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Trump Says Will Lift Russia Sanctions for a Nuke Cut, But the Devil Is in the Details

If Trump goes to Russians with this proposal here is what they'll say

Speaking to Times of London Trump floated the idea of ending Russia sanctions tied to a nuclear arms cut:

“They have sanctions on Russia -- let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,’’ 

"For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it." 

"But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit."

That is all very well, Russia has rarely been the main obstacle to nuclear cuts. That has historically been the US.

Russians will then be happy to hear Trump's latest idea but there are two questions they will ask.

1. Would the reductions be mutual? Obviously Russia will only ever agree to a mutual arms reduction.

2. What about the missile defense? Russians are far more uneasy about America's anti-missile program than they are about America's nukes. For Russia resurrecting the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that Bush Walker withdrew from in 2002 is far more urgent business than another nuclear reduction deal. In fact Russia needs nukes to be kept at a reasonably high level to make sure that Americans one day do not get it into their heads that with their anti-missile system they can launch a successful nuclear first strike.

In any case after taking office Obama initially offered lofty rhetoric about a world without nuclear weapons but never proposed any concrete deals, certainly not with Russians. Trump as vague as he is has ironically already offered more than Obama.

On the other hand nukes are a huge business in the US with trillions of dollars slated to be spent on them over the next 30 years. If Trump is serious about this he would face great resistance at home.

Of course this could just be Trump trying to figure out how he can end sanctions to improve Russia relations in a way that does not give his enemies more ammo. Packaging it together with a modest nuclear reduction treaty would be a good way of going about it.

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