Terms of new START treaty would supersede these limits
As we noted in an earlier update, this promise was kept shortly after Barack Obama took over as president.
The Moscow Treaty, also referred to as SORT, was signed in 2002 and called for the United States and Russia to cut their number of deployed nuclear warheads to 2,200 by the end of 2012 -- a two-thirds reduction. That goal has been achieved. The Bush administration's progress gave Obama a major assist -- there were only 2,246 deployed warheads shortly before the new president took office and the number of U.S.-deployed warheads dropped below 2,200 just weeks after he was sworn in.
But it's worth noting that the Moscow Treaty -- which was more of an understanding between the two nations than an actual verifiable treaty -- looks like it will be superseded anyway by the more ambitious arms reductions limits agreed to on March 26, 2010, by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a "new START treaty."
Under the new treaty, the United States and Russia would reduce their number of deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550 warheads, 30 percent lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the Moscow Treaty.
The two presidents have agreed to sign the new treaty on April 8, 2010, in the Czech Republic. And it would still need to be approved by the U.S. Senate and the Russian legislature before it can enter into force. In the Senate, it would need to be approved by two-thirds of the members, 67 votes, not an easy task these days. Still, it appears that Obama is making progress toward well exceeding the goals set out in his campaign.
This continues to be a Promise Kept.
White House Web site, Remarks by the President on the Announcement of New START Treaty, March 26, 2010
White House Web site, President Obama Announces the New START Treaty, March 26, 2010
White House Web site, Key Facts about the New START Treaty, March 26, 2010
White House Web site, Readout of the President's call with Russian President Medvedev, March 26, 2010
White House Web site, Remarks by President Obama in Prague, Czech Republic, April 5, 2009
Council on Foreign Relations, "OpenDemocracy: The Nuclear-Weapons Moment," by Paul Rogers, March 5, 2010
New York Times, "Twists and Turns on Way to Arms Pact With Russia," by Peter Baker, March 26, 2010
New York Times, "Russia and U.S. Report Breakthrough on Arms," by Peter Baker and Ellen Barry, March 24, 2010
New York Times, "Treaty Advances Obama"s Nuclear Vision," by Peter Baker, March 25, 2010
Heritage Foundation, "START Follow on Treaty: In Pursuit of a Pipe Dream," by Ariel Cohen, March 26th, 2010
Inrterview with Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations, March 30, 2010
Meeting -- and exceeding -- and the treaty
During the campaign, Barack Obama pledged to "immediately stand down all nuclear forces to be reduced under the Moscow Treaty and urge Russia to do the same."
The Moscow Treaty was signed by former President George W. Bush and then-Russian Federation President Vladmir Putin (who is now that nation's prime minister) in May 2002. The treaty, also referred to as SORT, called for both countries to cut their number of deployed nuclear warheads to 2,200 by the end of 2012 -- a two-thirds reduction. Deployed warheads are those that are ready to be launched, because they're attached to either a bomber or a missile.
That goal has been achieved. The Bush administration's progress gave Obama a major assist -- there were only 2,246 deployed warheads shortly before the new president took office and the number of U.S. deployed warheads dropped below 2,200 just weeks after he was sworn in.
As for the Russians, they are under no obligation to reach 2,200 until December 31, 2012, and the U.S. estimate on the number of deployed Russian warheads has not been publicly released. It's worth nothing the Moscow Treaty contained no inspection or verification procedures , so neither nation knows for certain if the other fulfilled its obligations.
But after meeting in April to discuss arms reduction, Obama and current Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev issued a joint statement that said a new extension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty -- or START, the main U.S. - Russia arms control pact -- would include "record levels of reductions in strategic offensive arms that will be lower than those in the 2002 Moscow Treaty." In July, they said the extension -- which is still being negotiated -- would aim to reduce the number of deployed warheads to somewhere between 1,500 and 1,675 for each nation.
So we find Obama has fulfilled the promise. He has taken action to "stand down" the forces required under the Moscow Treaty (he didn't have far to go, thanks to the Bush administration) and he has joined with Russia in an effort to further reduce nuclear weapons. Promise Kept.
The Washington Post, U.S. Ahead of Moscow Treaty Schedule in Reducing Its Nuclear Arsenal , By Walter Pincus, February 13, 2009
Interview with Darryl Kimball, Executive Director of Arms Control Association, January 5, 2010
U.S. Department of State, 2009 Annual Report on Implementation of the Moscow Treaty , August 11, 2009
The White House, Joint Statement by Dmitriy A. Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, and Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, Regarding Negotiations on Further Reductions in Strategic Offensive Arms , April 1, 2009
Arms Control Today, A New START , By Darryl Kimball, December 2009