Morning Joe: Positive Signs from Russia Before Summit

Stories we're following today:

Toward an Era of Trust - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Newsweek [link]

  • President Obama's visit to Russia this July will be a major milestone in this process. The agenda for the summit comprises various subjects—reduction of strategic offensive arms; nuclear nonproliferation; settlement of regional conflicts; countering terrorism, drug trafficking and transborder crime; strengthening economic and cultural ties; structuring joint dialogue mechanisms.
  • In the spirit of commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, we will strive to achieve real progress in disarmament and arms control. President Medvedev's commitment to make "real and verifiable" reductions in our nuclear arsenal indicates how far we are prepared to go. Success in this area will provide hope that we can eventually achieve our common goal of a nuclear-free world.

Group offers plan to eliminate nukes by 2030 - AP 

  • A group committed to eliminating nuclear weapons presented on Monday a four-step plan to achieve that goal by 2030.
  • The plan by the nonpartisan Global Zero Commission calls for the United States and Russia — the world's largest nuclear powers — to agree to reduce first to 1,000 warheads each, then to 500 each by 2021.
  • Note: Visit Global Zero's website

It's Not 1989 in Iran - Zakaria in Newsweek [link]

  • Could Iran yet undergo its own velvet revolution? It's possible but unlikely.
  • President Obama is quite right to tread cautiously, extend his moral support to Iranian protesters, but not get politically involved.

U.S. Pursues Financial Leverage Over North Korea - Wall Street Journal [link]

  • The Treasury Department is taking a leading role and will work through international banking channels to try to restrict funds to 17 North Korean banks and companies that U.S. officials say are central players in Pyongyang's nuclear and weapons trade. These firms serve as a financial lifeline to leader Kim Jong Il, his family and ruling circle.

The First Deadline - New York Times Ed. [link]

  • After six bloody, ruinously costly years, there is an end in sight to the American occupation of Iraq.
  • But there is an enormous amount to do — and not a lot of time — to help Iraqis prepare for the withdrawal and to reduce the chances the country will unravel as American troops leave.

A View from the Dark Side

Our Decaying Nuclear Deterrent - Sen. Kyl and Richard Perle in the Wall Street Journal [link]

  • While the administration accepts the urgency of halting the spread of nuclear weapons, the policies [of the Prague Agenda] it has embraced to reach that goal are likely to make matters worse.
  • This is dangerous, wishful thinking. If we were to approach zero nuclear weapons today, others would almost certainly try even harder to catapult to superpower status by acquiring a bomb or two. A robust American nuclear force is an essential discouragement to nuclear proliferators; a weak or uncertain force just the opposite.

Target: Hawaii - Wall Street Journal Ed. [link]

  • The Pentagon recently announced that it is repositioning ground-to-air radar and missile defenses near Hawaii in case North Korea decides to launch another long-range missile, this time toward the Aloha State. So at least 1.3 million Hawaiians will benefit from defenses that many officials in the current Administration didn't even want to build.
  • The Obama Administration is staffed with Cold War-era arms controllers who still believe missile defense is destabilizing -- except, apparently, now that they need it for Hawaii. They also reject the essential next phase, which is to make better use of space-based systems.