First thoughts on the proposed new US-Russia START treaty from NIS researcher Steven Hendry.



It was announced today that Presidents Obarma and Medvedev had come to an agreement in reducing their arsenal of deployed nuclear weapons. Subject to ratification, the long awaited agreement will replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and commits both sides to reducing their collection of warheads by around 30% of currently agreed levels.

The agreement only relates to deployed weapons and does not say anything of the stockpiled weapons the two nations possess. However, given the damage done in the relations between the two nations by the Bush administrations move to place missile defence weaponry in Eastern Europe, this must be seen as a step forward.

The agreement must also be seen as a significant first step in President Obarma’s disarmament agenda. With the US Nuclear Posture Review and efforts to push the senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) upcoming, reaching an agreement on START removes one potential stumbling block to the Presidents ambitions.

Today’s announcement is also welcome news ahead of the upcoming NPT review in New York. Although the cuts are relatively modest and fail to deal with the stockpiled weapons, entering into the review with no agreement in hand would have potentially cast a shadow over the negotiations and made it much harder to persuade other nations to work together towards the goals of the NPT.

With the START agreement in hand the two nations may now go to the NPT review and point to tangible efforts made to reduce the nuclear threat. With the vast majority of nuclear weapons belonging to the two states, they must play a leading role in ensuring the goal of global nuclear disarmament is achieved.



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