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The Conversation: Re-'starting' Russian relations with the New START treaty

November 24, 2010 |  7:30 am


Until last December, we'd been able to monitor Russia's nuclear arsenals, and vice versa, thanks to a Reagan-era treaty. But it has expired, and now the GOP may stand in the way of its renewal. Here, opinionators explain why we need the New START treaty. 

"[W]hen Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the GOP's point man on the issue, decided [last] week that the treaty wasn't important enough to be taken up by the lame-duck Congress, it was pretty clear that he was acting not in the interest of the nation but of his party. […] President Obama has called the treaty his top foreign policy priority, a key component in the "reset" of relations with Russia that could pay dividends not only by improving nuclear security but by paving the way to greater cooperation between the two powers in dealing with such hot spots as Iran and Afghanistan." [Los Angeles Times editorial]

"As a result of my counterproliferation work at the CIA, I believe that nuclear terrorism is the most urgent threat we face and locking down all nuclear materials is a national security imperative. But without Russia's cooperation in those goals, an effective international effort may be impossible to achieve." [Valerie Plame Wilson for the Huffington Post]

"[Not passing the New START treaty] would deprive the U.S. of the ability to assess, up close, the status and operations of Russian nuclear forces. It would undermine both nations' ability to tamp down tensions as they arise. And it would signal to the rest of the world that the nations that hold 90% of nuclear weapons are incapable of taking a leadership role in arms control. This in turn would threaten nonproliferation efforts worldwide." [Sen. Dianne Feinstein for the Los Angeles Times]

"For Republicans in the Senate to kill New START would clinch the case of the anti-Americans in Moscow that we are not interested in nuclear parity but seek strategic superiority." [Pat Buchanan via Yahoo!]

"The end result is that our position in the world will gradually erode, and then we'll have to start taking this stuff seriously again."  [Harvard University professor Stephen M. Walt  for Foreign Policy via NPR]

-- Alexandra Le Tellier


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Photo:  (L) President Barack Obama speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington on Nov. 4  Credit:  Yuri Gripas/Pool via Bloomberg

Photo: (R) U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Nov. 16. Credit:  Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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