The United States and Russia appear to be moving forward on the latest
iteration of START, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which guides a
reduction in the nuclear arsenal of both nations. First signed in 1991
at the end of the Cold War, START expired in December. Diplomats from
the two countries have agreed on the pact, but it now must be ratified
by their respective legislatures and signed by Presidents Medvedev and
Obama. Here's what was accomplished, what wasn't, and what remains to be
- Furthers Obama's Nuke-Free Goal The Washington
Post's Mary Beth Sheridan writes,
"The pact appeared to represent President Obama's first victory in his
ambitious agenda to move toward a nuclear-free world. [...] Perhaps more
important for Obama, the accord comes shortly before a crucial meeting
of signers of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the global pact that
contained the spread of nuclear weapons for decades. The administration
is hoping to persuade treaty members to impose stiffer punishments on
nations that are accused of violating the pact."
Greatest Foreign Policy Triumph? The New York Times' Peter Baker thinks so. "The
new treaty represents perhaps the most concrete foreign policy
achievement for Mr. Obama since he took office 14 months ago and the
most significant result of his effort to 'reset' the troubled
relationship with Russia. The administration wants to use it to build
momentum for an international nuclear summit meeting in Washington just
days after the signing ceremony and a more ambitious round of arms cuts
later in his term."
- Improving U.S.-Russia Ties Global
Security's Nikolas Gvosdev says the
moves "suggest that both sides saw the U.S. -Russia relationship
deteriorating even further without some concrete measure of success." He
writes, "For its part, the lifting of U.S. sanctions that had been
imposed against the Russian aerospace firm Glavkosmos (initially imposed
in 1998 for its previous dealings with Iran) was also a symbolic
gesture on Washington's part of wanting to improve ties."
- Excludes Missile Defense Foreign Policy's
Josh Rogin quotes Sen. Dick
Lugar, who helped draft the treaty, "Missile defense will not be part of
the treaty, but in the preamble both parties will state their positions
and there will be a mention of offense and defense and the importance
of those." Rogin explains, "Russia had been stalling the last stage of
the negotiations over the issue, holding fast to its position that
missile defense must be included in some way in the new treaty. The U.S.
side has insisted the treaty be confined only to offensive systems."
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