This week in Moscow, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev made history agreeing to series of concrete steps that help “reset” U.S.-Russian relations after years of decline. Most important, the two presidents agreed to a framework for a new nuclear arms reduction treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which will expire in less than five months. Modest as it may be, the START follow-on agreement would also help maintain rough parity in U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear forces in the years ahead and set the stage for deeper reductions in all types of nuclear forces. Also, as Obama noted, “The United States and Russia must lead by example.” An agreement on a START follow-on by year’s end would demonstrate that the two countries are truly committed to fulfilling their disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. This will, in turn, bolster efforts to win international support for new measures to strengthen the beleaguered treaty at the Review Conference in May 2010. A common approach on strategic missile defense would open the way for more dramatic reductions in the offensive nuclear forces that will remain. Obama and Medvedev should direct their negotiating teams to prepare for a new round of talks on deeper and more comprehensive reductions beginning early 2010
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