US and Russia meet on arms control treaty

 In Nuclear Weapons

The US and Russia have begun talks on a replacement for the landmark Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the US and Russia, set to expire in December of next year.

The United States and Russia announced in 2001 they had met requirements under the pact to deploy a maximum of 6,000 nuclear warheads each.

START was the first treaty to reduce strategic offensive weapons. Under its provisions, talks on a successor agreement have to begin at least a year before the original pact expires.

The beginning of the talks now leaves the door open for the next administration to pursue an agreement, and the beginning of more intense negotiations is expected after President Bush leaves office. President-elect Obama has said he strongly supports nuclear weapons reductions with Russia:

I will make the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide a central element of U.S. nuclear policy.

To make progress toward this goal, I will seek real, verifiable reductions in all U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons—whether deployed or nondeployed, whether strategic or nonstrategic—and work with other nuclear powers to reduce global stockpiles dramatically by the end of my presidency. As a first step, I will seek Russia’s agreement to extend essential monitoring and verification provisions of the [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] START I before it expires in December 2009. I will work with Russia in a mutual and verifiable manner to increase warning and decision time prior to the launch of nuclear weapons.

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