On April 1, Presidents Obama and Medvedev agreed in London that America and Russian negotiators would begin work on a new, comprehensive, legally binding agreement on reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires on December 5, 2009.
On July 6, Presidents Medvedev and Obama signed a Joint Understanding to guide the remainder of the negotiations. The Joint Understanding commits the United States and Russia to reduce their strategic warheads to a range of 1500–1675, and their strategic delivery vehicles to a range of 500–1100. Under the expiring START and the Moscow treaties the maximum allowable levels of warheads is 2200 and the maximum allowable level of launch vehicles is 1600.
These numbers reflect a new level of reductions of strategic offensive arms and delivery vehicles that will be lower than those in any existing arms control agreements. The new treaty will include effective verification measures drawn from the experience of the Parties in implementing START. The new agreement will enhance the security of both the U.S. and Russia, as well as provide predictability and stability in strategic offensive forces. A follow-on agreement to START directly supports the goals outlined by the President during his speech in Prague and will demonstrate Russian and American leadership in strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The U.S. and Russian negotiating teams met in April, May, June, and July, and will continue their work toward finalizing an agreement for signature and ratification at the earliest possible date.