For two days, President Barack Obama pressed the reset button with Russia…
The results: He ended up getting the expected agreement on deep cuts in nuclear arsenals, but he is leaving Moscow with few assurances of Kremlin help in solving other issues key to his foreign policy agenda.
He is also leaving behind a spark he hopes will blaze to life and thaw U.S. relations with a former superpower with a chip on its shoulder. But his two days of summitry produced no unexpected breakthroughs.
Throughout the meetings and speeches, Obama stayed on message: The United States and Russia have too many overlapping interests to move through the coming decades at odds. The time for confrontational Cold War thinking is well-past. America wants Russia to be "strong, peaceful and prosperous."
He told the graduating class at Moscow's New Economic School that the United States and Russia were not "destined to be antagonists," but he predicted — nevertheless — hard bargaining as the two nations work to overcome a long history of estrangement.
"It is difficult to forge a lasting partnership between former adversaries. But I believe on the fundamental issues that will shape this century, Americans and Russians share common interests that form a basis for cooperation," he said.
On several issues key to Obama foreign policy, the Russians were unbending, at least for now.
While they agreed to join the U.S. in reassessing the threat from Iran's nuclear ambitions, there was no hoped-for Kremlin offer of direct intervention with Tehran. The Russians make significant profits from arms sales to Iran and the construction a nuclear complex for electricity generation.
On the flash point issue of Georgia, where the Russian army crushed the tiny country's military a year ago, the Kremlin rejected U.S. complaints about Russian insistence that breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain free of Georgian control. Moscow, meantime, remained angry over U.S. refusal to back away from support for Georgia's hopes to join NATO.
After his breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Obama told Fox News Channel "on areas where we disagree, like Georgia, I don't anticipate a meeting of the minds anytime soon."
Nor did there appear to have been progress in the dispute over arms control. While preparing a START I replacement treaty that would cut nuclear arsenals by about one-third, Moscow and Washington remained fundamentally at odds over U.S. plans for creating a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. U.S. officials discount Russian complaints about American intentions. But Moscow was still saying the two issues must be linked or a final agreement on cutting nuclear warheads and delivery systems could be in jeopardy. Washington insists missile defense is designed to protect U.S. allies against a potential nuclear attack by Iran. The Russians say such a system would put them at a disadvantage by unbalancing offensive nuclear parity.
The two sides did agree to far greater cooperation on Afghanistan, where Obama is bolstering U.S. troop strength in the fight against Taliban militants and other al-Qaida allied groups. Part of the deal will allow the U.S. to fly, without transit charges, American troops, weapons and other lethal war materiel across Russian territory. Such U.S. overflights had been limited to non-lethal supplies for the U.S.-led NATO force in Afghanistan, a country from which Russia withdrew in defeat 20 years ago after a decade-long occupation.
Negotiators also prepared a series of side agreements and established a commission nominally headed by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. It is designed to quicken the pace of U.S.-Russian engagement across a whole range of issues important to both countries.
In a briefing on the last day of the Obama visit, his top adviser on Russian affairs, Michael McFaul, dared reporters to find a past U.S.-Soviet summit where the two sides had dealt with so many matters of substance.
"We hit all of the dimensions of the U.S.-Russian relationship. ... That's a good start to what now begins the harder process of building this relationship in a more sustained way," McFaul said.
Obama also joined two so-called parallel summits Tuesday afternoon, one of business leaders, the other of civil society organizations. Later he met privately with political opposition figures who are under near constant pressure in Russia's atmosphere of contracting democratic protections and press freedom.
Among the group was former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, who said Obama appeared to have held his own in his talks with Russia's leaders.
"This government is not ready for a dialogue. This government has the mentality of street hoodlums. I think that after looking into Obama's eyes Putin understood that this guy won't stand any jokes."
Outside the luxury hotel where Obama met with opposition leaders, a young man held up a sign that said: "Everything changes. The KGB remains the same." The sign was ripped from his hands by police and he slipped away. Putin is a former KGB officer, as are many of the officials serving in his government.
Wednesday morning Obama heads to a G-8 summit in Italy. While there he will meet Pope Benedict XVI, before moving on to Ghana where he plans to deliver what the White House describes as a major foreign policy speech.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5isOFwdbq0tsqatW6vJpkDRTI1gMgD999S59O0
President Obama's primary goal at the Moscow summit is to reset U.S.-Russian relations after years of drift and confrontation. Yet that aim can only be accomplished with the assent of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the man widely believed to hold most of the levers of powers here, CBS News Chief White House correspondent Chip Reid reports.
After a two-hour breakfast with Putin, Mr. Obama sat down with CBS News.
"I think this is a very smart, very tough, very unsentimental person," Mr. Obama said.
Despite that less than warm personal assessment, the president said they're mostly on the same page on some vital issues.
"I don't think that the Russians want to see Iran possessing a nuclear weapon," he said.
White House advisers say Mr. Obama repeatedly brought up the danger of a nuclear Iran in private meetings, urging Russian leaders to take the threat more seriously. He has made the same case for North Korea, which this weekend launched another round of threatening test missile flights.
"Do you worry about the possibility of war with North Korea? How close are we?" Reid asked the president.
"I don't think that any war is imminent with North Korea," Mr. Obama said. "I think they understand that they would be overwhelmed in a serious military conflict with the United States."
The centerpiece of this U.S.-Russia summit is a provisional agreement to reduce the two nation's nuclear arsenals by as much as a third, signed by President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Mr. Obama calls it leading by example.
