A Cold War-era nuclear arms control agreement between the United States and Russia expires Friday, but its key provisions are likely to remain in effect while negotiators work out the final details of a replacement treaty.
Neither the US nor Russia anticipates security problems after expiration of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Negotiators had given up hope months ago of having a new deal ratified and in place before the expiration at midnight Greenwich Mean Time, which is 7 p.m. EST.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that work on preparing a new agreement for signing is nearly finished. The ministry said the new treaty would become "another landmark in disarmament and nonproliferation and mark a move toward a higher degree of cooperation between Russia and the United States."
The expiring START treaty, signed by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H.W. Bush in 1991, required each country to cut its nuclear warheads by at least one-fourth, to about 6,000, and to implement procedures for verifying that each side was sticking to the agreement.