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A Comprehensive Nuclear Arms Reduction Regime: Interim Report
regime could eventually become a global arrangement. The reasons these objectives are important are discussed below.
To date, nuclear arms control agreements have focused on deployed strategic delivery vehicles and launchers – the ballistic missiles, silos, submarines and bombers. This focus is understandable. First, they are a unique part of systems that deliver nuclear weapons at great distances and with high accuracy. Second, they are much larger, easier to count, and far more difficult to hide than warheads or their fissile components. This was particularly important during the Cold War, when on-site inspections and increased openness were difficult to negotiate and most monitoring was done using national technical means (e.g., reconnaissance satellites). On-site inspections under the INF and START treaties have greatly enhanced monitoring capabilities, improving the data used to assess compliance with the treaties. Should future deployed strategic forces reach START-II levels or be reduced further, while other nuclear weapons remain unconstrained, then deployed strategic warheads will become a decreasing fraction of the total inventories of nuclear weapons.
If significant further reductions in nuclear weapons are to succeed, the present regime will need to be enhanced with new approaches to provide greater assurance that reductions are taking place, whether through formal agreements or unilateral measures. This will be explored more fully in the next phase under Task 5. This means developing ways to include nuclear warheads in addition to delivery vehicles.
At the same time, there is concern that weapons-usable fissile materials or nuclear weapons, especially in Russia, could be stolen. A recent report to the Secretary of Energy, A Report Card on the Department of Energy’s Nonproliferation Programs with Russia,3 concludes:
The most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States today is the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons-usable material
Russia Task Force, Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, chaired by former Senator Howard Baker and former Presidential Counselor Lloyd Cutler, A Report Card on the Department of Energy’s Nonproliferation Programs With Russia, January 10, 2001. http://www.hr.doe.gov/seab .