The Treaty on strategic offensive reductions and the new relations between

In spite of reservations expressed by the Bush Administration against traditional arms control and the decision taken in December 2001 to withdraw from the ABM Treaty, negotiations between the United States and the Federation of Russia went on and led quickly to the conclusion of an agreement on strategic offensive arms reductions. According to the Treaty signed in Moscow, the 24th of May 2002, the two parties decided to reduce drastically their nuclear arsenal and to act in such a way that the final ceilings of operationally deployed warheads would not exceed 1 700/ 2 200 at the end of the disarmament process (31st December 2012). Nevertheless, the United States and Russia were allowed to keep huge stocks of nuclear weapons and their freedom to rearm in order to adjust their military forces to a changing environment was hardly constrained. Thus, doubts have been expressed about the contribution of the SORT to the cause of disarmament and, during the debates which took place in the American Congress and the Russian Parliament in relation with the ratification process, the weaknesses of the Treaty have been underlined, particularly in the field of verification and the disposal of the warheads retired from the launchers. Nevertheless this agreement testifies to the new relationship between the former enemies in the Cold War and to their will to co-operate in the struggle against terrorism, regional instability and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. –Summary AFRI-2003