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Nuclear Doctrine Junket Season Set To reSTART Part Three

Historically, the Democrats also have been the major U.S. political party most eager to conclude nuclear arms reduction agreements with the Soviet Union and Russia. Russian leaders, recognizing this, have made it clear that one essential condition for their side before hammering out a successor treaty to START would be the scrapping of the BMD bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.
by Martin Sieff
Washington (UPI) Jan 19, 2009
Hopes are rising fast in both Washington and Moscow that the United States and Russia could conclude a new strategic reduction treaty within the next year to replace the START-1 treaty that expires in December 2009. But there are a lot of pitfalls on the road ahead too.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, after months of growling at the United States over a variety of issues, has changed his tune since Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 4. The Russian government has orchestrated a series of dovish signals since then to Washington and, ignored by most of the U.S. media, even while President George W. Bush has still been in office, U.S. and Russian diplomats were quietly meeting in Moscow to prepare the way for new rounds of exploratory talks on strategic issues.

Veteran former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger even quietly visited Moscow late last year and came back to tell incoming Obama administration policymakers that the Russians were ready and indeed eager to do business with them.

Incoming U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton already has given the same kind of signal. Media attention in the United States last week focused on Clinton's willingness in her confirmation testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to explore the opening of a new diplomatic dialogue with Iran.

However, Clinton's moderate tone was also carefully noted in Moscow. On Saturday, Russian Prime Minister and former President Vladimir Putin told Washington that the Kremlin wants both Obama and Clinton to translate their positive rhetoric about improved relations into practice when they assume power.

"We will wait for the practical realization of what we saw during the election campaign," Putin informed a news conference in the eastern German city of Dresden Saturday, RIA Novosti reported.

Putin said he and other Russian leaders had studied the U.S. election campaign very closely and were optimistic they could work constructively with the new U.S. president. "Obama looks like an open, sincere person. Time will tell," the Russian prime minister added.

As we have noted in many previous BMD Focus and BMD Watch columns, the Russians have remained furious at the Bush administration over three prime issues: First, Bush's efforts to build up Georgia in the Caucasus so that it eventually could join NATO. Second, similar U.S. support for Ukraine. Third and most important, Bush's efforts to build U.S. ballistic missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic to defend the United States and Western Europe against the threat of Iran eventually deploying nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles.

However, under President Obama and a Democratic administration, the United States looks likely to dramatically cut back its support for Georgia, and may also reassess its relations with Ukraine. And Democratic think tank analysts in general have been skeptical about the need to build the controversial missile defense bases in Central Europe.

Historically, the Democrats also have been the major U.S. political party most eager to conclude nuclear arms reduction agreements with the Soviet Union and Russia. Russian leaders, recognizing this, have made it clear that one essential condition for their side before hammering out a successor treaty to START would be the scrapping of the BMD bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.

RIA Novosti reported that in his Dresden speech, Putin said Russia already had found strong areas of agreement with Obama and the incoming Democrats on the key issues of arms control, the Middle East, Iran and Afghanistan and even on the global economic crisis.

"We have heard and completely agree that we have much in common," Putin said. "We are ready for such teamwork."

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New US president could order missile shield review: official
Brussels (AFP) Jan 19, 2009
President-elect Barak Obama could order a review of US missile shield plans after he takes office to see how the system is evolving and whether it is cost effective, a senior US official said Monday.







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