13 February 2009

Basic ideas for a post-STARTarms treaty

You might have heard already, but the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is due to expire soon and so President Obama has proposed reducing stockpiles to 1,500- 2,000 nuclear warheads.

I have some basic ideas for this new treaty and would like your opinions.

Overall aims

I would aim for a reduction in deliverable nuclear warheads to a total of 800 for the United States of America and 1000 for the Russian Federation. Those precise numbers would be tweaked about, but reflect the differences in technological capabilities, as well as other things.

This number would allow for effective mass destruction of either country without ensuring complete "breakdown" of their countries.

No strategic weapon systems with increased capability from present would be permitted.

Nuclear long-range bombers

The US has the B-52 and B-2s as their sole aircraft tasked for strategic nuclear weapons, with 1,080 such warheads. Russia has the Tu-22M "Backfire", the Tu-95 "Bear" and the Tu-160 "Blackjack".

I propose that the B-52 fleet is reduced to a total of about 30 and completely denuclearised. The B-2 will become the sole US nuclear bomber, along with the "2018 bomber" and these two together limited to a total of about 40. These would only carry free-fall bombs.

Russia would de-nuclearify the "Backfire" and the "Bear", reducing their numbers to 100 of the former and 50 of the latter. The "Blackjack" could go up to 40 in numbers too, retaining the air-launched cruise missile capability..

Stealth would balance out stand-off capability.

Tactical nuclear weapons

Eliminate the lot of them- on both sides. They are not needed in any likely war scenario. This includes sub-launched cruise missiles.


Eliminate the R-39M/SS-18 and UR-100N/SS-19 from Russian service immediately. Allow Russia a total of 400 ICBM mounted warheads, on Topol, Topol-M and RS-24 missiles.

Reduce the US Minuteman III force to 150 missiles, with two warheads each.


The US would convert three more of the fourteen Ohio-SSBNs to SSGNs and eliminate a further four, leaving seven.

Russia would be allowed nine Borey SSBNs, with everything else going.

Anti-Ballistic Missiles

Now, this is where things will get a little more controversial.

Basically, the US will be allowed to continue development of NMD, if President Obama decides to do so. However, its deployment will be limited to a total capacity to intercept 150 warheads and limitations would be placed on BMD-capable ships (10 in total as a figure I'm throwing out there), which would be clearly marked (paint the launchers orange or something).

In return, Russia would be permitted to have intercept capability of 200 warheads, either expanding A-135 or converting S-400/SA-21 missiles for an ABM role.

Other thoughts

The inspection regime would continue as is with appropriate modificiations.

China and the other nuclear powers, as well as potential ones (like Iran and Saudi Arabia) should be brought into a global agreement on the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons

Personally, I'd like to see one each of the Ohio and "Typhoon" SSBNs as museum vessels.

So, your thoughts.

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