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  • 08Apr

    Health Care … Check, Nuclear Arms Treaty … Check

    From npr

    President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a significant new arms-control deal Thursday that requires both countries to cut their strategic nuclear arsenals by about a third.

    The treaty-signing in prague comes almost exactly a year after Obama spelled out his long-range goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The agreement marks a step in that direction.

    The two leaders had hoped to have it signed by last December, when the old START treaty expired. There were fits and starts before a final telephone call sealed the deal two weeks ago. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that in the end patient diplomacy produced a treaty with real results.

    “It says to our country, the Cold War really is behind us and these massive nuclear arsenals that both our countries maintained as part of deterrence no longer have to be so big,” Clinton said. “We can begin to cut that.”

    The agreement calls for the United States and Russia to cut their long-range nuclear arsenals by about 30 percent over the next seven years. Clinton says the treaty also follows the old Russian proverb often invoked by President Reagan: Trust but verify.

    Nuclear parity is particularly important to Russia, which lags the U.S. in conventional weapons. And keeping an eye on Russia is important to the U.S., says Andrew Kuchins, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    “With the expiration of the START I treaty in December, it meant you were going to lose the entire verification and monitoring regime that went along with that,” he said. “So I think for the Obama folks, being able to replace the treaty and maintain a significant degree of that verification and monitoring regime is probably the most important achievement, from the standpoint of U.S. national security, with the treaty.”

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