30 years of nuclear agreements

Presidents Putin and Bush today sign a document which deflates once and for all the tension between their two countries over the issue of ballistic missiles, a process which was begun in 1972 by General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and President Nixon.

The 1972 agreement on ballistic missiles was called SALT 1 (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks), in which Brezhnev and Nixon agreed to a ceiling on Ballistic Missiles and to deploy them only in cases of national defence. Salt II in 1979, establishing further limits, was never ratified. These talks concerned deployment of US cruise missiles and nuclear devices launched from Russian Backfire bombers.

In 1987, the INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) treaty signed by Presidents Gorbatchov and Reagan, ratified in 1998, banned medium-range nuclear missiles from deployment and a conventional treaty (CFE – Conventional Armed Forces in Europe) between NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries three years later established limits on conventional forces in Europe.

In 1991, George Bush (Senior) and Mikhail Gorbatchov signed START 1 (Treaty between the USA and the USSR on the Reduction of Strategic Offensive Weapons), reducing the number of warheads to 6,000 each, a decrease of between 25 and 35%. This treaty came into force in December, 1994.

In 1993, Presidents Bush (Sr) and Borin Yeltsin signed START II, reducing the number of warheads to between 3,800 and 4,250 each. It has been ratified by both countries (US Senate and Russian Federation Duma).

Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin signed the CTB Treaty (Comprehensive Nuclear Test-ban Treaty in 1996, along with other nuclear powers, banning tests with nuclear weapons. However, the US Senate refused to ratify this Treaty in 1999.

Today, Presidents Putin and George W. Bush agree to limit the number of warheads to around 2,000 each. Still enough to destroy the planet many times over but a symbolic reduction, hailing a new spirit of friendship and mutual recognition as the world’s two superpowers, coexisting in an atmosphere of collaboration towards world peace.


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