ROAR: START treaty is “last Cold War-like agreement”

The signing of the new strategic arms reduction treaty should give a start to the “reset” in the Russian-US relations that has slowed down recently, many analysts predict.

The two sides agreed to reach parity in terms of warheads and carriers by 2017. US President Barack Obama also promised not to break the agreements concerning missile defense in Europe, Trud daily said.

Most analysts are certain that the signed pact will be useful for all sides, the paper noted. “The treaty has proved that the declared reset of relations between Russia and the US is working,” deputy director of the Institue for the USA and Canadian Studies, Pavel Zolotarev, said.

Even the process of developing the treaty in itself was important, because the two countries’ leaders were able to understand each other better, the analyst told the paper.

Russia receives concrete advantages, observers say. One of them is the fact that such a mighty country as the US will have to slash its nuclear arsenal, said Sergey Karaganov, chairman of the Board of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. Russia will be reducing mainly surplus weapons that may be scrapped because of deterioration, he added.

Even critics of the treaty believe that Russia managed to agree on favorable conditions, the paper said. “We have received from the Americans everything we could,” said Leonid Ivashov, president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems. And Moscow may withdraw from the agreement if the US’s missile shield in Europe threatens to Russia’s security, he told the paper.

But the document does not contain direct limitations on missile defense, the analyst noted. “The treaty does not bring much to Russia, whose negotiators failed to link the signing of the START with the US’s program of missile defense,” Ivashov stressed.

During the preparation of the pact, a law was passed in the US that banned the authorities from stopping the missile defense program, the analyst said. “We did not manage to use the new treaty to stop the development of a new class of missiles by the US,” he added.

“Another setback is that the document does not take into account the nuclear capabilities of NATO countries Britain and France,” Ivashov said. “This was the case in the START-1, and we closed our eyes to this, because we could rely on the arsenal of friendly China, but its favor to Russia now is not so obvious.”

The essence of the compromise between the US and Russia is that the Americans have made concessions in the number of warheads, believes military analyst Vladislav Shurygin. “Now they will have to cut more warheads,” he told Actualcomment.ru website. “On the other hand, we made concessions in the number of carriers,” the analyst noted.

The treaty transfers the situation with nuclear weapons in the world to a new level, Shurygin said. “Its essence is that the US gradually abandoning these weapons,” he said. “After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the disappearance of the Soviet military doctrine and Soviet might, the Americans do not need such an arsenal. Thus, the nuclear weapons are ceasing to fulfill their tasks.”

“The US only needs nuclear weapons to counter China’s military threat,” the analyst said, adding that Beijing’s nuclear arsenal is not comparable to Russia’s. “And China is much more integrated into the West as to present the same threat as the Soviet Union once did.”

The long-awaited treaty signed by the two nuclear partners is more important for political considerations than military ones, Vedomosti daily said in an editorial.

The new agreement introduces, in particular, simplified and symmetrical mutual inspections, the daily said. “Russia has almost nothing to cut, as it had 608 deployed carriers capable of carrying 2,683 nuclear warheads as of July 2009,” the paper noted. “We will be able to build more carriers if there are possibilities for this.”

“In fact, the Russian aging nuclear shield is reducing due to natural reasons,” the daily said. “The nuclear balance with the US fixed in the treaty at a reduced level follows the pattern of the first 1991 agreement. Then the number of Russian warheads was actually decreasing, while the US had technical and financial capabilities to increase their warheads.”

Now Washington will have to cut 100-200 warheads and approximately the same number of missiles, the paper said. “The Americans may continue reducing their arsenal based on the new nuclear doctrine published three days ago,” the paper said.

“Barack Obama’s public calls for the full nuclear disarmament can be considered fantastic, but the new US policy in this direction is quite logical,” the daily noted. “It reflects the understanding of the fact that the doctrine of nuclear deterrent is losing its meaning and effectiveness in the modern world. The new START treaty will possibly become the last agreement concluded on the model of the times of the Cold War.”

Now Russia and the US are not afraid of a nuclear strike from each other, the daily said. “But their mutual deterrent does not work against new threats, first of all, a terrorist threat,” the paper added. “The Americans are reducing their nuclear potential, simultaneously equipping carriers with non-nuclear warheads for high-precise reciprocal strikes.”

At the same time, missile defense is becoming a principal thing for the US, the daily noted. The effectiveness of missile shield will be increasing as the nuclear arsenals are being cut. “Theoretically the situation is possible that the US will be able to fully counter a Russian nuclear strike using the shield, and may get a free hand.”

The Russian authorities hope that after the signing of the treaty the relations between the two countries will continue improving, RBC daily said. “The atmosphere will be different, and we will materialize it,” a diplomatic source told the paper.

However, analysts warn that problems may emerge during the ratification process in the parliaments of the two countries. Consultations between parliamentarians should start on April 20 in Washington, the paper said.

At the same time, Moscow is not setting a task of simultaneous ratification, the daily noted. “We have a new kind of relations with the Americans and we trust each other more than before,” a source in the presidential administration told the paper. “We have no doubts that the document will be ratified by both sides.”

The new treaty will influence the whole process of reducing nuclear arms, believes Vladimir Dvorkin of the Institute for World Economy and International Relations. The two sides are negotiating a possibility of new cuts and consultations on reducing tactical nuclear weapons, Dvorkin told Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily.

The treaty also has great importance for the success of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to be held in May, Dvorkin added.

This summit will be devoted to discussing the US’s initiative about the global nuclear disarmament, said Maksim Minaev of the Center for Political Conjuncture. “This is the first direction where the US and Russia will continue dialogue in 2010. The second topic – the negotiations on cutting tactical nuclear weapons – is already being mentioned in Washington.”

The signing of the new START is a serious step to fulfill the American conception of resetting relations with Russia, Minaev believes. “This event should outline further evolution of the cooperation between Moscow and Washington,” he said.

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT