On Sunday, I flew to Moscow to join Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and hold discussions with our Russian counterparts on the full range of arms control, nonproliferation, and missile defense issues, including a new strategic arms reduction treaty to replace the current START Treaty.
For almost fifteen years, START, which expires on December 5, 2009, has substantially reduced Cold War nuclear forces, institutionalized predictability into our nuclear relationship with Russia, and allowed both sides to monitor and verify each other’s nuclear forces.
Without a new treaty, these advantages would be lost.
President Obama and President Medvedev directed negotiators to work out a legally binding and effectively verifiable agreement that would reduce delivery vehicles and warheads to levels below those contained in the START Treaty and the 2002 Moscow Treaty – before December 5.
A new START Treaty would enhance our national security and maintain a level of transparency in the strategic environment between the United States and Russia. Moreover, reducing our arsenals would in turn reduce the likelihood that nuclear warheads and technology would fall into the wrong hands. After all, the United States and Russia possess about 95 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
Achieving this objective would be another important milestone in nuclear disarmament. President Obama and Secretary Clinton regard a new START Treaty as a down payment for future reductions, and we hope those talks would begin immediately following ratification. We will continue to further our engagement with our friends and allies, as the United States leads the global effort in arms control once again.
In his remarks in the Rose Garden after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama reiterated his ambitious nuclear disarmament goal – to achieve the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons. A new START Treaty is the first step in that direction.