Times: Obama Wants New Russia Nuke Pact

The Times of London reports today that President Obama is working toward a new nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Russia that could see both countries cut their stock of missiles down to about a fifth – to 1,000 warheads per country.

Here's a link to The Times article.

According to sources at the White House, which the newspaper did not name, Hillary Clinton's State Department is going to take the lead in looking for a pact to replace the 1991 "Start" agreement (U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), and now, Washington is really willing to play ball.

Under former President George W. Bush, the U.S. aggressively pursued a plan to build missile defense installations on Russia's door-step — in Poland for instance. Mr. Bush maintained the missile defense system was crucial to defend America and its allies against the increasing threat of ballistic missiles from countries like Iran and North Korea.

(AP Photo/U.S. Air Force)
This image provided by the U.S. Air Force shows a Missile Defense Agency interceptor missile being successfully launched, Dec. 5, 2008, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California.

But the Russians never quite saw it that way. To Russia, it was the world's largest superpower (and, lest we forget, Cold War foe) planting a hi-tech military flag entirely too close to home. For that reason, and due to the general frosty nature of U.S.-Russia relations in recent years, talks on replacing the Start treaty never really got anywhere.

According to The Times, however, Obama's administration has already halted the development of the missile defense program and as a means of getting the ball rolling on new disarmament talks, and has said the entire plan is subject to "review."

Depending on the outcome of that "review," Russia has signaled a willingness to enter negotiations on a new treaty.

"In holding negotiations with the U.S. on considerable reductions in strategic nuclear arsenals, Russia must raise the issue of the U.S. global missile defense system and get Washington to take on the obligation to significantly limit it," Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin told Russia's Interfax news agency Wednesday. Yesin used to head up the wing of the Russian military which oversees its missile stockpile.

Update: CBS News' Moscow bureau reports that the Russian government welcomes this report from the Times of London.

"This proposal and President Obama's plans are a fresh signal that must be developed in direct talks between the Russian foreign minister and the U.S. secretary of state, and between military experts. And, as I said, it is a fresh signal for a positive analysis," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said in an English-language phone conference on Wednesday.
  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.

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