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Will US-Russia nuclear treaty make the world safer?

06:53 UK time, Thursday, 8 April 2010

US President Barack Obama and the Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev, have signed a landmark nuclear arms treaty in the Czech capital, Prague. Is it the right strategy?

The deal, agreed last month, commits the former Cold War foes to cut their stockpiles to 1,550 warheads each, about 30% less than currently allowed. It also limits the number of launchers each country has.

For the first time the US is ruling out a nuclear response to attacks involving biological, chemical or conventional weapons. However, countries will only be spared a US nuclear response if they comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - this does not include Iran and North Korea.

Are you in the USA or Russia? Do you welcome this treaty or are you concerned about arms reduction? What message does this send to other countries?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    No, neither have flexed their muscles against each other in ages.

    If nuclear weapons were of use then we would not of invaded Afghanistan but nuked them instead. These antiques will only ever be used by smaller countries with insane ambitions.

    For the western world using them has too many potential Human Rights violantions and Health and Safety forms.

  • Comment number 3.

    No

  • Comment number 4.

    Nuclear weapons have a shelf-life.

    The cynical part of me wonders how many of these weapons were due for decomissioning regardless of the treaty.

    As to the message it sends out, it won't be stronger than the message sent out by the Bush administration, which was along the lines of

    'rogue states may be invaded - unless, like North Korea you actually possess nuclear weapons, in which case not only will you be left alone, you'll be in line for millions in US aid.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hate to sound cynical, but does it really make any difference that instead of being able to destroy the world 400 times over, the USA and Russia can now destroy it 300 times over? This is a symbolic gesture, nothing more.

    Since we can't uninvent the bomb, we can at least try to prevent proliferation and ensure that the countries that possess nukes act responsibly. That means keeping the nukes out of the hands of terrorists (I'm looking at you, Pakistan) and not using the threat of nukes to steal the land of others (I'm looking at you, Israel).

  • Comment number 6.

    It is a show with numbers only.
    However it carries the right message:
    Self control and expense reduction.
    The humiliation of Iran and NKorea in the
    document is far from being helpful...

  • Comment number 7.

    Like it or not (And some on here obviously hate America) the American nuclear deterrent is the ultimate guarantee of our freedom and democracy. Therefore , the more nukes the US has , the better.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Not a chance load of political clap trap ; ask China , Korea , Israel etc no chance when the button is pushed watch out boys

  • Comment number 10.

    In an ideal world, nuclear weapons should not exist, but we have to live with the fact that they cannot be 'uninvented'. One idea might be to introduce an arms treaty banning nuclear weapons worldwide, but the level of trust required between nations and the implementation of an acceptable but intrusive verification regime would be the major sticking points. Such a treaty could be similar to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Then there is the question of those nuclear weapon states that are unlikely to accept such a treaty (e.g. N. Korea). Until these problems are solved a reduction in nuclear weapons is all that realistically can be achieved. One glimmer of hope is that conventional weapons have now become so much more accurate that required weapon effects can be achieved with less 'bang'. This development, more than any other, might finally persuade nations to abandon the capability of 'mass destruction'. Nations now can impose their will on others without having to obliterate them.

  • Comment number 11.

    7. At 09:08am on 08 Apr 2010, Anarcho-libertarian wrote:
    Like it or not (And some on here obviously hate America) the American nuclear deterrent is the ultimate guarantee of our freedom and democracy. Therefore , the more nukes the US has , the better.

    ----

    Don't Panic!

    Both the US and Russia still have enough nuclear weapons individually to make the planet uninhabitable & completely devoid of complex life-forms.

    So you can still sleep easy at night.

  • Comment number 12.

    I welcome the news.

    I would also like to see the british government announcing they will be decommissioning their nuclear weapons.

    Hopefully one day there will be no nuclear weapons in the world.

  • Comment number 13.

    The document is creating a new enemy image, which is a covered way to launch a new hysteria leading to a new imperialistic war...
    A trick.

  • Comment number 14.

    This treaty is very important. It is another step towards more reductions in the future. But that only concerns the two superpowers only. For 99% of the world's countries the 1500 warheads carry the same danger of 15 warheads.
    Another significant declaration from the US that it wouldn't respond by nuclear weapons if it was attacked by non-nuclears. That saves the world many possible catastrophies. Very wise decision coming from the US.
    I think the non-proliferation treaty has become out-dated. A new treaty must make it clear and for good that all nuclear warheads in the world must be put under a UNSC committee's surveilance. That all UN members must sign the treaty and commit themselves to transparency and details concerning the stocks of nukes. Any member who violates such regulations must be forced to comply.
    Finally, I wish that the US and Russia must go for total destruction of all nuclear warheads, Both don't need it in battles unless they're going to fight with eachother. Both can enforce a total ban on nukes all over the world. At that point none would dare to challenge the ban. Let the world live in safer environment, give it longer life-span. Economy failures and corruption and poverty and natural disasters are enough enemies to human kind. Not even Russia or the US would be safer with nukes. If the US and Russia are really civilised superpowers, the ban would show that jungle-law is no more justified or accepted.

  • Comment number 15.

    Both US and Russia have agreed to reduce the nuclear pile while actually they are getting rid of surplus junk. Still a major chunk of dangerous nuclear weapons remain in their arsenal. This human-saving charade is to hoodwink the world nations that they detest fireworks. US should admonish Netanyahu for using WMD phosphorous on stone-pelting poor Palestinians in a disproportionate war last year instead of drumbeating Iran all the time. You ask if US-Russia nuclear treaty make the world safer - negative. It is like a millionaire handing a quarter to a mendicant and awaiting blessings all-around. Oo-rah !

  • Comment number 16.

    Lots of pointlessly negative views here. More important than the numbers is the fact that at least they're talking to each other.

    Oh, and anyone who thinks we can get rid of all nuclear weapons is naive. As someone else has said they can't be un-invented and getting rid of them will just result in some lunatic building some new ones and being able to hold the world to ransom.

  • Comment number 17.


    Mike from Brum: "The USA are the only country in the world to ever have used nuclear weapons on another country. It'll take more than a piece of paper to hem these psychos in."

    To Mike
    Grab a history book and learn how that nuclear strike ended the bloodiest war in history and feel free to cry me a river for the lives it took. The fact that we didn't respond to events like Iran hostage crisis, Pan Am flight bombing or even 9/11 with a nuclear strike shows that we don't need a piece of paper to restrain ourselves from unleashing nuclear warfare, but we sign it anyway.

  • Comment number 18.

    This should make the world safer. However both will have over 1000 warheads enough for a MAD world.

    Sadly, the real problems are the renegade states with Nuclear weapons such as Iran, North Korea, Israel, Pakistan and India can we really trust the leaders of these states to control their long term greed or paranoia?

    Better that the World's so called leaders act on these renegades to come clean and declare or break up their programmes. If that takes global sanctions so be it. Only then is there real global security.

  • Comment number 19.

    30% cut of useless death weapons in the stock pile is a small start? How about the U.K getting rid of Trident? thats a useless cold war relic !!! and save the tax-payer a few billion.

  • Comment number 20.

    We are better off with this treaty than without it, especially because of the reduction of stockpiles of nuclear warheads. The safest nuclear warheads are the ones that don’t exist, and in that sense this treaty is a great step forward.

    As far as Mr Obama’s promises around use of nuclear force are concerned: I am sure he is sincere, but he will not be in charge forever, and even he may change his position when political circumstances change. A nice gesture but not much more than that.

    But on the whole this treaty is a good development. By no means the end of a journey, but a great step forward.

  • Comment number 21.

    NO - The world is grossly over-populated, wars in the past have culled populations and it's still going on but on a small scale, now population growth is totally out of control. We are heading back to the dark ages where killing was to some like walking in the park. People from African nations are the biggest culprits in uncontrolled child birth, they not only overpopulate their own continent to the extent that they can't feed them, but now they're spreading into every other continent. It will only take one seriously bad harvest somewhere to cause starvation and strife on a massive scale. So, in answer to your question, the powerbrokers, those that contol us all have followed their own greed and pursuits and encouraged uncontrollable migrations, they would dearly like to start a war but can't. They know in a conventional war they can keep out of it, but a nuclear war they'll perish along with everyone else. Think about it, nations who by our standards are barbaric, are now just a short hurdle away from acquiring nuclear bombs themselves, the future is not looking good.

  • Comment number 22.

    Seeing as both countries still retain enough warheads to destroy the entire planet several times over somehow i don't think the world is safer no.

  • Comment number 23.

    Richard33p:

    "Grab a history book and learn how that nuclear strike ended the bloodiest war in history and feel free to cry me a river for the lives it took."

    Funny how those who suggest grabbing a history book always betray their lack of knowledge of the subject.

    The bloodiest war in history was the /first/ world war. The war you're talking about is the /second/ world war.

    As a matter of record the dropping of bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 caused Japan to capitulate to the Potsdam terms of unconditional surrender proposed in July 1945, although the likelihood is that the Japanese would have capitulated anyway because the Russians defeated the Kwantung Army (the primary Japanese fighting force) in Manchuria in early August 1945. The dropping of the atomic bombs was, IOW, an unnecessary 'show of force'.


    "The fact that we didn't respond to events like Iran hostage crisis, Pan Am flightbombing or even 9/11 with a nuclear strike shows that we don't need a piece of paper to restrain ourselves from unleashing nuclear warfare, but we sign it anyway."

    The fact that you're even mentioning that you might have responded to a hostage crisis by detonating a nuclear device should be telling you something about your foreign policy.

  • Comment number 24.

    As Israel has never signed up to the NPT, why are they not in the list of countries that can expect a nuclear response?

  • Comment number 25.

    America has no strategic interest in Europe. Defense initiatives are technical and in neutral sites. New anti-ballistic missile systems will enhance the capability of the United States to destroy incoming ICBMs. Interceptor missiles are needed to protect against thermo-nuclear explosions by launched weapons. The U.S. must remove all military attacks systems from Europe. A relevant development is building interception bases at protected sites like in the oceans.

  • Comment number 26.

    There are new up and coming super-powers which represent more of a nuclear threat than USA and Russia!

  • Comment number 27.

    The biggest threat these days is the economic threat: some countries make the majority of our goods so cheaply and we are soley reliant on this as many countries in the western world have shut down their factories etc. Be warned!!

  • Comment number 28.

    1,550 Warheads each is still more than enough to destroy the planet. Unless we find a way to get rid of all the warheads in existance reductions won't do much good. They will still act as a deterant, which is a good thing, but if Nuclear war breaks our we're still doomed.

  • Comment number 29.

    An insignificant step in the right direction. Better than nothing I suppose but I will not be sleeping safer in my bed - that's for sure. Politicians strutting their ego's mean that nuclear war could be just round the corner.
    Oh for a war devoid of arms and religion - then we would really know what peace felt like.

  • Comment number 30.

    "1. At 08:52am on 08 Apr 2010, Mike from Brum wrote:
    The USA are the only country in the world to ever have used nuclear weapons on another country. It'll take more than a piece of paper to hem these psychos in."

    The funny thing is that no-one would ever criticise Germany over human rights issues by comparing the policies of modern Germany to Nazi Germany. When the US used atomic weapons it was against a nation that had killed half a million chinese with germ and gas weapons and just a few months after Britain burnt Dresden to the ground with conventional weapons (killing about as many as died in Hiroshima). 2010 is fortunately a very different world to 1945 and all those involved in the decision to use nuclear weapons on Japan are dead. Fortunately my grandfather who in Aug 1945 was getting ready to invade Japan is not... quite possibly because those two bombs ended the war and saved an estimated million lives.

    In reality this treaty doesn't make the world safer at all. Neither the USA or the Russians are mad enough to use nukes on each other. This treaty doesn't reduce the chance of nuclear war as it has no impact on Pakistan, India, North Korea, Israel, China or countries like Iran that may attempt to make a bomb. All these nations are far more likely to use their nukes than the US, UK, Russia or France who all have clear 'no first use' policies.

