Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

President Barack Obama's nuclear arms statement in full

I just concluded a productive phone call with President Medvedev. And I'm pleased to announce that after a year of intense negotiations, the United States and Russia have agreed to the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades.

Since taking office, one of my highest national security priorities has been addressing the threat posed to the American people by nuclear weapons.

That is why - last April in Prague - I stated America's intention to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, a goal that has been embraced by Presidents like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

While this aspiration will not be reached in the near future, I put forward a comprehensive agenda to pursuit it - to stop the spread of these weapons; to secure vulnerable nuclear materials from terrorists; and to reduce nuclear arsenals.

A fundamental part of that effort was the negotiation of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

Furthermore, since I took office, I have been committed to a "reset" of our relations with Russia. When the United States and Russia can cooperate effectively, it advances the mutual interests of our two nations, and the security and prosperity of the wider world.

We have worked together on Afghanistan. We have co-ordinated our economic efforts through the G20. We are working together to pressure Iran to meet its international obligations. And today, we have reached agreement on one of my Administration's top priorities - a pivotal new arms control agreement.

In many ways, nuclear weapons represent both the darkest days of the Cold War, and the most troubling threats of our time. Today, we have taken another step forward in leaving behind the legacy of the 20th Century while building a more secure future for our children.

We have turned words into action. We have made progress that is clear and concrete. And we have demonstrated the importance of American leadership - and American partnership - on behalf of our own security, and the world's.

Broadly speaking, the new Start treaty makes progress in several areas. It cuts - by about a third - the nuclear weapons that the United States and Russia will deploy. It significantly reduces missiles and launchers. It puts in place a strong and effective verification regime. And it maintains the flexibility that we need to protect and advance our national security, and to guarantee our unwavering commitment to the security of our Allies.

With this agreement, the United States and Russia - the two largest nuclear powers in the world - also send a clear signal that we intend to lead.

By upholding our own commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, we strengthen our global efforts to stop the spread of these weapons, and to ensure that other nations meet their own responsibilities.

I am pleased that almost one year to the day after my last trip to Prague, the Czech Republic - a close friend and ally of the United States - has agreed to host President Medvedev and me on April 8th, as we sign this historic Treaty.

The following week, I look forward to hosting leaders from over 40 nations here in Washington, as we convene a summit to address how we can secure vulnerable nuclear materials so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists. And later this spring, the world will come together in New York to discuss how we can build on this progress, and continue to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime.

Through all of these efforts, co-operation between the United States and Russia will be essential. I want to thank President Medvedev for his personal and sustained leadership as we worked to reach this agreement. We have had the opportunity to meet many times over the last year, and we both agree that we can serve the interests of our people through close cooperation.

I also want to thank my national security team, who did so much work to make this day possible. That includes the leaders with me here today - Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, and Admiral Mullen. And it also includes a tireless negotiating team.

It took patience. It took perseverance. But we never gave up. And as a result, the United States will be more secure, and the American people will be safer.

Finally, I look forward to continuing to work closely with Congress in the months ahead. There is a long tradition of bipartisan leadership on arms control.

Presidents of both parties have recognized the necessity of securing and reducing these weapons. Statesmen like George Shultz, Sam Nunn, Henry Kissinger, and Bill Perry have been outspoken in their support of more assertive action.

Earlier this week, I met again with my friends John Kerry and Dick Lugar to discuss this treaty, and throughout the morning, my Administration will be consulting senators from both parties as we prepare for what I hope will be strong, bipartisan support to ratify the new Start treaty.

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