A good START for Medvedev and Obama

Monday was a massive day for modern relations between Russia and America, as the Russian and American presidents held several hours of talks and signed a number of important documents.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was the most important issue of Monday’s talks and they proved to be a success. Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama agreed to slash their countries’ nuclear stockpiles by nearly a third. The deal has not been signed, but the necessary agreements that are vital for the new START treaty have been made.

“We have signed a joint understanding for the following treaty of the START agreement. We will reduce our warheads and delivery systems by up to a third from the current treaty limitations. This treaty will be completed this year. The US and Russia have to take leadership. It is very difficult for us to exert that leadership unless we are showing ourselves willing to deal with our nuclear arms stockpiles in a more rational way. That is why this post-START agreement is so important. I’m hopeful that we can reduce our nuclear arsenals by as much as a third and hopefully can move even beyond that in subsequent agreements and treaties,” stated Barack Obama.

For the time being there has not been any major breakthrough concerning the issue of the American missile shield planned to be deployed in Europe. The sides talked about it, but without any significant results, so talks on the issue will continue.

Obviously, both parties admit that some differences in relations between Moscow and Washington remain. Still, Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow is being seen as a second chance to reset relations between the two countries.

President Medvedev made his own remarks after the meeting with his American counterpart:

“We have also agreed that the level of our relations today does not match the real potential and, most importantly, the current level of relations does not comply with the requirements of the modern age. Without further development of our relations on the issues of international relations, economic, educational and cultural ties, we won’t be able to build a normal road to the 21st century,” commented Medvedev.

Analysts are still trying to evaluate the first day of talks in Moscow.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association believes that the AMD issues are very important and that Russia and the US managed to agree to work on it in the future.

“We have to remember that this system has not been even flight-tested yet and Obama said he is not going to deploy a system that has not been proven effective. So, the two countries have time to work out a sort of cooperative arrangement on missile defence,” said Kimball.

Richard Burt, former US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, believes both Russia and the US are determined to reach a consensus on nuclear issues if they want other countries to follow their example.

“In 2010 we will have a review of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. If the two largest nuclear powers, countries that have 95% of the world’s nuclear stockpile, fail to continue a delimit of their forces, then this is going to be an argument for other countries including Iran and North Korea and maybe others in the Middle East to require nuclear weapons. So, the pressure is on both Medvedev and Obama,” Burt pointed out.