National security adviser Jones to Russia Wednesday
By Scott Wilson
National Security Adviser James L. Jones will travel to Moscow Wednesday to help push along talks over a new strategic arms-control treaty, the Obama administration has announced.
The two-day trip takes Jones out of town as President Obama continues to refine his thinking about what to do in Afghanistan, a process in which the former four-star general has played an important role. A decision is expected next month.
But the time left to reach agreement on a new START protocol is running short. The current treaty, signed in 1991 by the United States and Soviet Union, expires in December.
During a July visit to Moscow, Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the outlines of an agreement that would cut the number of deployed warheads on each side by between 1,500 and 1,675 over the next seven years. The details of the treaty are being worked out.
In a statement, the White House said Jones was invited by his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev. Jones will also meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials.
The statement said Jones would discuss other "bilateral issues" with the Russian government without elaborating which ones.
But one of those unmentioned is certainly more pressing than others.
Iran is currently delaying its decision on whether to agree to a U.S.-designed plan that would send most of Iran's low-grade nuclear fuel to Russia for further enrichment.
The deal would not leave enough nuclear fuel inside Iran to allow the government to build a nuclear weapon in the short term.
The United States and other countries suspect a nuclear weapon is the goal of what the Islamic Republican says is a civilian nuclear program. Having Russia take Iran's nuclear fuel would give the United States and other countries more time to come up with a longer-term agreement to regulate Iran's enrichment program.
Posted at 2:59 PM ET on Oct 27, 2009
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Posted by: scrivener50 | October 27, 2009 3:38 PM