World News Brief, Thursday December 23

START looks set to pass in US, reducing nuclear stockpiles (+ analysis and background); South Korea launches new round of military exercises; Iran slapped with more sanctions after frosty meeting; Japan halves growth forecast; and more

Top of the Agenda: Senate Vote Likely on New START Treaty

The US Senate has voted to end debate on a new arms control treaty with Russia (NYT), clearing the way for what is expected to be final approval today. Eleven Republican senators and all Democratic senators supported the new treaty known as START in what would be a bipartisan victory for US President Barack Obama following Republican resistance. Senate approval could clear the way for future talks with Russia and further arms reductions beyond the limits set by START, which requires both sides to reduce stockpiles so that neither deploys more than 1,550 strategic warheads. Obama pledged to focus additional talks (WSJ) on curbing thousands of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons, conventional forces and the countries' remaining strategic arsenal. Although those issues are likely to face stronger pushback from Russia and the United States, START's ratification could also lend new momentum to nuclear non-proliferation efforts (NPR) for countries like Iran and North Korea.


This CFR analysis brief examines the roots of continued partisan debate about the scope of the new START treaty.

In this Brookings paper, Steven Pifer says future arms reductions talks with Russia will be more difficult to negotiate, since Russia relies on tactical nuclear weapons to balance conventional imbalances with NATO and China.

In this recent Council Special Report, CFR's Micah Zenko argues for further scaling back of US and Russian nuclear arms to bolster the international nonproliferation regime.


Read the text of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) signed in April.


PACIFIC RIM: South Korea Launches New Military Drills

South Korea launched a new round of military drills (Yonhap) in the Sea of Japan and scheduled an exercise thirty miles from the North-South demilitarized zone, despite North Korea's recent warnings of retaliation.

South Korea's exercises on Yeonpyeong are a response to last month's North Korean attack and growing public anger, says CFR's Scott Snyder, who urges greater China-US cooperation on the Korean peninsula and strengthening South Korean defenses.

Japan: Japan's government cut its growth forecast (Bloomberg) for 2011 from 3.1 percent to 1.5 percent, amid an export-threatening 11 percent surge in the yen's value against the US dollar.



- US Imposes New Iran Sanctions
- Afghans Say Tehran Blocking Fuel Inflows


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on