US and Russia agree nuclear arms cuts in Moscow

warheadUS President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have come to an initial agreement on nuclear power – an issue which has divided the nations since the Cold War.

The agreement sees a reduction in the number of nuclear warheads in Russian and US strategic arsenals to between 1,500 and 1,675 in a period of seven years and the number of ballistic missile carriers to between 500-1,100.

The new treaty is to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1) treaty, which was due to expire in December, and sets levels lower than those proposed in the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT).

Whilst they remained divided over the issue of Georgia, along with US plans to install a missile defence shield in eastern Europe, Obama said the two countries were both “committed to leaving behind the suspicion and the rivalry of the past”.

The White House has said that the treaty, “commits both parties to a legally binding treaty that will reduce nuclear weapons,” and while this still leaves both countries with sufficient nuclear power able to destroy each other several times over, the opening up of a dialogue represents a huge step forward in international relations.