U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev have signed a major nuclear arms reduction treaty that cuts each country's nuclear arsenals by about 30 percent. The pact signed Thursday in the Czech Republic leaves each country with about 1,500 strategic nuclear weapons.
President Obama, President Medvedev and President Klaus at Prague Castle
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 4/8/10
Both leaders praised the treaty during the
signing ceremony in Prague, with Mr. Obama calling it "an important milestone
for nuclear security and non-proliferation."
Mr. Medvedev also hailed the pact, saying the two sides accomplished "what a couple of months ago seemed impossible." The Russian leader also called the signing a historic event that could lead to a new chapter of bilateral cooperation.
The two presidents also pledged to consider new sanctions against Iran, if the Islamic republic continues to refuse to suspend uranium enrichment and open negotiations on its suspect nuclear program.
Mr. Medvedev acknowledged that Iran is not responding to international overtures to discuss its nuclear ambitions and said "we cannot turn a blind eye to this issue." Mr. Obama said the United States will not tolerate any actions by Iran that risk an arms race in the Middle East.
The treaty replaces the expired 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and comes after nearly a year of sometimes contentious bilateral negotiations.
The U.S. Senate and Russia's parliament must both ratify the treaty in order for it to take effect.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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