"Once you do that, then you've got an international community that is collectively focused on the issue," he said. "So that when we approach North Korea or Iran, it is as a united front."
The president also prodded this government-controlled nation to become more Democratic. In a speech today, he said governments that serve their own people survive; those that serve their own power do not.
Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/07/07/eveningnews/main5141969.shtml
President Obama today delivered a speech at the New Economic School on his vision for the U.S.-Russia relationship. Here are some key quotes from the address:
"Your lifetime coincides with this era of transition. But think about the fundamental questions asked when this school was founded. What kind of future is Russia going to have? What kind of future are Russia and America going to have together? What world order will replace the Cold War? Those questions still do not have clear answers, and so now they must be answered by you – by your generation in Russia, America, and around the world. You get to decide. And while I cannot answer these questions for you, I can speak plainly about the future that America seeks. To begin with, let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Russia."
"In 2009, a great power does not show strength by dominating or demonizing other countries. The days when empires could treat sovereign states as pieces on a chess board are over… The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game – progress must be shared."
"America has an interest in reversing the spread of nuclear weapons and preventing their use. In the last century, generations of Americans and Russians inherited the power to destroy nations, and the understanding that using that power would bring about their own destruction. In 2009, our inheritance is different."
"There is extraordinary potential for increased cooperation between Americans and Russians. We can pursue trade that is free and fair and integrated with the wider world. We can boost investment that creates jobs in both our countries. We can forge partnerships on energy that tap not only traditional resources, but the new sources of energy that will drive growth and combat climate change. All of that, Americans and Russians can do together."
"By no means is America perfect. But it is our commitment to certain universal values which allows us to correct our imperfections, and to grow stronger over time. Freedom of speech and assembly has allowed women, minorities, and workers to protest for full and equal rights. The rule of law and equal administration of justice has busted monopolies, shut down political machines, and ended abuses of power. Independent media have exposed corruption at all levels of business and government. Competitive elections allow us to change course and hold our leaders accountable. If our democracy did not advance those rights, I – as a person of African ancestry – wouldn’t be able to address you as an American citizen, much less a President."
"Now let me be clear: America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other country, nor would we presume to choose which party or individual should run a country."
"America will never impose a security arrangement on another country. For any country to become a member of NATO, a majority of its people must choose to; they must undertake reforms; and they must be able to contribute to the Alliance’s mission. And let me be clear: NATO seeks collaboration with Russia, not confrontation."
Below are Mr. Obama's full remarks, as delivered and released by the White House:
Thank you so much. Well, congratulations, Oxana. And to the entire Class of 2009, congratulations to you. I don't know if anybody else will meet their future wife or husband in class like I did, but I'm sure that you're all going to have wonderful careers.
I want to acknowledge a few people who are here. We have President Mikhail Gorbachev is here today, and I want everybody to give him a big round of applause. (Applause.) I want to thank Sergei Gurief, Director of the New Economic School. (Applause.) Max Boiko, their Chairman of the Board. (Applause.) And Arkady Dvorkovich, who is the NES board member, President of the Alumni Association and is doing an excellent job for President Medvedev, because he was in our meeting yesterday. (Applause.)
Good morning. It is a great honor for me to join you at the New Economic School. Michelle and I are so pleased to be in Moscow. And as somebody who was born in Hawaii, I'm glad to be here in July instead of January. (Laughter and applause.)
I know that NES is a young school, but I speak to you today with deep respect for Russia's timeless heritage. Russian writers have helped us understand the complexity of the human experience, and recognize eternal truths. Russian painters, composers, and dancers have introduced us to new forms of beauty. Russian scientists have cured disease, sought new frontiers of progress, and helped us go to space.
These are contributions that are not contained by Russia's borders, as vast as those borders are. Indeed, Russia's heritage has touched every corner of the world, and speaks to the humanity that we share. That includes my own country, which has been blessed with Russian immigrants for decades; we've been enriched by Russian culture, and enhanced by Russian cooperation. And as a resident of Washington, D.C., I continue to benefit from the contributions of Russians -- specifically, from Alexander Ovechkin. We're very pleased to have him in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
Here at NES, you have inherited this great cultural legacy, but your focus on economics is no less fundamental to the future of humanity. As Pushkin said, "Inspiration is needed in geometry just as much as poetry." And today, I want particularly to speak to those of you preparing to graduate. You're poised to be leaders in academia and industry; in finance and government. But before you move forward, it's worth reflecting on what has already taken place during your young lives.
Like President Medvedev and myself, you're not old enough to have witnessed the darkest hours of the Cold War, when hydrogen bombs were tested in the atmosphere, and children drilled in fallout shelters, and we reached the brink of nuclear catastrophe. But you are the last generation born when the world was divided. At that time, the American and Soviet armies were still massed in Europe, trained and ready to fight. The ideological trenches of the last century were roughly in place. Competition in everything from astrophysics to athletics was treated as a zero-sum game. If one person won, then the other person had to lose.
And then, within a few short years, the world as it was ceased to be. Now, make no mistake: This change did not come from any one nation. The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.
With the end of the Cold War, there were extraordinary expectations -- for peace and for prosperity; for new arrangements among nations, and new opportunities for individuals. Like all periods of great change, it was a time of ambitious plans and endless possibilities. But, of course, things don't always work out exactly as planned. Back in 1993, shortly after this school opened, one NES student summed up the difficulty of change when he told a reporter, and I quote him: "The real world is not so rational as on paper." The real world is not so rational as on paper.
