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Obama, Putin find agreement on nuclear weapons, despite Syria rift

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Agreement on a policy toward Syria isn't likely, but President Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, did find common ground on reducing the threat posed by nuclear weapons.

After a meeting Monday evening at this week's G-8 Summit in Northern Ireland, the two men announced that they would sign a new nuclear security agreement to replace a 1992 deal that expired Monday.

The issue of nuclear proliferation is taking a clear backseat at this week's talks to the ongoing Syrian civil war and how the global community will intervene. But for Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin, the agreement offers a chance to shine the spotlight on an area where the U.S. and Russia can work together, rather than where they sharply disagree.

The bilateral deal represents a renewed commitment to secure vulnerable nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, and the White House described it as "a new framework for cooperative threat reduction."

"This, I think, is an example of the kind of constructive, cooperative relationship that moves us out of a Cold War mindset into the realm where, by working together, we not only increase security and prosperity for the Russian and American people, but also help lead the world to a better place," Mr. Obama said Monday night, following his closed-door meeting with Mr. Putin. It was the first time the two men had been face to face in a year.

The agreement will replace 1992's Cooperative Threat Reduction Program — better known as Nunn-Lugar in honor of the two senators who sponsored it, Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar — passed into law in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War and designed to reduce existing nuclear weapons stockpiles. It provided funding for former Soviet states to dismantle their nuclear arms and also assigned American personnel to watch over those weapons as they were taken apart.

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