This wasn’t really the thing people were hoping would come out of the G-20 meeting, but this preliminary agreement on US-Russia nuclear arms reductions is a very good thing indeed. Actually negotiations still need to happen, but Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev seem to have reached an agreement in principle to work toward arms reductions of about a third.
I’m of the belief that this sort of thing is not just useful on its own terms, but absolutely critical to non-proliferation work in places like Iran. Simply put, the nuclear status quo is not sustainable. The world is either going to move forward toward more arms control, or else it’s going to be move forward to more widespread possession of nuclear weapons. And the one way to move toward more arms control is for initial leadership to come from the United States and Russia. We want to live in a world where the nuclear expression of China’s rise to great power status is Chinese confidence that the American and Russian arsenals are moving down closer to Chinese levels. Otherwise, if the Chinese arsenal gets bigger, that will impel India to get bigger and encourage Japan and South Korea to look at nukes. And if India’s arsenal gets bigger, so does Pakistan’s. Which increases pressure on Iran.