News / USA

Obama Proposal Could Help US-Russian Ties

Obama Proposal Could Help US-Russian Tiesi
X
July 03, 2013 3:44 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed deep cuts in the American and Russian nuclear arsenals, a move analysts say could make the world a little safer and save the countries a lot of money. But the experts say the biggest benefit might be an improvement in U.S.-Russian relations. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Al Pessin
U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed deep cuts in the American and Russian nuclear arsenals, a move analysts say could make the world a little safer and save the countries a lot of money.  But the experts say the biggest benefit might be an improvement in U.S.-Russian relations.

President Obama chose an iconic Cold War location -- the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin -- to make his new arms control proposal, offering to reduce U.S. nuclear warheads by one third. “I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures,” he said.

The crowd in Berlin was enthusiastic.  But actually negotiating cuts, and getting any agreement ratified by the U.S. Senate, will be difficult.

Still, nuclear expert Heather Williams, of London’s Chatham House research institute, said talks will have broader value. “The number itself of reductions and number of weapons being drawn down, it is important, but it is not the most important part of arms control.  It is the act of talking to each other, and it gives the U.S. and Russia this opportunity to engage and to try to improve relations,” she said.

Williams said U.S.-Russia talks could also put nuclear arms reductions on the agenda for other nuclear powers, like India.

Nine countries have nuclear weapons, and more are trying to join the group.  Russia wants any talks to at least include China.

But the United States and Russia have about 90 percent of the world’s nuclear bombs, many of them controlled at underground facilities like this one, ready to launch on a few minutes’ notice.

So, Cold War-style U.S.-Russian negotiations are still needed, according to British government adviser Malcolm Chalmers at the Royal United Services Institute. “I do not think it is going to happen in the next few months.  I do not think it suits Putin in terms of his domestic position," he stated. "But I think, at some time in the next five or 10 years, I think it is a card which will be in the interest of both the U.S. and Russia to play.”

Although the United States and Russia deploy thousands of nuclear weapons on land, in the air and at sea, concern about a U.S.-Russian nuclear exchange is far diminished from the Cold War years.  

But Heather Williams said there is another motivation for reducing arsenals -- they are expensive. “Russia, as everyone knows, is under enormous financial pressure.  And they just have not invested in their nuclear infrastructure.  Neither has the U.S. to some extent.  But Russia can not afford these weapons, so they are more keen to get rid of them than the U.S,” she said.

So even at a time of reduced nuclear tensions, there is motivation to lower the threat even more, and perhaps to open a channel for U.S.-Russian dialogue on other issues at the same time.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs