Nuclear Talks Waiting on the United States

Article excerpt

U.S. and Russian negotiators have put on hold talks on measures to succeed a landmark nuclear weapons reduction treaty while the Bush administration figures out its positions. But U.S. lawmakers are already starting to volunteer their advice.

The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is scheduled to expire Dec. 5, 2009. It slashed deployed U.S. and Russian strategic forces from more than 10,000 warheads apiece to 6,000 each and established an extensive verification regime. U.S. and Russian experts met for the first time in March to share ideas on what to do after START'S expiration. (See ACT, May 2007.)

Neither side is advocating exercising START'S five-year extension option. However, Moscow desires a new agreement capping both nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles, while Washington opposes such a formal approach, preferring a loose collection of confidence-building measures.

Arms Control Today has learned, however, that the two governments have agreed to prepare positions for future discussion on at least four issues: information exchanges, facility visits, missile launch notices, and noninterference with national technical means such as satellites. A second U.S. and Russian experts meeting reportedly is waiting on the Bush administration to complete this process and put together a proposal. …