Dr Kate Hudson
CND General Secretary
Kate Hudson has been General Secretary of CND since September 2010. Prior to this she served as the organisation's Chair from 2003. She is a leading anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigner nationally and internationally.
Written by Kate Hudson
A sigh of relief is merited as Russia ratifies the long-awaited New Start nuclear reductions Treaty with the US. When Obama and Medvedev agreed the principle in Prague in April 2009, there were speculations that it would be completed by the end of that year. In fact, the process was more fraught than had been anticipated, with Republican advances in the mid-term elections threatening to throw things off course. Fortunately, the US Senate ratified it at the end of December, leaving us to wait for Russian approval.The issue which loomed continually over Treaty progress was the US administration’s persistence with its missile defence system. Russia has been consistently opposed to the system, designed to shoot down incoming missiles, thereby allowing one country to attack another without fear of retaliation.

The US administration insists that the system is designed to counter threats from Iran, but its continued refusal to accept Russian offers of cooperation has reinforced widespread views that Russia is actually the target. There is no mention of missile defence systems in the Treaty, but the US reserves the right to develop the system, and Russia reserves the right to pull out of the Treaty if it thinks US missile defence is threatening its security.

NATO has now entered the fray. At its summit in November, it agreed to adopt the US missile defence system in Europe as a NATO project. President Medvedev is not happy. The day before the Treaty vote, he announced that Russia would deploy its own missile defence system and adopt a more offensive nuclear posture, to secure adequate protection for Russia, if it were not given an equal role in the NATO system.

Clearly, missile defence continues to have the potential to restart the nuclear arms race of the past. It remains a highly destabilising concept. The great danger is that US insistence on its development will prevent any further progress on nuclear disarmament.