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START treaty on nuclear weapons -- a first step to reset US-Russia relations

Not long ago, relations between the US and Russia were quite frosty. New Presidents Obama and Medvedev are set to sign the START pact limiting nuclear weapons. Will the treaty lead to closer cooperation on Iran, Afghanistan, and arms control?

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Both Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, have something to gain from the nuclear weapons treaty they will sign on Thursday. But Mr. Obama gets something extra.

He can legitimately claim that an agreement on a new START pact that further limits long-range nuclear weapons marks a significant step in the “reset” of relations.

This is important to the US, because it needs Russia’s help on several critical security issues, including Obama’s distant goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. One can argue that Moscow’s willingness to renegotiate the START agreement, which expired in December, made it easier for the Obama administration to narrow its criteria for the use of nuclear weapons – an overall policy laid out today in the administration’s Nuclear Posture Review.

(For an in-depth Monitor report on the feasibility of total nuclear disarmament, click here.)

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