Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2010

Toward Deeper Reductions in U.S. and Russian Nuclear Weapons

Micah Zenko

November 2010

Council on Foreign Relations


The New START Treaty, signed by presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in April 2010, was an important achievement. A follow-on to the 1991 START treaty, New START commits both countries to substantial reductions in their nuclear arsenals. Pending ratification in the Russian Duma and U.S. Senate, New START limits both countries to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads--far below the Cold War peak of 31,000 strategic and tactical nuclear weapons in the United States alone. Moreover, the New START treaty furthers Obama's goal of "resetting" U.S.-Russia relations. In just the past two years, the former adversaries also finalized an agreement on plutonium disposition, imposed UN sanctions against Iran in reaction to its nuclear program, and enhanced security for non-deployed tactical nuclear weapons.