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The Nuclear Option
Russia Won’t Show at Nuclear Talks

The next round of major talks on nuclear proliferation are set to be hosted in Washington in 2016, but they may be missing a very important guest: Russia. The New York Times reports:

Russian officials said the effort was duplicative of existing world organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency, which should be strengthened instead.

“We do not see added value coming out of these meetings,” Sergei I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, told reporters Wednesday.

Mr. Kislyak said Russia also objected to the way the meeting was being organized, with the United States trying to dominate the proceedings. But he said Moscow still shared the goal of securing nuclear material. “We’re not planning to attend the summit, but not because we are less committed to nonproliferation,” he said.

First of all, it must be noted that together Russia and the U.S. hold most of the world’s nuclear weapons stockpiles, and any nonproliferation effort which does not enjoy the involvement of both is basically moot. For Obama, who campaigned and won his Nobel Peace Prize on the issue, and who hoped to tie it all up with a bow at the end of his eight years, this is a big loss. Russia’s decision not to attend is particularly worrying given the recent reports that the Administration is considering working with Moscow on its prized Iranian nuclear deal. Russia’s willingness to pass on Obama’s anti-proliferation efforts certainly doesn’t inspire greater confidence in that rather dubious strategy.

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