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Russians not required to provide full telemetry data under new START


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www.geostrategy-direct.comGeoStrategy Direcy:


A major weakness of the as yet unratified New START strategic arms treaty was identified during a Senate hearing last week. Under the 1991 START agreement that expired in December, Russia was required to provide U.S. arms verifiers with data tapes on missile test telemetry, the data sent back to ground stations during flight tests that provide key details of the test.

Under the new treaty, Russia will only be required to provide telemetry tapes on five flight tests, a significant cutback.


The loophole was raised during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on July 20 by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., who said he is concerned about the problem because it weakens the verification of the treaty.


“Under the new START treaty the telemetry exchange is required on at most five tests per year,” Lieberman said. “And each country can determine which five they'll agree to exchange telemetry. Russia is expected to test between 10 and 12 ICBMs per year and will likely, therefore, we assume because of its general concern about transparency and its strategic program, share with us data only on its older systems.”


Lieberman said the restrictions “make it harder for our intelligence community to gauge exactly what the Russians are developing.”


“My bottom line here is we're losing a capacity in the proposed new START treaty, verification capacity, that we had in START I,” he said.


James Miller, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said the telemetry provision of the first treaty allowed U.S. monitors to detect Russian cheating, like adding 11 warheads to the SS-18 missile instead of the permitted 10.


Miller said that because the new treaty did not have limits on missile throw-weight or carrying capacity, and there is a new counting rule for warheads, “telemetry does not play a role in verifying provisions” as it did in the past."


Lieberman replied: “It seems like an odd compromise to make if the telemetry is not required for verification of the Russians' compliance with the treaty, then why even have five?”


“But to me, it was quite valuable to us… in terms of assessing the capacity of the Russian missiles, which is important for our national security,” he said.


Gen. Kevin Chilton, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, who also testified at the hearing, said: “we think that telemetry is a useful provision for improving transparency and for helping us understand each other's systems and that we would intend to work to build on the provisions in the new START treaty to try the most useful exchange as possible.”




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