WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sealed a new nuclear arms reduction treaty during a phone call Friday, committing the two nations to a significant reduction of the strategic missiles each side has deployed, U.S. officials announced.
The treaty calls for both sides to reduce the stockpiles of their most dangerous weapons — those deployed and ready to launch at long-range targets — by about 30 percent, allowing each side to retain about 1,550 such warheads.
It also limits deployed and nondeployed missile launchers and heavy bombers to 800 and says that each side may only have 700 of such equipment already deployed — a cut in half from the limits in the previous accord, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 1991.
Flanked by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Obama announced the agreement to reporters at the White House, calling it a historic step toward a world without nuclear weapons.
"With this agreement, the United States and Russia — the two largest nuclear powers in the world — also send a clear signal that we intend to lead," he said.
The Kremlin called it a "tremendous" result.
After speaking with Medvedev, Obama said he will travel to Prague on April 8 to sign the treaty with the Russian leader, noting that the historic event will come just a week before he hosts a summit in Washington on how to control the spread of nuclear material around the world.
Obama also praised what he said was an improving relationship with Russia.
The treaty must be ratified by the U.S. Senate and Russia's legislature.