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Draft of the New START Agreement to be Released Next Week

Big win for Russia -- no European Missile Defense, no restrictions on Moscow's tactical nuclear weapons, and still no word from Putin on Iranian sanctions.

12:18 PM, Feb 3, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
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Draft of the New START Agreement to be Released Next Week

Word on the wires is that U.S.-Russian negotiators have reached an agreement in principle on a drastic reduction to nuclear forces. The cuts, part of the new START agreement, are projected to sharply cut nuclear delivery systems like subs, bombers, and ICBMs, as well as nuclear inventories. It will not address Moscow's massive inventory of tactical nuclear weapons.

This is a great deal for Russia. If you can't achieve military parity with the United States, but seek to restore the might the Soviet Union once had (Putin has announced this is his intention), arms control treaties are the best way to force America into a posture where they can be more effectively threatened. Russia can't keep up, so they're lowering the bar.

But Ivan doesn't have to sustain a deterrence equation with rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran. And, with Russia's thousands of tactical nuclear weapons, it need not worry about China's growing military power. Nor does Russia have to extend a deterrence umbrella over the 30-plus allied nations who rely on America's nuclear inventory in lieu of developing bombs of their own.

Russia doesn't have these problems -- America does. Any pact which sticks Moscow's elementary strategic requirements in the same box as the United States' spider web of deterrence mandates is a tremendous victory for the Putin government. Moscow gets strategic equality with the Washington, and we get a fuzzy talking point.

If the wire reports are accurate, this treaty stinks. It will need to be killed in the Senate and reworked into an agreement relevant to the 21st century.

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