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United States

President Barack Obama took office against a background of increasing calls for progress on a range of urgent non-proliferation, security and disarmament challenges.  With particular relevance for US nuclear policy, these include CTBT entry into force, (which requires ratification by the US Senate, as well as 8 remaining countries); fissile material negotiations currently held up by a stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament; and ­ further deep cuts in existing nuclear arsenals – between them, Russia and the United States still have over 20,000 nuclear weapons.

In April 2010, the US and Russia secured the bilateral nuclear weapons reduction treaty New START - a follow-on to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which formally expired in December 2009. The new treaty was ratified by the US Senate on 22 December 2010. Right until the day of the vote, ratification by the Senate was far from certain with some Republicans, most notably Senator Jon Kyl, attempting to block ratification by arguing that the treaty would restrict US missile defence and jeopardise national security interests. After much debate and several prominent figures announcing their support for the treaty, the Obama Administration managed to win over key Republicans to secure a clear majority (71-26). The Russian Duma subsequently ratified the treaty on 25 January 2011. Since then, US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Ellen Tauscher, has indicated that CTBT ratification will be next in line.

Selected statements and speeches:

Coverage from Acronym

START agreement, April 2010

Nuclear Posture Review, April 2010

US Nuclear Security Summit, 17-18 April 2010

Carnegie Nuclear Non-Proliferation Conference, April 2009

Acronym Institute Executive Director Dr Rebecca Johnson was part of a plenary panel on International Expectations of the Obama Administration, chaired by Naila Bolus of the Ploughshares Fund.

Transcripts, video and audio recordings of the panel are available from the CEIP website at:

Background documentation

Nuclear Policy

US-Russia Relations and START

Relations with Iran

Policy on North Korea

Key Documents

Disarmament Diplomacy

For an archive of material on US nuclear policy including US-Russia relations go to:

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