"Arms fitting" Moskovskiy Komsomolets Moscow, December 15, 2009 Commentary The talks on the new Strategic Arms Reduction

Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation have entered the final phase. The exact date of the signing of the document has not been mentioned yet, but in experts' opinion it is a matter of a few days. Perhaps this will take place on 18 December, on the last day of the environmental forum in Kopenhagen. And judging by the preliminary parameters of the agreement, which Moskovskiy Komsomolets has found out, it will be much more equitable toward Russia than the preceding treaty was. The opinion of the majority of the specialists today is roughly the following: The START I was discriminatory against Russia and reflected the weakness of our country in the early 1990s. Back then, we had to sign disadvantageous terms which were proposed by Americans. Now the situation has changed and many of the things which were provided in the START I is already unacceptable for us. And first and foremost, the draconian verification measures. First and foremost, this applies to the US instructors who inspected on the roundthe-clock basis all our intercontinental carrier missiles which were manufactured by a factory in Udmurtia. According to the Moskovskiy Komsomolets information, this verification measure is not included in the new version of the document. Second, according to our sources, the Russian negotiators managed to achieve revocation of the provision which envisaged that the remote metering data from the test launches of our new missiles will not be transferred to the US side any more. This requirement of the START I sounded downright absurd. We used to release to the United States with our own hands the exact information about the flight of the missile -- the time of operation of the engines, trajectory of flight, time of separation of the warheads -- which Americans could use in their missile defense systems. In other words, billions of rubles which were spent on development of the new nuclear weapons systems were wasted during all these years because effectively all we cared about was the accuracy of the US antimissile missiles. Third, it is said that agreement was finally reached about our Topols. Initially, the United States proposed in its terms that the conditions of monitoring of these systems were to be included as a separate clause. As before, Americans wanted to limit the areas and routes of their patrolling, the number of the vehicles on duty at a time and so forth. In justification of this, the absence of road-mobile systems in the United States was cited. Which was why the Topol missile systems constituted too pronounced an advantage which Russia had over the United States, so the systems were to be under special control. However, according to our information, the Russian negotiators did not agree to this and managed to prove that in that case, the very idea of "mobility" would become meaningless. They countered with the proposal to consider the US submarines, which carry 432 missiles (our submarines carry 268) mobile carriers. And if the United States wants to restrict the movement of our Topols (at present, we have a little more than 200 missiles, of which 15 are Topol-M), we have the right to demand similar restrictions, like demarcating the areas of patrolling of the US submarines or making them perform their combat duties only in the surfaced

position and so forth. Naturally, Americans did not agree to this and left the mobile Topols alone. Four, according to some reports, we have succeeded at persuading Americans into counting the strategic carriers with conventional warheads as nuclear one. The point is that the United States has been practicing for a long time equipping the strategic carriers, for example, the B-52 bombers, with conventional, not nuclear, weapons. Thanks to high precision (an aviation missile which is launched from the B-52, can fly into a small window which is 1,000 kilometers away!), their combat effectiveness is comparable to the nuclear warhead's but they can carry out the same mission without using nuclear weapons. Americans proposed to exclude these types of systems from the list of strategic carriers, so that they do not fall under numerical reductions in the new START. But Russia did not agree. Roughly the following argument was cited: Unfortunately, we have no possibility today to find out whether the particular carrier is armed with a nuclear or conventional weapon. And after the missile launch, we will not have enough time to find this out because our retaliatory strike will be nuclear regardless. Five, the future treaty should not affect Russia's plans to modernize its nuclear potential. In particular, it will not restrict arrival in the troops of the new RS-24 system with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles. And it will thwart the plans to create a new heavy missile which must replace the Satan [RS36] in a few years' time. And now about the sad things.... All the abovementioned clauses can be considered, with minor reservations, a serious victory of Russia in the dialogue on the strategic offensive armaments. However, the Russian negotiators were forced to make some compromises too on account of a number of political factors. In particular, criticism of Obama's representatives by his opponents the Republicans who still remain an influential force in the US society. The talks were not over yet, and they already wielded arguments like "when we were in power, we controlled the Russians' nuclear arsenals, and now the democrats came to power and the United States ceded its positions." As a result, we were unable to defend our points of view on a number of issues. First, according to Moskovskiy Komsomolets, Americans will still keep the returnable potential (the ability to increase the number of warheads on the deployed carriers by reinstalling the warheads which were removed earlier or kept at the depots). Whether or not any limitations are imposed on the returnable potential is not known yet. Some of our specialists maintain that it should not exceed one third of the number of deployed warheads. The United States complied with the reductions of the numbers of missiles under the SORT (Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty) of 2002 by reducing the number of warheads on the Minuteman III missiles from three to one and on Trident II from eight to four. Only by reinstalling the warheads, Americans would quickly attain four-times numerical superiority for themselves if need be. However, they do have some superiority already. Today, according to our military, the United States has 5,573 warheads, and Russia has 3,906, in other words, they have 1,500 more. In addition, during all these years, our warheads were decommissioned mainly because of the expiration of their service life, which is why the returnable potential in Russia is effectively absent.

