US and Russia Close to an Arms Control Agreement

Obama, Medvedev talked at UN climate conference in Copenhagen

President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, say considerable progress has been made on a new agreement replacing the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty - or START - accord that expired December 5. The two men spoke to reporters after a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations conference on climate change.

President Obama sounded a distinctly optimistic note about the chances for agreement on a new arms reduction treaty. "We've been making excellent progress. We are quite close to an agreement and I'm confident it will be completed in a timely fashion," he said.

Speaking through an interpreter, Russian president Medvedev echoed Mr. Obama's remarks. "Our positions are very close and almost all the issues that we've been discussing for the last month are almost closed," he said.

Mr. Medvedev said there are certain technical details that still require more work. And the Russian leader expressed the hope work will be completed in a brief period of time - but he provided no specific date.

During a July summit meeting in Moscow, Presidents Obama and Medvedev agreed to the basic principles of a treaty to replace the existing START-One accord.

More than 1,000 pages long, the START agreement is one of the most complex treaties in history dealing with reducing nuclear weapons.  It was signed in 1991 by U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It came into force in 1994. 

Experts say the United States has about 2,200 strategic nuclear weapons deployed on approximately 1,000 delivery systems - land-based or sea-based missiles and heavy bombers. Russia has approximately 2,700 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on about 700 delivery systems.

At their July summit, the two presidents agreed to what analysts described as modest cuts in their nuclear arsenals. They decided to reduce between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads on each side and to limit the delivery systems to between 500 and 1,100.

The START treaty also established stringent and very intrusive verification procedures. And a key question facing Russian and American negotiators, is what verification measures should be incorporated in the new follow-on treaty. Analysts say the two sides are still apart on that issue: the Americans want more intrusive measures than the Russians do.

Former National Security Adviser General Brent Scowcroft says agreeing on a follow-on treaty to the START accord is crucial. "I think it's very important both psychologically for the relationship and because the U.S. and Russia are still the custodians of 95 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world. And it seems to me we ought to start thinking about a pathway to the future role of nuclear weapons in the world and to increase the stability of the balance of nuclear weapons, to reduce them to the extent that's possible. And unless we and the Russians can make progress, it's just not going to happen," he said.

When the two sides agree on a new follow-on treaty, that accord will have to be ratified by the Russian Duma and the United States Senate. Many experts say that process may take months.

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.
Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanoni
John Owens
October 08, 2015 7:32 PM
Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs