So much for what the former Cold War enemies have signed on paper, but how will it improve their relations and what will it mean for world security?
The past few decades have seen several landmark weapons treaties. President Obama says the new deal shows both countries have halted the deterioration in their relations that has prevented agreement on important issues in the past.
Some experts agree the treaty will bring wider benefits.
“This treaty is a major re-set of US-Russian relations which were at Cold War levels just 18 months ago after the Georgian war,” said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear proliferation analyst. “We’re off on a major improvement in the relations, a new track that allows us to move ahead on a whole host of other vital issues including Iran, international economics, energy issues etc.”
So will the world be safer? The number of weapons on both sides remains more than enough to deter the other.
“I think that strategic missile forces will exist for a long time,” said Major General Mikhail Krasnov, head of the Serpukhov Missile Forces Institute near Moscow. “For how many years? Well, until another treaty is signed saying that nuclear weapons are no longer needed in the world.”
President Obama has said he believes the main threat in the future comes from the likes of Al Qaeda getting hold of atomic weapons. A forthcoming summit in Washington will focus on countering the threat of nuclear terrorism.