FPI Executive Director Jamie Fly: It's all about Tehran and Pyongyang

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President Obama starts 2010 with a crowded agenda for his second year in office. His greatest challenge this year will be turning his rhetoric about a world free of nuclear weapons into reality. 

Despite having spent much of 2009 pursuing a follow-up agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), Obama has little to show for his abandonment of U.S. missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic and other steps taken as part of his "reset" of the U.S.-Russian relationship. Instead, Russia has drawn out negotiations on a treaty that President Obama said in July 2009 "would be completed this year." Even if he and his Russian counterpart wrap up an agreement in the coming months, its fate in the Senate remains uncertain. In addition to his problems reaching a follow-up to START, Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) does not appear imminent. Posing perhaps the greatest challenge to the president's disarmament agenda in 2010 will be the actions of Iran and North Korea. Obama has bolstered his disarmament agenda by arguing that U.S. nuclear reductions and ratification of treaties like the CTBT will somehow convince Iran and North Korea to forgo their nuclear ambitions. In reality, Iran may go nuclear in the near future, setting off a wave of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. North Korea has rebuffed all Obama administration attempts to lure it back to the negotiating table and may be proliferating its nuclear wares to other rogue regimes. 

President Obama spent 2009 talking about disarmament and pursuing engagement with rogue regimes. If he wants to rescue his disarmament agenda in 2010, he should focus less on the supposed threat posed by the U.S. nuclear deterrent and more on the real problem -- the regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang.

Originally posted on Shadow Government.

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The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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