widespread adoption. By doing so, the two countries seek to create an international strategy of continuous improvement in nuclear safety and security.
The expanded scientific cooperation in support of nuclear security is part of a broad overall program of scientific cooperation, built around strong relationships between the various U.S. and Russian national laboratories. Russia and the United States both recognize the scientific benefits available from more extensive collaboration. As a result, while carefully protecting access to national security information, they have worked to expand overall scientific and technical cooperation, including joint projects and exchanges of personnel.
Both countries are committed to facilitating these scientific exchanges through the timely review and issuance of visas. They have explored the potential of a special visa regime for key scientists whose expertise may be needed in the event of a nuclear crisis.
Relations in the area of nuclear security will inevitably reflect the overall political relationship between the two states. Both Russia and the United States have consistently expressed a desire for close, collegial working relations based on partnership and mutual respect. Both seek to maintain and deepen their ties. Leaders of both Russia and the United States have repeatedly stated that if their two countries are not yet allies, both are determined to avoid once again becoming adversaries.
Yet it would be unrealistic to ignore the probability that significant political strains will remain in 2015. While both countries will work to reduce current tensions, they may not be completely successful. While political conditions could improve, they may remain the same or even deteriorate. It is possible, and perhaps likely, that in 2015 the United States will be concerned, as it is today, with an apparent Russian drift toward authoritarianism and away from pluralism. If so, Russia will regard, as it does today, U.S. pressure as an inappropriate interference in Russian internal affairs based on a failure to appreciate the special character of the Russian political system and the difficulties of Russia’s post-Soviet transition. Similarly, in 2015, Americans will continue to regard the continuation and expansion of NATO as a way to draw all European states into a 21st century international regime and will assert that Russia should not find this threatening. Russians will continue to ask who such a military alliance is aimed at and will have difficulty accepting that many European states formerly allied with (or part of) the Soviet Union seek military ties to the United States and links to its extended nuclear deterrent because they fear a future return of an expansionist Russia. Americans will continue to seek ballistic missile defenses aimed at Iran and North Korea, while Russians will fear such defenses could (and may be intended to) weaken the Russian nuclear deterrent. In 2015, Americans will continue to look askance at periodic apparent Russian nostalgia for a Soviet-era past that Americans see as marked by despotism and aggression. Russians will continue to recall the international respect they gained as one of the two superpowers more clearly than they recall the accompanying problems of that bygone era. And no amount of desire for partnership can alter the fact that two major powers with global interests will sometimes find that their national interests are in conflict.
Sound analysis and wise policy demand that the two sides not ignore these enduring tensions. Nor should they fail to recognize that political developments within Russia might