With the stroke of two pens, President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev signed a new nuclear disarmament treaty in Prague today, replacing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that expired Dec. 5.
"This ceremony is a testament to the truth that old adversaries can forge new partnerships," Obama said today from the Spanish Hall at Prague's presidential castle.
The United States and Russia — the world's two nuclear superpowers — are pledging to reduce their nuclear arms by one third, making the historic agreement the first of its kind in two decades. The setting — signing the treaty in Prague — served as a symbolic gesture, as it was this city where just over a year ago, Obama spoke about his vision of a de-nuclearized world.
The treaty requires both countries to reduce their nuclear arsenals from 2,200 deployed warheads for each country to 1,550 over seven years, a 30 percent reduction from the last treaty. And they'll reduce their long-range missiles and launchers to 700 for each country as well.
"Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and non-proliferation, and for U.S.-Russia relations," Obama said at the signing today. "This day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia — the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons — to pursue responsible global leadership. Together, we are keeping our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which must be the foundation of global non-proliferation."
Obama this morning was welcomed to Prague with pomp and celebrations. Prior to the treaty signing, Obama and Medvedev held a long meeting to discuss Iran and the situation in Kyrgyzstan, where clashes between the government and protestors Wednesday left numerous dead.
At the signing, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton entered first, looked up at the ornate room and could be seen saying, "Wow."
After they signed the treaty, Obama and Medvedev looked at each other, shrugged and then laughed.
More on today’s treaty signing HERE.
-Sunlen Miller, Yunji de Nies and Huma Khan