Week Ahead March 10-17: Budget Details; Ukraine & New START; P5+1/Iran Talks Resume

The following are some of the key arms control dates and developments to watch in the coming week. WeekAheadSOLO

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March 11: OMB Releases Details on Fiscal 2015 Budget Request

The Office of Management and Budget is due to provide additional program specific details regarding the annual federal budget through the OMB website. Based on details that emerged from last week’s initial budget roll out, the Obama administration’s budget request calls for increased funding for projects to replace U.S. nuclear weapons delivery systems and it reduces funding for key nuclear nonproliferation programs.

For an analysis of the Pentagon budget request for nuclear weapons delivery systems and options for reducing costs, see “The Nuclear Triad, for Less,” by Tom Z. Collina.

March 12: President Obama Meets with Ukrainian PM Yatsnyuk at the White House

President Barack Obama will meet this week with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in a show of U.S. support for Ukraine’s fledgling new government. According to the White House, the Yatsenyuk meeting will focus on options to peacefully resolve Russia’s military invention in the Ukrainian region of Crimea.

NOTE: Ukraine Crisis and New START

In another potentially escalation of the Ukraine situation, Russian media reports published March 9 suggest that Russia’s Ministry of Defense is prepared to suspend receiving inspection teams as required under the 2010 New START Treaty because of “groundless threats to Russia from the U.S. and NATO regarding its Ukrainian policy are considered by us as an unfriendly gesture and allow to declare force majuere.”

According to the Part Five, Section IX of the Protocol of the New START Treaty, the only basis for the cancellation of inspections are “circumstances brought about by force majuere,” which is an event that is a result of the elements of nature, as opposed to one caused by human behavior.

As Tony Blinken, President  Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, said on Meet the Press March 9, ceasing inspections as required by New START would be “a serious development.”

Such a step, if pursued by the Russian Federation, could threaten to unravel New START at a very critical time.

Week of March 17: P5+1 and Iran Political Directors Resume Nuclear Talks

Talks will resume in Vienna, Austria on a final phase agreement to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. In February, negotiators from the United States, its “P5+1” partners (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom), and Iran agreed to a framework and timetable to guide the talks. At this meeting, the negotiators may begin to exchange specific proposals for resolving several tough issues.

For further analysis, see: “Final Phase P5+1/Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Realistic Options on the Key Issues,” ACA Issue Brief, Feb. 26; and “Crafting a Well-Rounded Nuclear Deal With Iran,”  by George Perkovich, and “The Case for Zero Enrichment in Iran,” by Michael Singh in the March issue of Arms Control Today.

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