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Placating Putin

| Sunday, June 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Obama administration is so eager to further cut U.S. nuclear warheads in another deal with Russia that it's not only gone soft on U.S. missile defense, it won't call out Moscow for a new missile that violates the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

That pact bans ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 620 and 3,418 miles. The Washington Free Beacon reports that Russia's new road-mobile Yars M missile, due for deployment this year with a supposed range of 6,800-plus miles, flew just 1,242 miles in a recent test.

U.S. intelligence officials and private-sector experts contend Russia is classifying the Yars M as a longer-range intercontinental ballistic missile to hide the fact that it violates the INF Treaty. So do some high-ranking House Republicans who've been pressing the issue and say the White House hasn't been responsive to their concerns.

The fiscal 2014 defense bill — like its fiscal 2013 predecessor — includes a House-passed provision prohibiting further nuke reductions while Russia is in violation of treaty obligations. But this White House's particularly pernicious foreign-policy deferentialism on the Yars M so diminishes U.S. credibility and leverage as to make any new arms-control talks not just unwise but pointless.

As one U.S. intelligence official puts it: “How can President Obama believe (the Russians) are going to live up to any nuclear treaty reductions when they are violating the INF treaty by calling one of their missiles something else?”

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