Over two tumultuous decades, that truth has been borne out around the world. Great wealth has been created, but it has not eliminated vast pockets of crushing poverty. Poverty exists here, it exists in the United States, and it exists all around the world. More people have gone to the ballot box, but too many governments still fail to protect the rights of their people. Ideological struggles have diminished, but they've been replaced by conflicts over tribe and ethnicity and religion. A human being with a computer can hold the same amount of information stored in the Russian State Library, but that technology can also be used to do great harm.
In a new Russia, the disappearance of old political and economic restrictions after the end of the Soviet Union brought both opportunity and hardship. A few prospered, but many more did not. There were tough times. But the Russian people showed strength and made sacrifices, and you achieved hard-earned progress through a growing economy and greater confidence. And despite painful times, many in Eastern Europe and Russia are much better off today than 20 years ago.
We see that progress here at NES -- a school founded with Western support that is now distinctly Russian; a place of learning and inquiry where the test of an idea is not whether it is Russian or American or European, but whether it works. Above all, we see that progress in all of you -- young people with a young century to shape as you see fit.
Your lifetime coincides with this era of transition. But think about the fundamental questions asked when this school was founded. What kind of future is Russia going to have? What kind of future are Russia and America going to have together? What world order will replace the Cold War? Those questions still don't have clear answers, and so now they must be answered by you -- by your generation in Russia, in America, and around the world. You get to decide. And while I cannot answer those questions for you, I can speak plainly about the future that America is seeking.
To begin with, let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Russia. This belief is rooted in our respect for the Russian people, and a shared history between our nations that goes beyond competition. Despite our past rivalry, our people were allies in the greatest struggle of the last century. Recently, I noted this when I was in Normandy -- for just as men from Boston and Birmingham risked all that they had to storm those beaches and scale those cliffs, Soviet soldiers from places like Kazan and Kiev endured unimaginable hardships to repeal -- to repel an invasion, and turn the tide in the east. As President John Kennedy said, "No nation in history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union in the Second World War."
So as we honor this past, we also recognize the future benefit that will come from a strong and vibrant Russia. Think of the issues that will define your lives: security from nuclear weapons and extremism; access to markets and opportunity; health and the environment; an international system that protects sovereignty and human rights, while promoting stability and prosperity. These challenges demand global partnership, and that partnership will be stronger if Russia occupies its rightful place as a great power.
Yet unfortunately, there is sometimes a sense that old assumptions must prevail, old ways of thinking; a conception of power that is rooted in the past rather than in the future. There is the 20th century view that the United States and Russia are destined to be antagonists, and that a strong Russia or a strong America can only assert themselves in opposition to one another. And there is a 19th century view that we are destined to vie for spheres of influence, and that great powers must forge competing blocs to balance one another.
These assumptions are wrong. In 2009, a great power does not show strength by dominating or demonizing other countries. The days when empires could treat sovereign states as pieces on a chess board are over. As I said in Cairo, given our independence, any world order that -- given our interdependence, any world order that tries to elevate one nation or one group of people over another will inevitably fail. The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game -- progress must be shared.
That's why I have called for a "reset" in relations between the United States and Russia. This must be more than a fresh start between the Kremlin and the White House -- though that is important and I've had excellent discussions with both your President and your Prime Minister. It must be a sustained effort among the American and Russian people to identify mutual interests, and expand dialogue and cooperation that can pave the way to progress.
This will not be easy. It's difficult to forge a lasting partnership between former adversaries, it's hard to change habits that have been ingrained in our governments and our bureaucracies for decades. But I believe that on the fundamental issues that will shape this century, Americans and Russians share common interests that form a basis for cooperation. It is not for me to define Russia's national interests, but I can tell you about America's national interests, and I believe that you will see that we share common ground.
First, America has an interest in reversing the spread of nuclear weapons and preventing their use.
In the last century, generations of Americans and Russians inherited the power to destroy nations, and the understanding that using that power would bring about our own destruction. In 2009, our inheritance is different. You and I don't have to ask whether American and Russian leaders will respect a balance of terror -- we understand the horrific consequences of any war between our two countries. But we do have to ask this question: We have to ask whether extremists who have killed innocent civilians in New York and in Moscow will show that same restraint. We have to ask whether 10 or 20 or 50 nuclear-armed nations will protect their arsenals and refrain from using them.
This is the core of the nuclear challenge in the 21st century. The notion that prestige comes from holding these weapons, or that we can protect ourselves by picking and choosing which nations can have these weapons, is an illusion. In the short period since the end of the Cold War, we've already seen India, Pakistan, and North Korea conduct nuclear tests. Without a fundamental change, do any of us truly believe that the next two decades will not bring about the further spread of these nuclear weapons?
That's why America is committed to stopping nuclear proliferation, and ultimately seeking a world without nuclear weapons. That is consistent with our commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That is our responsibility as the world's two leading nuclear powers. And while I know this goal won't be met soon, pursuing it provides the legal and moral foundation to prevent the proliferation and eventual use of nuclear weapons.
We're already taking important steps to build this foundation. Yesterday, President Medvedev and I made progress on negotiating a new treaty that will substantially reduce our warheads and delivery systems. We renewed our commitment to clean, safe and peaceful nuclear energy, which must be a right for all nations that live up to their responsibilities under the NPT. And we agreed to increase cooperation on nuclear security, which is essential to achieving the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material within four years.
