VOA News 26 March 2010
President Barack Obama says the U.S. and Russia have agreed to the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades.
The landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty reduces by about one-third the number of long-range nuclear weapons that the world's two largest nuclear powers will deploy.
President Obama said he telephoned his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, Friday, and they agreed to meet in the Czech capital, Prague, to sign the new START treaty on April 8. He said the pact shows that the two nations intend to lead the world in reducing the nuclear threat.
A spokeswoman for President Medvedev told Russia's Interfax news agency the agreement reflects the balance of both countries' interests.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the pact will give Russia and the United States more credibility in non-proliferation and in dealing with countries like Iran and North Korea on nuclear issues.
The U.S. Senate and the Russian Parliament must ratify the treaty.
Mr. Obama said the treaty also significantly reduces missiles and launchers, and establishes a strong and effective verification system. He said it also maintains flexibility needed to protect national security and guarantee the U.S. commitment to its allies' security.
The new treaty will replace the START I agreement - Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty - signed in 1991 by U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. That treaty came into force in 1994 but expired in December of 2009.
U.S. and Russian negotiators have been working for nearly a year on the new pact.
The agreement would reduce each nation's nuclear arsenal from 2,200 to 1,500 warheads each. They would have seven years from the treaty's ratification to carry out the reductions.
Verification issues and Russian opposition to U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Europe had been holding up major progress in the talks.
Last edited by Russian Patriot on Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:32 pm; edited 1 time in total