Interview: New START Opens New Chapter in U.S.-Russia Relations
    2010-04-09 11:07:49     Xinhua      Web Editor: Liu Donghui
by Xinhua Writer Jiang Guopeng

The new disarmament treaty reached by the United States and Russia is a win-win treaty, offering "real opportunities" for the two powers to boost mutual trust and address common concerns, former U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said.

"If we have not a win-win treaty, there would not be a treaty. These are two sovereign states sitting across the table, negotiating something that is in their mutual interests," Hadley, who served as National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2009, told Xinhua in an interview.

"Nobody likes a treaty when they feel they've been taken advantage of by the other side. And I think it's very clear that that is not the case here, that the two nations have reached an agreement that each and both feel is in the interests of the two sides," he said.

After one year of tough negotiations, the two governments finally hammered out a new deal on the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms -- a deal which was described by U.S. President Barack Obama as "the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades."

On Thursday in Prague, Czech Republic, President Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed the new nuclear disarmament deal to replace the expired Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), agreeing to reduce their deployed nuclear warheads by 30 percent to 1,550 each.

Under the treaty, known as the new START, the two nuclear super powers, which hold 95 percent of the global nuclear weapons stockpiles, should reduce their deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments to 700 each.

"This is a dramatic reduction and a dramatic change that reflects the extent to which both Russia and the United States are relying much less on nuclear weapons for their national security. So that's a good development. The world should take some comfort in that development," Hadley said.

According to Hadley, who participated in negotiations with Russia on START since the 1990s, the new START "will revive and institutionalize some of the verification measures from the START I agreement," which expired on Dec. 5, 2009.

The new START sets up a transparent verification regime that combines the appropriate elements of START I with new elements tailored to the limitations of the treaty.

Measures under the treaty include on-site inspections and exhibitions, data exchanges and notifications related to strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the treaty, and provisions to facilitate the use of national technical means for treaty monitoring.

"These measures are important because they ensure transparency and give each side the reassurance that the other side is complying with the agreement, and that's of course a very important confidence building effort," Hadley said.

Asked why the two countries reached the treaty despite of disputes over the U.S. missile defense plan in Europe and NATO's expansion, Hadley said, "these are two countries that really no longer feel that their very existence is threatened by the other." He added that this radical change from the Cold War forms the basis for today's U.S.-Russia relations.

Both Obama and Medvedev consider the U.S.-Russian arms control process as a vital step to boost mutual strategic trust, or to "reset" the relationship between the two countries, and to ensure other countries will work together with them to create a nuclear-free world.

"I think there are real opportunities. They've already of course taken advantage of them on the disarmament side in terms of this recent treaty," Hadley said. He suggested the two countries work together to strengthen the international non-proliferation regime and ensure that nuclear weapons and materials do not fall into the hands of new nuclear states and terrorists.

As to the new START's implication for the global disarmament process, Hadley said the new treaty sends a powerful message to other nuclear powers. "There is no need for them to build up or to further develop their own inventories in an environment where the United States and Russia are bringing their levels of deployed weapons down," Hadley explained.

Currently, Hadley is a senior advisor for international affairs at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington.


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