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Russia Denies Lowering Nuclear Threshold

March 2000

A month after issuing a policy document that appeared to expand the circumstances under which it would consider using nuclear weapons, Russia denied assertions that its new national security concept lowered the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons. Such claims are "untrue," according to a February 15 statement by Sergei Ivanov, secretary of Russia's Security Council, as quoted by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The concept, signed by Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin on January 10, contemplated the use of nuclear weapons "to repulse armed aggression, if all other means of resolving the crisis have been exhausted." Russia's previous concept, adopted in 1997, only discussed using nuclear weapons "in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation." (See ACT, January/February 2000.)

In the coming months, Russia is expected to finalize a new military doctrine—intended to complement the security concept and to replace the military doctrine adopted in 1993—that will further elaborate on Russia's nuclear-use policy. The Russian Security Council approved the new doctrine on February 4, but it will remain subject to further revision before being presented to Putin for signature.