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  • Safe transportation and storage containers for special items and materials have been introduced; and

  • The material well-being of personnel has been improved.

Work along these lines is continuing and is becoming more and more routine and habitual in nature. As a matter of fact, in the context of nuclear-powered submarine disposition, political, technological, and organizational issues have been worked out; extensive experience has been accumulated; the scope of work has been defined, both in general terms and on an annual basis; and the deadline for these activities has been clearly identified. The 2002 Global Partnership Initiative has been taking cooperative efforts to a whole new level. The main objective of the partnership is to eliminate chemical weapons, nuclear-powered submarines, and weapons-grade materials to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their requisite materials.

However, boiling all collaborative efforts down to just stockpile elimination activities would be a move of questionable utility. As time goes on, constructive themes promoting the interests of the United States, Russia, and other countries must start dominating the collaborative engagement more and more.

In 2003, the Moscow Treaty entered into force between Russia and the United States. It calls for strategic offensive reductions to 1,700 to 2,200 warheads on either side by 2012. Unfortunately, however, the treaty has no clear schedules, interim milestones, or means of assessing the compliance associated with it. This is the first treaty that does not call for a commensurate reduction in delivery vehicles and that does preserve the warheads, which can be easily returned to operationally deployed status.

All of the treaty’s provisions are reversible at any time. The United States has clearly lost interest in any further steps to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles. At the same time, it has become abundantly clear that even the 1,700 to 2,200 warheads left on either side by 2012 are still excessive for the purposes of defending a country and can only be directed at each other. On more than one occasion, Russia has introduced proposals to reduce the stockpiles to as low a level as 1,000 warheads on either side.

The remaining significant nuclear stockpiles contradict the commitments taken by the nuclear weapons states upon conclusion of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The nuclear powers are losing their leadership positions and initiative in nuclear disarmament, which is a constituent element of the nonproliferation policy, threat reduction, and security building. Possible ways to achieve a nuclear weapons-free world have been all but neglected.

In this context, the role of nongovernmental and academic organizations in studying these issues and working out appropriate recommendations becomes all the more important. The question of the role of nuclear weapons in the modern world also warrants further consideration.

It would seem that the United States is the country with the least need for nuclear weapons. As such, the United States could very well lead by example by taking further sweeping steps in nuclear disarmament without sacrificing anything in the way of national security. In contrast, Russia, with its different geopolitical profile, weak economy, and inadequate conventional weapons, may be an example of a country better suited to resort to some other approach.

When the United States and the former USSR had piles upon piles of weapons, the disarmament process was going neck and neck. In the future (say, upon reaching the level of 1,000 warheads on either side), further nuclear stockpile reduction steps must be tied to finding a comprehensive solution to the security issues of both sides. The principle of equal security will have to be exercised on the basis of both nuclear and nonnuclear components.

The United States has already taken some asymmetrical political-military steps:

  • The Warsaw Treaty Organization no longer exists, while the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is expanding eastward; and it is not apparent from what kinds of threats that NATO will be defending Europe. Possibly, this will be clarified at the Russia-NATO Council meeting; and

  • The United States has withdrawn from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, which Russia considered the cornerstone of strategic stability.

One cannot assume that Russia will not take adequate steps in terms of beefing up its arsenals. Here, it would be appropriate to remind the reader of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement made in November 2004: “I am confident that in the next several years these capabilities [i.e., new nuclear missile systems] will be fielded and they will embody the kind of R&D [research and development] which other nuclear weapons states do not possess currently and will not possess for years to come.”

It would be helpful to investigate, in a joint fashion, how the U.S. National Missile Defense program, which is at various stages in its development, can affect the security of Russia and the United States itself and whether or not the United States and Russian share any commonalities in terms of defense from third countries.

Discouraging is the hard-to-explain position of the United States regarding ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Such unilateral actions speak to the lack of trust and commitment to honor agreements between our two countries reached earlier.

Only an open and impartial discussion of disagreements can lead us on to the right path. The sequence of further steps in nuclear disarmament is important.

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