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START or ending? Why more nuclear weapons cuts will be hard.

The new START treaty, signed today, is a step toward a world free of nuclear weapons, President Obama said. But China's ambitions and Russia's worries could make future cuts difficult.

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US President Barack Obama (l.) and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev shake hands at a press conference after signing the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) to cut nuclear weapons at the Prague Castle in Prague on Thursday.

Mikhail Metzel/AP

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As he signed a new treaty with Russia Thursday that will reduce the nuclear weapons in US and Russian arsenals by one-third, President Obama called the milestone “one step on a longer journey” that “will set the stage for further cuts.”

But if Mr. Obama found reaching a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) more arduous and frustrating than he had anticipated – Obama missed his original deadline of early December for reaching an accord – moving on to additional arms cuts will be even more daunting.

Appearing in a glittery reception hall in the Czech capital of Prague alongside Mr. Medvedev, Obama offered a partial list of the next steps he hopes to take: further reductions in strategic weapons, cuts in the tactical weapons the two countries have focused on Europe, and an effort to reduce stockpiles of non-deployed weapons on each side.

IN PICTURES: Nuclear Weapons

The next stretch of the nuclear-reduction path is likely to be considerably steeper, however, arms experts say.

Hurdles to more cuts

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