The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is the last remaining treaty limiting Russian and American nuclear weapon stockpiles.
Extended by five years in 2021, the agreement requires transparency by the two countries – both subject to on-site inspection until the treaty expires on 4 February 2026.
New START was signed in 2010, coming into force in 2011, and gave both nations seven years to cap their arsenal to:
- 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and heavy bombers.
- 700 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.
- 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.
Both parties met these demands by 5 February 2018 and must now maintain these numbers until the end of the treaty.
Watch: Test missile launched by US in 2020 to intercept intercontinental ballistic missile target.
New START limits Russian nuclear weapons which can reach the US, some in just 30 minutes.
Russia and the US must declare new technologies that fall under the scope of the deal and exchange data to update one another on weapon stockpiles.
The pact follows up on the START I treaty between the US and the Soviet Union in 1991 and took the place of the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty when it came into force in 2011.
New START is separate from the Cold-War era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
In 2019, both Russia and the US abandoned the INF Treaty which had banned surface-launched missiles with a range of 500-5,500 km.
The INF Treaty effectively stopped Moscow from possessing ground-based missiles that could hit Europe, while Washington could not base missiles in Europe capable of hitting Russia.
Cover image: Alamy.