To Russia With Love

July 9, 2009

Dear Members and Friends,

This week’s discussions in Moscow between President Obama and Russian President Medvedev on future reductions of strategic nuclear weapons/launchers included missile defense. Both presidents agreed on the growing threat, the proliferation of ballistic missiles and the need for missile defenses, releasing the following joint statement to establish cooperation on missile defense.

“In accordance with the understanding reached at the meeting in London on April 1, 2009, Russia and the United States plan to continue the discussion concerning the establishment of cooperation in responding to the challenge of ballistic missile proliferation. Our countries are intensifying their search for optimum ways of strengthening strategic relations on the basis of mutual respect and interests.

We have instructed our experts to work together to analyze the ballistic missile challenges of the 21st century and to prepare appropriate recommendations, giving priority to the use of political and diplomatic methods. At the same time they plan to conduct a joint review of the entire spectrum of means at our disposal that allow us to cooperate on monitoring the development of missile programs around the world. Our experts are intensifying dialogue on establishing the Joint Data Exchange Center, which is to become the basis for a multilateral missile-launch notification regime.

The Russian Federation and the United States of America reaffirm their willingness to engage in equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation with all interested countries that share their assessments of the danger of global proliferation of ballistic missiles. We call upon all countries having a missile potential to refrain from steps that could lead to missile proliferation and undermine regional and global stability.”

President Obama has assured President Medvedev that the proposed European missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic are going through an extensive review by his administration to see if this is the best solution to defend Europe and the United States from long-range ballistic missile threats of third sources most notably Iran. This study and its assessment when completed will be given to the Russian government for review later this summer and will be the subject of extensive negotiations.

The dialogue between the Presidents and the ‘extensive negotiations’ would seem to be inexplicably linked to a successful closure of a future arms-control agreement with the Russians that follows the expiration of the START Treaty on December 5, 2009.

The national security of the United States and that of Europe from long-range ballistic missiles carrying nuclear weapons from Iran or other future proliferating states that threaten the populations should not, must not and cannot be linked as a prerequisite to a bilateral treaty to reduce strategic nuclear weapons and launchers with Russia.

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