A new US-Russia nuclear arms control treaty went into effect on Saturday, securing a key foreign policy goal of US President Barack Obama and raising hopes among officials on both sides that it will provide the impetus for Moscow and Washington to negotiate further reductions.
“The treaty marks significant progress toward President Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons,” US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said after exchanging ratification papers with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sideline of an international security conference in Munich.
“Partnership with Russia is vital to our continued progress and to all that we hope to accomplish,” she said. “We must build the habits of cooperation that let us rise above our differences to address urgent matters of global security together.”
The New START — the first major revamping of nuclear disarmament deals since the late Cold War era — was approved by the US Senate last month after a bruising fight during which Obama pressed strongly for its passage. Russia ratified the deal last month.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov suggested that the two countries could build upon the new treaty in other areas, saying that “coordinated efforts” were needed in missile defense and that Moscow was also -willing to talk about tactical nuclear weapon reductions.
“We are ready to discuss this very complex topic in the framework of a comprehensive approach to strategic stability,” he said.
He also stressed that any “hypothetical” negotiations on tactical nuclear weapons “must take into consideration not only Russia’s or the US nuclear arsenal, but weapons systems of all nuclear and “threshold” states.
The 10-year New START, which can be extended by another five years, is a cornerstone of Obama’s efforts to “reset” US relations with Russia, and Clinton called it a “milestone in our strategic partnership.”
“When it comes to the button that has worried us the most over the years — the one that would unleash nuclear destruction — today we take another step to ensure it will never be pushed,” Clinton told reporters after the treaty went into effect.
Lavrov said the treaty was in the national interests of both Russia and the US.
“Both Russia and the US share responsibility for security in the whole world,” he said through a translator.
The treaty builds on the original START, or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, initially proposed by former US president Ronald Reagan, which went into effect in 1994. The conclusion of the New START comes the day before the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth.