With a nuclear threat aimed at the US and its allies, Barack Obama finally took a bold step to confronting it and making America more secure. Did Obama finally force the Iranians to abandon their nuclear-weapons pursuit of 2010? Er, no — he got the Russians to reduce their nuclear posture:
Shortly after concluding a phone call with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, President Obama made a surprise visit to the White House briefing room to hail the new arms control agreement with Russia, replacing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaty that expired on December 5th.
“I’m pleased to announce that after a year of intense negotiations, the United States and Russia have agreed to the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades,” the president said from the press podium.
Negotiations on the new START treaty with Russia have been worked on intensely for the past year. Mr. Obama said today it had been one of his highest priorities since taking office.
“It cuts – by about a third – the nuclear weapons that the United States and Russia will deploy,” Obama said describing the agreement. “It significantly reduces missiles and launchers. It puts in place a strong and effective verification regime. And it maintains the flexibility that we need to protect and advance our national security, and to guarantee our unwavering commitment to the security of our Allies.”
There’s nothing wrong with reducing Russia’s nuclear posture. At least verification should be less of a problem than it was during the Cold War era, although not a slam dunk, either. While Russia is no longer our binary enemy on the world stage, they’re still less than friendly, especially towards the now-independent former states of the USSR.
Of course, this START treaty doesn’t really address regional security. Nor does it address Russian intransigence on Iran, which is the greatest current nuclear threat to the US, considering its hostility towards America and its allies, and its intent to impose its Islamist hegemony on one of the most strategic areas in the world. Yet Obama has been doing next to nothing on Iran, or for that matter on the already-nuclear North Korea, while working almost since Day 1 of his presidency on the burning issue of the 1980s.
Instead of a START treaty with Russia, shouldn’t we be focused on a STOP strategy for Iran?
Update: Central Asia was an inaccurate description; I’ve removed it.