Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT)
SORT is also known as the Moscow Treaty of 2002. The Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT) was a bilateral agreement between Russia and the United States signed in 2002. The treaty limits the nuclear arsenals of both countries to 1700-2200 operational, deployed warheads each, which amounts to a reduction of approximately two-thirds of each country's nuclear stockpile. US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the treaty in Moscow on May 24, 2002 (see picture below).
SORT differs from START in two primary ways. First, it limits actual nuclear warheads, while START I only limits warheads with respect to their delivery mechanism (ICBM, SLBM, etc.) Second, America and Russia negotiated the treaty under an umbrella of greater trust than the framers of START I. Because of the greater degree of trust between the two countries, SORT does not contain strict verification and inspection regimes as found in START I.
Russia and the U.S. meet twice a year to discuss the implementation of SORT in the Bilateral Implementation Commission (BIC).
Article I, Treaty on Strategic OFfensive Reductions Treaty
US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the treaty in Moscow on May 24, 2002
How Does This Relate to START?
The five-party Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) will continue to remain in force, unaffected. The comprehensive verification regime provided by START will serve as the foundation for the transparency of SORT's implemtation. The US and Russia pledged to "continue discussions to explore additional ways to enhance transparency and predictability."
Critics of the treaty say that because there are no verification provisions, countries could potentially keep their nuclear stockpiles operationally deployed. The treaty relies on the good faith of the two countries. Critics also charge that the reductions are not required to be permanent. Deployed warheads could be placed in storage and redeployed after the treaty expires in 2012. After the expiration date of December 31, 2012, there are no more restrictions on nuclear weapons capacity.
Supporters of the treaty argue that the spirit of international cooperation and good faith is what the United Nations and the nuclear disarmament effort is based on. The treaty may also be extended at the time of its expiration with approval from both nations.
Reverend Robert Moore of the Coalition for Peace Action is one of these critics. See below for his opinion.
An Expert's Opinion
"The so-called SORT treaty...that the current President Bush and Mr. Putin signed...has no timelines, no inspections...so I think it's basically meaningless..." - listen
Reverend Robert Moore, Executive Director, Coalition for Peace Action
- "Bush and Putin signing SORT." Wikipedia Commons. 18 Jan 2006. 6 May 2006. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Bush_and_Putin_signing_SORT.jpg>. US Government Public Domain.
- "Fact Sheet: Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions." The White House. 4 Mar. 2006. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/05/20020524-23.html>.
- “SORT.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 4 Mar. 2006. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SORT>.
- Moore, Robert. Coalition for Peace Action. Personal Interview. 11 Apr. 2006. To view our notes of the interview, click here.