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A 50 per cent reduction in the nuclear weapons arsenal of Russia and the US was proposed by President Barack Obama this past weekend. President Dmitry Medvedev seems to be receptive. What neither have mentioned, however, is that we have been here before: with presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. And the sorry story of that impasse contains some valuable lessons for present diplomacy.

Although Russia and the US keep their missiles on hair trigger alert, there…

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