Monday, July 06, 2009

US and Russia agree nuclear cuts!

The "joint understanding" signed in Moscow would see reductions of deployed nuclear warheads to below 1,700 each within seven years of a new treaty.

The accord would replace the 1991 Start I treaty, which expires in December.

Mr Obama said the two countries were both "committed to leaving behind the suspicion and the rivalry of the past".

After three hours of talks at the Kremlin on Monday, Mr Obama and Mr Medvedev publicly signed a joint understanding to negotiate a new arms control treaty that would set lower levels of both longer-range missiles and nuclear warheads.

"Within seven years after this treaty comes into force, and in future, the limits for strategic delivery systems should be within the range of 500-1,100 units and for warheads linked to them within the range of 1,500-1,675 units," it said.

Under current disarmament treaties, each country is allowed a maximum of 2,200 deployed nuclear warheads and 1,600 so-called delivery vehicles.

A White House statement said the new treaty would "include effective verification measures."

"The new agreement will enhance the security of both the US and Russia, as well as provide predictability and stability in strategic offensive forces," it said.

Afterwards, the Russian leader said the talks had been "very frank and very sincere", but that they had been, "without any doubt, the meeting we had been waiting for in Russia and the United States".

Separately, Russia also agreed to allow the US military to fly troops and weapons across its territory to Afghanistan, allowing it to avoid using supply routes through Pakistan that are attacked by militants.

"This agreement will enable the United States to further diversify the crucial transportation routes used to move troops and critical equipment to resupply international forces in Afghanistan," the White House said, adding that it would save the US up to $133m annually.

Graph showing US and Russian nuclear weapon stockpiles



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