    In fact by reducing their spending on nuclear weapons it frees up a load of defence money to be spent on conventional arms which ARE used and not just by the USA either... Russia's attempts to regain an Empire in Georgia and Chechnya are just as brutal as anything the US does.

  • Comment number 31.

    #23 Richard33p is entirely correct. The total dead from WW2 was about 60 million. The total dead from WW1 was about 15 million. Even the Taiping Rebellion (China 1860's killed more than WW1) . World War One was the bloodiest war in BRITISH history but not global.

    Wikipedia has a useful list of wars and deathtoll you should have a look at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_and_disasters_by_death_toll

  • Comment number 32.

    1. At 08:52am on 08 Apr 2010, Mike from Brum wrote:

    "The USA are the only country in the world to ever have used nuclear weapons on another country. It'll take more than a piece of paper to hem these psychos in."

    The sheer (and i dare say, intended) ignorance in this comment is purvasive through out this country (UK). May I remind you that were it not for the Americans, we Brits would be speaking German - That is a fact! May I also remind you that the dropping of the bombs on Japan was a necessary act to bring about a faster end to the war.

    You may state that civilians died and indeed that is awful, but have you actually bothered to study or to try and understand what the Japanese did across Asia and the Pacific during the war? The sheer scale of cruelty administered to by the Japanese to Westerners and Asians a like was on a par with the holocaust!

    I lived in the Philippines for a number of years and what the Japanese did to both soldiers and civilians there was horrific.

    The Americans took a decision that anyone of us, faced with the same situation would have taken. I know i would not have hesitated to give the order to drop the bombs, if it brought an end to Japanese cruetly throught Asia and the Pacific.

    I find it also rather irritating that the BBC openly endorses comments that are either subtly or overtly anti-American and by default racist! Such racism would not be tolerated were it targeted at any other race.

    So in conclusion, rather than join the anti-American band wagon, perhaps you should make better use of your spare time and actually study history and work out for yourself just what the Americans have done for you and your family and friends.

    I would also like to add that any disarmement of nuclear weaponary can only be a good thing.

  • Comment number 33.

    Yes. These treaties are long and complex, but ultimately meaningless. It is good to get Obama and Medvedev and their staff busy negotiating meaningless treaties so that they are not plotting wars or other real damage instead. Maybe they should be given a few hundred such treaties to go through, so that the rest of us can peacefully go on living our lives while they toy around with political sudoku puzzles.

  • Comment number 34.

    Obama's treaty is an empty gesture. On his watch the lunatic state of north korea has gone nuclear with the psychotic theocracy in iran shortly to follow. These are the real nuclear issues. Obama is truly the first anti american US president.

  • Comment number 35.

    Don't think it will make any difference. Militant Islam is the biggest threat to the world and the world needs to act before it's too late.

  • Comment number 36.

    Yes. Its about time that the world moved on further to both eliminate the absurd stockpiles of cold war nuclear weapons and did a better job of policing loose cannons and rogue states like North Korea, Israel and Iran.

  • Comment number 37.

    This is a step in the right direction, and a logical expansion of the START signed by former President George H. W. Bush. However, the explicit exclusion of non-NPT members from nuclear retaliation and the retention of thousands of nuclear weapons highlights the fragility of life on Earth.
    In reality, this timid change to the original START simply allows the USA and Russia to rid themselves of obsolete weapons, while retaining enough nuclear weapons in their arsenals to destroy life on Earth many times over.

  • Comment number 38.

    If a nuclear bomb vaporized London it would be courtesy of the maniacs in Iran, north Korea, or al-Qaeda. This treaty is irrelevant.

  • Comment number 39.

    It may infact make the world more dangerous...
    If a small rogue state produces a nulear weapon and knows that the US and Russia dont have or are un willing to use nuclear weapons we could see a real problem with nuclear terrorism.
    At the moment a small nation for example Iran or North Korea knows that if it were to ever use a nuclear weapon the US would retaliate in kind... For real nuclear dissarmament to work every one must agree, and even then its like trying to uninvent the wheel. Some one may well still keep some tucked away just in case....

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    Yes, it would have been better to orchestrate a campaign of carpet bombing of every Japanese city followed by an invasion, like Okinawa, for instance. Where *only* 100,000 civilians were killed on top of 150,000 troops on both sides for *one* island. Yes, I can see it. It's all clear now.

    Anyway, we may not be rid of nuclear weapons, but this is at least a step in the right direction. Those of you moaning, would you rather have the status quo or do you just want to moan? The latter I'm guessing.

  • Comment number 42.

    The development of the nuclear bomb is something that should be available to all nations who choose to dedicate time and money towards this goal. while i appreciate the ethos of responsible use- we are talking about nuclear bombs with the capability to decimate the world as we know it over and over again- there is no such thing as responsible use of nucs and there is no nation on this earth with the right to dictate who is and isnt allowed to develop this technology. is the world a safer place as a result of this treaty... of course not- the most antagonistic and aggressive nation ever to blemish our modern world (The US) still possess' enough nuclear fire power too bring our existence to an end and still believes it has a divine right to police the world on such issues. Responsibility is a man made measurement designed to include certain actions and expel others- it is a variable value unique to its administrator- has the US or indeed the west been responsible on the international stage- no. gone is the time when one could honestly aspire to a 'safer' world, i feel sympathy and anger toward all who buy this political farce- your the reason we're in this situation- congratulations.

  • Comment number 43.

    The treaty is symbolic, yes, but important in ratcheting down the tension (superficial or otherwise) that has been re-building for some time between the US and Russia.

  • Comment number 44.

    This is one step in the right direction in a very long term and very complex process. People love to oversimplify and suggest that we just get rid of nuclear weapons, but it is not so easy. You need to do something with the old warheads and you need to be extremely careful that the nuclear material is accounted for exactly so it does not end of on the black market. Right now, it is in guarded silos, when you start moving it around bad things can happen.