As we keep our own commitments, we must hold other nations accountable for theirs. Whether America or Russia, neither of us would benefit from a nuclear arms race in East Asia or the Middle East. That's why we should be united in opposing North Korea's efforts to become a nuclear power, and opposing Iran's efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon. And I'm pleased that President Medvedev and I agreed upon a joint threat assessment of the ballistic challenges -- ballistic missile challenges of the 21st century, including from Iran and North Korea.
This is not about singling out individual nations -- it's about the responsibilities of all nations. If we fail to stand together, then the NPT and the Security Council will lose credibility, and international law will give way to the law of the jungle. And that benefits no one. As I said in Prague, rules must be binding, violations must be punished, and words must mean something.
The successful enforcement of these rules will remove causes of disagreement. I know Russia opposes the planned configuration for missile defense in Europe. And my administration is reviewing these plans to enhance the security of America, Europe and the world. And I've made it clear that this system is directed at preventing a potential attack from Iran. It has nothing to do with Russia. In fact, I want to work together with Russia on a missile defense architecture that makes us all safer. But if the threat from Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile program is eliminated, the driving force for missile defense in Europe will be eliminated, and that is in our mutual interests.
Now, in addition to securing the world's most dangerous weapons, a second area where America has a critical national interest is in isolating and defeating violent extremists.
For years, al Qaeda and its affiliates have defiled a great religion of peace and justice, and ruthlessly murdered men, women and children of all nationalities and faiths. Indeed, above all, they have murdered Muslims. And these extremists have killed in Amman and Bali; Islamabad and Kabul; and they have the blood of Americans and Russians on their hands. They're plotting to kill more of our people, and they benefit from safe havens that allow them to train and operate -- particularly along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
And that's why America has a clear goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We seek no bases, nor do we want to control these nations. Instead, we want to work with international partners, including Russia, to help Afghans and Pakistanis advance their own security and prosperity. And that's why I'm pleased that Russia has agreed to allow the United States to supply our coalition forces through your territory. Neither America nor Russia has an interest in an Afghanistan or Pakistan governed by the Taliban. It's time to work together on behalf of a different future -- a future in which we leave behind the great game of the past and the conflict of the present; a future in which all of us contribute to the security of Central Asia.
Now, beyond Afghanistan, America is committed to promoting the opportunity that will isolate extremists. We are helping the Iraqi people build a better future, and leaving Iraq to the Iraqis. We're pursuing the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security. We're partnering with Muslim communities around the world to advance education, health, and economic development. In each of these endeavors, I believe that the Russian people share our goals, and will benefit from success -- and we need to partner together.
Now, in addition to these security concerns, the third area that I will discuss is America's interest in global prosperity. And since we have so many economists and future businessmen and women in the room, I know this is of great interest to you.
We meet in the midst of the worst global recession in a generation. I believe that the free market is the greatest force for creating and distributing wealth that the world has known. But wherever the market is allowed to run rampant -- through excessive risk-taking, a lack of regulation, or corruption -- then all are endangered, whether we live on the Mississippi or on the Volga.
In America, we're now taking unprecedented steps to jumpstart our economy and reform our system of regulation. But just as no nation can wall itself off from the consequences of a global crisis, no one can serve as the sole engine of global growth. You see, during your lives, something fundamental has changed. And while this crisis has shown us the risks that come with change, that risk is overwhelmed by opportunity.
Think of what's possible today that was unthinkable two decades ago. A young woman with an Internet connection in Bangalore, India can compete with anybody anywhere in the world. An entrepreneur with a start-up company in Beijing can take his business global. An NES professor in Moscow can collaborate with colleagues at Harvard or Stanford. That's good for all of us, because when prosperity is created in India, that's a new market for our goods; when new ideas take hold in China, that pushes our businesses to innovate; when new connections are forged among people, all of us are enriched.
There is extraordinary potential for increased cooperation between Americans and Russians. We can pursue trade that is free and fair and integrated with the wider world. We can boost investment that creates jobs in both our countries, we can forge partnerships on energy that tap not only traditional resources, like oil and gas, but new sources of energy that will drive growth and combat climate change. All of that, Americans and Russians can do together.
Now, government can promote this cooperation, but ultimately individuals must advance this cooperation, because the greatest resource of any nation in the 21st century is you. It's people; it's young people especially. And the country which taps that resource will be the country that will succeed. That success depends upon economies that function within the rule of law. As President Medvedev has rightly said, a mature and effective legal system is a condition for sustained economic development. People everywhere should have the right to do business or get an education without paying a bribe. Whether they are in America or Russia or Africa or Latin America, that's not a American idea or a Russian idea -- that's how people and countries will succeed in the 21st century.
And this brings me to the fourth issue that I will discuss -- America's interest in democratic governments that protect the rights of their people.
By no means is America perfect. But it is our commitment to certain universal values which allows us to correct our imperfections, to improve constantly, and to grow stronger over time. Freedom of speech and assembly has allowed women, and minorities, and workers to protest for full and equal rights at a time when they were denied. The rule of law and equal administration of justice has busted monopolies, shut down political machines that were corrupt, ended abuses of power. Independent media have exposed corruption at all levels of business and government. Competitive elections allow us to change course and hold our leaders accountable. If our democracy did not advance those rights, then I, as a person of African ancestry, wouldn't be able to address you as an American citizen, much less a President. Because at the time of our founding, I had no rights -- people who looked like me. But it is because of that process that I can now stand before you as President of the United States.
