Thursday, April 1, 2010

[SDCPJ] Assessing START follow-on

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Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
   COLUMN
Assessing START follow-on
BY PAVEL PODVIG

After missing more than a few deadlines and achieving several so-called significant breakthroughs, the United States and Russia finally have reached an agreement on a new arms control treaty. It will be signed in Prague on April 8, almost a year to the day U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to begin treaty negotiations and Obama announced, also in Prague, his commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

So, was the treaty worth the wait? As a disarmament measure, it will be a very modest step. The treaty will set a ceiling of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads--technically a reduction of more than 30 percent from the current levels--but almost all of the reductions will be accomplished by changing the way the warheads are counted. That means most of the warheads will still be in the U.S. and Russian active arsenals.

Numbers alone, however, don't tell the whole story. In fact, they aren't all that important. Whether it is 1,550 warheads or 500 warheads, it's far too many. What is important is ... Read entire article


AUTHOR BIO

Greg MelloPavel Podvig
A physicist trained at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Podvig works as a research associate at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation. His expertise is in the Russian nuclear arsenal, U.S.-Russian relations, and nonproliferation. In 1995, he headed the Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces Research Project, editing the project's eponymous book, which provides an overview of the Soviet and Russian strategic forces and the technical capabilities of Russia's strategic weapon systems. His blog, "Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces," updates this information in real time.


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