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START III (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was a proposed bi-lateral nuclear disarmament treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation. It meant to drastically reduce the deployed nuclear weapons arsenals of both countries and to continue the weapons reduction efforts that had taken place in the START I and START II negotiations. The framework for negotiations of the treaty began with talks in Helsinki between President Bill Clinton and President Boris Yeltsin in 1997. However, negotiations broke down and the treaty was never signed.
Proposed basic elements of the treaty included:
- By December 31, 2007, coterminous with START II, the United States and the Russian Federation would each deploy no more than 2,000 to 2,500 strategic nuclear warheads on intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers. Russian officials stated that they were willing to consider negotiated levels as low as 1,500 strategic nuclear warheads within the context of a START III agreement.
- The United States and Russia would negotiate measures relating to the transparency of strategic nuclear warhead inventories and the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads, as well as other jointly agreed technical and organizational measures to promote the irreversibility of deep reductions.
The talks faced a number of obstacles. The refusal of the Russian Duma to ratify the START II treaty delayed the start of formal negotiations by more than two years after Yeltsin and Clinton completed the initial framework discussions in 1997. Ratification had been delayed due to NATO airstrikes against Afghanistan, Sudan, and Serbia, along with Russia's opposition to the eastward expansion of NATO, and Russian opposition to America's plans to build a limited missile defense system (which would have required changes to or the US withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty).
Very little progress was made towards completing negotiations on START III. Attempts at negotiating START III were eventually abandoned and the US and Russia instead agreed to the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) or Moscow Treaty.
In popular culture
START III plays a large role in the 1998 video game, Metal Gear Solid. In the game a nuclear terrorist attack is scheduled on the date of the signing of START III which is supposed to take place at the end of February 2005.
- Arms Control Association, The START III Framework at a Glance, 2002
- Hoffman, David (1999-06-22). "Clinton, Yeltsin Plan New Talks On Nuclear Arms". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
- "Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Strategic Offensive Reductions (START II) | Treaties & Regimes". www.nti.org. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
- "U.S.-Russia Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (see Moscow Treaty)". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2018-02-16.