MUNICH (AP) — A U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty that limits the number of atomic warheads the former Cold War foes can possess and allows them to inspect each other’s arsenals — securing a key foreign policy goal of President Barack Obama — went into effect Saturday.
The New START treaty was approved by the U.S. Senate in December after Obama pressed strongly for its passage. Russia ratified the deal last month.
The 10-year treaty, which can be extended by another five years, went into effect when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton exchanged the ratification papers with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of an international security conference in Munich.
New START is a cornerstone of Obama’s efforts to “reset” U.S. relations with Russia, and Clinton called it a “milestone in our strategic partnership.”
“When it comes to the button that has worried us the most over the years — the one that would unleash nuclear destruction — today we take another step to ensure it will never be pushed,” Clinton told reporters after the treaty went into effect.
Lavrov said that the treaty is in the national interests of both Russia and the United States.
“Both Russia and the U.S. share responsibility for security in the whole world,” he said through a translator.