    Creating a power vacuum would be another bad outcome. Like it or not, fear of nuclear war has imposed some level of stability in the world. It is a terrible condition, but suddenly removing that constraint on international behavior would have major, unforeseeable, and possibly tragic consequences.

    If the goal is to get rid of all nuclear weapons, then there would be a final period when only a few were still around. That might be a very unstable situation. If the fear of total annihilation is removed, some country might think there would be an advantage in using them just once.

    Although it is a very unpleasant process, the way to proceed with the lowest risk is to move very slowly toward further disarmament. Any move that is not thought out completely would be dangerous.

  • Comment number 45.

    America in particular is posing a new threat to the world which is mainly social approving crazy rights to its citizens and forcing them on other countries. The real threat of war is in the middle east but the rest of the world will have to eat from America's social madness. Be warned.

  • Comment number 46.

    Finally spmeone on the British side of the keyboard made some sense. Comment #32 says it all. As for the treaty in question, I didn't see anybody from any of the rogue nations inking their names to this contract.

  • Comment number 47.

    I don't really see how this is relevant any more. A nuclear treaty is only worth the paper it is written on if everyone with nukes signs it.

  • Comment number 48.

    Sadly, what Einstein said still applies fully:
    "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

  • Comment number 49.

    Well, these two are walking and talking - publicly - so that's progress?

    The next, best step would be if France stopped selling nuclear capability to Iran, or any other country that France relies on for oil and gas - post colonial or otherwise?

    The quiet and the sly avoid war and conflict at any cost of others? Think about it?

  • Comment number 50.

    WHAT HAS THIS WORLD COME TO!!! OBVIOSLY NUCLEAR IS NOT SAFE.!!!! I HATE ALL THIS WAR! IV HAD MY SAY.. THANKYOU. NIKITA. :)

  • Comment number 51.

    I don't think it make the world safer.We have the likes of North Korea and Iran to name just two countries ,one (N Korea) who has nukes and the other who will make them for sure will probably use them .I remember when Pakistan announced and tested it's weapons in response to India testing hers,people were dancing and laughing in the street's with cardboard mockup's of missiles !!! I find that level of jubilation very unerving .I don't recall English people or American's rejoicing in the street's when their goverment's announced they had weapon's that can millions of people with one weapon.

  • Comment number 52.

    The details of the treaty remain obscure: Do "non-deployed" warheads count towards the 1.550 limit? Do "empty slots" on MIRV missiles like SS18 count? How do we count or compare bomber capacity with missile same? The issues bedeviled negotiators at SALT 1 & 2, and START 1 and the aborted START 2 in the mid-1990s.

    I think the most important result here is the change in US policy: This is the first time one of the "haves" has actually accepted the logic of the NPT, namely that the "have-nots" only accept the NPT if the "haves" work to disarm their own arsenals.

  • Comment number 53.

    At 08:52am on 08 Apr 2010, Mike from Brum wrote:
    The USA are the only country in the world to ever have used nuclear weapons on another country. It'll take more than a piece of paper to hem these psychos in.
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    And do you really think that if the Nazis or the Japanese Warlords had had these weapons they would not have used them, because they were inhumane?

    What about the V2 rocket used by the Nazis? And remember the Nazis were going flat-out to make their own nuclear weapons and they WOULD have used them.................
    And a lot of people who use HYS would probably not be here.

  • Comment number 54.

    This addresses an obsolete condition. The real danger is not that the US and Russia will get into a large exchange, but that nations desperately seeking weapons for use as a kind of nuclear blackmail tool. Having nuclear weapons does not guarantee one against attack, no matter what they do, only that the reactionary attack would be more devastating and potentially nuclear - just to be sure.

    We are focusing on the wrong actors in this charade; much ado about nothing.

  • Comment number 55.

    Nuclear disarmament is mostly for show: I don't believe any of the superpowers would actually deploy something that's going to have such a dangerous fallout that would devastate non-belligerent nations, thereby exacerbating the situation even more. Nuclear is yesterday's WMD: of course they're going to phase it out. That doesn't mean they're phasing out their entire arsenal of missiles.

  • Comment number 56.

    Is it the right strategy?
    Maybe, but I think not. Who’s to say if a country has biological, chemical or conventional weapons – the United States of America, as was the case in Iraq?
    If Israel, a country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, attacks Iran, a country that has signed the non-proliferation treaty, will the United States attack Israel, bring her back into line?
    I’ll bet that Iran and North Korea are simply dumbfounded that the western NeoCons think they can be fooled by worthless piece of paper.
    What message does the Russian/American treaty this send to other countries?
    Great question! My answer is:
    Nothing about nuclear warheads, nuclear bombs and launches.
    Everything about the fact that Americans no longer need archaic nuclear toys because they have something far more powerful to play with.
    President Medvedev must be concerned; Russia must be concerned. Am I to understand that the United States is now in the process of removing its carriers with their launchers, the carriers that were dispatched to replace the stationary defencive shield?
    Last of all, least believed of all, the United States has HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program). The most important HAARP instrument is the Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI) - a high power transmitter operating in high frequency. The IRI is used to temporarily "excite" a limited area of the ionosphere, while other instruments like a VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) radar, a fluxgate magnetometer (capable of measuring the strength of any disruption) and a digisonde (digital device used to determine ionospheric characteristics above the vicinity of the excitation), callously, mechanically measure the destruction.
    I believe that HAARP is being used, has been used, to change weather patters, cause earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and other killing weather conditions, the most recent catastrophes being Haiti, Chile and Mexico.
    So, why would the United States of America need something as “old” as nuclear weapons or launchers?
    HAARP is so much more devastating, and who can blame the weather? Only God controls the weather, right?

  • Comment number 57.

    It sounds good to me. I'm unsure if it will actually make the world safer though.

  • Comment number 58.

    We WILL need Nuclear Weapons and will need to keep a good stock of them and both the Russians and Americans are doing a good job at it. But if ever they must be used, hope it's only for deflecting asteroids that are headed for the Earth. So instead of destroying the planet 400 times over, maybe we can prevent the planet from getting turned into space debris.

