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The Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT), better known as the Moscow Treaty "represents an important element of the new strategic relationship between the United States and Russia". with both parties agreeing to limit their nuclear arsenal to 1700–2200 operationally deployed warheads each. It was signed in Moscow on May 24, 2002. SORT came into force on June 1, 2003 after the Bush-Putin ratification in St. Petersburg, and expires on December 31, 2012. Either party can withdraw from the treaty upon giving three months written notice to the other.
Mutual nuclear disarmament
SORT is the one of the latest in a long line of treaties and negotiations on mutual nuclear disarmament between Russia (and its predecessor the Soviet Union) and the United States, which includes SALT I (1969–1972), the ABM Treaty (1972), SALT II (1972–1979), the INF Treaty (1987), START I (1991), START II (1993), START III, which died as of the linkage to START II, and, most recently, New START (2010).
The Moscow Treaty is different from START in that it limits actual warheads, whereas START I limits warheads only through declared attribution to their means of delivery (ICBMs, SLBMs, and Heavy Bombers). Russian and U.S. delegations meet twice a year to discuss the implementation of the Moscow Treaty at the Bilateral Implementation Commission, or "BIC".
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reported that President Bush directed the US military to cut its stockpile of both deployed and reserve nuclear weapons in half by 2012. The goal was achieved in 2007, a reduction of US nuclear warheads to just over 50 percent of the 2001 total. A further proposal by Bush will bring the total down another 15%.
The treaty has been criticized for various reasons:
- There are no verification provisions to give confidence, to either the signatories or other parties, that the stated reductions have in fact taken place.
- The arsenal reductions are not required to be permanent; warheads are not required to be destroyed and may therefore be placed in storage and later redeployed.
- The arsenal reductions are required to be completed by December 31, 2012, which is also the day on which the treaty loses all force, unless extended by both parties. This is why some experts joke that SORT is only 'sort' of a treaty.
- There exists a clause in the treaty which provides that withdrawal can occur upon the giving of three month's notice and since no benchmarks are required in the treaty, either side could feasibly perform no actions in furtherance of the treaty, and then simply withdraw in September 2012.
- There have been several other treaties known as the Treaty of Moscow
- Russia and weapons of mass destruction
- United States and weapons of mass destruction
- START treaty (2010)
- Nuclear Files.org Text of the SORT
- ^ Letter of Transmittal: The Moscow Treaty 2002
- ^ START1 treaty hypertext US State Dept. Article II
- ^ Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. Science & Technology Review. Monitoring a Nuclear Weapon from the Inside: Embedded sensors could help transform stockpile stewardship