Big news today from the summit in Russia. Presidents Obama and Medvedev issued a “joint understanding” agreeing to reduce each countries’ strategic offensive nuclear weapons stockpile to below 1700 weapons in the next 7 years.
The BBC reports:
After three hours of talks at the Kremlin on Monday, Mr Obama and Mr Medvedev publicly signed a joint understanding to negotiate a new arms control treaty that would set lower levels of both nuclear warheads and delivery systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched missiles and bombers.
Under the 2002 Treaty of Moscow, each country is allowed between 1,700 and 2,200 deployed nuclear warheads and 1,600 delivery systems – meaning each side might only be required to decommission a further 25 warheads.
Though these reductions could have been much deeper as an initial step, the agreement is still a significant step forward toward a safer world with fewer weapons. Relations with Russia had soured during the Bush administration. This initial step can help build confidence in the benefits of continued negotiations. Both countries are looking ahead to the possibility of future treaties negotiating further and deeper reductions in their stockpiles. Once the details of the agreement are complete, the Senate will have to ratify the treaty before the START I agreement expires this December.