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Parting With Delusions

Obama, Medvedev, and Putin.

12:00 AM, Jul 8, 2009 • By REUBEN F. JOHNSON
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Even more alarming is a recent report from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that assesses the design of the Unha-2 ballistic missile that North Korea launched on April 5. The majority of the critical components of this missile are now believed to have not have been developed in North Korea, but instead come from Russia "although likely without the involvement of the Russian government." Parts of the North Korean design appear to also have been derived from the Russian R-27 (SS-N-6) submarine-launched ballistic missile.

In most nations illegal exporting of nuclear materials and missile technology are among the most serious crimes, but in Russia they appear to take place with alarming regularity. If any Russian president assures his American counterpart in the present day that he can be a reliable partner in containing attempts by Iran and others to acquire nuclear weapons it has to be looked at with healthy skepticism. Any occupant of the White House has to face the unpleasant fact that Russia is falling apart and is headed for more--rather than less--disorder.

In the meantime, Obama has to try and solve the puzzle of on whose authority--Medvedev's or Putin's--he can rely on any given issue. Considering both men's delusions about the true situation inside their own country, it is hard to say if discerning the answer to this riddle really matters.

Reuben F. Johnson is a frequent contributor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD Online.