The United States and Russia have agreed on a landmark deal to reduce strategic nuclear weapons, to replace the cold-war era START treaty that expired last December.
Presidents Medvedev and Obama finalised the historic accord during a phone call, making commitments to big cuts in the arsenals of the world’s biggest military nuclear powers.
Obama said: “Broadly speaking the new START treaty makes progress in several areas. It cuts, by about a third, the nuclear weapons the United States and Russia will deploy. It significantly reduces missiles and launchers. It puts in place a strong and effective verification regime. And it maintains the flexibility that we need to protect and advance our national security.”
It has taken a year of intense negotiations to come up with the new ten-year deal that will be formally signed in Prague on April 8.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said: “Today’s phone call between the Russian and US presidents brought the negotiation process to a mutually satisfactory conclusion. We achieved the main aim: to agree on a true START treaty, based on absolute parity and respect of full and equal security.”
It is the biggest feather in Obama’s foreign policy hat to date, continuing the process begun by Reagan and Gorbachev to reverse the nuclear arms race that gathered momentum during the Cold War.