- The Washington Times - Friday, March 26, 2010


President Obama said Friday the U.S. and Russia have agreed to an arms treaty that reduces the countries’ nuclear arsenals by roughly 30 percent while attempting to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons worldwide and keep terrorists from acquiring bomb-making materials.

“Since taking office, one of my highest national security priorities has been addressing the threat posed to the American people by nuclear weapons,” the president said from the White House minutes after talking by phone with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Mr. Obama said the arms-control treaty was the most comprehensive between the nuclear superpowers in nearly two decades and acknowledged it advances the efforts of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

The countries collectively own 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia advances the START treaty signed in 1991 and the Moscow Treaty signed in 2002, which have expired.

The new, 10-year treaty limits the countries to:

• 1,550 deployed warheads, roughly 30 percent less than the Moscow Treaty and 74 percent less than the 1991 treaty.
• 800 deployed and non-deployed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers.
• 700 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear weapons.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev are scheduled to sign the agreement officially April 8 in Prague.

However, the U.S. Senate and the Russian legislature also must approve the agreement.

The scheduled signing will be followed a week later by a White House summit on nuclear control, then a similar event in New York before summer.

Mr. Obama began working on the treaty in April 2009 and acknowledged Friday his efforts were an attempt to improve relations with Russia.

“Since I took office, I have been committed to a ‘reset’ of our relations with Russia,” the president said. “When the United States and Russia can cooperate effectively, it advances the mutual interests of our two nations, and the security and prosperity of the wider world.”

He cited the countries’ joint efforts at the G-20 summit to improve the global economy and to pressure Iran to meet its international obligations.

The treaty will reduce arms within seven years and includes an improved monitor program. It does not include constraints on testing, development or deployment of current or planned U.S. missile-defense programs or current or planned U.S. long-range conventional strike capabilities, according to the White House.

“In many ways, nuclear weapons represent both the darkest days of the Cold War, and the most troubling threats of our time,” Mr. Obama said. “Today, we have taken another step forward in leaving behind the legacy of the 20th century. … With this agreement, the United States and Russia also send a clear signal that we intend to lead. By upholding our own commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, we strengthen our global efforts to stop the spread of these weapons, and to ensure that other nations meet their own responsibilities.”

In addition to recognizing Mr. Reagan’s efforts to end the Cold War, Mr. Obama acknowledged the “long tradition of bipartisan leadership on arms control.”

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