U.S. / Russia Nuclear Accord - Bold New START
The signing by Presidents Obama and Medvedev of a new START (Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty) Accord between the United States and Russia - the most extensive agreement in over two decades - marks the next phase towards achieving the goal of global nuclear non-proliferation. The event - in Prague - also serves to solidify relations between the two nations, gives warning to rogue states Iran and North Korea as to their considerations of going nuclear and further deepens the developing friendship between the two young, dynamic heads of state.
The new Treaty goes far beyond the parameters of reduction that were defined by START I, which was signed 12/1991 and was in effect until December, 2009. The number of warheads is reduced to 1,500 - from the previous limit of 6,000 - and the number of delivery vehicles is reduced to 800, from 1,600. A new deal on verification was also established. The next generation START Treaty puts the world on notice that the momentum of peace and hope is accelerating at a most critical point in history.
The next vital step in the process of international understanding and action on nuclear issues is a major conference on the nuclear non-proliferation - NPT - Treaty that will soon take place in New York. The 5 recognised nuclear powers - the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China - are obliged to take significant steps toward reducing their nuclear arsenals. The 5 states will attempt to limit the so called "nuclear club" by strong measures to prevent the world's non-nuclear states from acquiring nuclear weapons.
One notable challenge to the full flow of the new START Agreement is that the United States Senate must ratify the Treaty with a 2/3 majority - 67 votes. While there has been some talk that a number of Republican Senators will vote No - almost entirely on political grounds - the history of such fundamental international agreements is that they are ratified after considerable and thorough examination and debate. Delicate elements in talks with Russia on further reduction in the future must take that nation's self-image and desire to retain meaningful status as a superpower into account.
The success of achieving a concord between the world's 2 leading nuclear powers on such vital elements and issues expresses the courage and vision of a new generation of leadership on the world stage, and sets a standard for the quality and substance of future negotiations on such other vital issues as the environment, economic opportunity and human rights.