News / USA

Obama, Medvedev Sign Treaty Cutting Nuclear Stockpiles


U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev have signed a treaty to reduce their countries' nuclear stockpiles by 25 to 30 percent over seven years. 

In the Spanish Hall, an ornate chamber within the Czech capital's presidential castle, the two countries, which own more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, agreed to downsize their arsenals.

Presidents Obama and Medvedev sat in front of U.S. and Russian flags and signed their countries' first major nuclear arms reduction accord in almost two decades.

Mr. Obama said the treaty is a big step forward for world security.

"Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and nonproliferation and for U.S.-Russia relations," he said.

Mr. Medvedev said because of this treaty, the entire world community has won.

The Russian leader said the year-long negotiations were tough, but hard work on both sides brought success.

"That enabled us to do something that just a couple of months ago looked like 'mission impossible.'  Within a short span of time we prepared a full-fledged treaty and signed it," he said.

The new ten-year pact requires the U.S. and Russia to cut their inventory of nuclear warheads to about 1,500 each in the next seven years.  Both countries are estimated to have well over 2,000 warheads now. 

The agreement also slashes by more than half the number of missiles, submarines and bombers that carry the weapons.

Mr. Obama says, in addition, that the treaty paves the way for future arms reduction talks with Russia, mainly on short-range nuclear weapons.

"This treaty will set the stage for further cuts, and going forward, we hope to pursue further discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical weapons, including non-deployed weapons," he said.

Tom Collina, research director at the Arms Control Association, says the new treaty is significant in reducing the threat from U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, but more significant because it could lead to further cuts. 

"We think we can even go to deeper reductions, and we hope they sign a new treaty after this one relatively soon.  But this treaty is a great step forward, it is very important, and it puts U.S. and Russian arms control back on a firm footing, and, again, sets us up for deeper cuts," he said.

The pact replaces the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which was signed by U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in the final days of the Soviet Union.

The signing of the "New START" treaty is one of several arms control developments taking place in several weeks. 

Earlier in the week, President Obama announced a major shift in U.S. nuclear policy.  He said for the first time that preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism is at the top of the U.S. nuclear agenda.  The threat of destruction by Russian warheads is now considered a secondary menace.

Under Mr. Obama's nuclear posture review, the U.S. pledges not to use nuclear weapons on non-nuclear countries that abide by their nonproliferation obligations.

Frank Gaffney, a former arms control adviser to President Ronald Reagan, says the president's nuclear posture review is based on a false and dangerous premise.

"The idea that he can, by reducing America's nuclear arsenal, contribute to the universal abandonment of nuclear weaponry.  It will not happen.  It will not happen on his watch.  It will not happen ever," he said.

In their hour-and-a-half meeting before the ceremony, President Obama urged Mr. Medvedev to support new U.N. sanctions against Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium.  The Russian leader said the issue is not whether to impose sanctions, but what kind of sanctions.

"Smart sanctions should be able to motivate certain parties to behave properly, and I am confident that our teams that will be engaged in consultations will continue discussing this issue," he said.

The nuclear treaty is almost certain to be approved in the Russian Duma.  However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow reserves the right to drop out of the pact if it believes U.S. missile defense plans for Europe threaten its security.

Many experts agree passage in the U.S. Senate is not as certain, but that its prospects are good.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Counties Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs