President Obama signed the START treaty on Wednesday. The agreement with Russia limits both countries’ nuclear arsenals to 1,500 warheads and 700 long-range missiles and bombers.
The Senate ratified START in a lame-duck session last December by a vote of 71-26. In the days before the vote, President Obama called the agreement “a national security imperative for the United States.”
Reporters were not invited to the signing in a move that was criticized by the White House Correspondents’ Association. “The START treaty was held up as one of the President’s most important foreign policy priorities for almost a year dating back to the trip to Prague last spring,” the association said in a letter to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. “We are concerned that now his signing of it is open to still photographers but closed to editorial, including print and wire reporters and television cameras.”
The agreement will go into effect on Saturday after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exchanges the signed documents with her Russian counterpart.