The bilateral treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms came into effect on February 5, 2011. This treaty is expected to last 10 years. It provides the reduction of nuclear warheads up to 1550 units, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and ballistic missiles on submarines and heavy bombers – up to 700 units. The treaty has replaced the expired START I.

The new treaty has proved to be controversial. As far back as it was discussed in December, 2010, in the State Duma, the organization called “Eurasian Youth Union” launched a picket near the building against signing of the treaty, shouting “New START is a treachery!” and “New START is a war!”

The atmosphere inside of the building was also uneasy. Gennady Zyuganov, the Chairman of the Communist Party, declared that “nuclear weapon is the last argument Russia has and, above all, any reduction of the military potential jeopardizes our security”.  He was also supported by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Chairmen of the Liberal Democratic Party.  Zhirinovsky stated that the treaty significantly weakens Russia’s military power.

Petr Belov, the Professor of Academy of Geopolitical Problems, especially accentuated the most unprofitable point of this treaty for Russia – the item about the exchange of telemetry data; in other words, about the information transmitted from the flying missile. He says “New START doesn’t include provisions which need telemetry for compliance control.  However, the exchange of telemetry data is stipulated for some reason. Is it because The USA doesn’t plan to conduct testing of new ballistic missiles in the near future and Russia is testing the RS-24 ‘Yars’ and ‘the Bulava’ missiles? The telemetry data received from test launches can be used by the US for adapting its missile defence system to intercept Russian missiles”.

Leonid Kalashnikov, the member of the Presidium of the CC CPRF and the Secretary of the CC CPRF for international and economic affairs, gave a comprehensive criticism of the treaty:

Firstly, this treaty doesn’t anyhow limit nuclear arsenals of the US allies. Meanwhile, NATO members France and Great Britain have approximately 460 nuclear warheads on strategic carriers today.

Secondly, despite any obvious common sense, this treaty considers one heavy bomber as a one nuclear warhead. However, the most widely used American heavy bomber B-52H can carry 20 cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. Thus, having maintained about 100 such bombers in service, the US can load them with the maximum of 2000 warheads, formally not violating the treaty restrictions. In this case the total number of the US strategic warheads, delivered in one flight, can reach 3500 and that is more than twice as large as Russia’s strategic nuclear potential restricted by the New START Treaty is.

Thirdly, the treaty doesn’t anyhow limit breakout nuclear potential. To comply with the treaty restrictions, one should just remove a number of warheads from the missiles. At the same time, again despite any common sense, the platforms, meant for greater number of warheads, can remain on the missiles, and removed warheads could be stored anywhere, even near the carriers. For this reason, the number of warheads on American missiles “Minuteman-3” and “Trident III” could reach nearly 4000, and that is two and a half times more than the treaty allows.

Fourthly, the treaty doesn’t anyhow limit the development of The US missile defence system. Russia’s statement concerning missile defence system, made when concluding the treaty, doesn’t legally commit the USA to anything.  Meanwhile the USA continues to deploy missile defence system.

Fifthly, the treaty doesn’t anyhow limit the number of seaborne long-range cruise missiles and doesn’t consider them as a strategic weapon.  Meanwhile, The US has been constantly increasing the number of cruise missiles in its naval forces for 30 years. According to the experts’ estimations, from 2800 to 3600 “Tomahawk” missiles are constantly present on board American ships and submarines. Together with ships and submarines fully loaded with Tomahawk” missiles, the strike potential of the American navy can reach 10 thousand cruise missiles, which is 20 times more than the Russian navy has.

Russian military men supported this treaty. General of the Army Nikolay Makarov, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation stated: “The agreements, achieved in this treaty, relieve mutual concerns and fully meet all the security interests of Russia”.

Major General Sergey Orlov, the Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff noted: “The treaty doesn’t put any restrictions on the development and improvement of Russian nuclear group. Quantitative parameters, fixed in this treaty, according to our calculations, allow Russian Armed Forces to comprehensively provide strategic deterrence during peace-time and destruct enemy’s nuclear sites with the guaranteed probability during wartime”.

Mikhail Margelov, the Chairmen of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, also noted that “The New START Treaty will allow Russia to save billions of dollars on re-equipment of existing means of delivery without hampering the modernization of weaponry”.

Time will tell whether New START will be effective or not. However, nowadays the majority of experts agree that the epoch of bilateral Russia-US agreements is over and now it is the turn of other nuclear powers to sign treaties on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.