Speaking today by telephone, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and US President Barack Obama agreed to meet in Prague, Czech Republic, on April 8, 2010, to sign a treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on strategic arms limitations and reductions.
Mr Medvedev said that the draft treaty reflects the balance of interests on both sides and noted that, though the negotiation process was not always easy, the negotiators’ constructive mindset made it possible to achieve a tremendous result in a short time and produce a document ready for signature.
The two presidents thanked each other for the work accomplished. Once they have signed the document, the main task will be for their respective countries to ratify the new treaty, they said.
The two leaders agreed to also discuss bilateral cooperation and current international issues at their meeting in Prague.
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This treaty will replace the START Treaty of 1991 which expired on December 4, 2009, and the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty (Moscow Treaty) of May 24, 2002, between the Russian Federation and the United States of America.
The START Treaty of 1991 played a significant role in ensuring global peace, strategic stability and security and served as a foundation to create a qualitatively new atmosphere of trust, openness, and predictability in the strategic offensive arms reduction process.
This approach and the experience gained in carrying out the 1991 treaty were fully taken into account when formulating the new treaty while at the same time, some elements from an earlier historic era needed to be adapted to the contemporary realities.
The START Treaty’s historic role would not have been fully accomplished without the significant efforts made by Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to implement it and to carry out all the obligations taken on under the Lisbon Protocol of 1992. These nations made the responsible choice to agree on a withdrawal of nuclear arms from their territories and join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as states that do not possess nuclear weapons. This improved their security and had a favourable effect on overall strategic stability.
The new treaty was drawn up in accordance with instructions from President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, as well as joint Russian-American statements and documents on strategic arms reductions accepted at the highest level during the April 1, 2009 meeting in London and the July 6, 2009 summit in Moscow. The treaty specifies the following limits for nuclear arms in Russia and the United States:
– 1,550 deployed warheads for each nation, i.e. about 30% lower than the previous warhead limit under the Moscow Treaty;
– 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and deployed heavy bombers, i.e. more than two times lower than the levels allowed in the previous START treaty;
– 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers.
The treaty also provides that each party has the right to independently determine the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms.
The new treaty contains provisions regarding definitions, data exchanges, notifications, strategic arms re-equipment and destruction, inspections and verification procedures, as well as confidence-building measures.
The verification mechanism in the new treaty will be simpler and less expensive than that in the old START Treaty, while ensuring irreversibility, verifiability, and transparency for the process of strategic arms reductions with the same efficiency as before.
The provisions on the interrelation between strategic offensive and strategic defensive arms, as well as on the growing significance of such interrelation in the process of strategic arms reduction, will be set in a legally-binding format.
The treaty will state that even ICBMs and SLBMs carrying no nuclear warheads may affect strategic stability. The treaty provides that all strategic offensive arms will be based solely within the national territory of each party. A new executive body – the Bilateral Advisory Committee – will be formed to promote the purposes and provisions of the new treaty.
The term of the treaty will be ten years, unless superseded earlier by a subsequent agreement on reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms.
During the telephone conversation, both presidents expressed satisfaction with the outcomes of the negotiation process as the parties were able to achieve the key task of agreeing on how to make real reductions in strategic offensive arms, while maintaining parity and observing the principle of equal and indivisible security.
The two presidents agreed that the new treaty marks a transition in the two nations’ interactions to a higher level in developing new strategic relations and will serve as evidence of the commitment by Russia and the United States, the world’s largest nuclear powers, to reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals in accordance with the spirit and letter of the NPT.
As they move toward greater disarmament, both nations see their ultimate goal as creating a world without nuclear weapons. The significant input of the new treaty to strengthening nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament should also increase trust not merely between its parties, but more broadly among nuclear and non-nuclear NPT member-states.