September 26, 1997


START II Protocol

Formal title: Protocol to the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Further Reductions and Limitations of Strategic Offensive Arms of January 3, 1993.

The Protocol:

  • extends the date by which the START II limitations and reductions must be completed from January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2007.

  • extends the date by which the interim limitations and reductions of the START II Treaty must be carried out from seven years after entry into force of the START Treaty (December 5, 2001) to December 31, 2004.

  • states that the Parties may conclude an agreement on a program of assistance for the purposes of facilitating and accelerating implementation of the START II reductions and limitations. This provision replaces the START II provision that required early implementation of the START II reductions if the Parties concluded, within one year of START II entry-into-force, an agreement on a program of assistance.

  • is subject to ratification by each Party and will enter into force on the date when the instruments of ratification are exchanged.

Joint Agreed Statement

Records the agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation that henceforth Minuteman III ICBM downloading under START II can be carried out at any time before December 31, 2007, the deadline for completing all Treaty-mandated reductions. This ensures that deMIRVing under START II will take place in a stable and equivalent manner. This Joint Agreed Statement has no effect on the downloading provisions of the START I Treaty, which remain unchanged.

Exchange of Letters on Early Deactivation

Legally codifies the commitment made at Helsinki that the United States and the Russian Federation will deactivate by December 31, 2003 all strategic nuclear delivery vehicles which, under the START II Treaty, will be eliminated by December 31, 2007.

Deactivation will be achieved by removing the nuclear reentry vehicles from the missiles, or by taking other jointly agreed steps.

The letters on deactivation will enter into force when START II enters into force.

Immediately upon entry into force of START II, U.S. and Russian experts will begin work on understandings concerning methods of deactivation and on parameters of a U.S. program of assistance to Russia for implementation of deactivation.

The Russian letter contains a unilateral statement: "Taking into account the supreme national interests of the country, the Russian Federation proceeds from the understanding that well in advance of the above deactivation deadline the START III Treaty will be achieved and will enter into force." The U.S. letter takes note of this Russian statement.

Relevant Dates

The START I Treaty entered into force on December 5, 1994; it was signed on July 31, 1991.

The U.S. Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification of the START II Treaty on January 26, 1996. The START II Treaty was signed on January 3, 1993.

The Clinton-Yeltsin Helsinki Summit took place on March 20-21, 1997.