START treaty on nuclear weapons -- a first step to reset US-Russia relations
Not long ago, relations between the US and Russia were quite frosty. New Presidents Obama and Medvedev are set to sign the START pact limiting nuclear weapons. Will the treaty lead to closer cooperation on Iran, Afghanistan, and arms control?
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He can legitimately claim that an agreement on a new START pact that further limits long-range nuclear weapons marks a significant step in the “reset” of relations.
This is important to the US, because it needs Russia’s help on several critical security issues, including Obama’s distant goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. One can argue that Moscow’s willingness to renegotiate the START agreement, which expired in December, made it easier for the Obama administration to narrow its criteria for the use of nuclear weapons – an overall policy laid out today in the administration’s Nuclear Posture Review.
(For an in-depth Monitor report on the feasibility of total nuclear disarmament, click here.)
Washington also needs Russia’s cooperation on Iran. Obama can’t bring United Nations sanctions against a nuclear-determined Tehran without Moscow’s (or China’s) approval on the UN Security Council. Likewise, Russian assistance with supply and transit routes for US forces in Afghanistan strengthens America’s campaign against the Taliban.
The Russian invasion of Georgia in August 2008 infuriated the West. The rollback of democracy under Vladimir Putin also put the two nations at odds. Meanwhile, Russia bristled at the rapid eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union into the former Soviet Empire, including a planned US missile-shield aimed at Iran to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic.