Intelligence: Blinded By The Death Of START


August 25, 2010: The expiration of the START  (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) disarmament agreement last year has caused a potential crisis in the U.S. intelligence community. When START came into force in 1994, it brought with it on-site inspections of Russian and American nuclear weapons and delivery systems, to insure that everyone was in compliance. This allowed the U.S. to shift its spy satellites away from watching Russian nuclear weapons, to other tasks. This became critical after September 11, 2001, when satellite recon was much in demand to track down terrorists. But with the new START treaty un-ratified, there is a call within the intel community to divert some satellite capabilities to once more keeping an eye on Russian nukes. Although both countries said they would keep the requirements of the old one in force until the new one was ratified, Russia has halted most of the on-site inspections.

The START 1 agreement expired in December, 2009, and a new one was signed in April, 2010. This new agreement has not yet been ratified by the legislatures in Russia and the United States, and won't come into force until it is. The new agreement requires Russia and the U.S. to have no more than 1,550 nukes, and no more than 800 missiles to carry them. Currently, Russia has 800 missiles and 3,800 warheads while the U.S. has 1,180 missiles and 5,900 warheads.



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