President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently signed an extension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that expired December 2009. The two leaders have each pledged to reduce their operational stockpile of strategic warheads to 1,550 apiece.
The reduction would take place over a period of seven years, with complete dismantlement taking longer. The current total of operational strategic warheads stands at 2,200 apiece.
In addition to reducing the total number of operational warheads, the two leaders agreed to reduce the number of missile launching systems to 700 operational and an additional 100 on standby.
While it seems like a token exchange that does not affect the prospects for nuclear annihilation, the treaty is significant. Nuclear warheads are costly to decommission and the storage of waste is an issue. The treaty also shows that relations between the two countries are still improving, and that there is a consensus that non-proliferation is the way forward. Three thousand total warheads is also a significant reduction from the almost 20,000 accounted for after the cold war.