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New nuclear pact ratified in Munich

The Local · 5 Feb 2011, 16:05

Published: 05 Feb 2011 16:05 GMT+01:00

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The new START nuclear arms reduction treaty officially came into force when Clinton and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov exchanged ratification documents at a security conference in the German city of Munich.

"Today we exchange the instruments of ratification for a treaty that lessens the nuclear danger facing the Russian and American people and the world," Clinton said.

The chief US diplomat hailed the pact as another example of "clear-eyed" cooperation between the two military powers, "part of a journey we have been taking for more than 60 years."

Lavrov told the Munich conference that the agreement would "enhance international stability."

US Vice President Joe Biden used the same gathering of top defence officials in 2009 to state Washington's desire to press the "reset" button in relations with Russia, which had cooled under the presidency of George W. Bush.

"When it comes to the button that has worried us the most over the years - the one that would unleash nuclear destruction - today we take another step to ensure that it will never be pushed," Clinton said.

The US administration has touted the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty as a key element in improving ties with Moscow as well as a major step in US President Barack Obama's vision of a world free of atomic weapons.

The pact slashes existing warhead ceilings by 30 percent over the next 10 years and limits each side to 700 deployed long-range missiles and heavy bombers.

The original 1991 pact expired at the end of 2009 amid stark differences over how the two sides planned to proceed.

Many analysts see the new round of cuts as largely symbolic, however, because the chances of these heavy long-range weapons being used today are negligible.

But the pact provides an important starting point for far more pertinent discussions concerning smaller - but potentially more dangerous - nuclear weapons and other high-tech arms.

The United States and Russia possess 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons.

Clinton said she would discuss "further arms control issues" with Lavrov, including on stocks of short- and medium-range missiles and non-deployed nuclear weapons.

The new START treaty will restore vital weapons verifications procedures and require the two sides to try to find a compromise over their diverging views on NATO's decision to erect a missile shield in Europe.

The US Senate and Russia's parliament adopted a series of non-binding amendments to the treaty that allowed each country to put their own spin on the first nuclear pact between the two former Cold War rivals in 20 years.

Story continues below…

Most of the disagreements concern Washington's decision to push ahead with the European missile defence system, which it says is aimed at intercepting nuclear missiles fired from "rogue states" like Iran.

Russia, which fears that the missile shield may one day be turned into an offensive weapon, has agreed to explore the possibility of participating in the system but insists on being treated as an equal partner.

"We have made it absolutely clear we will not accept any constraints on our missile defences," Clinton said.

"The US government will do what is necessary to protect America, our forces, our allies and friends from attacks from countries outside of Europe."


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:40 February 5, 2011 by Frenemy
"Obama's vision of a world free of atomic weapons"

...And that's what it will remain (a "vision").

"The pact...limits each side to 700 deployed long-range missiles and heavy bomber".

...Sorry, remind me again how many thermonuclear weapons it takes to destroy one city (?!)

Anyway, as far as nation-states are concerned, nuclear weapons are pretty much the most useless weapons ever conceived since they pretty much insure the destruction of their users. As far as Russia and the US specifically are concerned, the very existence of nuclear weapons precludes their use in anything short of total (world-ending) warfare.
12:04 February 5, 2011 by derExDeutsche
'The US administration has touted the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty as a key element to improving ties with Moscow as well as a major step in US President Barack Obama's vision of a world free of atomic weapons.'

Obviously, who could not Trust the Russians? I mean, its not like they are building Nuclear Plants capable of producing 'weapons grade plutonium' in North Korea and Iran. Oh. Wait. Opps.

And, its not like they've 'lost' significant caches of Nuclear Materials over the last 20 years.. Oh... Wait...

And, its not like parts of Europe still feel threatened by Russian Nuclear superiority. Oh. Wait..

Yeah, ' in relations with Russia which had cooled under the presidency of George W. Bush. '

Ah. and, Finally some Truth; See, its all Bush's Fault !!!
13:12 February 5, 2011 by catjones
@Frenemy...'useless weapons ever conceived'. Actually, you are wrong. The value of these weapons is as a deterrent to large scale warfare. Check your history book before and after 1945.
14:52 February 5, 2011 by Landmine
There is Mr Bean again with Hillary!
16:48 February 5, 2011 by Frenemy
@catjones: Check the history books? What for?? Nuclear weapons have been used twice (not a lot to go on there. USA vs. Japanin 1945 = haves vs. have-not).

As for the contemporary situation, I did caveat this as pertaining countries using them against other countries, SO... you're making my point for me: they're a deterrent to a deterrent (in other words...useless).
08:38 February 6, 2011 by auniquecorn
nuclear weapons used in Japan brought World War II to a close.
10:30 February 6, 2011 by Frenemy
Oh please!

You think an empire in which "honor" meant everything was brought to its knees by nuking two cities?!

Actually, the Japs were already negotiating a ceasefire when the US bombed them. (but too many man-hours went into developing those weapons for them not to be used. bottom line is they needed to be tested in order to send the world a message)

I seriously hope you don't actually believe the whitewashed version of history. Strategic bombing never works (not in Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, or Nagasaki) it only pisses people off and hardens the population.

I wonder what people would think if Lemay and Harris got their way and tested their new toys in Europe instead....
13:54 February 6, 2011 by Ludwig von America
Viewpoints about the past are interesting, but we must look ahead. START is mostly symbolic, but right now it is important to form good relations with Russia. The goal is to lower the possibility that things could reach a point where these weapons are used. The US must stop its apparent quest to encircle Russia with "missile defense" bases. US senators are even proposing having one in Georgia. We know that once the US gets its foot in the door in any country near Russia, their presence will become permanent and larger with military bases, personnel and hardware. These actions could soon make START completely meaningless.
15:53 February 6, 2011 by derExDeutsche
Yeah, but Wikileaks showed that the USSA had to sell out the UK first. I wonder who will hit that 'Reset' button?

'a series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain¦#39;s nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia¦#39;s support for the ¦quot;New START¦quot; deal.'
09:09 February 7, 2011 by catjones
Some START is better than no Start
19:30 February 7, 2011 by Beachrider
Uh oh... Someone wants to remake the conclusion of the Pacific War...

Any comment that implies that Japan was 'ready to surrender' is detached from a lot of factual history. The Japanese were prepared to enter an attrition-based phase of the war. They had deployed a 'home guard' (waaay more effective than the German one in WWII) that was quite effective in Saipan. The atomic launches were from Saipan's neighbor Timian, after the USA learned the difficult Saipan lesson.

On July 26, the Allies issued the Potsdam Declaration. There were no serious discussions about Japan's surrender until the August 12 date of the first atomic devices. The US President made a famous speech on that date. The second atomic device came three days later. There were plans for more atomic bombs 5-7 days later.

Japanese publications show that Hirohito took the initiative to bring this to a quick close after August 12. Without Hirohito's unilateral decision making, this horrible memory would have been worse.

Given all the death and misery of the Pacific war, it would be best to not-gloss over it because 'whatever' has clouded some 2011 person's mind.
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