a requirement that the treaty contains a discussion. Element 5 would be satisfied with a statement in the treaty that “No substantive interelationship exists between Defensive and Offensive Arms.

    I see only elements 1 and 7 as having hard bottomline commitments.

  7. FSB

    with all due respect, Israel has already started the nuclear arms race in the middle east.


    PS: nice one from Garwin on Missile Defense

  8. scud

    FSB, why would it be an “arms race”? Do you seriously believe that the Iranian would not seek a nuclear capability if Israel did not have nuclear weapons? If so, it shows a lack of understanding of Iranian motivations. I don’t know any scholar of Iran that believes Tehran’s primary motivations are linked with Israel, and that Iran wants this capacity because Israel has it.

    Moreover, in general, I would argue that the experience of the Cold war shows that the “arms race” metaphor belongs to op-eds or negligent diplomats such as those who drafted the NPT rather than to serious analysis.

  9. Distiller (History)

    Arms race. Look at it! Almost every likely candidate for nuclear weapons already has them.

    If Persia declares, it’s just a question of time till Turkey will follow. And then with a certain chance Egypt. And that’s about it.

    Who is left of the potentials, with the skills, resources, needs/ambitions? Australia? Brasil? Nigeria?

    In reality non-proliferation on a nation state level has failed. Probably never could work anyway. Now the focus has to be to prevent passing them on to client states and to non-state operators.

  10. FSB

    scud (& V.S.),
    please read this document from NDU.

    Israeli nukes feed into the strategic isolation of Iran — among other factors: US attacks on both sides of Iran (Af & Iraq), CIA interference in 1950s, US supplying Iraq with Chemical weapons to use against Iran (I guess there were no “Neda“s in the 1980s who died from US chemicals), etc., etc., etc.

    It is hard to dispute this statement of fact: “Israel introduced nuclear weapons into the middle east.”

    That does enter into the calculus of Iran — it may not be the determining factor but it is highly relevant in their planning.

  11. Azr@el (History)

    7. Положение о базировании стратегических наступательных вооружений исключительно на национальной территории каждой из Сторон.

    Is Russian for, “No more NATO nuclear sharing” and a withdrawal of the ~400 or so so US atomic munitions from the Far West Eurasian Theater. My question? What’s the quid pro quo?

  12. Jeffrey Lewis (History)


    No, you are overlooking the phrase “стратегических наступательных вооружений” — strategic offensive arms.

    The START treaty contained a similar phrase: “28. Each Party undertakes not to base strategic offensive arms subject to the limitations of this Treaty outside its national territory.”

    Same thing. The provision doesn’t apply to the forward deployed B61 gravity bombs.