The United States and Russia have reached a deal on their most extensive nuclear arms-control agreement in nearly two decades, the Kremlin announced on Wednesday.
The pact appeared to represent President Barack Obama’s first victory in his ambitious agenda to move toward a nuclear-free world.
The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) would replace a 1991 pact that expired in December. Experts called the new agreement the most significant arms-control accord since the 1993 signing of START II, which the Russians never ratified.
Officials in both countries would not discuss details of the new accord, but the general outlines have emerged during the year-long negotiations. Each side will reduce its most dangerous nuclear weapons — those deployed for long-range missions — from a ceiling of 2,200 to between 1,500 and 1,675. And the two militaries will make relatively small cuts in the number of jets and land — or submarine-based missiles that carry nuclear warheads and bombs.
A Kremlin spokesman told reporters that the two countries’ presidents would talk soon to decide when to sign the pact. “All documents related to the new treaty have been agreed upon,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivity.
The declaration appeared to surprise the White House, with spokesman Robert Gibbs saying that the two sides were “close” to a treaty but that it would not be announced until Obama could speak with President Dmitry Medvedev, probably in the next few days. Still, US officials confirmed that all major obstacles to the pact have been cleared.
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