The New START Treaty – Maintaining a Strong Nuclear Deterrent
Earlier today, the President submitted the New START Treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. An important milestone for the President’s non-proliferation agenda, the treaty will limit the U.S. and Russia to significantly fewer strategic arms, while permitting each Party the flexibility to determine for itself the structure of its strategic forces within the Treaty limits.
The President has also provided to Congress a classified report, as required by Section 1251 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010, on the comprehensive plan to: (1) maintain delivery platforms; (2) sustain a safe, secure, and reliable U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile; and (3) modernize the nuclear weapons complex. This report is based on the policies and principles in the Nuclear Posture Review and describes a comprehensive plan for sustaining a strong nuclear deterrent for the duration of the New START Treaty and beyond. The plan includes investments of $80 billion to sustain and modernize the nuclear weapons complex over the next decade.
Nuclear Force Structure under New START. The Secretary of Defense, based on recommendations from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has established a baseline nuclear force structure that fully supports U.S. security requirements and conforms to the New START limits. This force structure – which provides a basis for future planning — provides the flexibility to make adjustments as appropriate, and as permitted by the treaty:
• The United States currently has 450 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos. The baseline plan will retain up to 420 deployed ICBMs, all with a single warhead.
• The United States currently has 94 deployable nuclear-capable bombers. Under the baseline plan, some will be converted to conventional-only bombers (not accountable under the treaty), and up to 60 nuclear-capable bombers will be retained.
• The United States currently has 14 strategic nuclear submarines (SSBNs). Under the baseline plan, all 14 will be retained. The United States will reduce the number of SLBM launchers (launch tubes) from 24 to 20 per SSBN, and deploy no more than 240 SLBMs at any time.
Over the next decade, the United States will invest well over $100 billion in nuclear delivery systems to sustain existing capabilities and modernize some strategic systems.
Stockpile Stewardship and Infrastructure Modernization. U.S. nuclear weapons will undergo extensive life extension programs in the coming years to ensure their safety, security and effectiveness. Maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent requires that the United States operate a modern physical infrastructure and sustain a highly capable workforce. The Administration’s modernization plan will ensure that our nuclear complex has the essential capabilities to support a strong nuclear deterrent – as well as arms control, non-proliferation, and counter-proliferation requirements — over the next decade and beyond. The President is committed to modernizing the nuclear complex and maintaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing.
The President requested $7 billion in FY 2011 for stockpile sustainment and infrastructure investments, a nearly 10% increase over FY 2010. As outlined below, the Administration intends to invest $80 billion in the next decade to sustain and modernize the nuclear weapons complex.
Projections for Weapons Stockpile and Infrastructure Costs (then-year dollars in $ billions)