Video: Obama, Medvedev sign START nuke reduction treaty; Update: Does Reid have the votes?

The actual weapons cuts are modest — per this striking Times graphic, note how far along we already are — but if it means a little extra cooperation from Moscow in dealing with Iran, then mazel tov.

The Russian president signaled general support for the American-led drive to impose new sanctions on Iran, saying that Tehran’s nuclear program has flouted the international community. “We cannot turn a blind eye to this,” Mr. Medvedev said, while adding that sanctions “should be smart” and avoid hardship for the Iranian people…

Even as the two presidents hailed the treaty, however, they found no common ground on American plans to build an antimissile 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…

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.

Per that last paragraph, I’m curious to see how this plays with Republican hawks when the treaty comes up for ratification in the Senate. It’s to The One’s credit that he didn’t cave and agree to add a provision restricting missile defense, but I don’t know what that means in practice going forward: As the Times notes, Russia’s already threatened to quit the treaty if we press ahead with a shield. In return for their votes, the GOP could, I suppose, demand some sort of guarantee from Obama (whatever that’s worth) that he won’t abandon the already scaled-back missile shield in Europe, but if he gives it to them then he’s effectively calling Moscow’s bluff about walking away. In which case, so much for today’s goodwill “reset.”

If you missed the piece in WaPo today on the U.S.’s new Prompt Global Strike weapon, take two minutes and familiarize yourself. I assume it was fed to the paper by administration sources to help calm fears this week that The One is somehow beating all of America’s swords into plowshares. The PGS is essentially an ICBM capable of hitting any target in the world within an hour of launch — except that it’s capped with a conventional warhead, not a nuclear one. Not surprisingly, the Russians are grumbling about that too and unnamed “analysts” are claiming that today’s treaty also restricts development of the PGS per the limits placed on ballistic missile arsenals. (The White House denies it.) Just another step towards more precise, unmanned, less colossally devastating weapons. Exit question: Next stop — nuclear drones?

Update: Senate sources tell ABC News they’re not sure they can get to 67.

Senate Republican leadership sources say Senate Republican leaders don’t have a firm position because the leadership hasn’t been consulted in any substantive way about the treaty by the Obama administration beyond some minor discussions…

The views of the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., will carry some weight among his fellow Republicans. His view in general is said to be “favorable,” a Lugar aide tells ABC News, but he needs to do “due diligence” and go through the process of reading the treaty and its annexes, which will take some time…

The Lugar aide acknowledged the “politics of this year” — what he described as a “particularly explosive election year” — might complicate the process, but ultimately Lugar hopes the votes will be there.

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John Sexton 10:00 PM on June 02, 2023