By Clifford Kupchan
Valdaiclub.com interview with Clifford Kupchun, Director, Europe and Eurasia, at the Eurasia Group.
- How do you assess the ratification of START treaty? What does this step mean for the «global zero» strategy of President Obama?
Ratification of the START Treaty by the US Senate is an important step forward for several reasons. First, the treaty’s limits of 1,550 warheads and 700 launchers are lower than those in any previous treaty, and therefore represent progress. Second, ratification shows that despite President Obama’s setback during the mid-term Congressional elections, he can still deliver on key foreign policy issues. That is important for Russia and international relations generally. Third, ratification sends a message to "problem” countries such as North Korea and Iran that the US is serious about arms control and disarmament issues. Finally, passage of this treaty opens the door for negotiations on other arms control issues – such as limiting tactical nuclear weapons.
In my view, "global zero” is a heuristic or symbolic goal. In reality, a world without nuclear weapons is unlikely for a very long time, if ever. But START’s ratification will provide momentum to President Obama’s effort to make the world safer from nuclear weapons.
- Do you think that the ratification of START treaty by the both sides will raise the partnership relations between Russia and the U.S. to a new level?
Ratification of START by both sides would move US-Russian relations beyond the reset button to a stable and qualitatively closer bilateral relationship. START's ratification is the latest in a lengthy and substantive list of US-Russian achievements during the past two years, including: the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement; greater cooperation on Iran and Afghanistan; closer NATO-Russia relations; and, significant movement on Russian accession to WTO. The key point is that the political whole has become more than the sum of these parts, and the quality of US-Russian relations has moved to a higher level.
- What impact on the deployment of the U.S. missile defense in Europe the ratification of START treaty will have? Does it mean the end for the US unilateral approach in this question?