President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev will likely commit to beginning new talks on reducing nuclear arms stockpiles to no more than 1,500 deployed nuclear warheads when they meet for the first time Wednesday, people familiar with the discussions said.
The meeting, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit in London, will launch accelerated negotiations with the goal of reaching an agreement by the end of the summer, they said.
The treaty, which would have to be ratified by the Senate, would be a follow-on to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires at the end of the year. U.S. and Russian officials have been meeting to reach an understanding about targets for reducing warheads and on the timeframe for negotiating the new agreement.
“The Russians have been signaling for some time that they would be willing to reduce their deployed strategic arsenals to 1,500,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. The New York Times reported Tuesday that U.S. officials have privately expressed support for the 1,500 deployed warhead ceiling, down from 2,200 currently allowed.
Getting the new treaty negotiated and in place by the end of the year may be difficult, Mr. Kimball said, because of the Senate’s lengthy ratification procedures “I don’t think they are going to be able to bring it back to the Hill in time for ratification,” Kimball said. In that case, the two sides may agree to keep the current limits in place until the new agreement can be ratified.
The two presidents are not likely to make headway on other points of friction, including the proposed U.S. missile defense system in Europe, officials said.