Next Steps in Nuclear Arms Control with Russia: Issues for Congress [January 6, 2014] [open pdf - 447KB]
"The role of Congress in the arms control process depends on the mechanism used to reduce forces. If the United States and Russia sign a formal treaty, then the Senate must signal its advice and consent with a vote of two-thirds of its Members. The House and Senate would each need to pass legislation approving an Executive Agreement. But the President can reduce U.S. nuclear weapons in parallel with Russia, without seeking congressional approval, if the reductions are taken unilaterally, or as the result of a nonbinding political agreement. Each of the mechanisms for reducing nuclear forces can possess different characteristics for the arms control process. These include balance and equality, predictability, flexibility, transparency and confidence in compliance, and timeliness. Provisions in formal treaties can mandate balance and equality between the two sides' forces. They can also provide both sides with the ability to predict the size and structure of the other's current and future forces. Unilateral measures allow each side to maintain flexibility in deciding the size and structure of its nuclear forces. In addition, the monitoring and verification provisions included in bilateral treaties can provide each side with detailed information about the numbers and capabilities of the other's nuclear forces, while also helping each side confirm that the other has complied with the limits and restrictions in the treaty. With unilateral reductions, the two sides could still agree to share information, or they could withhold information so that they would not have to share sensitive data about their forces."
CRS Report for Congress, R43037
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html