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New START success must push us to bold action towards zero
Ira Helfand, MD
August 4, 2011
The U.S. and Russian Federation are off to a successful beginning in implementing the New START Treaty, which entered into force on February 5. As of July 25, the U.S. had conducted seven inspections of Russian facilities, while the Russians had visited six U.S. facilities. This is a fast pace, given that the yearly quota is 18 inspections for each side. An impressive 1,000 notifications regarding strategic nuclear forces and facilities have already been exchanged between the Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers in the U.S. State Department and the Russian Ministry of Defense. In addition, as required by the Treaty, the U.S. has conducted exhibitions of its B-1B and B-2A (Stealth) heavy bombers, while the Russians conducted an exhibition of their new RS-24 systems that had not been seen in such detail under the START I Treaty.
The early success of the New START Treaty underlines the value of arms reduction agreements and the need to move rapidly forward with additional measures to eliminate the danger of nuclear war. The U.S. and Russia need to begin negotiations for the next round of weapons reductions which will set the stage for multilateral talks for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. In the meantime, the Obama administration can and should take steps to lessen the danger of unintended nuclear war by taking U.S. nuclear weapons off of their current ready to launch status and encouraging the Russians to take similar measures.