The U.S-Russia agreement to slash nuclear arsenals announced last week represents real progress in controlling the most fearsome weapons on the planet, not least because it ensures continued mandatory inspections of Russian weapons following last December's expiration of the previous treaty.
Both sides will have to give up something. The new 10-year accord requires reductions in deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 from the 2,200 now allowed, a 30 percent cutback. Launchers -- that is, missiles and bombers -- would be reduced by half, from 1,600 to 800.
This overall decrease in nuclear weapons and delivery capability is a significant contribution to arms reduction, a U.S. foreign policy goal of both Republican and Democratic presidents. That's only part of the story, though.
The bigger goals are nuclear nonproliferation -- stopping the nuclear arms race from spreading to more countries -- and keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists. No progress can be expected in these areas -- including the urgent matter of stopping Iran's nuclear-weapons program -- unless other nations are convinced that countries in control of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world are committed to reducing their own inventories.
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