  • Comment number 59.

    #32 I agree with the rest of your post but "May I remind you that were it not for the Americans, we Brits would be speaking German - That is a fact!" is utter nonsense. Hitler aborted the invasion of Britain in Sept 1940, partially because of the battle of Britain but mainly because the German Navy was totally incapable of supporting an invasion. By early 1942 when the US joined the war we'd largely defeated the U-boat menace and the Soviets had halted the German advance into Russia (Hitlers failure to take Moscow or Leningrad showed what was eventually going to happen). There was no chance of Britain speaking German but without US assistance we couldn't have retaken Europe, however Stalin could probably have kept rolling west after defeating Germany, so maybe 'without US assistance the French would be speaking Russian' is more likely.

    As I've previously mentioned my grandfather was on a troop ship heading to Japan when the bombs were dropped so maybe those bombs saved his (and therefore) my life so I'm grateful they were used.

  • Comment number 60.

    At long last Russia and America have come to their senses. This treaty is a positive sign that the two major super powers are determined to take giant strides and improve relations considerably. Of course the world will be a safer place. However rogue states like Iran and North Korea will continue to pose a threat. Tough sanctions will have to be imposed on them. This is another feather in Obama's cap. President Mededev has also shown tremendous guts. Obviously the two Presidents are on the same wave-length. This augurs well for America-Russian relations: deeper cooperation for starters.

  • Comment number 61.

    OK so reduce the nuclear arms. Not needed now anyway as there are better weapons available.

    Neutron Bombs
    Lasers - satellite guided.
    and of course all of the other advanced equipment no one yet knows about.

    Whats needed is a defence system that does not explode anything overhead as that is pointless because it will still kill you. What is needed is a jamming system that send them out to space or better still back to the country of origin.

    The best weapon is the economy - just watch what happens when the requirement for oil and gas becomes rapidly less, or when food and water is short, there will be no money to invest in weapons as survival will be the key issue.

    My prediction is within 10 years.

  • Comment number 62.

    It's almost certainly a cost-cutting exercise, not a peace exercise. It doesn't make the world any safer really, because it's not likely that any nuclear-armed nation would launch a nuclear attack on another nuclear-armed nation anyway! Also, the highly-enriched fissile material that is now kept in warheads housed in heavily-guarded silos would be taken out of these places and stored somewhere else - increasing the chances of it falling into the hands of a paramilitary organisation.

  • Comment number 63.

    Woooo, so now both the US and Russia only have enough nukes to destroy the world twice over instead of 3 times.

  • Comment number 64.

    "32. At 12:15pm on 08 Apr 2010, Phillip of England wrote:

    1. At 08:52am on 08 Apr 2010, Mike from Brum wrote:

    "The USA are the only country in the world to ever have used nuclear weapons on another country. It'll take more than a piece of paper to hem these psychos in."

    The sheer (and i dare say, intended) ignorance in this comment is purvasive through out this country (UK). May I remind you that were it not for the Americans, we Brits would be speaking German - That is a fact! May I also remind you that the dropping of the bombs on Japan was a necessary act to bring about a faster end to the war. "

    Sorry, but that is total rubbish and you know it. "We Brits" stopped any planned invasion by the Germans during the battle of Britain...something you may have heard about. After that the Germans invaded Russia and that was when they lost the war. Yes the yanks provided us with supplies and weaponry, but it came at an exorbitant price (the US came out of WW2 two and a half times richer then when it went in). These are facts.

    As to this treaty, well, it would have meant something if it stated that all nukes would be destroyed, but that is now an impossibility with the likes of the India, Pakistan, China, the US (oops ;) ) having such weapons.

  • Comment number 65.

    Yes. The issue is not US and Russia. Both of them have since long realised that it is a futile exercise to go for nuclear race. The issue is that it will make the Neo Nuclear aspirants sit back and think. The world is dangerous because of Nuclear arms in hands of such countries and to the extent this treaty inspires these countries to relook at their nuclear options, the world will be a safer place.

  • Comment number 66.

    I live and work in the Czech Republic, have done for 20 years, constantly in touch with the administration at very high levels. The treaty is greeted here with massive and weary cynicism. First Obama backs down when the Russians say 'Boo' to a couple of anti-missile missiles/radar units for Poland/Czech, understood as meaning the Czech Republic can go back to the Russian sphere of influence because America doesn't care any more. Meanwhile, Russia supplies highly sophisticated anti-missile/aircraft missiles to Syria and Iran to make sure those pesky Israelis don't get ideas about defending themselves from atom attack, a literal holocaust and fulfillment of publically declared genocidal intentions. Then there's the treaty: It's not 'nuclear', Auntie Beeb - that's dissimulation for 'strategic nuclear weapons', ICBM's in other words. They have little to do with the Czech Republic, apart from our being unwilling participants in whatever Armageddon scenario Obama's fevered populist propaganda is running. Our strategists are far more concerned about the TACTICAL nuclear weapons NOT included in the treaty, of which Russia has 2,000 in Europe, America 200. And about a president of Russia strutting his stuff around Prague - he's not welcome here, you know, and pretending the Czech Republic is neutral ground is nonsense when (a) the US is abandoning us and (b) People's Hero Nobel Prize recipient Barak Hussein Obama spent two of the three days of his previous visit cowering in his hotel room, oppressed by the weight of history all around him and his proximity to Russia. Isn't it typical? Moscow's not a couple of hours from Prague, Washington's half a day or more - who's coming to heel like a good dog? Which foul abuser of human rights is he going to crawl to next?

    Media-savvy Czechs are ALSO pretty annoyed by the Beeb running the post-election love-in footage from the previous visit, when Pragues 30,000-strong Yank population turned out to greet the epitome of the political correctness they have so wisely fled, as if were today, as if Obama weren't the most swiftly unpopular president since US records began and certainly the object of deep disappointment, at best, for Czechs - betrayal at worst. The morning's coverage smacked to us of old Soviet moves - but that's hardly surprising, is it?

