After a year of negotiations, President Obama and Russian President Medvedev signed a new treaty today to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles in both countries and make the world that much safer.
But will the Senate do the right thing and ratify the treaty, or will they hold it hostage to partisan politics?
At the signing ceremony today in Prague, President Obama spoke about how the treaty opens the door to further actions to reduce the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Here’s an excerpt:
Together, we’ve stopped that drift, and proven the benefits of cooperation. Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and non-proliferation, and for U.S.-Russia relations. It fulfills our common objective to negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. It includes significant reductions in the nuclear weapons that we will deploy. It cuts our delivery vehicles by roughly half. It includes a comprehensive verification regime, which allows us to further build trust. It enables both sides the flexibility to protect our security, as well as America’s unwavering commitment to the security of our European allies. And I look forward to working with the United States Senate to achieve ratification for this important treaty later this year.
Finally, this day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia — the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons — to pursue responsible global leadership. Together, we are keeping our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which must be the foundation for global non-proliferation.
While the New START treaty is an important first step forward, it is just one step on a longer journey. As I said last year in Prague, this treaty will set the stage for further cuts. And going forward, we hope to pursue discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical weapons, including non-deployed weapons.
The White House has posted both the treaty text and the protocol online here.
The treaty allows for modest reductions down to 1,550 Russian and US deployed strategic nuclear warheads, a total of 800 missiles and bombers to deliver nuclear weapons, and limit of 700 deployed missiles and bombers. Significantly, once it is ratified, it would put in place verification measures to ensure both sides are playing by the rules by allowing on-site inspections and data exchanges. Putting in place legally binding verification measures is important, as the expiration of the original 1991 START treaty means that there are no such measures officially in place. The treaty allows a full 7 years for these reductions to be made and once the treaty enters into force will remain in effect for 10 years.