Second, according to our sources, in the new document the sides agreed to stop at 700-750 carriers. These are not the best numbers for us. And here is why. As of July 2009, the United States has 1,195 carriers, Russia has 811. In other words, the United States has almost 400 carriers more. During the meeting in Moscow, the Russian and US presidents approved the limitations for the new treaty: The number of carriers from 500 to 1,100 (and warheads from 1,500 till 1,675). Americans would like keep 1,100 carriers. Then of the current number of 1,195 carriers, they would not have to reduce almost anything, and would only decommission those aircraft, submarines or missiles which are not combat-ready anyway. The number which would best suit us would be 500 because of our current carriers, only a handful is new. And no mass additions of new ones are in the offing. As a result, according to experts' forecasts, by 2017, when the new treaty will expire, our nuclear forces might under reductions on their own to the level of 300 to maximum 500 carriers through decommissioning of the old missiles, aircraft and submarines. For example, the Strategic Missile Troops already have about 400 missiles remaining at present. Of these, 82% are RS-18 Stiletto, RS-20 Satan and old Topol missiles -- their maximum service lives have been extended many times. They will clearly not survive till 2017. This means that, only to maintain the current number of missiles, the Strategic Missile Troops must receive about 50 new systems annually. But this is hard to believe. Thus far, they have been receiving six to seven systems a year, and sometimes less. The remaining carriers are operated by the fleet and the long-range aviation. These are heavy bombers Tu-95MS (64 aircraft) and Tu-160 (16 aircraft), which can carry up to 896 cruise missiles. And also the naval forces: 172 carriers with 612 warheads. However, the long-range aviation cannot be considered an effective component of the strategic nuclear forces. After all, to reach the point of launch of the missiles, the aircraft must first perform a long flight in the area which is monitored by the enemy missile and air defense systems and in which the aircraft are easy targets. The strategic aircrafts are stationed on only two aerodromes and do not patrol in the air (the resumption of their episodic flights was dubbed the combat duty clearly in a rush), which in the situation of a military conflict makes them one of them prime targets for attacks using high precision weapons. In addition, by 2017, the number of strategic bombers will not exceed 60, and there are no plans to take into service any new aircraft. The situation in the Navy is even worse. The Bulava naval missile, which is much expected, still cannot fly. And therefore, for the near future, the naval grouping can only count on the 667BDRM Project submarines with the Sineva missiles (96 missile, 384 warheads). And even they can be relied on until their service life expires and they are decommissioned. In short, no matter how you look, if the number of carriers in the future treaty is limited to 700-750, we will have to increase, not reduce the number of carriers. However, it is quite possible that the new START treaty will be for Russia not a disarmament plan, but a starting point for a new arms race. But will our economy endure it? In the past, the Soviet Union broke under its weight. And got dissolved...