Breaking News
Nagaland Post Logo
You are here:  Skip Navigation LinksHome » Show story
US, Russia sign arms reduction treaty
PRAGUE, APR 8 (Agencies):
Published on 9 Apr. 2010 12:33 AM IST
Print  Text Size

President Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitri A. Medvedev, signed a historic treaty here on Thursday to trim their strategic nuclear arsenals to their lowest levels in half a century.
The treaty caps a turnaround in relations with Moscow that hit bottom in August 2008 during the war between Russia and its tiny southern neighbor, Georgia. When he arrived in office, Mr. Obama made restoring the relationship a priority, a goal that coincided with his vision expressed here a year ago of eventually ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
Even as the two presidents hailed the treaty, they found no common ground on American plans to build an anti-missile shield in Europe to counter any Iranian threat. Mr. Obama refused Russian demands to include limits on missile defense in the treaty, nearly scuttling the agreement. In the days leading up to the ceremony here, Russian officials alternately claimed the agreement would bind the program or complained that it did not and threatened to withdraw if it went forward.
The treaty, if ratified by lawmakers in both countries, would require each country to deploy no more than 1,550 strategic warheads, down from 2,200 allowed in the Treaty of Moscow signed by President George W. Bush in 2002. Each would be limited to 800 total land-, air- and sea-based launchers — 700 of which can be deployed at any given time — down from 1,600 permitted under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991, or Start.
Because of counting rules and unilateral reductions over the years, neither country would have to actually eliminate large numbers of weapons to meet the new limits. Moreover, the treaty does not apply to whole categories of weapons, including thousands of strategic warheads held in reserve and tactical warheads, some of which are still stationed in Europe.
But the treaty would re-establish an inspection regime that lapsed along with Start last December and bring the two countries back into a legal framework after years of tension.
Moreover, both sides hope to use it as a foundation for a new round of negotiations that could lead to much deeper reductions that will cover weapons like stored or tactical warheads.
The first task for Mr. Obama after returning to Washington will be persuading the Senate to ratify the new treaty and advisers planned to head to Capitol Hill on Thursday, even before his return, to brief senators.
Ratification requires a two-thirds vote, or 67 senators, meaning the president needs at least eight Republicans. The White House is counting on the support of Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee and one of his party’s most respected voices on international affairs, to clear the way.
But it could still have to contend with skeptics like Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican whip, who have expressed concern about limiting American defenses. And the polarized politics of Washington heading into a mid-term election are volatile, meaning a vote could be delayed until after the election, which would further put off other elements of Mr. Obama’s anti-nuclear agenda, such as consideration of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
The White House wants a vote by the end of the year and Robert Gibbs, the president’s press secretary, reminded reporters on Air Force One during the flight here that past arms control treaties have received near-unanimous votes. “We are hopeful that reducing the threat of nuclear weapons remains a priority for both parties,” he said.
But what he did not note is that the Senate has also rejected an arms control agreement in recent times, refusing to ratify the test ban treaty when it was originally brought up in 1999. Moreover, it took three years in the 1990s to ratify the first Start follow-up treaty, known as Start 2, which never went into force because of a dispute over Russian conditions attached during its own ratification process.
Mr. Obama hopes to use the trust built during the treaty negotiations to leverage more cooperation from Moscow on other issues, most notably pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear program. In an interview this week before leaving Washington, he noted that Russian-American relations had “hit a post-cold war low point” by the time he took office.
“And so the objective here,” he said, “was a very practical one — let’s make sure that we have a follow-on to the original Start treaty, and do that in a timely basis. And through that process, let’s also reset relations with the United States and Russia so that on an issue like Iran and North Korea or on non-proliferation, Russia views itself as a partner of the United States and the international community.”
But warmer relations with the Kremlin worry American allies in Central and Eastern Europe, which were already concerned that Mr. Obama’s decision last year to scrap Mr. Bush’s missile defense plan in favor of a reformulated architecture was seen as a concession to Moscow.
Hoping to soothe those concerns, Mr. Obama plans to have dinner Thursday night in Prague with 11 leaders from the region, including the presidents or prime ministers of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Similarly, Mr. Obama made sure before leaving Washington to speak by phone with President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia to reassure him of American support. He will meet separately with Czech leaders on Friday morning before returning

Comments:(0) Login or Register to post your Comment
(Available for registered users only)
More News
  • 1
  • 2