Friday, March 26, 2010

START II or The Prague Treaty

Via ArmsControlWonk, the White House released a fact sheet on the treaty that President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin Dmitry Medvedev verbally agreed to today. The top-line numbers are a reduction to 1,550 nuclear warheads and 800 delivery vehicles over ten years. This is still enough for each country to blow up the world. For perspective, though, at the height of the Cold War, in 1966, the US had over 32,000 warheads, and currently has in the neighborhood of 5,000. This is a significant improvement, to say the least.

There is a clause that is politically necessary for the US, but disappointing:

The Treaty does not contain any constraints on testing, development or deployment of current or planned U.S. missile defense programs or current or planned United States long-range conventional strike capabilities.

Longtime readers of this blog know that I oppose almost any type of missile defense programs. But the president needs 67 votes in the Senate to ratify this treaty. That's going to be hard enough, so picking a fight over missile defense just isn't worth it.

This is a positive step, but I'm slightly pessimistic about Obama's ability to get this treaty ratified.

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