The President of the United States has signed a US/Russian arms treaty that, once put into effect, will decrease each nation’s nuclear stockpile.
Barack Obama’s move mirrors that of his Russian colleague, Dmitry Medvedev, at the end of January 2011. Once each has a copy of the other’s signed document, the New Start treaty will be implemented.
The ‘Start’ in New Start condenses down the phrase ‘Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty’ and it represents the follow-up agreement to the previous Start treaty, which ran between 1991 and 2009.
US Senate approval for New Start was delivered at the end of 2010, while Russian Parliament gave its blessing soon after.
New Start Weapons Agreement
Under the terms of the New Start weapons agreement, neither the US nor Russia can possess any more than 1,550 nuclear warheads each. Neither can they have anything over a maximum of 800 nuclear weapons launch units – a broad categorisation that includes ground-based launchers, but also US Navy/Russian Navy submarines, and USAF/Russian Air Force nuclear bombers.
Therefore, limitations will be placed on ground, sea and air-based nuclear-capable technologies.
An agreement clause gives the US the right to inspect Russia’s nuclear stockpile, and vice versa for Russia.
New Start: Nuclear Weapons
Prior to the New Start nuclear agreement, the US and Russia could have a maximum of 2,200 warheads, so the revision represents approximately a 30 per cent drop in nuclear weapons totals.
The Obama signing took place within a gathering of key US government officials including Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton - Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State, respectively.
US Senator John Kerry issued a statement following the event, in which he emphasised its benefits.
“The new treaty represents an important milestone in arms control agreements between the United States and Russia”, he began.
“Anytime we reduce the number of nuclear weapons deployed by these two countries, we make the world a safer place for everyone.
“When the treaty enters into force this weekend, it will signal to other nations that the United States and Russia are working together to reduce their arsenals and stop the spread of nuclear weapons technology to other countries”, Kerry added.
US, Russia Agree Nuclear Reductions