(March 28, 2010) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Moments after completing a call with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, President Obama, accompanied by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen, announced that an agreement with Russia on the terms of a new nuclear arms disposal treaty had been reached.

“In many ways, nuclear weapons represent both the darkest days of the Cold War, and the most troubling threats of our time,” Obama said. “Today, we’ve taken another step forward…in leaving behind the legacy of the 20th century while building a more secure future for our children. We’ve turned words into action. We’ve made progress that is clear and concrete.”

According to a release from the White House, the new START Treaty has three layers of increasing detail: the treaty text, the protocol containing additional rights and obligations, and the technical annexes. All three will be submitted to the Senate for consent and ratification.

Under the treaty, each country will determine how to reduce its nuclear stockpile to 30 percent below current levels. Medvedev and Obama are scheduled to sign the treaty on April 8 in Prague.

“We have a vision, a long-term vision, of moving towards a world without nuclear weapons. We are absolutely realistic about how long that will take,” said Clinton. “The steps we are taking add up to something that makes a very clear statement of intent.”

Clinton said this treaty sends the message to America that the cold war is over  and there is no need to maintain massive nuclear arsenals as a deterrent. It also gives the United States more credibility on the world stage, and a strong leadership position when dealing with countries like Iran and North Korea.

Asked if she thought New START Treaty ratification would be subject to partisan rhetoric and debate in Congress, Clinton indicated national security has always produced bipartisan support.

“I don’t believe this ratification effort will be affected by anything other than individual senators’ assessments of whether this is in the best interest of national security,” she said. “We are absolutely united in our belief that this is in America’s best interest.”


Talibah Chikwendu

Special to the AFRO