Munich, Feb 5 (DPA) A new nuclear arms reduction agreement between the US and Russia formally came into force in Munich Saturday with the exchange of ratification documents by the countries’ heads of diplomacy.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took part in the ratification ceremony on the sidelines of a security conference in the southern German city.
Clinton described the agreement as a “milestone in our strategic partnership” that “lessens the nuclear danger” for the US, Russia and other countries.
Lavrov praised the treaty’s principles of “equality, parity, equal and indivisible security”, saying Russia and the US “should take responsibility for the safety of the world”.
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, requires both sides to reduce their arsenal of warheads by roughly one-third of current levels – from 2,200 to 1,550.
The previous treaty, which was sealed in 1991, expired in December 2009.
US President Barack Obama, who signed the START ratification documents Wednesday, views the treaty as a cornerstone for resetting relations with Russia after years of tension.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed ratification documents last week, two days after it was approved by the Duma’s upper chamber.
Under the agreement, both sides are to monitor each other’s nuclear weapons stockpiles.
Addressing the Munich Security Conference earlier Saturday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the treaty as “a milestone on the road to our ultimate goal of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons”.