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Archive | July, 2013

U.S. and Russia Sign New START Treaty

President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia ride together for lunch at Ray's Hellburger in Arlington, Va., June 24, 2010. Pete Souza/White House

President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia in Arlington, Va., June 24, 2010. Pete Souza/White House

President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, have signed a treaty to succeed START I. For clarification, START II was never implemented, and its successor agreement, START III, never got to the negotiation phase. Following the signing, Obama attended a formal state dinner in Prague with 11 fellow NATO allies. Essentially, the context for the New Start Treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) negotiations took place at a meeting in Moscow in July of 2009 between President Obama and President Medvedev. That meeting addressed several key issues.

Most importantly, President Obama and his counterpart signed an agreement that established the groundwork for the New START Treaty, replacing START I when it was set to expire on December 5th of last year. According to an analysis made at the time by Peter Crail of the Arms Control Association, “Just setting a new limit would send a signal to the international community in general that the United States was getting serious about its disarmament commitments again.”  Originally the two world leaders met for the first time at the G-20 meeting in London in April of last year and agreed to start a formal process of drafting the New START Treaty. The meeting in Moscow was intended to smooth over any differences that each side had regarding complicated matters like missile defense and verification measures.

Many individuals familiar with the negotiations report that the Russians overextended their hand and assumed that President Obama would be more willing to compromise regarding the nuances of the treaty. Obama erred by assuming that he would be able to use his oratorical skills to simply persuade the Russians to agree to his terms. To overcome these deficits, Obama and Medvedev met or talked by phone a total of 14 times in an effort to reach some sort of agreement. In the end what carried the day and eventually breached the logjam was simple perseverance on the parts of President Obama and President Medvedev.

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