U.S. and Russia Agree to Slash Nuclear Arsenals
President Bush said, “This treaty will liquidate the legacy of the Cold War.”
“When I sign the treaty with President Putin in Russia, we will begin the new era of U.S.-Russian relationships, and that’s important. The new era will be a period of enhanced mutual security, economic security and improved relations.”
The agreement sets the stage for a Moscow summit next week, where Mr. Bush and President Vladimir Putin of Russia plan to sign the treaty.
President Putin also expressed his support for the deal.
“We are satisfied with the joint work,” said President Putin “Without the interested, active position of the American administration and the attention of President Bush, it would have been difficult to reach such agreements.”
Presidents Bush and Putin had pledged to slash their nuclear arsenals by as much as two-thirds last year. The U.S currently has about 7,000 strategic nuclear weapons compared to Russia’s 6,000.
U.S. and Russian negotiators in Moscow reached final agreement on the treaty Monday morning, after weeks of deliberations, and President Bush’s announcement this morning came as a surprise to many who had been watching the process.
One sticking point was the U.S. insistence that both sides be allowed to store some of the nuclear weapons rather than having to destroy them. Negotiators also discussed the Bush administration’s plan to build a missile defense system.
Specific details of the agreement are not yet available.
The decision to sign the nuclear reduction treaty is a clear success for Putin, who fought hard for a formal agreement between the nations, rather than the U.S.’s desire for an informal one. The U.S. Senate must now vote to approve the treaty deal.
“This is good news for the American people today,” Bush said. “It’ll make the world more peaceful and put behind us the cold war once and for all.”