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American Diplomacy
Letters from Readers

November 2010

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Accurate Delivery?

If and when Iran has a nuclear weapon, could they deliver it accurately? That question is currently being discussed by U.S. pundits, so a little bit of history may help.

The same question puzzled U.S. strategists during the Cold War. We knew that the Soviet Union had “the bomb” but given the Soviet tendency to inaccuracy in so many things, could they deliver accurately? Russians dislike accuracy and in negotiations they tend to avoid being pinned down with exact numbers and obligations, preferring instead an “in general” approach to major issues.

In the late 1980s I happened to be in Moscow when the Soviet Union was collapsing. Standing in front of “the White House,” the Soviet parliament building, I saw a familiar looking brown truck pull up, and the Russian driver, wearing a familiar looking brown uniform, step out. On his chest was a logo that read “UPS.”

 


Yale Richmond, a retired Foreign Service Officer, worked on U.S.-Soviet cultural exchanges during the Cold War. His most recent book is Understanding the Americans: A Handbook for Visitors to the United States.

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