Playing with START

It took more than a year for the START treaty negotiated by Russia and the United States to reach the U.S. Senate for approval. Russia’s insistence on correcting some parts of the treaty has created a special situation.

The first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, aka “START I,” was signed in the year 1991 and expired on December 5th, 2009. It authorized Russia and the United States to deploy at most 6,000 warheads, which is about 40 percent less than was the limit in the year 1990.

The facts show that this treaty exists only on paper, as the parties involved haven’t done anything to implement it; both countries have a nuclear arsenal consisting of more than 10 thousand nuclear warheads and insist on developing their ballistic and nuclear capabilities.

President Obama and his Russian counterpart president Medvedev met in April 2009 in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, and signed a treaty to reduce their nuclear arsenals, thus extending the original START treaty.

Political analysts believe that the New START treaty is just a show, and that both presidents are interested in it not for reasons of national interest but merely in order to advance their own personal plans.

First of all, Russia is trying to use this treaty as a means of limiting American activities in its neighboring NATO countries. Meanwhile, Medvedev’s policy of rapprochement with the United States has not paid dividends. As such, he is trying to cover his weakness vis-à-vis the U.S. by signing the START treaty and using it as a winning card, to give proof of the efficacy of his foreign policy. This issue is important for president Medvedev, as he is preparing himself for the 2012 elections.

Secondly, Obama has so far achieved very little on the domestic and international stage and is hoping to show his global reach by extending the START treaty. By reducing the number of nuclear arms in the world, Obama is trying to create on a global stage the change promised by his campaign, but in the end neither of the two parties will be bound to its promises.

In the end, it can be said that the signing of the New START treaty is an important issue for the Russian and American leaders who are trying to utilize it for their own domestic and international purposes.

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