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Mar 27th, 2010

U.S., Russia Agree to Slash Nuclear Weapons

Obama: Pact part of effort to ‘reset’ relations with former Cold War rival


Russia, U.S. reach arms reduction agreement (NBC Nightly News, March 26, 2010) – The world’s two largest nuclear superpowers on Friday announced a new treaty to further reduce nuclear weapons. NBC’s Brian Williams reports. (00:28)

By Robert Burns and Tom Raum

March 26, 2010

WASHINGTON  — The U.S. and Russia sealed the first major nuclear weapons treaty in nearly two decades Friday, agreeing to slash the former Cold War rivals’ warhead arsenals by nearly one-third and talking hopefully of eventually ridding a fearful world of nuclear arms altogether.

President Barack Obama said the pact was part of an effort to “reset” relations with Russia that have been badly frayed. And at home the agreement gave him the biggest foreign policy achievement of his presidency, just days after he signed the landmark health care overhaul that has been his domestic priority.

Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will sign the agreement April 8 in Prague, where Obama gave a major speech on doing away with nuclear arms one year ago. The city is the capital of the Czech Republic, a former Soviet satellite and now a NATO member.

If ratified by the Senate and by Russia’s legislature, the reductions still would leave both countries, by far the world’s largest nuclear powers, with immense arsenals – and the ability to easily annihilate each other. Together, the United States and Russia possess about 95 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, according to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

Still, Obama called the pact a step toward “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” He said nuclear weapons “represent both the darkest days of the Cold War, and the most troubling threats of our time.” …

“We have turned words into action,” Obama said at the White House after completing the agreement in a morning phone call with Medvedev. The White House said it was their 14th meeting or phone call on the issue.

Senate action

The United States hopes the 10-year agreement will lead to better cooperation on other issues, such as a unified U.S.-Russian stance against the development of nuclear weapons by Iran.

Ratification in the Senate will require 67 votes, two-thirds of the senators, meaning Obama will need support from Republicans, something he’s found hard to come by on other issues.

Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, welcomed Friday’s announcement. Lugar, who is influential among fellow Republican senators as an arms control expert, said he looked forward to receiving the treaty so that the committee could hold hearings and “work quickly to achieve ratification.”

Under the agreement, which would replace and expand on a landmark 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that expired in December, the two former Cold War foes would cut their arsenals of nuclear warheads to 1,550 — from the 2,200 previously permitted — over seven years. It would also trim the number of allowable missiles and bombers capable of carrying the warheads to targets. …

Sealing the deal gave Obama a badly needed foreign policy victory. His advisers hoped it would help lend momentum to his overall agenda by demonstrating strength on both the international and domestic fronts. It came soon after Congress approved his top domestic priority, the health care overhaul. …


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — March 27, 2009

‘Disrupt, Defeat, Dismantle’ al-Qaida

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that President Barack Obama, calling the situation in the region “increasingly perilous,” ordered 4,000 more military troops into Afghanistan, vowing to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat” the terrorist al-Qaida network in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

One Response to “Obama Nuclear Deal with Russia”
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