A Statement of Principles for Cooperation between the US and Russia
by Charles Lemos, Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 04:53:18 PM EDT
"We proposed a very extensive action plan and they have adopted these areas of work and commitment. There is no guarantee on the outcome, but everything is on the table that we think is important to our relationship. They agree." - Secretary of State Clinton
The "they" is the Russians and the "plan" covers a wide-ranging set of issues that have strained US-Russian relations for over a decade. Today in London, President Obama and his Russian counterpart, President Dmitry Medvedev, announced that the US and Russia will begin fast-track negotiations on reducing their nuclear arsenals.
According to the joint statement, Obama and Medvedev agreed that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms -- which expires in December -- "has completely fulfilled its intended purpose and that the maximum levels for strategic offensive arms recorded in the treaty were reached long ago."
"They have therefore decided to move further along the path of reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms in accordance with U.S. and Russian obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons," the joint statement said. Furthermore the President pledged to work for the US Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which Russia has long cherished.
Progress on working out the new nuclear arsenal reduction agreement is expected to take place by July of this year. Not coincidentally, the President is expected to visit Moscow then, perhaps to sign an agreement.
"The new agreement will mutually enhance the security of the parties and predictability and stability in strategic offensive forces, and will include effective verification measures drawn from the experience of the parties in implementing the START Treaty," the joint statement said.
In addition to setting in motion fast-track negotiations on a replacement for the seminal 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the two leaders vowed to jointly confront and work on other perceived threats. Specifically mentioned were the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea and Al-Qaeda militants who have found refuge in Pakistan.
The reset of US-Russia relations should be recognized as a significant accomplishment for the Obama Administration and the willingness of the Russians to entertain a reset must also be appreciated. More than anything, Moscow is looking to regain a role on the global stage and there is little doubt that Russia can play a role in the US outreach to Iran and stabilizing influence in Central Asia. In return, the US will support Russia in its bid to join the World Trade Organization membership, a key to Moscow's integration into the global trading system.