By William J. Perry and George P. Shultz
THIS has been a remarkable time for the Obama administration. After a year of intense internal debate, it issued a new nuclear strategy. And after a year of intense negotiations with the Russians, President Obama signed the New Start treaty with President Dmitri Medvedev in Prague. On Monday, the president will host the leaders of more than 40 nations in a nuclear security summit meeting whose goal is to find ways of gaining control of the loose fissile material around the globe.
New Start is the first tangible product of the administration’s promise to “press the reset button” on United States-Russian relations. The new treaty is welcome. But as a disarmament measure, it is a modest step, entailing a reduction of only 30 percent from the former limit — and some of that reduction is accomplished by the way the warheads are counted, not by their destruction. Perhaps the treaty’s greatest accomplishment is that the negotiations leading up to its signing re-engaged Americans and Russians in a serious discussion of how to reduce nuclear dangers.