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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.

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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