Washington plans to propose to Moscow to cut nuclear arsenals below the limit set in the strategic arms reduction treaty (START). However experts say that Russia is no longer considering this process as priority №1 of its foreign policy.
The New York Times reports referring to the sources close to the US government that president Obama will use his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to voice the initiative to cut the US nuclear arsenal in size by roughly a third. According to expert estimates at present the US has 1,700 warheads, while under the strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia their number must be cut to 1,550 warheads by 2018. Nevertheless the US is ready to start new talks with Russia on further reduction of nuclear forces to 1,000 warheads or even less.
Presumably Americans are holding explorative talks with Russia proposing to Moscow different variants in order to make the planned official visit of Obama to Moscow a maximum breakthrough. At the same time some experts doubt that the visit will take place because the parties simply have nothing to discuss. We hear from Igor Korotchenko, chief editor of the National Defense journal.
"I think the issues Americans want to discuss first of all concern the reduction of battlefield nuclear weapons, which is for us absolutely disadvantageous. Because in the situation when NATO’s conventional forces exceed our conventional forces by more than four times only our battlefield nuclear weapons can help us to neutralize the superiority of the Alliance."
Reportedly the White House intends to propose to Russia to discuss the reduction of battlefield nuclear weapons. Meanwhile analysts believe that Russia has already reached the acceptable level of strategic arms reduction and does not plan to go below this mark.
Washington is trying to convince Moscow that a new agreement would enable the US and Russia to save up to $8 billion annually. But it is not economic but national interests which have priority in this case, Fyodor Lukyanov, chief editor of the Russia in geopolitics journal, says.
"It is interesting that with regard to this issue Russia and the US have swapped positions. Before 2010 Russia repeatedly submitted strategic arms reduction on the agenda, while George Bush administration said that this agenda was 25 years out to date.. Later Obama came to the conclusion that it was necessary and we signed START treaty. Now the situation is reverse. Russia has what it wanted and is not going to go further with the strategic arms reduction. We are happy with our current level and we don’t want to change anything about our tactical weapons."
In fact the US is trying to convince Russia that the START treaty they signed a few years ago is already out of date and the cuts set by the treaty are no longer relevant. But this does not reflect the reality, Igor Korotchenko says.
"The recently signed strategic arms reduction treaty sets the order how our countries should cut their arsenals in the next few years. We should not jump the gun. There are firm limits and our task is to meet them. While Americans have the surplus of nuclear weapons, we on the contrary experience shortage of nuclear weapons (in terms of the quota we are expected to meet)."
Though Moscow’s and Washington’s positions differ experts doubt that this situation will lead to a new cold war or arms race boosting. Simply the parties should reach mutual understanding on the early stage in order to avoid the mistakes which were made due to wrong understating of each other motives and interests.