[JURIST] US State Department [official website] spokesperson Robert Wood said Wednesday that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton [official profile] has told Congress that she intends to begin preliminary negotiations with Russia [press briefing] on a new treaty that would significantly lower nuclear stockpiles in both countries. The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) [text], which limited the US and Russia to 6,000 nuclear warheads each, will expire at the end of the year. Wood told reporters that the Obama administration "is very serious about further reductions in nuclear weapons" and plans to put negotiations with Russia on a replacement treaty "on the fast track." Nuclear disarmament languished [AP report] under the Bush administration, and diplomats and officials are optimistic [Guardian report] that Moscow will quickly come to an agreement with the Obama administration to cut warheads to about 1,000. Negotiations may be slowed, however as some important arms control positions have not yet been filled in Washington.
In addition to the proposed negotiations with Russia, the State Department is taking a strong stance against foreign violations of US rules against the spread of weapons and missile technology. On Monday, the department announced [Federal Register materials, JURIST report] that it instituted sanctions against Chinese, Iranian, and North Korean arms companies for violations.