Obama proposes nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia

 In Nuclear Weapons, Obama

The Times Online
has good news for all of us as they report that President Obama will work with Russia to reduce both nations’ stockpiles down to 1,000 nuclear warheads each, an 80 percent reduction.

A return to US leadership in addressing the nuclear threat makes it more likely that a nuclear weapons free world will one day be reached.The US and Russia together have about 90 percent of all the world’s
nuclear weapons, making a treaty to shrink these arsenals a linchpin in
efforts to convince other countries to reduce their arsenals. Negotiating a treaty with Russia on nuclear weapons will also help to restore the reputation and credibility of the US in the international community. Many non-nuclear states feel that the nuclear weapons states have failed to fulfill their obligations to work toward disarmament under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. According to The Times Online,

Mr Obama has pledged to put nuclear weapons reduction at the heart of his presidency and his first move will be to reopen talks with Moscow to replace the 1991 US-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start), which expires in December. Under that pact, the two countries have cut their respective stockpiles from roughly 10,000 to 5,000.

“We are going to re-engage Russia in a more traditional, legally binding arms reduction process,” an official from the Administration said. “We are prepared to engage in a broader dialogue with the Russians over issues of concern to them. Nobody would be surprised if the number reduced to the 1,000 mark for the post-Start treaty.”

Efforts to revive the Start talks were fitful under Mr Bush and complicated by his insistence on building a missile defence shield. “If Obama proceeds down this route, this will be a major departure,” one Republican said. “But there will be trouble in Congress.”

Russia has welcomed the announcement.

Sergei Ivanov, the Deputy Prime Minister, said that Russia was ready to sign a new strategic missile treaty with the United States after The Times disclosed that Mr Obama is to seek an 80 per cent reduction in stockpiles.

“We welcome the statements from the new Obama Administration that they are ready to enter into talks and complete within a year, in this very confined timeframe, the signing of a new Russian-US treaty on the limitation of strategic attack weapons,” said Mr Ivanov, a hawkish former defence minister once seen as a candidate to become president of Russia.

He added: “We are also ready for this, undoubtedly.”

And they’re not the only ones who are ready. Britain has just announced its own six point plan for a nuclear weapons free world.

The British document calls for watertight measures to stop terrorists or emerging states getting atomic weapons, deeper cuts in U.S.-Russian nuclear arsenals and the activation of a global nuclear test ban treaty.

“Although the challenges are considerable, progress on these six steps would mark a decisive break from the deadlock of the past decade,” Britain’s Foreign Office said in a policy document.”

You can read more about Britain’s plan here.

Photo of Russian missile launcher by Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters.

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