So around the world, America supports these values because they are moral, but also because they work. The arc of history shows that governments which serve their own people survive and thrive; governments which serve only their own power do not. Governments that represent the will of their people are far less likely to descend into failed states, to terrorize their citizens, or to wage war on others. Governments that promote the rule of law, subject their actions to oversight, and allow for independent institutions are more dependable trading partners. And in our own history, democracies have been America's most enduring allies, including those we once waged war with in Europe and Asia -- nations that today live with great security and prosperity.
Now let me be clear: America cannot and should not seek to impose any system of government on any other country, nor would we presume to choose which party or individual should run a country. And we haven't always done what we should have on that front. Even as we meet here today, America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies. We do so not because we agree with him. We do so because we respect the universal principle that people should choose their own leaders, whether they are leaders we agree with or not.
And that leads me to the final area that I will discuss, which is America's interest in an international system that advances cooperation while respecting the sovereignty of all nations.
State sovereignty must be a cornerstone of international order. Just as all states should have the right to choose their leaders, states must have the right to borders that are secure, and to their own foreign policies. That is true for Russia, just as it is true for the United States. Any system that cedes those rights will lead to anarchy. That's why we must apply this principle to all nations -- and that includes nations like Georgia and Ukraine. America will never impose a security arrangement on another country. For any country to become a member of an organization like NATO, for example, a majority of its people must choose to; they must undertake reforms; they must be able to contribute to the Alliance's mission. And let me be clear: NATO should be seeking collaboration with Russia, not confrontation.
And more broadly, we need to foster cooperation and respect among all nations and peoples. As President of the United States, I will work tirelessly to protect America's security and to advance our interests. But no one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century on its own, nor dictate its terms to the world. That is something that America now understands, just as Russia understands. That's why America seeks an international system that lets nations pursue their interests peacefully, especially when those interests diverge; a system where the universal rights of human beings are respected, and violations of those rights are opposed; a system where we hold ourselves to the same standards that we apply to other nations, with clear rights and responsibilities for all.
There was a time when Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin could shape the world in one meeting. Those days are over. The world is more complex today. Billions of people have found their voice, and seek their own measure of prosperity and self-determination in every corner of the planet. Over the past two decades, we've witnessed markets grow, wealth spread, and technology used to build -- not destroy. We've seen old hatreds pass, illusions of differences between people lift and fade away; we've seen the human destiny in the hands of more and more human beings who can shape their own destinies. Now, we must see that the period of transition which you have lived through ushers in a new era in which nations live in peace, and people realize their aspirations for dignity, security, and a better life for their children. That is America's interest, and I believe that it is Russia's interest as well.
I know that this future can seem distant. Change is hard. In the words of that NES student back in 1993, the real world is not so rational as on paper. But think of the change that has unfolded with the passing of time. One hundred years ago, a czar ruled Russia, and Europe was a place of empire. When I was born, segregation was still the law of the land in parts of America, and my father's Kenya was still a colony. When you were born, a school like this would have been impossible, and the Internet was only known to a privileged few.
You get to decide what comes next. You get to choose where change will take us, because the future does not belong to those who gather armies on a field of battle or bury missiles in the ground; the future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create. That is the source of power in this century. And given all that has happened in your two decades on Earth, just imagine what you can create in the years to come.
Every country charts its own course. Russia has cut its way through time like a mighty river through a canyon, leaving an indelible mark on human history as it goes. As you move this story forward, look to the future that can be built if we refuse to be burdened by the old obstacles and old suspicions; look to the future that can be built if we partner on behalf of the aspirations we hold in common. Together, we can build a world where people are protected, prosperity is enlarged, and our power truly serves progress. And it is all in your hands. Good luck to all of you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/07/07/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5138795.shtml
Iran was the main topic in talks between US President Barack Obama and and Russia's Dmitry Medvedev, White House officials said, who added that Moscow now seemed more receptive to US arguments.
"Iran, in the one-on-one meeting, was the majority of the conversation," Mike McFaul, a top adviser to Obama on Russian affairs, told journalists after the Kremlin talks between the US and Russian presidents on Monday.
"There's a reason for that, because that is something that affects our real national security interests," he said.
Another top official travelling with Obama on his visit to Moscow, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, said the Russian president made plain to his guest that Moscow's concern about Iran was rising.
"I think the president has been struck by the candor with which President Medvedev has underscored his concern about the growing threat from Iran," McDonough said.
Russia is building a nuclear reactor in Iran for the Iranian atomic programme, which Tehran insists is strictly for energy production but the United States fears could be used to manufacture an atomic bomb.
Iran -- whose president has called for Israel to be wiped from the map -- also possesses missiles capable of reaching targets throughout the Middle East that could be fitted with nuclear warheads if Tehran possessed them.
Iranian officials consistently deny any intention to acquire nuclear weapons but insist their country has a sovereign right, like any other, to pursue peaceful nuclear energy development.
The United States and Russia have for years differed sharply on how to approach the Iran security issue, which is also directly linked to their disagreement on US missile defence plans in Europe.
When the previous US administration of president George W. Bush introduced the programme, Washington said it was to protect against missile attacks by "rogue states" such as Iran.
But the US officials indicated they saw signs of movement on both topics during Obama's closed-door discussions with Medvedev on Monday.
"I think one of the important and one of the most significant things that developed today was a Russian acknowledgment that we need to study the growing ballistic missile threat," another top Obama aide, Gary Samore, said.
"That joint assessment is going to be focused on Iran and North Korea as the two countries which pose the most direct threat to the US and its allies and to Russia as well," he said.
During a joint news conference with Obama after their meeting, Medvedev did not mention Iran once.
