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Obama Hails Treaty as Mend to Russia Relationship


Returning to the city where he first launched his initiative to rid the world of nuclear weapons a year ago, President Obama hailed the new START treaty as a major step in that effort, and as a way to show the world that the U.S. and Russia have mended their troubled relationship.

"Together, we've stopped that drift, and proven the benefits of cooperation. Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and non-proliferation, and for U.S.-Russia relations, and for U.S.-Russia relations," he said.

The president said that the key of this new relationship is to prove to skeptical countries that the U.S. and Russia can take the lead on nuclear disarmament and help convince other nations to work toward the common goal of a world safe from nuclear weapons.

"Nuclear weapons increasingly in an interdependent world will make less and less sense as the cornerstone of security policy," he added.

But, Mr. Obama conceded that the efforts have to be mutual, and that the U.S. will not give up nuclear weapons as long as other countries have them.

"We are going to preserve our nuclear deterrent so long as other countries have nuclear weapons, and we are going to make sure that that stockpile is safe and secure and effective," the president said.

And the goal of the entire effort is to push the world to act against countries who are trying to acquire nuclear weapons, specifically Iran. The president said he hopes that the newly-cooperative relationship with Russia will yield new and more stringent sanctions against the Iranian regime for its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.

"My expectation is that we are going to be able to secure strong, tough sanctions on Iran this spring," Mr. Obama added.

The treaty sets a new limit of 1550 strategic nuclear warheads for each of the former Cold War foes, down from the limit of 2200 from a previous agreement. It needs to be ratified by the U.S. Senate and the Russian Parliament. The U.S. is hopeful that the treaty can be ratified by the end of the year.

More on the Summit and Obama's nuclear strategy:

Obama Signs Nuclear Arms Pact with Russia

A Layman's Guide to the Nuclear Posture Review

Ahmadinejad: U.S. Can't Do "Damn Thing" on Nukes

Obama Goes Nuclear

Giuliani Calls Nuclear Policy "Left-Wing Dream"

Nuclear Posture Review Report(PDF)

Robert Hendin is a CBS News White House producer. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.