President Obama Announces the New START Treaty

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After concluding a phone call with Russian President Medvedev, President Obama announced the new START treaty during a press briefing Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates, and Admiral Mullen.  The new Treaty,  which he called “the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades,” is a major step  to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons and to set the stage for further reductions in global nuclear stockpiles and materials.  The President has made the pledge to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons worldwide a key goal of his foreign policy approach, including a major speech in Prague laying out his vision during his first trip to Europe

President Obama explained the significance of the new agreement:

In many ways, nuclear weapons represent both the darkest days of the Cold War, and the most troubling threats of our time.  Today, we’ve taken another step forward by -- in leaving behind the legacy of the 20th century while building a more secure future for our children.  We’ve turned words into action.  We’ve made progress that is clear and concrete.  And we’ve demonstrated the importance of American leadership -- and American partnership -- on behalf of our own security, and the world’s.

Broadly speaking, the new START treaty makes progress in several areas.  It cuts -- by about a third -- the nuclear weapons that 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, and to guarantee our unwavering commitment to the security of our allies.

With this agreement, the United States and Russia -- the two largest nuclear powers in the world -- also send a clear signal that we intend to lead.  By upholding our own commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we strengthen our global efforts to stop the spread of these weapons, and to ensure that other nations meet their own responsibilities.

Specifically, the new START Treaty will specify limits of:

  • 1,550 deployed warheads, which is about 30% lower than the upper warhead limit of the Moscow Treaty;
  • 800 deployed and non-deployed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear weapons; and
  • 700 for deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear weapons.
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