Thirty years ago, the START-1 nuclear deal made the world a safer place: Now, the US & Russia risk returning to an atomic standoff | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Thirty years ago, the START-1 nuclear deal made the world a safer place: Now, the US & Russia risk returning to an atomic standoff

As of Saturday, 30 years have passed since the US and the Soviet Union signed the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I). Given the world has not yet descended into nuclear war, the weapons deal seems to have done its job.

When it entered into effect three years later, there was no USSR left. Nevertheless, its ambitious terms sought to draw a line under the steady increases in long-range nuclear weapons that had characterized the Cold War. Even more importantly, the pact actually reduced their numbers significantly, as cooler heads prevailed after the tumultuous years from 1979 to 1983, when the world seemed to tumble toward World War Three.

START I was not only ambitious, but also fully implemented within one decade, long before its official expiration in 2009. No mean feat, if you consider that one of the two contracting parties ceased to exist a few months after the signing of the treaty, leaving its commitments to be taken up by the new state of Russia.

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