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US, Russia agree on nuclear arms reduction treaty

[JURIST] The US and Russia have reached an agreement for the first nuclear weapons reduction treaty since 1991, official said Tuesday. The landmark treaty, which will replace the recently expired Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [materials], will include significant reductions [WSJ report] in both the number of deployed nuclear weapons as well as the number of nuclear-delivery systems. US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller [official profile] is in Paris to finalize the treaty after an agreement in principle was reached last week between US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profiles]. Advocacy groups including the Arms Control Association [advocacy website] support the treaty for not only limiting the number of nuclear weapons, but for also providing methods for each side to moderator the other. The announcement comes as a number of world leaders gather for the 2010 Paris Summit [official website] in the hope of eliminating all nuclear weapons. The treaty could be ready for signing [AP report] by the end of March.

Both US and Russia officials have recently expressed desire to have the treaty in place prior to the upcoming Global Nuclear Security Summit [NTI backgrounder] in April, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference [CAC fact sheet] in May. Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov [official profile] said that nuclear arms reduction negotiations with the US were likely to resume [JURIST report] in early February. Nuclear disarmament between the US and Russia, whose nuclear arsenals comprise 95 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, languished [JURIST report] during the Bush administration. The treaty is considered a key part of easing tensions between the former Cold War rivals, which reached their worst point after the 2008 Georgia conflict [BBC backgrounder]. Last July, Obama and Medvedev agreed [NYT report] to tentative terms for the treaty.

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