In an article by Anton Troianovski, I was a bit surprised to read that “Putin has called on the United States to move forward on nuclear arms-control negotiations.” But recently, Trump has been using the need for cooperation on nuclear weapons as a reason why this country needs to improve our relationship with Russia. It might be helpful to put all of that talk in a little perspective.
Some people may remember that Barack Obama was very vocal about the nuclear threat when he was a student at Columbia. That’s probably why, less than two months into his presidency, he gave a speech in Prague in which he laid out an ambitious agenda on that front.
So today I am announcing a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. We will set new standards, expand our cooperation with Russia, pursue new partnerships to lock down these sensitive materials.
Obama followed up on that speech by negotiating the New Start Treaty with Russia and initiating Global Summits on Nuclear Security every two years during his presidency. In the end, he didn’t reach the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years, but significant progress was made.
The reason those efforts eventually stalled goes back to the election of Vladimir Putin as president of Russia in 2012. Almost immediately, Russia announced that it would not renew an agreement reached in 1991 on dismantling nuclear and chemical weapons and later announced that they would no longer participate in the Global Summit. In the meantime, here is what Putin has been up to:
The Russian leader said in May that his military would soon begin fielding a new generation of nuclear weapons, including a globe-circling ballistic missile that he previously said could fly over either the North or the South Pole to strike targets anywhere in the world with more powerful and more numerous warheads. Putin claimed it could evade any missile defense system.
Putin also has promoted Russia’s development of a nuclear-armed hypersonic vehicle that he said is more advanced than anything in the U.S. arsenal. Hypersonic flight equates to going Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.
Do you see why I’d be surprised if Vladimir Putin was actually interested in “moving forward on nuclear arms-control negotiations?” What is more likely to be going on here is that Kim Jong-un isn’t the only one playing Donald Trump for a sucker when it comes to denuclearization.