U.S.-Russian-German Commission Calls for Deeper Nuclear Cuts,
Practical Steps for Enhancing Euro-Atlantic and International Security
For Immediate Release: April 28, 2014
Media Contacts: Greg Thielmann, Arms Control Association, (202) 463-8270, ext. 103; Steven Pifer, Brookings Intitution, (202) 741-6520; Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association, (202) 463-8270, ext. 107;
(Washington, D.C.) A new report by a 21-member experts commission recommends practical, modest steps that the United States, NATO and Russia could take to further reduce nuclear arms, both strategic and non-strategic, and to resolve long-standing differences over missile defense and the regulation of conventional military forces in Europe.
"The current tensions between Russia and the West regarding Ukraine makes adopting such recommendations more difficult, but the value of such measures in putting tighter constraints on nuclear arms becomes all the more apparent in times of tension," said commissioner Steve Pifer, Director of the Brookings Institution's Project on Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
"In times of crisis, an arms control dialogue between the United States, its European allies, and Russia can contribute to de-escalation, foster stability, and contribute to the longer-term goals of international nuclear non-proliferation and deep nuclear cuts," Götz Neuneck, a commissioner and Deputy Director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH).
The commission's report finds that "even after implementation of the New START treaty, the United States and the Russian Federation will possess nuclear arsenals that far exceed reasonable deterrence requirements, with hundreds of nuclear arms assigned to targets in each other's territory and available for prompt launch."
The report, Preparing for Deep Nuclear Cuts: Options for Enhancing Euro-Atlantic and International Security, calls on the two sides to "initiate talks on a New START follow-on agreement mandating significant and stabilizing nuclear cuts" to no more than 1,000 deployed strategic warheads and 500 deployed strategic delivery vehicles for each side. The United States currently deploys 1,585 strategic warheads and 788 strategic delivery systems; Russia deploys 1,512 strategic warheads on 498 strategic delivery systems.
"In order to enhance prospects for achieving a follow-on agreement, the United States should accelerate New START-mandated reductions ahead of the 2018 implementation deadline; the United States and Russia could consider further independent reciprocal force reductions below the New START ceilings," the report recommends. The report also calls on Washington and Moscow to "engage other nuclear-weapon states and encourage them to improve transparency and eventually to freeze or reduce their arsenals."
Regarding missile defense, the report recommends that Russia and the United States "intensify efforts to achieve verifiable measures to make missile defense capabilities more transparent, considering exchanges of data on technical parameters and conducting regular joint exercises." At the moment, these talks are on hold.
"The United States and Russia remain committed to the ultimate goal of achieving a nuclear-free world, however, there is a fundamental disagreement in their understanding on how to get there," notes Eugene Miasnikov, Director of the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies in Moscow, and a member of the commission.
"It is important to keep the nuclear reductions process moving progressively so that its transparency is improved, mutual confidence is strengthened, and new opportunities for further cuts are created," Miasnikov says.
"Both nations will be under serious financial pressure to reduce spending on superfluous nuclear weapons systems, and both share the moral and legal obligations to achieve further nuclear reductions," notes Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow at the Arms Control Association and a member of the commission.
The crisis over Ukraine underscores the importance of modernizing the conventional arms control regime in Europe, according to the commission.
The report recommends that "NATO should arrive at an early proposal for conventional arms control that opens the way for consultations with Russia, concentrating on substantially lower ceilings for already limited conventional equipment, limits for new categories of conventional weaponry, limitations of complex military capabilities, verifiable transparency measures, and specific sub-regional arrangements in regions of heightened threat perceptions."
"It clearly is still in U.S. and Russian interests to implement existing nuclear risk reduction agreements and pursue practical, low-risk steps to lower tensions," said Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, the U.S. project partner for the commission.
"Present circumstances demand new approaches to resolve stubborn challenges to deeper nuclear cuts and the establishment of a new framework to address Euro-Atlantic security issues. We hope the Deep Cuts Commission's report catalyzes fresh thinking in the months and years ahead," Kimball said.
"The existing arms control instruments still serve as an anchor of stability and predictability. Over time, we have learned that we need more arms control, not less," said Andrei Zagorski, Director of the Disarmament Department at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian National Academy of Sciences (IMEMO, RAN), the Russian project partner for the commission.
The 21-member trilateral German-Russian-U.S. Deep Cuts Commission was established in 2013 to devise concepts on how to overcome current challenges to deep nuclear reductions. Through realistic analysis and practical recommendations, the Commission strives to translate the existing arms control commitments into action toward further nuclear reductions and initiatives to strengthen common security. The commission received support from the German Federal Foreign Office and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.