[JURIST] The US and Russia reached an agreement Wednesday to reduce nuclear arms, marking the first such agreement between the two nuclear powers in nearly two decades. According to an anonymous Kremlin spokesperson, the two countries have come to an agreement [WP report] that will be finalized at a meeting Friday between US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profiles]. The new pact will supplant the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I Treaty) [materials], signed in 1991. The agreement treaty will be legally binding on both countries and will reduce long-range nuclear weapons by dropping the ceiling of 2,200 to between 1,500 and 1,675. The agreement will also limit the number of jets, land-bases, and submarines that can have nuclear warheads. It is expected that Obama and Medvedev will sign the agreement [NYT report] at a ceremony on April 8 in Prague.
The agreement comes after months of talks between the US and Russia since Obama and Medvedev came to tentative terms of the non-proliferation agreement in July. Both US and Russian 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. 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].