Obama and Medvedev signed an arms reduction agreement in Prague, replacing the 1991 START I treaty, which expired in December 2009. The new START treaty obliges Washington and Moscow to limit the proliferation of strategic offensive weapons. The package, which comes after in-depth discussions between the two leaders, calls for a 30% reduction in warheads and lower ceilings for used and unused intercontinental missile launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear weapons. The two sides agreed on a similar surveillance approach outside the Russian Votkinsk missile production plant for the 1988 Medium-Range Nuclear Warning Treaty and the 1994 START I Agreement on the Reduction of Long-Range Nuclear Weapons. However, these revision modalities were implemented at a time when relations between the two countries have improved. There was no direct indication as to when the two sides could meet to reach an agreement, or what form it might take. On February 2, President Obama gave a series of assurances to the U.S. Senate regarding the implementation of the new START agreement. He reiterated that the United States is technically capable of implementing the treaty`s surveillance conditions, that the modernization of the U.S. nuclear triangle will remain a top priority in the coming years, and that the agreement will not require the United States to share flight data from missile captures or anti-missile and target missile tests. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reaffirmed the need to begin talks on reducing tactical nuclear weapons within a year of the new START pact. In May, the National Defense Authorization Act 2020 was introduced in the House of Representatives, in which Congress recommended that the United States extend the new START treaty unless (a) the president finds that Russia is violating the treaty or (b) that the treaty is replaced by a new arms control agreement, equivalent or superior.
The NDAA also clarified that none of the funds it released could be used to withdraw the United States from the new START treaty, unless Russia was convicted of violating the treaty. Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously proposed extending the treaty for five years without preconditions, which the United States refused. Late last week, Putin proposed a one-year extension without conditions and the United States responded that any agreement must include a one-year freeze on all nuclear weapons, including those not covered by New START.