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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 53, December 2000 - January 2001

Russian Statement on START I

'On the US Violations of the START I Treaty,' Russian Foreign Ministry Statement, Document 6-04-01-2001, January 4, 2001; unofficial translation.

"The United States in the past year informed the Russian Federation and other parties to the START I Treaty that it was ceasing the production of MX intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which are a major component of the country's strategic nuclear arsenal. But already in advance, the US has gone for the direct violation of the Treaty provisions in so far as the procedures governing the elimination of these missiles are concerned.

The fact is that the MX ICBMs are subject to elimination under Section I of the Conversion or Elimination Protocol, which is an integral part of the Treaty. And the provisions of this section of the Protocol call for the complete elimination of such missiles - of all their stages and the other specified elements - and that this should be done under the mandatory control of inspectors of the other party.

The US representatives are now saying, however, that the elimination of the MX ICBMs must occur (and is already being carried out by the American side) differently than provided for in the Conversion or Elimination Protocol, and not the way Russia's ICBMs must be eliminated. According to their assertion, it is enough for the US under inspection to eliminate only the first stage of an MX ICBM, and this missile can then be regarded as eliminated. The sole justification offered for this stand: the Treaty count for American MX ICBMs is by their first stages, and therefore, so the argument runs, for their exclusion from the count there may be eliminated one first stage.

But in the Treaty there is not a single word about such a 'special' method of eliminating the MX ICBMs. The Treaty count for MX ICBMs is indeed by their first stages, as these missiles are maintained, stored and transported in stages, and not in the form of assembled missiles. But the counting procedure for these missiles under the Treaty has nothing in common with the Treaty-stipulated procedures governing their elimination.

The foregoing, of course, suggests the question: with what purpose do our American START I Treaty partners go for its violation by removing inspection of the elimination of the MX ICBMs and limiting the elimination of this missile to its first stage while preserving the second and third stages?

One aim is clear: the first stage of an MX ICBM is sometimes used in the US as the first stage of a space carrier rocket. ... [O]ne can refer [this matter] to...competent specialists. In their opinion, there cannot be excluded the desire of the United States to have a 'reciprocal potential,' that is to say, to get a possibility to rapidly deploy an additional group of ICBMs through the use of the second and third stages of MX ICBMs...(they are the same size as the first stage of an MX ICBM, and under the Treaty must be regarded as MX ICBMs, even though the United States has declared these stages acceleration devices for the launching of space vehicles).

Another possible scheme, the experts believe, is that the US already has...experience in creating on the basis of second and third stages of Minuteman-2 ICBMs, under the guise of a ballistic missile target, a new-type [of] medium-range land-based Hera ballistic missile in violation of the INF Treaty. Perhaps...[it is intending] to use the second and third stages of MX ICBMs in the same way - to create on their basis medium-range land-based ballistic missiles of a new type. This, of course, would be a violation of the INF Treaty, as it was in the case with the Hera land-based ballistic missile.

At various levels, the question of the violations by the United States of the START I and the INF Treaties has more than once been raised by the Russian side. However, no satisfactory answer has come from the American side so far."

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.