U.S.-Russia Summit: Obama, Medvedev Agree to Limit Nuclear Warheads

President Obama and Russian President Dimitry Medvedev announced agreements Monday to limit their nuclear warheads and to cooperate on the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan but did not appear to make any progress on the contentious issue of a U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

Video of Obama and Medvedev talking about nukes.
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After three hours of meetings at the Kremlin, the two leaders said they will limit their arsenal of strategic nuclear warheads to a range of 1,500-1,675 each, and their strategic delivery vehicles -- such as planes, missiles or submarines -- to a range of 500 to 1,100. The current maximum levels are 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles each.

"We must lead by example, and that's what we are doing here today," Obama said in a joint press conference. "We resolve to reset U.S.-Russian relations so that we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest."

Obama said the U.S.-Russia relationship had cooled in recent years and reiterated that the trip was aimed at repairing the damages.

"The president and I agreed that the relationship between Russia and the United States has suffered from a sense of drift," Obama said. "President Medvedev and I are committed to leaving behind the suspicion and rivalry of the past."

Though with all of the talk of cooperation and mutual interests, there still were outstanding issues including the plans for a U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe, which Medvedev has adamantly and publicly opposed.

Today, the two leaders said there will be an ongoing discussion on the air defense system that will include a threat assessment of Iran and North Korea's missile programs, but it was clear that serious differences remain.

Obama said the system is not meant to as a shield against Russia, but is designed to counter a missile from Iran or North Korea.

"It's important for the United States and its allies to have the capacity to prevent such a strike. There is no scenario from our perspective in which this missile defense system would provide any protection against a mighty Russian arsenal," Obama said.

Medvedev pointed out that his view on this matter is quite different and familiar.

"We realize fully well that the number of threats, including a link to the medium-range and ballistic missiles, is not diminishing but is growing in number, so we all have to think about what configuration on the whole, the global antiballistic missile defense could have," Medvedev said.

For the first time since the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan began in 2001, Russia said it wouldl allow the United States to use its airspace to transfer troops and military equipment to Afghanistan.

The two parties will continue to talk about missile defense and plan to conduct a joint review and threat assessment of the development of missile programs around the world, such as in Iran and North Korea.

"The president and I agreed that the relationship between Russia and the United States has suffered from a sense of drift," Obama said. "President Medvedev and I are committed to leaving behind the suspicion and rivalry of the past."

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