Obama and Medvedev to Work Towards New Strategic Nuclear Arms Reduction

The date: July 31, 1991

The place: Moscow

The players: George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev

Mr. Gorbachev had this to say:

Mr. President, in recent months and weeks, the Kremlin, a symbol of our nation's centuries-old history, has been the scene of events that will shape this country's future. Tomorrow it will witness another such event, the signing of the treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive arms.

It is more than just a major step in the process of disarmament. It is a sign of the growing irreversibility of the fundamental change for the better in world developments.

It was the beginning of the end of the nuclear Cold War, for on that day:

Presidents Bush and Gorbachev sign[ed] the "Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms" (START I), which calls for the United States and the Soviet Union to reduce their strategic nuclear forces over seven years to 1,600 SNDVs and 6,000 "accountable" warheads, of which no more than 4,900 may be on ballistic missiles. This will result in a cut in strategic warheads of 25 to 35 percent.

The treaty was hardly a simple matter; if you have a few hours, you can dig through the details of verification and inspection protocols, and the various goals that the treaty accomplished over the years.

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