Updated at 2:46 p.m. on February 2.
President Obama signed the New START treaty this morning, a nuclear arms agreement he signed with Russia nearly 10 months ago. The treaty has already passed Russia’s president and its parliament, making Obama’s signature the last step before the two sides swap papers and finalize the treaty.
The treaty was held up in the Senate during the lame-duck session because of objections by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., that the accord prevented the U.S. from effectively modernizing its nuclear force. But after an aggressive PR campaign waged by the White House -- which included op-eds and statements of support by many former secretaries of State and secretaries of Defense -- the treaty passed the Senate by a vote of 71-26 on December 22.
Notably, the administration did not allow the regular pool of print and wire reporters into the room for the signing, where Obama was joined by Vice President Joe Biden; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Energy Secretary Steven Chu; and Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss. Only still photographers were allowed in the room, prompting the White House Correspondents' Association to send a letter of protest to press secretary Robert Gibbs.
Aside from limiting nuclear capabilities -- each country’s strategic warhead allowance has been reduced from 2,200 to 1,550 -- the treaty expands nuclear arsenal inspection. The treaty conditions apply for 10 years.