But the Russian leader stated: "There are negative trends in the world and they are due to the emergence of new nuclear players.
"It is our common, joint responsibility and we should do our utmost to prevent any negative trends there.... Our negotiations with President Obama have demonstrated that we share the same attitude towards this problem."
Washington has for years argued that it needs to fortify missile defences in Europe precisely to defend allies from such a threat.
Moscow however has previously rejected that argument, saying it has seen no evidence Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons and that Iran currently has no missile capable of reaching the European allies the US system would protect.
The White House detected a shift in the Russian stance on Iran, said McFaul.
"Just remember, if they wanted to have an adversarial relationship with us with Iran right now, there are all kinds of things they could do very easily that would make our situation a lot worse there.
"And they're not doing those things."
Available at: http://www.spacewar.com/2006/090707103029.vn4hloyy.html
Following The International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, Alexey Arbatov and George Perkovich discussed the possible outcomes of President Barack Obama's first official visit to Russia as president. Focusing on the ongoing negotiations for a follow-on agreement to START, which is set to expire at the end of 2009, Perkovich said:
"I think there are some issues where presidential leadership is necessary to actually clarify or resolve some issues that have come up in the negotiations thus far. If the two presidents can agree then they can reinstruct negotiators on the basis of going forward. That would be the big breakthrough, if they can say there's been a meeting of the minds and agree on a clear path from July 8 to completion of the negotiations."
[The video is posted on the website]
Available at: http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=23353&prog=zgp&proj=znpp
US and Russian leaders have promised to reduce their levels of nuclear arms under a new treaty to be finalised as a high priority.
Both countries' leaders signed a Joint Understanding document today to reduce their numbers of strategic nuclear warheads to 1500-1675 with a maximum number of 500-1100 strategic delivery vehicles. This represents a cut from 2200 strategic weapons and 1600 launch vehicles under the START treaty, which expires on 5 December.
The new numbers are to be enshrined in a future follow-on to START to be concluded "at the earliest possible date." The "comprehensive, legally binding" agreement will represent what the White House called "Russian and American leadership in strengthening the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)."
There are great hopes that the next year's NPT Review Conference will bring more progress than the last in 2005 when recognised nuclear weapons states (China, France, Russia, the USA, the UK) were widely criticised for not doing enough to destroy their nuclear arsenals. The new US-Russia disarmament deal will include "effective verification measures," while the destruction of 34 tonnes of 'surplus' weapons plutonium each is in line with NPT obligations, Obama and Medvedev noted.
The Presidents also reaffirmed their support for a range of nuclear cooperation tasks including the repatriation of highly-enriched uranium, the conversion of research reactors to use low-enriched uranium instead and continuous improvements in security at nuclear weapons sites.
"We share a common vision," read their statement, "of the growth of clean, safe, secure and affordable nuclear energy for peaceful purposes." Towards this end, the two nations are to continue researching new reactor systems as well as "methods and mechanisms for the provision of reliable nuclear fuel cycle services," including proposals for multinationally-administered nuclear fuel banks. They also want to expand opportunities for cooperation to strenghen safeguards.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP_Weapons_cuts_agreed_0607093.html
1. Global Insights: Challenges Await New IAEA Director
World Politics Review
(for personal use only)
After a protracted election campaign, the 35-member Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finally selected Yukiya Amano of Japan as its next director general earlier this month. Amano's tenure will begin following the retirement of current IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei at the end of November.
Ambassador Amano will certainly face no shortage of challenges when he begins his four-year term. As detailed in a 2008 report (.pdf) by a panel of senior experts, the IAEA must surmount major weaknesses if it is to manage the surge in dangerous nuclear material that will result from the growing number of countries with plans to launch new nuclear energy programs, or expand existing ones, in coming years.
One core problem is that the existing system of IAEA safeguards is inadequate and incomplete. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which entered into force in 1970, empowers the IAEA to verify compliance with its provisions. The treaty requires non-nuclear weapons states to complete a "comprehensive safeguards agreement" with the IAEA within 180 days of signing the NPT. These agreements oblige treaty parties to provide the IAEA with detailed accounting records of all movements, transactions, and other actions involving their nuclear material. The agency then attempts to verify these declarations through monitoring and other measures designed to deter or detect the possible diversion of nuclear items for illicit purposes.
During the 1990s, revelations about the covert nuclear weapons programs of Iraq and other countries exposed a major flaw in traditional IAEA safeguards. They authorize IAEA personnel to monitor nuclear activities that have been declared by its member states, but fail to empower inspectors to search for illicit nuclear programs at undeclared sites. The IAEA responded to these revelations by creating a new Model Additional Protocol (.pdf) as a voluntary supplement to the standard comprehensive safeguards agreements. The protocol obliges governments to declare additional information about their nuclear activities and gives IAEA inspectors greater access and verification rights at sites where undeclared activities may occur.
Unfortunately, over two-dozen NPT parties -- predominantly developing countries -- have yet to ratify their obligatory IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreements, a prerequisite for adopting the Additional Protocol. In addition, although the United States, Russia, and other leading nuclear powers have called on all countries to adopt the protocol as a new universal nonproliferation standard, 20 countries with significant nuclear activities have yet to do so. ElBaradei complained to the U.N. General Assembly last October that "without [basic] safeguards agreements, the agency cannot provide any assurance about a state's nuclear activities, and without additional protocols, we cannot provide credible assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities."
