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Russia and U.S. Reach START Agreement

Last week, Russia and the U.S. reached an agreement to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). They expect to sign the treaty next week. Afterward, the U.S. Senate must ratify the treaty, which could take a few weeks, a few months, or even a year.

Under the new START, both countries have agreed to reduce long-range missiles by 30 percent. Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama reportedly agreed to reduce deployed warheads to between 1,550, and limit intercontinental ballistic missiles to 700.

“I’ve been committed to a reset of our relationship with Russia,” Obama said. “When the United States and Russia can cooperate effectively, it advances the mutual interests of our two nations, and the security and prosperity of the wider world.”

Obama indeed has “reset” relations with Russia. The former Soviet Union considers our missile defense strategy in Europe a threat to its national security, despite assurances to the contrary. Negotiations were stalled over such issues as linking offensive missile strategy with missile defense. Ellen Tauscher, the undersecretary of state for arms control, said the treaty doesn’t constrain our missile defense programs.

Has Obama effectively compromised our missile defense strategy?

Ariel Cohen at The Foundry blog writes:

“The real danger now is that the Obama administration is codifying the old adversarial balance of terror relationship between the U.S.-Soviet Union. The Heritage Foundation has argued that the U.S. should instead have used the Treaty to move Moscow away from a nuclear posture based on threat of nuclear Armageddon and intimidation and toward a fundamentally more defensive posture.  Unfortunately, the Administrated has squandered this opportunity.

“Signing arms control treaties to score a public relations stint and a photo opportunity in pursuit of unrealistic ‘getting to zero’ pipe dream is bad policy. The Senate should keep this in mind when considering the new Treaty’s ratification.”

Under the old START, signed by Russia and the U.S. in 1991, both countries agreed to reduce nuclear warheads to 6,000 and delivery vehicles to 1,600. Eleven years later, the Moscow Treaty, a follow-up to START, required warhead reductions to between 1,700 and 2,200.

(Sources: AP and Xinhua)

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