US and Russian Heads of State Declare New Hope for Nuclear Non-Proliferation

6 July 2009 (Last Updated July 6th, 2009 18:30)

US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev have met in Moscow to sign agreements on a nuclear arms reduction pact, signalling a new era of robust relations between the countries. During the meeting both presidents signed a declaration to replace the 1991 Str

US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev have met in Moscow to sign agreements on a nuclear arms reduction pact, signalling a new era of robust relations between the countries.

During the meeting both presidents signed a declaration to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which is set to expire in December this year.

The statement calls for a reduction in the number of nuclear warheads in Russian and US strategic arsenals to between 1,500 and 1,675 within seven years and a cut to the number of ballistic missile carriers to between 500 and 1,100.

President Obama said that the two countries had taken important steps to increase nuclear security and to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

"We have signed a joint understanding for a follow-on treaty on the START agreement which will reduce our warheads and delivery systems by up to a third from our current treaty limitations. This legally binding treaty will be completed by the end of this year," Obama said.

Russian President Medvedev declared the agreement a "basic element of our mutual security".

These proposed cuts go beyond the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which called for both countries to reduce the number of deployed warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012.

President Obama also announced proposals to host a global nuclear security summit in the US in 2009, with a subsequent summit held the following year in Russia.

During the meeting, several other military issues were agreed upon, including a decision to allow the US to use Russian airspace for the transit of US arms and troops.

Previously, the Kremlin only allowed the movement of non-lethal military supplies across Russian airspace. The new agreement will allow for the movement of troops, firearms, ammunition, military vehicles and spare parts in order to boost the US war effort in Afghanistan.

Bilateral military cooperation between the two countries, suspended since the war between Georgia and Russia last year, has also resumed.

Despite the progress, Russia still remains cold over US plans to install missile defence facilities in the Czech Republic and Poland, which Russia considers a threat to national security.