Saturday, August 23, 2008

Who Needs Russia? Two Words, Fred: Loose Nukes

Fred Hiatt asks, "Who Needs Russia?" He argues that Russia hasn't been a very helpful partner in dealing with Iran, North Korea, terrorism, and so forth, and maybe working with them is a waste of time:
Iran provides a useful example. Russia has participated, with Germany, France and Britain, in talks aimed at persuading Iran to abandon its nuclear program and even has gone along with some sanctions enacted by the U.N. Security Council. But Russia's principal contribution has been to slow the process and resist meaningful sanctions, stringing the Bush administration along just enough to convince it that truly effective measures -- sometime, somewhere down the road -- might be possible. Iran's nuclear program has proceeded without inhibition. Meanwhile, Russian experts help develop Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, and Russia sells Iran air-defense weapons it can use to protect its nuclear sites and anti-ship weapons it could use to menace Persian Gulf shipping traffic in the event of conflict.
Yeah, Russia's a bad actor. But we still need to preserve enough harmony in the U.S.-Russia relationship that the work of accounting for and securing all the fissile material produced by the former U.S.S.R. reaches a conclusion sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Without nukes, no terrorist organization is likely to do much worse to us than al-Qaeda did on 9/11. With nukes, they could blow up a city. So how about let's keep working with the Russians to secure their nukes, and to downblend as much of their bomb-grade uranium as they're willing to do?

Yeah, we need Russia. Seems like a no-brainer.

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