The IAEA's constrained budget represents a second major challenge for Amano. During the past two decades, the quantity of weapons-usable nuclear material safeguarded by the agency has increased tenfold without a corresponding growth in funding. The disparity has led to a decline in the number of IAEA inspections at each safeguarded facility. ElBaradei complains that the agency frequently has to redirect funds from core activities to address urgent priorities. Resource shortfalls have delayed modernization of key infrastructure, such as the IAEA's Safeguards Analytical Laboratory in Austria. And the agency's resources-to-demand gap could worsen, as more countries pursue nuclear energy programs and adopt additional IAEA safeguards.
Although the agency receives voluntary donations from member states that cover approximately one-third of its annual budget, these irregular contributions have not always proved adequate, timely, or sufficiently flexible. In particular, managers are reluctant to hire staff or commit to long-term projects if they cannot be sure of their ability to pay for such expenses. The agency's uncertain finances have made it increasingly difficult to replace the many agency veterans who will retire during the next few years.
Increased funding would help the IAEA address many problems, including recruiting and retaining a high-quality work force, and acquiring the most advanced nuclear monitoring and inspection equipment. It would also allow the agency to keep abreast of changes in nuclear technologies, and manage the anticipated expansion in the volume of nuclear power activities and the wider use of the Additional Protocol. President Barack Obama has advocated doubling the IAEA's funding during his four-year term. Nonproliferation experts have proposed (.pdf) several innovative approaches to increasing IAEA funding, including imposing a nuclear power surcharge, collecting fees for its services, and establishing a non-proliferation endowment that would solicit funds from wealthy organizations and individuals.
At last month's Board of Governors meeting, however, many European governments, citing the demands of the global economic downturn, balked at increasing IAEA funding in real terms. ElBaradei warned that if board members rejected his 11 percent budget increase for next year, the agency could not be expected to respond effectively to another major nuclear accident, the next covert nuclear weapons program, or a nuclear terrorist incident.
A third fundamental difficulty is that the IAEA lacks the authority to enforce compliance with its safeguards. The agency relies on the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) to compel states to comply with their nonproliferation obligations. Critics worry that inconsistencies in how the Board of Governors defines noncompliance, the Board's recurring reluctance to refer cases of noncompliance to the UNSC, and the Council's perennial difficulties in adopting coercive measures to enforce compliance have undermined the credibility of threats to punish states that violate their NPT obligations.
Some nonproliferation experts want the IAEA and the UNSC to impose "automatic" sanctions on countries that violate their safeguards obligations. In addition to requiring noncompliant states to submit their nuclear facilities, workers, and technologies to enhanced monitoring, they would deny further foreign nuclear assistance to those countries. They would also oblige any government that withdrew from the NPT to permit the removal from its territory of the nuclear materials and equipment that it obtained from foreign sources while a treaty party.
The governments of Russia, China, and other countries have objected to such measures. They consider most sanctions counterproductive, and instead have advocated for enhanced dialogue and other measures aimed at reassuring states about perceived external threats that could lead them to pursue nuclear weapons. Although not enthusiastic about sanctions or other enforcement measures, ElBaradei has observed that, "We are called the watchdog, but we don't bark at all if we do not have the authority."
A final challenge facing Amano is the current interpretation of the NPT's Article IV. The article refers to states' "inalienable" right to pursue peaceful nuclear technologies. At present, most states interpret Article IV as allowing them to research and develop even the most sensitive nuclear technologies, as long as they pledge to use them only for peaceful purposes. The problem is that after countries acquire uranium enrichment, plutonium reprocessing, and other sophisticated technologies, they can easily employ these assets to manufacture nuclear weapons -- either by withdrawing from the treaty or by using these technologies in illegal parallel nuclear weapons programs.
Critics claim this danger is compounded by the IAEA's use of outdated and excessively conservative assumptions about the time and quantities of fissile materials needed to make a nuclear weapon. IAEA inspection schedules, which are based on these projections, create gaps between inspections during which a country could convert technologies into manufacturing nuclear weapons.
By modernizing their inspection timelines and procedures to address recent developments in nuclear technologies and practices, the IAEA under Amano could decrease these dangerous opportunities. However, without increased funding for the IAEA, Amano will be hard-pressed to address urgent needs as well as core functions. More importantly, achieving widespread reinterpretation of Article IV is beyond the agency's capacity and will require a sustained campaign by the United States and the world's other leading nuclear powers.
Available at: http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/article.aspx?id=4033
2. Isotope Reactor to Stay Idle Until Late in Year
Karen Howlett and Shawn McCarthy
(for personal use only)
The Canadian nuclear reactor that until a few weeks ago produced a third of the world's medical isotopes will be down until late this year, sources say, leaving patients facing further shortages of a premier tool for many heart and cancer tests.
Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the Crown corporation that owns the aging reactor at Chalk River, Ont., plans to announce today that it needs more time to repair a leak of heavy water, according to sources close to the situation.
The reactor, which has been plagued with problems in recent years, will be closed for at least several more months, the sources said. But that is the optimistic scenario.
AECL had initially hoped to have the reactor up and running next month. The latest setback has sparked worries in the nuclear medical community that it will not be back on line for another two years, if ever.
The National Research Universal reactor at Chalk River was taken offline after it was found to be leaking heavy water in May, and was initially expected to remain offline for at least three months. The reactor produced more isotopes than any other facility in the world. When it went down, the world supply was threatened.
Chalk River produced about a third of the worldwide supply of molybdenum-99 isotopes, considered the best tool for many heart and cancer tests.
