CBRN Assessment

US ICBM fleet now compliant with US-Russia New START Treaty

30 June 2017

The US Air Force (USAF) announced its nuclear missile force is compliant with the 2011 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the United States and Russia.

An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California during a routine system test. (USAF)An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California during a routine system test. (USAF)

On 2 June the last of 50 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were removed from the launch facility at the FE Warren Air Force Base missile complex in Wyoming. The air force's number of ICBM delivery vehicles is now within treaty limits, the USAF's 90th Missile Wing said in a 28 June statement.

For New START, the United States and Russia by 2018 are to reduce arsenals to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads each, down from a previous 2,200 limit. Warheads fitted on deployed ICBMs and deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) count towards this cap, and each deployed heavy bomber equipped for nuclear weapons counts as one warhead. Each party is limited to 800 total ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and nuclear-ready heavy bombers - and up to 700 of those can be deployed.

The Pentagon's Office of the Secretary of Defense directed the USAF and US Navy (USN) to reduce strategic delivery vehicles to 400 deployed ICBMs, 60 deployed bombers, and 240 deployed SLBMs. "A total of 50 deployed ICBMs were removed from the three missile complexes in Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota," the USAF said.

According to a 13 June Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, published by the Federation of American Scientists, the navy has eliminated four launch tubes on 13 of its Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and is expected to finish the 14th boat around July.

In April 2017 the US Department of State, which monitors the treaty, last reported the United States counts 1,411 warheads on 673 deployed launchers, within a total of 820 deployed and non-deployed launchers.

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