Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Critical Review of President Obama’s New START

Prior to the Nuclear Security Summit, hosting over 40nations on April 12 and 13 in Washington DC (“Nuclear Security Summit to Meet in Washington”; America.gov; 6 April 2010), President Barack Obama signed the New START with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on April 8 in Prague, Czech. The media bow down and praise this treaty as a landmark toward global peace of a world without nuclear weapon. However, I would like to make a critical comment to the New START briefly.

Long before the Prague Meeting, Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton points out that the Obama administration has committed a fatal error in arms control negotiations, that is, pursued reduction for reduction without taking serious considerations to US national interests. In order to achieve nuclear parity with Russia, the United States must cut more warheads than the counterpart. He says, “The positions of the United States and Russia are not parallel, and roughly equivalent warhead limits impair Washington far more than Moscow." The United States must defend allies across the globe, and faces threats of terrorists, Iran, and North Korea (Obama's Obsession with Reduction”; Washington Times; February 24, 2010). I agree with Bolton that Obama is obsessed with reduction and craving for cheers from global public opinion. Actually, Russia and China try to dilute sanctions against Iran, now.

Furthermore, Baker Spring, F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation, points out that the new treaty includes US missile defense system into the target for reduction, along with warheads. Russia is permitted to withdraw from the treaty, if the United States advances the missile defense program (“New START Would Render U.S. Vulnerable to Missile Attack”; Heritage――Foundry; April 8, 2010). This is a critical constraint for the West. American allies badly need the missile defense system in view of Iranian and North Korean threats in their neighborhood. Without the missile defense system, America security umbrella will become vulnerable as Spring says.

Jamie Fly, Executive Director, and John Noonan, Policy Advisor, both at the Foreign Policy Initiative, refute commonly believed notions that the New START will be a breakthrough toward global non-proliferation. It is just a strategic weapons treaty between the United States and Russia. Tactical nuclear bombs are untouched, and it does not assure the “reset” of US-Russian relations. Quite importantly, Fly and Noonan points out that a treaty does not work for rogue states, but military threat by the United States and Israel did for Libya (“Debunking the Administration's Nuke Myths”; Weekly Standard; April 9, 2010).

The latest START may charm the media and global public opinion, but I wonder why Barack Obama thinks so lightly of maintaining American primacy in nuclear power, which guarantees US security umbrella for allies. This treaty may fall into another SALT Ⅱ signed between President Jimmy Carter and Chairman Leonid Brezhnev. Watch the forthcoming Nuclear Security Summit, and explore the interrelation between the New START and the Summit.. Nuclear arms reduction will be the key issue of the year 2010.