State Department Releases 2010 Compliance Report

Jul 28, 2010


By Sarah Bulley
The U.S. Department of State released today its 2010 Treaty Compliance Report, which details international adherence to arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements. Today’s release was greeted with more than the standard amount of discussion because of the report’s description of Russian non-compliance with some aspects of START I. Despite a scheduled Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on New START next Tuesday, there are worries that Republicans may use the State Department’s report as a means to delay the treaty’s Senate vote until after mid-term elections.
The last compliance report was released in 2005. The report highlighted “a significant number of longstanding compliance issues” that remained unresolved at the time of the report. Although the report also drew attention to new compliance issues, it found several areas of concern.
With respect to inspection of reentry vehicles on mobile launchers, the 2005 report found that
During RVOSIs [Reentry Vehicle Inspections] of deployed Russian ICBMs, U.S. inspectors have been hampered, in some cases, from ascertaining whether the missile had a front section, or that the front section contained no more reentry vehicles (RVs) than the number of warheads attributed to a missile of the declared type under the Treaty.
The 2005 Compliance Report also raised the issue of inspectors’ difficulty in measuring some ICBM launch canisters
U.S. inspectors have been prevented from exercising the Treaty right to measure certain ICBM launch canisters on mobile launchers, both deployed and non-deployed, that are encountered during data update inspections to confirm data regarding the type of item of inspection.
Part II of the 2010 report explains how these issues and other inspection measures have been resolved since the 2005 report was published
Major long-standing issues related to the reentry vehicle inspection (RVOSI) of ICBMs for mobile launchers were resolved since the 2005 Report. An issue over measurement of launch canisters on deployed mobile launchers for mobile ICBMs also was resolved.
One issue that was reported in the 2005 Report was the Russian practice of exiting SS-27 road-mobile launchers from the Barrikady production facility at Volgograd and transiting them over 100 kilometers to a “break-in” area near Kapustin Yar without declaring them Treaty-accountable upon their first exit from the production facility. The Russian Federation ceased this practice and the United States considered the issue closed.
The State Department’s report goes on to describe how Belarus and Ukraine, which inherited SS-24 and SS-25 ICBMs from the Soviet Union and have since gone on to destroy or maintain destruction commitments to the satisfaction of the U.S.
The Washington Post reported today that although a number of the 2005 issues had been resolved, a number of others remained when START I expired in December. The report stated that “complex verification and inspection provisions” were the root of such concerns. An issue brief released by the Arms Control Association today said these issues “would be resolved by New START, which has a simpler, more streamlined verification system.”
The 2010 report does bring attention to some ambiguities with Russia’s adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention. However, the ACA points out the U.S. is also behind schedule on destroying its own chemical weapons stockpile due to the nature of the performing such tasks safely.
FCNL announced today that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled next Tuesday to vote on whether or not to send New START to the Senate for ratification. However, Senator Kerry said shortly afterwards that the vote may not actually be called then. Senator Lugar, Ranking Member of the committee, is the only Republican who has announced his plan to vote for the treaty. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl is a vocal critic of the treaty, but has centered most of his concerns on the necessity of resources to modernize and maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Mitt Romney published an op-ed in the Washington Post earlier this month questioning the treaty’s effect on U.S. ballistic missile defense plans in Europe as well as counting and verification rules.
Some treaty supporters believe Republicans will use today’s compliance report as a means to delay the Senate’s vote on the matter until after mid-term elections in November. Despite such tactics, Foreign Policy reported yesterday that Senate Republicans are leaning towards ratification, when the treaty is finally voted on. A delay could prevent President Obama a political victory before voters go to the polls. As the Post reported, Senator Kyl denied such intentions
"It is not my purpose to delay, but if our legitimate requests are not dealt with appropriately, then it could be delayed," he said in an interview.
After today’s articles by The Washington Post and Washington Times implied that Russia was cheating on START I, Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, told Foreign Policy that the report demonstrated that Russia had adhered to treaty provisions
"Cheating implies intent to undermine a treaty. There's no history of cheating on the central obligations of START; there's a history of abiding by the treaty."
Despite the fact that several compliance issues were “resolved” between 2005 and 2010, domestic pressures continue to hamper the ratification of New START. The State Department’s report found that “Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine were in compliance with the START strategic offensive arms (SOA) central limits for the 15-year term of the Treaty,” but a history of verification and inspection issues may give treaty detractors a chance to call Russia’s future compliance into question. While detractors currently take issue with the verification measures of New START, the fact remains that verification no verification will take place until the treaty is ratified by the Senate.