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Nuclear weapon reduction serves mutual interests of U.S., Russia
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08:48, July 01, 2009

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Nuclear weapon reduction, as a major issue on the agenda of the coming U.S.-Russia summit, serves both countries' mutual interests, said a U.S. expert on Tuesday.

Bruce Blair, president of the World Security Institute who was attending a Global Zero Commission conferencein Washington hat the nuclear weapon reduction is fully backed by U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration, despite some domestic opposition due to concern on recent nuclear threats from Iran and the DPRK.

"It is understood that it is in the mutual interests of the two countries," said Blair. "There won't be substantial opposition."

He also said that the United States doesn't believe it has to "rely on 10,000 nuclear weapons to protect itself from Iran or other small nuclear countries or future proliferators," since it also has the capability of non-nuclear weapons, and conventional forces "that are more than sufficient to handle small proliferators."

Blair, as a specialist on U.S. and Russian security policies, particularly in nuclear forces and command-control systems, was among dozens of former political and military leaders as well as experts from nuclear states and other key countries, who sat in the Global Zero Commission conference.

During the two-day meeting, the group outlined a step-by-step process to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons by 2030 through four phases, as recommendations for the U.S. and Russian leaders who were set to meet July 6-8 in Moscow and discuss about the restoration of a bilateral strategic arms reduction treaty.

A participant to the conference told Xinhua on the condition of anonymity that U.S. officials have indicated their confidence in the coming nuclear weapon summit, since both sides had reached agreement on some key issues.

However, Blair noted that there might be two key obstacles for making huge progress in nuclear arms control, one of which is the expansion of NATO possibly to Ukraine and Georgia, which seems "very provocative and unacceptable to Russia."

The other one is the deployment of missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic, because "it seems we are encircling Russia, moving into territory they once considered fully their sphere of influence," he added.

"Partly, it is just a provocation politically, and partly it is a technical threat to Russia," he noted.

On Russian's concern on the ballistic missile interceptors the United States is seeking to establish in Poland, Blair said that some top generals of the U.S. ballistic missile defense agency had said the best they can do is to handle one or two very primitive missiles, not really a technical strategic threat to Russia.

Even so, Russia very much concerns it can grow since there are no limitations on the U.S. ballistic missile defense after it withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty, he said.

Considering Russia's need for reinsurance from the United States not to expand the ballistic missile defense, the Obama administration has indicated a clear shift in the attitude toward the program and expressed the willingness to work cooperatively with Russia.

"Why allow a minor program like missile defense limit the bigger vision of elimination of nuclear weapons?" asked Blair.

The expert expected that the summit would be focused on the technical issues of the nuclear weapon reduction, and also be conducted in context of discussions about other issues important to each other's security, such as new ways to increase nuclear security.

Moreover, U.S. and Russian leaders are planning to begin a broader dialogue with other countries soon after they conclude a new treaty to replace the current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that expires on Dec. 5, 2009.

"That would be innovative phase of nuclear weapon control," said Blair.

On China, a developing country that possesses nuclear weapons, he said that it has shown enormous restraint over many decades, and set a good example for the rest of the world.

As the two biggest nuclear powers that possess 95 percent of the nuclear weapons of the world, the United States and Russia still have a long way to go, he added.

Source: Xinhua

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