Russia – USA. The new START after the “reset”.

24 Dec 2010

 The world is a little bit safer today after the agreement among former foes on the most complex part of the Cold War legacy. The U.S. Senate passed the New START treaty by a vote of 71 to 26 on Wednesday, while the Russian parliament may give its approval to the pact soon. Moscow becomes a real partner to the West and in the next following months will take part in the building up of the regional anti-missile Shield together with the USA and NATO.

 The New Start treaty, which will replace its lapsed predecessor Start (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), was signed by the two Presidents Obama and Medvedev in April 2010. It trims US and Russian nuclear arsenals to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads – a cut of about 30% from a limit set eight years ago. The treaty would also allow each side visually to inspect the other’s nuclear capability, with the aim of verifying how many warheads each missile carries.

 “Within 45 days after entry into force, we will also then be exchanging our first data for the database under the treaty,” Rose Gottemoeller, US assistant secretary for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, told. “That’s data on the current status and deployment of our strategic nuclear forces – intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and bombers,” she said. She also added that the first inspections will take place within 60 days after entry into force of the new START.

 The cuts in the arsenals were the easiest part of the negotiated agreement. Americans and Russians take equally important technological and economic benefits from this decision. Old and outdated weapons, which maintenance costs too, will be dismissed. Financial savings will be used for research and development of new weapons.

 The New START treaty is “a cornerstone of security for the coming decades,” according to President Medvedev. “The treaty brings our relations with the United States to a fundamentally new qualitative level, to the level of equality, parity, and a balance of interests,” Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov told deputies at the Duma, the Russian low chamber of Parliament.

 Japan, the only nation ever to have come under nuclear attack, called the ratification of the START an “important progress” in disarmament efforts by Washington and Moscow. Tadatoshi Akiba, the mayor of Hiroshima, which was destroyed by the world’s first atomic bombing in 1945, said “a world without nuclear weapons” had come “a step closer”, as sought by US President Obama. The USA and Russia send a clear signal on their leadership role against nuclear proliferation.

  The first major positive consequence of the ratification of the treaty is the birth of a common regional shield to protect the West and Russia against short-and medium isolated missile launches, as decided at the Lisbon summit in November. The former “rogue States” will need years to develop modern intercontinental carriers. This is one of the reasons why President Obama decided not to follow Bush’s military policy with the development of the strategic Shield in Europe.

 The second effect is political. The Kremlin is no more isolated as it was from 2006 to 2009. A fully integrated in the West and the most possible democratic Russia is a guarantee of stability for the entire world.

Giuseppe D’Amato

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