    CNN really wiped your eye this morning, Auntie, not for the first time. Wake up and smell the vodka, sweeties - the Bear's coming out of hibernation, and he's not happy.

  • Comment number 67.

    The two military super powers will still have the ability to wipe the world out many times over. But the fact that they have reached agreement about reducing the size of their nuclear arsenals shows they are serious about peace.
    That the leaders of both countries have a mindset that makes peace a priority does make the world a bit safer than it was in the cold war. There is a long way to go yet but it is at least a start.

  • Comment number 68.

    The centuries-old history of humanity has proved that there can be no peace without war. To my mind, this treaty is just a lull before the storm. Sooner or later nuclear weapon will be applied either towards nuclear states or towards lands that will be in ‘black list’. It’s just the matter of world power division. Today’s event is one more reminder that our life is endangered, every day, every minute, every instance…

  • Comment number 69.

    The US and Russia were not all that likely to start a nuclear war, being aware that neither would survive. Those that pose the problems are the smaller more recent members of Club Nuke: Israel, Pakistan, N. Korea, and possibly Iran, if they make a device. And don't forget, there are still a collection of neo-con nutters in the US who support the idea of "tactical nuclear weapons". They are not gone but are just lurking in the sewers and other dark places waiting to rear their ugly heads again.

  • Comment number 70.

    Um, Iran is fully compliant with the NPT while North Korea is not even a signatory.

    The US is busily developing new nuclear weapons and the so called Bush Doctrine which is a military option which allows a nuclear first strike at any country the US doesn't like. This treaty does not address any of this.

    Thus, the only country to ever use nuclear weapons has not bound itself to never using them again.

  • Comment number 71.

    It doesn't matter whether the russians and americans sign a treaty or not. The only difference being, without a treaty they didn't dare to use nuclear weapons for the fear of mutually assured destruction. But with a treaty, they can spend their money more wisely on other things rather than on developing and maintaining weapons each side views as a nightmare.

    It's countries with large concentrations of islamic militants with or without direct/indirect state sponsorship like Pakistan that are a real threat to world peace. These countries often have their nationals abusing their citizenship in western countries, stealing nuclear and other technology secrets (Remember A.Q.Khan?). So it doesn't really matter if civilized countries sign the treaty or not - we know and they know that they don't wish to use it. But countries with unstable governments and large fanatical religious groups who attack the west even if a war elsewhere has nothing to do with their country(Like those who attack embassies in Pakistan because of issues in Palestine)....they're the countries that should be devoid of nuclear weapons.

  • Comment number 72.

    Reducing to one and a half thousand doesn't make much change, but its a good start in the right direction but,

    it will take only 50 moderate size nuclear bombs to be dropped and the whole world will be feeling the consequences,

    just 50 nuclear bombs would throw so much debris into the atmosphere global warming and green house gasses would be the least of our problems,

    nuclear winter would happen because there would be so much debris in the atmosphere it would block out the sun for months/years at a time plants, animals and humans would be very hard pressed to survive if we hadn't been bombed to oblivion already.

  • Comment number 73.

    Mike from Brum wrote:
    The USA are the only country in the world to ever have used nuclear weapons on another country. It'll take more than a piece of paper to hem these psychos in

    This is getting very old! Why do you think the USA used nuclear weapons against Japan? The world was at WAR! Based on the way the Japanese were fighting as the battles drew closer to their homeland to invade Japan would have caused millions of causalities. There were over 4 millions Japanese ready to fight to the death. Maybe your father would have been sent from European theatre to fight the Japanese. He might have been killed then you would not be here. Furthermore, why don’t you do some research into what the Japanese did to the Chinese and the prisoners of war?

  • Comment number 74.

    Mike from Brum - what a tired old leftist response which indicates an absolute lack of understanding for the historical context of why the US felt compelled to use Nuclear arms. With nearly a 1/2 a Million US soldiers dead already from a War it did not start or ask for, the US was looking at casualties in the millions more invading Japan. This does not take into account what would have been a stunning loss of life on the Japanese side. Many have argued correctly, it saved FAR more lives than it cost and brought the most dreadful war of all time to a merciful end. We all pray that will be the first and only time civilization sees these weapons used.

  • Comment number 75.

    I have no problem nuks in the hands of the civilised world including Russia.They know about war more than anybody. The problem is when rough states obtain these killing mashins,the game would be over.Let's pray,GOD PLEASE SAVE US.

  • Comment number 76.

    Re #1 "The USA are the only country in the world to ever have used nuclear weapons on another country. It'll take more than a piece of paper to hem these psychos in."




    If by psychos you mean imperialists on in order of the former Imperial Japan, who hope one day to defeat United States by a sneaky attack (like the one on Pearl Harbor) make no mistake about it:

    What happened to Imperial Japan will look like a picnic to those stupid enough, and suicidal enough, to awaken (in words of Admiral Yamamoto) a Sleeping Giant.

  • Comment number 77.

    #61 A neutron bomb IS a nuclear weapon. It just lacks the casing that reflects the neutrons back into the chain reaction. They were designed for one purpose only: destroying massed soviet armour in Europe (the neutrons pass through the steel of the tank and kill the crew but don't leave much fallout). I'd be very suprised if the Israelis don't have a few tucked away safe in case there's a more succesful repeat of the '73 war but for most purposes neutron bombs are pretty useless. Trident was specifically designed to be as accurate as possible and is meant to be able to destroy other nations nukes still in the silo. You can see the advantages of that. Two metres of wet soil is all it takes to protect against a neutron bombs. Two metres of wet soil give no protection at all against a conventional nuke.

    Lasers, especially fired from space don't have the power to destroy things on the ground and probably never will (because the heat of the laser causes the atmosphere to boil and that distorts the beam spoiling the focus)

  • Comment number 78.

    The bottom line is that these two powers can no longer afford to keep such large nuclear arsenals, however, I give the benefit of the doubt to President Obama's initiative.

  • Comment number 79.

