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- Dubai 05:27 06:45 12:12 15:10 17:32 18:51
The United States and Russia formally inaugurated their new Start nuclear arms treaty on Saturday, capping a two-year drive to "reset" relations between the two former Cold War foes.
The exchange of documents by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrovm, will set the clock ticking on a series of steps the two sides must take in the following weeks, leading up to the first on-site inspections of each other's nuclear arsenals in nearly two years, probably sometime in April.
Under the treaty, the two sides must reduce their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550 in seven years and reduce deployed long-range missiles and bombers to no more than 700. Following are some of the initial steps required:
* Once the treaty enters into force, the sides will immediately begin exchanging information about the status of their nuclear forces, a senior U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. For example, they will notify each other whenever nuclear arms are deployed or removed from deployed status. The information is channeled through Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers established by both sides in 1988. The U.S. center is at the State Department, the Russian center is at the defense ministry.
* Within 25 days, the two sides must exchange the names and details of no more than 300 people who may serve as inspectors. The sides also will exchange the names of air crew members who will fly the inspectors. Within 30 days of the list exchange, the sides must issue visas for the inspectors and air crews.
* Within 45 days, the two sides must carry out an initial exchange of detailed information on each other's nuclear arsenals. "We'll exchange a complete database," the U.S. official said. "We'll give the Russians a complete set of data about our strategic nuclear forces and they'll give us a complete set of data about their strategic nuclear forces." The data will include detailed information like a missile's classification, number of stages, length without front section, diameter of airframe, total length with launch canister and type of propellant. The official said US officials have not received fresh data on the Russian nuclear forces since July 2009.
* Sixty days after the treaty enters into force, the two sides may begin conducting on-site inspections. US officials have been practicing for the first inspection, which will likely be held in mid-April, the US official said.
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