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Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (Moscow Treaty)

Published May 24, 2002

This treaty between Russia and the United States limits each country's nuclear holdings so that "the aggregate number of ... warheads does not exceed 1,700 to 2,200 for each Party." It replaced the START II treaty, from which Russia withdrew after the United States withdrew from the ABM treaty. The Moscow Treaty was signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin and was in force June 2003 to February 2011, when it was superceded by the new START treaty signed between Presidents Barack Obama and Putin.


Background: The U.S.-Russian summit held in Moscow and St. Petersburg on 24 - 26 May 2002, capped the process of rapprochement between the two States that began in earlier summits in Ljubljana, Genoa, Crawford, and Shanghai, with both aspiring to leave behind the logjams of the Cold War. Several documents were signed on a set of iss ues ranging from arms control to cooperation in the economic, energy, and information technology areas. The most publicized event of the summit was the signing of the Treaty of Moscow. This document was largely a result of compromise: the United States insisted that the two countries did not need a treaty at all, but agreed to insistent Russian proposals to conclude one. At the same time, the United States did not compromise on its top priority, freedom of choice on the fate of its decommissioned warheads, while Moscow gave up its earlier proposals for the guaranteed destruction of warheads. Obligations:

  • Each Party shall reduce and limit strategic nuclear warheads so that by 31 December 2012 , the aggregate number of such warheads does not exceed 1,700 - 2,200 for each Party.
  • Each Party shall determine for itself the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms, based on the established aggregate limit for the number of such warheads.
  • The Parties agree that START I remains in force in accordance with its terms.
  • The parties shall meet at least twice a year for a Bilateral Implementation Commission to discuss the progress of implementation of the t reaty.
  • In February of 2003, the Senate Armed Services Committee, in reviewing the treaty for ratification, stipulated two additional conditions. First, the creation of an annual report on the status of US - Russian Cooperation Threat Reduction initiatives and, second, an annual update on treaty implementation, including information on strategic force levels, planned reductions each calendar year, and verification or transparency measures.

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