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Photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office /Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

When I asked President Trump on Friday what were the three or four things he wanted to achieve from his meeting with Putin, his answers contained no detail.

Between the lines: One little riff stuck out. He said: "I think... that would be a tremendous achievement if we could do something on nuclear proliferation."

  • A former senior administration official who discussed nuclear weapons with Trump said the president speaks in generalities, commenting wistfully about how wonderful it would be to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
  • And a source with direct knowledge of Trump's private conversations with British Prime Minister Theresa May told me Trump mentioned nuclear weapons a fair bit last week, but only in general terms, saying he'd raise the subject with Putin.

While it's impossible to predict what Trump will say to Putin on the weighty subject, here's a primer on the two treaties that should be in focus:

1. New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (aka "New START"):Ratified by Obama in 2011, this has been one of America's more successful arms control treaties with an adversary. The agreement allows the U.S. and Russia to conduct thorough inspections to ensure the other is complying.

  • Bottom line: By the deadline of February this year, both Russia and the U.S. had fulfilled their promise of deploying no more than 1,550 strategic offensive nuclear weapons and no more than 700 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles.
  • What's next? The deal expires in 2021 and will need to be extended (for a max of five years) or amended into a new deal. Early last year, Trump, without knowing basic details about the treaty, called it a bad deal for America. But he hasn't said anything substantive, since, about his plans to change it.

2. The Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (aka the INF Treaty): Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the INF Treaty in 1987, to ban the Cold War rivals from having ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles that could fly between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

  • Bottom line: This treaty is in trouble. It remains in force today but in 2014 the Obama administration publicly said that Russia was violating the treaty. The Russians are still violating it today, despite multiple U.S. warnings.
  • What's next? The Trump administration has taken some tougher actions against Russia over its INF violations, including beginning research and development of weapons that would — if ever developed — themselves violate the treaty. But nothing seems to work. Russia goes on violating and pretending it's doing nothing wrong.
  • The administration has all but exhausted its remedies within the terms of the treaty, so they find themselves at a crossroads here with Russia.

Go deeper

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Netflix tops 200 million global subscribers

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix said that it added another 8.5 million global subscribers last quarter, bringing its total number of paid subscribers globally to more than 200 million.

The big picture: Positive fourth-quarter results show Netflix's resiliency, despite increased competition and pandemic-related production headwinds.

Janet Yellen plays down debt, tax hike concerns in confirmation hearing

Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen at an event in December. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Janet Yellen, Biden's pick to lead the Treasury Department, pushed back against two key concerns from Republican senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday: the country's debt and the incoming administration's plans to eventually raise taxes.

Driving the news: Yellen — who's expected to win confirmation — said spending big now will prevent the U.S. from having to dig out of a deeper hole later. She also said the Biden administration's priority right now is coronavirus relief, not raising taxes.