U.S., Russia Reach Arms Reduction Accord

WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) — The United States and Russia have reached “the most comprehensive arms control agreement” in nearly 20 years, President Barack Obama said Friday.

“I just concluded a productive phone call with (Russian) President (Dmitry) Medvedev,” Obama said. “And I’m pleased to announce that after a year of intense negotiations, the United States and Russia have agreed to the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades.”

Broadly speaking, the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty will cut by about a third the nuclear weapons that the United States and Russia will deploy and will “significantly” reduce the number of missiles launchers, Obama said. It also 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,” Obama said.

The agreement also signals that the world’s two largest nuclear powers intend to lead the push for global nuclear arms reduction, the president said.

“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,” he said.

Obama and Medvedev announced last April plans to reach a new accord that would succeed the arms reduction pact that expired in December.

“I’m pleased that almost one year to the day after my last trip to Prague, the Czech Republic — a close friend and ally of the United States — has agreed to host President Medvedev and me on April 8th, as we sign this historic treaty,” Obama said.

The following week, Obama will host leaders from about 40 nations at a nuclear security summit in Washington.

Obama said he looked forward to working with Congress to approve the agreement, noting he has met with Democrats and Republicans to discuss the treaty.

“There is a long tradition of bipartisan leadership on arms control,” he said. “(My) administration will be consulting senators from both parties as we prepare for what I hope will be a strong, bipartisan support to ratify the new START treaty.”

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