    A step in the right direction, it is still in the form of a journey and not the destination. Hopefully the foot prints that have been left by both the leaders will eventually become the roadway to nuclear disarmament. This world needs better things than apparatus to destroy itself, much money, mind, materials and man power has been wasted in staring down opponents with threats of massive destruction. There are always natural disasters to be dealt with, while helping out in those situations, the rich countries are also investing in destroying this world. Now tyrants like Pakistan, Iran and other countries will have to scale back their nuclear programs if they want the West and Russia to help them. It is indeed a great news!

  • Comment number 80.

    I was under the impression the topic was about USA/Russia, not a competition to come up with the most ignorant anti-Israel rant

  • Comment number 81.

    Re #4"Nuclear weapons have a shelf-life.

    The cynical part of me wonders how many of these weapons were due for decomissioning regardless of the treaty."





    You're right. Many of the old Soviet-era warheads were becoming unstable and 'leaking' and had to be scraped anyway.

    Our Commander-in-Chief has merely supplied a suitable face-saving cover for a former superpower.

    Which will be taken care of by rising China in the next 20-30 years.

  • Comment number 82.

    Re #6 "The humiliation of Iran and NKorea in the document is far from being helpful..."





    Messrs. Ahmadinnerjacket and Kim-Jong-ill [and I mean 'ill'] couldn't have put it better.

  • Comment number 83.

    @ POST 21 Toothpick Harry

    The world is grossly over-populated - TRUE

    wars in the past have culled populations - WRONG - compared to disease, war barely touches population numbers or growth rates

    We are heading back to the dark ages where killing was to some like walking in the park. - WRONG - We have continually becomer safer and safer during at least, the past 300 years,

    People from African nations are the biggest culprits in uncontrolled child birth,they not only overpopulate their own continent to the extent that they can't feed them, but now they're spreading into every other continent.- WRONG - Given the overall death rate, particularly infant mortality, and average life expectancy - Is it any wonder people try for large families?? By the way if WESTERN gov'ts and corporations did not continually exploit Africa for the last 500 years, they wouldnt be in this predicament.

    those that contol us all have followed their own greed and pursuits and encouraged uncontrollable migrations - WRONG - they have encouraged migrations to meet purely economic needs, yet not provided decent prospects of real equality and power-sharing in host nations

    Think about it, nations who by our standards are barbaric, are now just a short hurdle away from acquiring nuclear bombs themselves, the future is not looking good - CORRECT - although please accept by THEIR standards WE are the barbarians. and please accept its not a level playing field if only one side has these weapons.



  • Comment number 84.

    #56 "I believe that HAARP is being used, has been used, to change weather patters, cause earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and other killing weather conditions, the most recent catastrophes being Haiti, Chile and Mexico"

    I really shouldn't provoke someone who seems so deluded by why, exactly, would the US destroy Haiti with an earthquake but not Cuba, Iraq (when Saddam was in power), Iran or North Korea? The fact that Chile is right slap on the 'ring of fire' and gets constant earthquakes seems a slightly more likely explanation. Powerful earthquakes are hardly uncommon.

    The fact that HAARP has cost $250 million (less than 1/4 of the price of a single stealth bomber) should suggest that it really is just a research radio. Nothing the military invents that works could ever be so cheap. It cost us over £1bn just to fix all the flaws with the SA80 rifle!

  • Comment number 85.

    US and Russia are not bannana republics ruled by tinpot dicators. There is not going to be any direct war between them nor the chances of either of them using it on a weaker antagonistic countries is practically nonexistant. So whether they sign the treaty or not will not matter much. Nukes in the hands of some trigger-happy nations is what the world should be worried about.

  • Comment number 86.

    Russia and America have signed a landmark nuclear arms agreement. President Medvedev described the nuclear arms treaty in Prague very succinctly: 'a win-win situation that would enhance strategic stability and bilateral relations'. This is a giant leap for mankind in terms of safety and security! Hope springs eternal.

  • Comment number 87.

    Obama dictates the course of the nuclear issue in the interest of the nuclear club and Israel exclusively, however (and I quot myself) the science and technology of nuclear fusion/fission belongs to all people and nations on the globe. It can not be privatised as that is part of joint achievements of the bests of humanity, like the wheel, the car or the capture of the energy of the sun (from nuclear fusion). Handling huge energies is a responsibility, but that is in parity with our natural capabilities. There should be no preferred nations or systems, as access to energy is a basic human right of everyone and every nations on the globe. Same is true for defence. There are no sanctions could be turned against those nations who have not yet certain technologies, by those who have it already, as equality is a root principle of peaceful coexistence. Nobody should be "more equal than others"...All political and power games around this matter are nonsense because they projects hidden agendas of particular interests. Thank you.

  • Comment number 88.

    Re # 30

    Peter, you're right.

    Besides, just as generals in some countries tend to prepare for the last war (in case of Russia against the West although the mortal danger will come from the [south] East) people who know nothing about nuclear weapons know even less (imagine that!) about next generation weapons:
    chemical, and to even a larger degree, BIOLOGICAL ones.

    No, US and UK do not have any chemical and biologial weapons; but there are countries out there which actively work to to produce even more lethal ones.

    Which countries are those?

    We know, and they can only guess whether we know or not.

    And what we can do about them.

  • Comment number 89.

    The agreement makes no difference other than the US & Russian maintenance budgets.

    Saying that nuclear weapons are a potential danger oversees the fact that had more countries had them, the world would be much more peacefull for the simple reason that some pro-gun ownnership rural cities in Texas have a very low crime rate and everyone, locals and tourists alike are particularly gentle to each other!

  • Comment number 90.

    This treaty will not make the world any safer.It is basically structured to aid the image of Barack Obama among the gullible as a great peace lover and pacifist to suit his gratuitous Nobel prize.For this treaty he has sold the East European countries down the river by assuring the Russians he will forget about the anti-missile defense of Europe.As such,this is actually a cynical game between Obama and Medvedev.

  • Comment number 91.

    This bill should be hailed for what it is. It is a clear sign of nuclear sufficiency over supremacy and moreover it decreases the risk of such materials falling into the wrong hands.

