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PRAGUE (AP) — Casting aside years of rancor, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday signed the biggest nuclear arms pact in a generation, lacing the moment with new warnings of sanctions for an intransigent Iran.
The treaty, sealed after months of halting negotiation, is significant not just for what it does but for what it symbolizes: a fresh start for the United States and Russia, and evidence to a watching world that nuclear disarmament is more than a goal.
The pact commits their nations to slash the number of strategic nuclear warheads by one-third and more than halve the number of missiles, submarines and bombers carrying them.
That still leaves the two countries with enough nuclear firepower to ensure mutual destruction several times over, but the move sets a foundation for deeper reductions, which both sides are already pursuing.
"It sends a signal around the world that the United States and Russia are prepared to once again take leadership," Obama said moments after he and Medvedev signed the treaty in a gleaming, ornate hall in the Czech Republic's presidential castle.
Said the Russian president: "The entire world community has won."
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