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June 24, 2017

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Don't get scammed by Russia again

American and Russian teams will start another round of talks in Vienna as early as Monday on a new nuclear-arms-reduction pact to replace the expiring Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Problem is Russia isn't meeting its obligations on some old arms-control agreements.

It's no small matter — but the question is: Will the Obama administration make an issue of it?

Some analysts fear that, with President Obama keen for a nuke-free world, U.S. negotiators might be willing to look the other way to reach an accord with Russia, despite a record of non-compliance with existing arms-control agreements.

So what are the Russkies scamming on?

Tactical nuclear weapons: President George Bush (41) and his Soviet/Russian counterparts, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, adopted the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNI) to dramatically reduce tactical nuke arsenals.

Earlier this year, a congressional panel, the Strategic Posture Commission, reported that Russia is "no longer in compliance with its PNI commitments" — leaving Moscow with what some say could be a 10:1 advantage in "battlefield" nukes.

Nuke testing: America, Russia and others have undertaken an informal moratorium on nuclear-weapons tests based on the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which President Bill Clinton signed but the Senate never ratified.

But an SPC member warned recently that Russian "nuclear labs have been growing, their budgets have been increasing and they continue an active underground test program at Novaya Zemlya, which includes the release of low levels of nuclear energy."

This conflicts with America's no-bang, "zero-yield" standard and suggests Moscow is doing some low-yield testing that could lead to new weapons' development. (Russian doctrine puts a premium on fighting battlefield nuclear war.)

Strategic arms: Even as it negotiates a new START treaty, the Kremlin is fudging on the existing one. A 2005 State Department report points to multiple Russian violations, including restrictions on inspections of its intercontinental ballistic missiles and warheads.

There's more: One expert recently noted Russia is testing its SS-27 ICBM with multiple warheads. But START identifies the SS-27 as a single-warhead missile — and permits testing/deployment only in that configuration.

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