The isotope shortage is affecting hospitals worldwide and is forcing physicians to look to more invasive diagnostic tools to pinpoint the location of tumours and heart problems.
“We're going to go back into the dark ages in terms of health care,” Jean-Luc Urbain, president of the Canadian Society of Nuclear Medicine, said in an interview Tuesday. “We'll be practising 21st-century medicine with 20th-century technology.”
Dr. Urbain said he does not have confidence in the government or AECL to manage the crisis.
But John Waddington, a former director-general at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, said he expects AECL will be able to repair the reactor, and keep it operating with a licence renewal.
To be relicensed in 2011, AECL will have to demonstrate to the CNSC that the reactor can be run safely. That should be possible once the current problem is addressed. Mr. Waddington said.
Opposition members have accused the Harper government of bungling its handling of the 50-year-old reactor, which was ordered closed by the CNSC in November, 2007 until mandatory safety upgrades had been completed.
Liberal MP Jeff Regan suggested the government likely knew the reactor would not be back in operation before fall, and had AECL delay the announcement until the House of Commons recessed for the summer.
The extended shutdown is “very disturbing,” Mr. Regan said. “It is putting more and more lives at risk.”
Officials in Ottawa and at AECL declined to comment yesterday.
After the breakdown in May, the government appointed a three-person panel of experts to report on options for producing isotopes, but Mr. Regan said that there is no immediate alternative available.
A new reactor in Australia will help address the shortages, but supplies from that site have been erratic. An isotope-producing reactor in Belgium was scheduled to come online July 21, but the date could be moved up to July 17, the reactor's radioisotope project manager, Bernard Ponsard, said in an e-mail. He said the reactor is projected to produce between 35 and 45 per cent of the global supply.
Christopher O'Brien, president of the Ontario Association of Nuclear Medicine, said uncertainty about the Chalk River reactor should prompt the government to take another look at the mothballed Maple reactors. The Maple reactors were to replace Chalk River, but did not perform as expected after many years of experimentation and more than half a billion dollars, and the government has demonstrated no appetite for revisiting them.
“If NRU is down for a very long time, we do need an immediate alternative resource,” Dr. O'Brien said.
Available at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/chalk-river-reactor-idled-till-october-or-later-sources/article1209745/
The U.S. climate bill, a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's green agenda, could stall in the Senate unless it contains incentives to help the nuclear power industry build the next generation of reactors.
The House of Representatives narrowly approved its version of the bill late last month and it included little mention of nuclear energy.
But that looks set to change as a group of moderate Democratic and Republican senators who strongly back nuclear power tries to wrest industry concessions.
A key question is whether the industry and its allies can convince enough lawmakers that nuclear power, long seen as an environmental headache due to its radioactive waste and potential safety risks, is actually a solution to worsening global warming.
As many as 20 to 25 of the 60 Senate Democrats are just as concerned about what the recession is doing to manufacturing, and the coal and oil industries, as they are about global warming. Concessions for nuclear could help win them over, said Manik Roy, a vice president for government outreach at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Moderate Democrats from Midwestern states are especially anxious to see nuclear get incentives because utilities there could get slammed by greenhouse gas regulations.
That's because Midwestern utilities mainly burn coal -- the fossil fuel that emits the most carbon dioxide -- and incentives to build nuclear plants could help them deal with the expenses and provide new jobs.
"There's a whole group of senators that if you wanted to seriously engage them on the climate issue you would have to show them that you are doing everything you can to advance nuclear power in this country," Roy said.
No new U.S. nuclear plants have been completed since 1996. Since then worries about what to do about nuclear waste and the costs of building new plants have limited projects to the planning stages.
The industry has claimed a nuclear renaissance is in the works as concerns mount about energy security and that greenhouse gases are warming the earth to dangerous levels.
U.S. regulators are considering about 19 applications for new plants, but companies have already put a couple of those on hold due to high costs in the current economy.
So the industry wants more assurances from Congress to help build a new generation of plants which could cost at least $5 billion each. It feels its turn is due because compromises were made in the House version of the climate bill for other industries.
"There's been a giveaway to the farm community, there's been a giveaway to the coal states, there's been a giveaway to the refiner states," said Frank Maisano, a spokesman at energy company advocate Bracewell and Giuliani. "So one of the few things that remains a possibility is a giveaway on the nuclear issue."
CLEAN ENERGY BANK
The incentives could take the form of tweaking a clean energy bank that's included in the current climate bill, to include loan guarantees to provide support for new nuclear plants.
"There needs to be a mechanism in place that can help bring low carbon technologies onto the grid, including nuclear," Nuclear Energy Institute spokesman Steve Kerekes said.
Easing the way for companies to deal with nuclear waste -- especially since storing it in Nevada's Yucca Mountain has failed as an easy solution -- may also help nuclear power plants get built, analysts said.
The downside of offering up too many concessions is the risk of upsetting environmentalists who have also been a strong force in supporting the climate bill. Many environmentalists began their careers as anti-nuclear activists.
But more than 70 percent of U.S. electricity generated that is virtually greenhouse-gas free comes from nuclear plants, according to the industry. And the potential for nuclear to play a stronger role in curbing emissions may have already provoked discussions among environmentalists who were long-time staunch opponents of the industry.
That could help the Senate add the incentives and get the necessary 60 votes for the bill to advance and stand a chance of becoming law.
"I think that evolution is starting to happen," said Pew's Roy.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-GreenBusiness/idUSTRE56677B20090707?rpc=401&&pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0
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