START II, the "St"rategic "A"rms "R"eduction "T"reaty, which was signed by United States President George H. W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin on January 3, 1993 [] , banned the use of MIRVs on ICBMs and is hence often cited as the De-MIRV-ing Agreement.

MIRVed land-based ICBMs are considered destabilizing because they tend to put a premium on striking first. When a missile is MIRVed, it is able to carry many warheads and deliver them to separate targets. The Peacekeeper missile was capable of carrying up to 10 MIRVs. However, in 2001 President Bush set a plan in motion to reduce the country’s missile forces from 6,000 to between 1,700 and 2,200. Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to follow a similar plan and in October 2002 the deactivation of the Peacekeeper missile began and was completed by 19 September of 2005.

The Minuteman III ICBM is the primary U.S. missile system and can carry up to 3 MIRVs. Hypothetically, if one to were to assume that each side had 100 missiles, with 5 warheads each, and further that each side had a 95 percent chance of neutralizing the opponent's missiles in their silos by firing 2 warheads at each silo, then the side that strikes first can reduce the enemy ICBM force from 100 missiles to about 5 by firing 40 missiles with 200 warheads and keeping the remaining 60 missiles in reserve. Thus the destruction capability is greatly increased by MIRVs but the number of targets does not increase.

Of course the same argument applies to new American SLBMs even in much larger extent due to SSBNs stealth capabilities and practical invulnerability. However this imbalance wasn't resolved in START II Treaty at all.

START II followed START I and, although ratified, the treaty has never entered into force; in other words never been activated. On June 14, 2002, one day after the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Russia withdrew from START II.The historic agreement started on June 17, 1992 with the signing of a 'Joint Understanding' by the presidents. The official signing of the treaty by the presidents took place on January 3, 1993. It was ratified by the U.S. Senate on January 26, 1996 with a vote of 87-4. However, Russian ratification was stalled in the Duma for many years. It was postponed a number of times to protest American invasion of Iraq and military actions in Kosovo, as well as to oppose the expansion of NATO.As the years passed, the treaty became less relevant and both sides started to lose interest in it. For the Americans, the main issue became the modification of the ABM Treaty to allow the U.S. to deploy a national missile defense system, a move which Russia fiercely opposed. On April 14, 2000 the Duma did finally ratify the treaty, in a largely symbolic move since the ratification was made contingent on preserving the ABM Treaty, which it was clear the U.S. was not prepared to do.START II did not enter into force because the Russian ratification made this contingent on U.S. Senate ratifying a September 1997 addendum to START II which included agreed statements on ABM-TMD demarcation. Neither of these occurred because of U.S. Senate opposition, where a faction objected to any action supportive of the ABM Treaty. On June 14, 2002, one day after the U.S. withdrew from the ABM Treaty, Russia announced that it would no longer consider itself to be bound by START II provisions. The treaty was officially bypassed by the SORT treaty, agreed to by Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin at their summit meeting in November 2001, and signed at Moscow Summit on May 24, 2002. Both sides agreed to reduce operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700-2,200 by 2012.

ee also

*SALT I and II
*INF Treaty

External links

* [ Information on FAS website]
* [ U.S./ Russian Treaties and Agreements]

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