President Obama has reportedly obtained Russian commitment to pursue a mutual reduction of both countries’ nuclear stockpiles, in a move that could have far-reaching effects for America’s security.
"This is an urgent issue, and one in which the U.S. and Russia have to take leadership," Obama said during a visit to Russia.
"It is very difficult for us to exert that leadership unless we are showing ourselves willing to deal with our own nuclear stockpiles in a more rational way," he added.
The planned replacement to the START I nuclear arms reduction treaty, which expires on December 5, calls for each side to reduce strategic warheads to a range of 1,500 to 1,675, and strategic delivery vehicles to a range of 500 to 1,100. Current limits allow a maximum of 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles.
The new treaty would run for 10 years, and each side would have seven years to reach reduction goals.
However, it remains unclear how this could be achieved given that his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, remains opposed to the proposed American missile defense shield in Central Europe, which the U.S. claims is designed to protect the homeland from the threat of Iranian nuclear missiles.
Commentators say a resolution of this issue is crucial to any nuclear reduction deal.
On Wednesday, Obama heads to Italy, for the start of the G8 summit.