Details are scarce on the new START Treaty to be signed in Moscow on April 8th, but if I read accounts correctly, President Obama has given a major American strength by limiting American delivery systems, not just warheads. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a Moscow press conference that:
The Treaty envisages that Russia and the United States reduce and limit their strategic offensive arms in such a manner that, seven years after its coming into force and further on, the total amount in possession of each of the sides should not exceed:
(1) 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers;
(2) 1,550 warheads for these; and
(3) 800 deployed and undeployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and heavy bombers.
Delivery systems are a US strength and a Russian weakness. These same delivery systems can be used for conventional warheads.
The Russians' goal in this exercise was to curb the thing they fear most: US global reach with precision guided munitions (PGMs) with conventional warheads. If we had to conduct an operation similar to OIF, it's possible that in order to retain a credible nuclear deterrence and remain within the limitations, that there would be a commensurate reduction of B-52s and B-2s to deliver JDAMS, and a limitation at some level of cruise missiles to conduct any "shock and awe" operation.
So, in one fell swoop, Obama has handed over one of our few military advantages. Imagine OEF, OIF, Kosovo, etc. with limited numbers of cruise missiles, B-52s, B-2s able to deliver PGMs. Or worse, the treaty may be so restrictive that certain numbers systems must be retained for the nuclear mission so that no conventional capability can be deployed. That Gates sings the praises of this treaty is scarier still.