    There really are some misinformed comments on this page such as those regarding the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and oddly enough, about Israel not signing up to the NPT and that it should expect a nuclear response as a result.

    There is a strong current of feeling amongst Historians that a full scale land invasion of Japan would have resulted in an absolute bloodbath and that in hindsight the bombings saved more lives than it took.

    As for Israel not signing the NPT and should expect a nuclear response, I suppose by that rationale India and Pakistan should expect the same? Or how about North Korea who recently withdrew from the NPT? Or how about Iran who are under suspicion of building nuclear weapons, and they are signitories? I guess its just easier to pick on Israel.

  • Comment number 92.

    This is a necessary step in reducing tensions between the US and Russia. It provides more assurance to the Russians, that there are no aggressive intentions, with the eastern Europe defense plans.

    This is one situation, where the right step has been taken. The remainder of Obama's nuclear policy, is mostly rhetoric, and of no particular consequence.

    The continued modernization of the nuclear weapons we do maintain, needs to continue, and our ability to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons, must continue to be a high priority, as a defense against the Islamic terrorists, that would seek them, and would use them.

  • Comment number 93.

    This is just another political miss-medication on an issue that needs proper remedy. The only country on this planet that has so far detonated a nuclear device on another country is only the United States of America against Japan(Hiroshima and Nagasaki), in World War II. Lesson from that misguided "experiment" is clearer than a crystal ball. Devastating impact from nuclear weapon once detonated usually would transcend far beyond the targeted boarders, meaning that whoever uses a nuclear device equally would face repercussion like radiations from such action especially if the boarders or region are in close proximity of each other. In a scenario the boarder are not in close proximity there maybe vested economic interest or allies close to the seen and possibly they wont evade harm. Albeit, the reduction on stockpile of the deadly weapon and reining on the occasion it could be used is a welcomed step towards sane direction. The main problem that needs immediate attention is finding mutual consensus on how to drastically curb the spread of deadly conventional weapons. There is no doubt about this, conventional weapons in the likes of: assault rifles; hand gun; RPG; IED; Apache & Chinook gunship; Tomahawk cruise missiles...has killed, maimed and continue to unleash devastating results on states and individuals in the magnitude nuclear weapons has not caused since it's invention. The cost of stockpiling nuclear weapons and having a functional delivery capability is astronomical and very dicey too. Thus in an economic down turn such as the one we are in right now, it should not come as surprise that these giant nuclear states are embarking on this self serving venture. There is no economic or sane rationals to stockpile weapons one cannot use or one after it has been used would come back to hurt the user. A more comprehensive treaty is needed and it should include drastically curtailing illegal trading in small arms which so far has done more harm than atomic bombs. A ban on arm sales to poor countries that can't feed its population. Unfortunately, the big states won't oblige to these recommendations, there is too much money to be lost. Do not be fooled, total disarmament is the only solution!!!!

  • Comment number 94.

    Re: "Better weapons - neutron bombs"

    This just show what level of ignorance we have to deal with.


    There never was such a thing as a 'neutron bomb'.

    And a highly inefficient Enhanced Radiation Warhead (a tactical weapon) was developped by Sam Cohen for one purpose only: to stop Soviet armored divisions at Fulda Gap by disabling its crews with gamma radiation.


    Russians are in no position to create this threat again, and it'll take the Chinese at least 30 years to get to Ural Mountains.

    That's why the last U.S. ERWs were dismantled a decade ago.

    BTW. Generalissimus Francisco Franco is still dead.

  • Comment number 95.

    Re #66
    "People's Hero Nobel Prize recipient Barak Hussein Obama spent two of the three days of his previous visit cowering in his hotel room, oppressed by the weight of history all around him and his proximity to Russia."




    Dear poster from Czechia.


    This too shall pass. Congressional election is in November, and a presidential one 2 years later.

    [There's also an impeachment procedure on the books in the U.S.]

    "WE SHALL OVERCOME!" :)

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    #72 "
    it will take only 50 moderate size nuclear bombs to be dropped and the whole world will be feeling the consequences, just 50 nuclear bombs would throw so much debris into the atmosphere global warming and green house gasses would be the least of our problems,"

    The calculations for "nuclear winter" you quote are much repeated but completely wrong. An explosion like Krakatoa (200 Megatons. Hiroshima was 15 kilo tons) in 1883 threw millions of tons of debris into the air. It reduced global temps by 1'c and much of that cooling was caused by the sulphur the volcano released, not the ash. The Russians tested a 50 mega ton bomb http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_Bomb in 1961. That was 3,333 times more powerful than Hiroshima and also had no impact on global climate.

    There's plenty still left to worry about but nuclear winter isn't one of those things!

  • Comment number 98.

    The fact that Iran is making it perfectly obvious that it wants to have a nuclear arsenal should be all the more reason to keep up our own stockpiles. Could you imagine a nuclear armed Iran if the west didn't have any? We would be invaded without hesitation.

  • Comment number 99.

    Nuclear weapons are out of date, clumsy and inneficient The phony war that existed in the 1960's has been replaced by an equally phony reality/peace. Any reduction in the overkill weapons capacity (of any type), has to be welcome, but this is largely theatre on a colossal scale, and will do nothing to calm the overall situation.

  • Comment number 100.

    Obama declares the US will absolutley not use Nuclear Weapons on another country no matter what they do to us. Thank God I feel so much safer now I mean that George Bush might have dropped a Nuke on Lichtenstein for no reason at all.
    The thing is if America absolutley will not use a Nuke to protect ourselves, than we absolutley will not use a Nuke to protect any of our friends and allies either.
    So all of you nations who have lived quite nicely, comfortably, and inexpensivly under America's "Nuclear Umbrella' of protction, Now you all need your own nuclear weapons for your own protection. While Lichtenstien may not really need one you can bet Japan, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, Jordan, Indonesia, Iraq, Libya and many others will now move in that direction.
    Now I am sure in Obama's inexperienced little mind he thought this move would make the world safer and curb Nuclear proliferation but all he has really done is opened the starting gate of Nuclear proliferation.

 

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