In an exclusive interview with Newsmax, Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the former Soviet Union whose negotiations with former President Ronald Reagan ultimately led to an end of the Cold War, is appealing to Republicans to put aside “domestic politics” and ratify the strategic nuclear arms agreement that President Barack Obama recently negotiated with Russia.
Gorbachev made his remarks during an exclusive video interview in Moscow on Tuesday with Newsmax CEO and Editor Christopher Ruddy.
“The Republicans, let them not play political games now,” Gorbachev told Ruddy during the 45-minute sit-down interview on Newsmax.TV. “Let them not play politics and do this type of tight-rope dance, because you know tight-rope is dangerous.
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“There are people who just want to show their resolve, and who want to show that they know better,” said the former president and general secretary of the former Soviet Union.
“It is clear that we need to move toward abolishing nuclear weapons,” said Gorbachev, citing the example of a rocket that misfired while carrying a satellite into orbit.
“Let’s imagine that this happened with a missile having a nuclear warhead,” Gorbachev suggested. “So a nuclear conflict might one day result not from someone’s decision, but because of a technical failure in the command-and-control systems.
“Therefore, if we are serious about our future, we must work toward abolishing nuclear weapons,” he said. “I know that our leaders, the Russian leaders, want to move in that direction. So far as I know, based on the recent meetings between our two presidents, this process is moving forward, our positions are drawing closer together.”
Gorbachev met with Ruddy at the Moscow headquarters of his Gorbachev Foundation, which seeks to support global peace efforts and other humanitarian causes. The former Soviet premier granted an exclusive interview with Newsmax to discuss his remembrances of former President Ronald Reagan, a man he described as a "friend and partner."
The full interview detailing his efforts to end the Cold War with Reagan will air at www.newsmax.com around Feb. 6, the centenary of Reagan's birth date.
[Please Note: You can receive a free copy of Newsmax magazine's "Reagan 100" February edition with President Gorbachev, historian Douglas Brinkley, and many others — Click Here Now.
Despite Gorbachev's plea for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), some Republicans remain skeptical, voicing serious misgivings about the new treaty agreement struck in March between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The New START would limit each side to 1,550 offensive nuclear weapons, which experts say is more than enough to maintain deterrence.
However, although the treaty moves to reduce and limit U.S. strategic warheads, it does nothing to address the serious imbalances in tactical nuclear weapons that Russia enjoys now. It has been estimated that Russia enjoys a 10-to-1 to 20-to-1 advantage in tactical nuclear warheads over the United States. Such weapons are extremely destructive, and their full weight makes Russia the world's nuclear superpower today.
The treaty does reinstate on-site verification that was negotiated in agreements signed by President Reagan and former President George H.W. Bush.
But some senators are concerned that, with smaller reserves of nuclear armaments, the quality and reliability of the remaining weapons must be enhanced.
Toward that end, GOP Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona has lobbied the administration to spend $84 billion to modernize U.S. nuclear warheads.
The Obama administration says the treaty does not prevent the United States from developing and deploying missile defenses.
But the preamble of the agreement, which the administration insists is nonbinding, clearly refers to an “interrelationship” between offense armaments and the development of antiballistic missile defenses.
The United States wants a missile shield for protection against attacks from rogue nations. Russian leaders see such a defense shield as aimed squarely at them.
Recently, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told CNN’s Larry King that, if Congress does not ratify the latest START agreement, Russia may have no choice but to arm itself against “new threats.”
"If our proposals are met with only negative response and additional ABM threats emerge along our borders,” Putin told King, “Russia will be simply obligated to ensure its security with different means, including the deployment of new [strategic] complexes, new nuclear missiles."
Putin added: "That's not our choice. We don't want that to happen. But this is not a threat on our part. We simply want to say that this is all we expect if we don't come to an agreement."
In his exclusive interview with Newsmax, Gorbachev urged “the Republicans in the Senate [to] act responsibly,” as he says they did when he was negotiating with Reagan and Bush.
“At that time, after difficult negotiations,” Gorbachev told Newsmax, “we adopted treaties on the elimination of INF [intermediate-range nuclear forces] and shorter-range nuclear missiles. We started the process of reducing strategic arms. And we made a big effort to create a system of verification with which both sides would be comfortable. So we worked together well.
“We verified our agreements,” he said. “We developed trust, and this is what I would like to recall for Republicans in the Senate: Let’s not forget that. And that is something that should not be a subject of domestic politics, because this is something that concerns the future of the world.”
In his Newsmax interview, Gorbachev issued an impassioned plea for the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons, insisting that “a nuclear war must never be fought.”
Added Gorbachev: “And that means that we must get rid of nuclear weapons, and therefore I appeal to the Republicans, many of whom I know as serious and responsible people.
“I hope that they will support the joint effort of President Obama and President Medvedev,” Gorbachev concluded.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote an Op-Ed for The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday stating that she supports New START. But she added the caveat that the Senate should make it clear that there will be no link between offensive weapons and missile defenses.
“I have personally witnessed Moscow’s tendency to interpret every utterance as a binding commitment,” Rice wrote.
[Editor's Note: Get a free copy of Newsmax magazine's “Reagan 100” February edition with President Gorbachev, historian Douglas Brinkley, and many others — Click Here Now.]
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