I heard the notion yesterday that maybe the New START Treaty being signed in Prague today (henceforth the Prague Treaty to avoid acronym paradoxes caused by the phrase “START Treaty”) was actually kind of meaningless thanks to a bomber loophole. Jeffrey Lewis looks at this in great detail and concludes that it’s really not the case:
Yes, the bomber rules are silly. Bomber rules always are. But as a whole, the limits are serious and meaningful.
What’s more, not only are bilateral US-Russian nuclear reductions meaningful on their own terms, combined with the new Obama Nuclear Posture Review they set the stage for restoring the non-nuclear states of the world’s support for a non-proliferation agenda. This rarely gets the play it deserves in the American nuclear context, but a crucial issue when you look at the diplomatic aspects of something like the Iranian nuclear program is whether the general sentiment of the countries that neither have nor want nuclear weapons—everyone from Brazil to Nigeria to Thailand and beyond—is that this is an example of bullying hypocrisy by a nuclear-armed superpower or an example of rogue behavior by a mid-sized troublemaker.
To stay out of the “bullying hypocrisy” box we need to be seen as taking responsible steps of our own toward denuclearization. That’s what both the Prague Treaty and the NPR are all about.