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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop
observance of Article VI of the NPT. Along with the question of cutting back strategic offensive nuclear weapons, these countries also focused attention on reducing non-strategic nuclear weapons, bringing the CTBC into force, and reaching an agreement on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.324 The developing countries have focused primarily on the issue of negative security guarantees for the non-nuclear states with respect to both the threat and the actual use of nuclear weapons.
The developing countries and many European nations link progress on non-proliferation efforts to nuclear disarmament and arms control and therefore expect concrete and practical steps from the five nuclear powers. But at the same time, new threats and challenges to security, regional conflicts, the increased role of force as a factor in resolving global problems, the increased danger of outside intervention in sovereign states’ domestic affairs under the pretext of preventing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation, the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and its plans to develop a global missile defense system (including plans to deploy components of this system in Europe), the new U.S. space strategy giving it the right to deploy weapons in space, and the George W. Bush Administration’s highly negative attitude toward drawing up binding legal instruments in the area of arms control and non-proliferation have all stalled the disarmament process and make the prospect of reaching new nuclear arms control and arms reduction agreements very uncertain at the present time. The U.S. position on this issue is contradictory: on the one hand, the United States resolutely opposes nuclear weapons proliferation, but on the other hand it shows a clear lack of interest in further arms reductions – the aspect of non-proliferation policy that is a determining factor in shaping relations between the leading world powers and the developing countries.
The Russian position is that considerable progress in nuclear disarmament has been achieved over the last 10-15 years, and it supports continued development of this process. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on November 13, 2000, that, “We see no reason why further strategic offensive arms reductions should not be carried out. We have proposed to the United States, including at the highest levels, setting the goal of radically cutting back our countries’ nuclear stockpiles to 1,500 warheads each (it would be entirely realistic to do this by 2008). But this is not the limit and we are ready to consider even lower levels in the future.”325 The two countries signed the bilateral Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT) Treaty in May 2002, under which deployed nuclear warheads are to be cut back to 1,700-2,200 units in each country, but no further reductions followed and the disarmament process came to a halt.326
The questions today then are: Is there a future for further cooperation in nuclear arms control? What are the problems involved? What solutions can be found? The answer to the first question is very much in the affirmative, for, so long as we do not lose sight of reality, nuclear arms control remains one of the most important aspects of U.S.-Russian relations, and both countries now need to find common ground in new conditions. As we see it, the following elements could serve as the basis for a new treaty: