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Public Papers - 1991 - November

Message to the Senate Transmitting the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks Treaty

1991-11-25

To the Senate of the United States:

I am transmitting herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the START Treaty) signed at Moscow on July 31, 1991. The START Treaty includes the following documents, which are integral parts thereof:

-- the Annex on Agreed Statements (``Agreed Statements Annex'');

-- the Annex on Terms and Their Definitions (``Definitions Annex'');

-- the Protocol on Procedures Governing the Conversion or Elimination of the Items Subject to the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (``Conversion or Elimination Protocol'');

-- the Protocol on Inspections and Continuous Monitoring Activities Related to the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, with 12 annexes (``Inspection Protocol'');

-- the Protocol on Notifications Relating to the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (``Notification Protocol'');

-- the Protocol on ICBM and SLBM Throw-weight Relating to the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (``Throw-weight Protocol'');

-- the Protocol on Telemetric Information Relating to the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (``Telemetry Protocol'');

-- the Protocol on the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission Relating to the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (``Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission Protocol''); and

-- the Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the Data Base Relating to the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, with 10 annexes (``Memorandum of Understanding'').

In addition, I transmit herewith, for the information of the Senate, the Report of the Department of State and documents associated with, but not integral parts of, the START Treaty. These documents are of four types: separate executive agreements related to the Treaty; letters embodying executive agreements on various aspects of the Treaty; declarations regarding specific systems that do not fall within the scope of the Treaty; and a variety of statements and correspondence concerning aspects of the negotiation of the Treaty. Although not submitted for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, these documents are relevant to the consideration of the Treaty by the Senate.

The START Treaty represents a nearly decade-long effort by the United States and the Soviet Union to address the nature and magnitude of the threat that strategic nuclear weapons pose to both countries and to the world in general. The fundamental premise of START is that, despite significant political differences, the United States and the Soviet Union have a common interest in reducing the risk of nuclear war and enhancing strategic stability.

The United States had several objectives in the START negotiations. First, we consistently held the view that the START Treaty must enhance stability in times of crisis. The strategic nuclear forces remaining after implementation of START -- as well as during the period when weapons are reduced -- should be such as to reduce Soviet incentives to provoke a crisis or to strike first during a crisis. Stability in times of crisis will remain important even in the post-Cold War era; no one can predict the future, and the purpose of this Treaty is to regulate the strategic threat for many years to come. Among the many measures we sought to fulfill this objective, the most important were the preferential treatment given to stabilizing systems, such as bombers and cruise missiles, the stringent limits on deployed ballistic missiles and their reentry vehicles, and the special, restrictive limits on heavy ICBM's, the most destabilizing weapons in existence.

Second, we sought an agreement that did not simply limit strategic arms, but that reduced them significantly below current levels. A successful combination of this objective with that of a stabilizing force structure can serve for many years as a linch-pin in shaping our strategic posture, and, if appropriate, can serve as a basis for future agreements that will lead to further reductions. Moreover, in order for the Treaty to work smoothly over many years, its terms must be as precise and unambiguous as possible. Neither Party should have any doubt as to the limitations and obligations that are imposed by the terms of the Treaty.

Third, we sought a Treaty that would allow equality of U.S. forces relative to those of the Soviet Union. Again, the emphasis is to reach equality in order that the resulting levels will be stabilizing. Equality does not require identical force structures; rather, it demands limits that allow the Parties to have equivalent capabilities.

Fourth, we sought an agreement that is effectively verifiable. Effective verification is necessary to ensure that U.S. national security is not jeopardized under the Treaty. Effective verification also acts as an inducement to the Soviets to comply because they are aware that their behavior will be closely monitored.

Finally, the United States placed great emphasis during the negotiations in seeking an agreement that would be supported by the American and allied publics. This objective means that U.S. policies regarding strategic forces must not only sustain deterrence, but will also serve to assure the American people and allied publics that the risk of war and crisis instability is low and is being further reduced.

I am fully convinced that the START Treaty achieves these objectives.

START will be the first Treaty that actually reduces strategic offensive arms. START will lead to stabilizing changes to the composition of, and reductions in, the deployed strategic offensive nuclear forces of both countries. The overall strategic nuclear forces of both countries will be reduced by 30 - 40 percent, with a reduction of as much as 50 percent in the most threatening systems. The Treaty will have a 15-year duration, and can be extended for successive 5-year periods through the agreement of the Parties.

Force reductions under START will be asymmetrical due to currently higher Soviet levels, and will result in equal limits on deployed strategic offensive arms at the end of each of three phases over the first 7 years that the Treaty is in force. Moreover, I believe that the reduction of ICBMs should be accomplished even more rapidly than the Treaty would require. On September 27, as a part of my statement on the future of U.S. nuclear weapons, I said that those ICBMs that the United States would reduce pursuant to START would be eliminated more rapidly than required by the Treaty. Today, I reiterate that pledge.

More specifically, the central limits of START require reductions down to ceilings of 1600 on deployed strategic nuclear delivery systems (i.e., deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers), 6000 accountable nuclear warheads that those missiles and bombers would carry, and 3600 metric tons of aggregate ballistic missile throw-weight. Aggregate throw-weight -- a measure of the total weight of weapons and related objects that a ballistic missile can deliver -- is limited to approximately 54 percent of the current aggregate Soviet throw-weight level.

Within these aggregate limits, the United States and Soviet Union have agreed to observe certain subceilings in specific weapon categories. Reductions and limitations on those weapon systems that could most threaten crisis stability are emphasized in these subceilings. Under START, neither Party may have more than 4900 deployed ballistic missile warheads of which no more than 1100 warheads can be on deployed mobile ICBMs. Moreover, the Soviet Union is required to reduce by 50 percent their heavy ICBM force. The Soviet Union will eliminate no fewer than 22 SS - 18 launchers every year during the 7-year reduction period to a ceiling of 1540 warheads on 154 heavy ICBMs.

To assist in verifying compliance with these limits, START incorporates the most extensive verification regime in history, which includes the exchange of ballistic missile telemetry tapes, the permanent monitoring of mobile ICBM assembly facilities, 12 kinds of on-site inspections, special access visits, cooperative measures, and data exchanges to complement our national technical means of verification. Moreover, many of the Treaty provisions, such as its definitions, counting rules, conversion or elimination procedures, notifications, and numerous data exchanges, will help to verify whether the Soviet Union is in compliance with the central limitations. Thus, I am convinced START is effectively verifiable.

START represents a critical watershed in our long-term effort to stabilize the strategic balance through arms control. Stabilization of the strategic balance will help cement one of the most fundamental tenets of our preferred world order -- that conflict must not and shall not be resolved through the use of nuclear weapons. Moreover, recent events underscore the need to ensure stability and to broaden the dialogue between our countries. Implementation of START would reinforce these efforts.

In sum, the START Treaty is in the interest of the United States and represents an important step in the stabilization of the strategic nuclear balance. I therefore urge the Senate to give prompt and favorable consideration to the Treaty, including its Annexes, Protocols, and Memorandum of Understanding, and to give advice and consent to its ratification.

George Bush

The White House,

November 25, 1991.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
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