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– Kazi Matsui
Mayor of Hiroshima
June 2, 2022
US-Russia Nuclear Arms Control

La guerra de Rusia contra Ucrania y el riesgo de una escalada nuclear: respuestas a preguntas frecuentes

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Volumen 14, número 3, 28 de febrero de 2022

Contactos con los medios: Daryl Kimball, director ejecutivo (202-463-8270 x107); Shannon Bugos, analista sénior de políticas (202-463-8270 x113)

Read this in English.

En medio de su ataque militar premeditado y catastrófico contra Ucrania, el 27 de febrero, el presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, ordenó a las fuerzas nucleares de Rusia pasar a un estado de alerta más alto de "un régimen especial de servicio de combate", lo que intensificó innecesariamente una situación ya peligrosa creada por su decisión indefendible de invadir otra nación soberana.

Al elegir el camino de la destrucción en lugar de la diplomacia, Putin ha lanzado un ataque militar violento que amenaza a millones de civiles inocentes en una Ucrania independiente y democrática.

Putin también agudizó las tensiones entre Rusia y los estados miembros de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte (OTAN), aumentó el riesgo de conflicto en otras partes del continente europeo y descarriló el progreso pasado y futuro potencial en la no proliferación nuclear y el desarme, posiblemente en los años venideros.

La orden de Putin de poner a las fuerzas nucleares de Rusia en alerta máxima no es una completa sorpresa dadas sus amenazas implícitas anteriores contra cualquier nación que intentara detenerlo en Ucrania.

Pero claramente, insertar armas nucleares en la ecuación de guerra de Ucrania en este punto es extremadamente peligroso. Es esencial que el presidente de los Estados Unidos, Joe Biden, junto con los líderes de la OTAN, actúen con extrema moderación y no respondan del mismo modo. Este es un momento muy peligroso en esta crisis, y todos los líderes, particularmente Putin, deben alejarse del borde nuclear.

Al justificar sus acciones, Putin ha señalado agravios de larga data, como la expansión de la OTAN hacia el este y la engañosa afirmación de que Kiev tiene planes para construir armas nucleares u obtenerlas de Estados Unidos. Ucrania no iba a alcanzar la membresía de la OTAN  en un plazo corto de tiempo ni buscaba una capacidad de armas nucleares. Ucrania no representaba el tipo de amenaza que Putin afirmó para justificar su invasión.

Trágicamente, Putin también pasó por alto las opciones diplomáticas que podrían haber abordado muchas de las preocupaciones de seguridad declaradas por Rusia en Europa.

En diciembre, Moscú transmitió tanto a Estados Unidos como a la OTAN una propuesta sobre garantías de seguridad, que incluía varios obstáculos, como la prohibición de permitir que Ucrania se una a la OTAN.

La propuesta rusa, así como las contrapropuestas de EE. UU. y la OTAN, destacaron áreas potenciales de negociación para resolver preocupaciones de seguridad mutua. Sin embargo, con la invasión de Ucrania, Putin ha hecho imposible cualquier progreso adicional en el control de armas y la reducción de riesgos, al menos por el momento.

El Nuevo Tratado de Reducción de Armas Estratégicas de 2010 (Nuevo START), que es el único tratado restante que limita los arsenales nucleares de EE. UU. y Rusia, vence en cuatro años, que es un período corto de tiempo para negociar y asegurar el apoyo interno necesario para un arreglo de reemplazo.

Como escribimos la semana pasada, “Aunque el régimen de Putin debe sufrir el aislamiento internacional ahora, los líderes de EE. UU. y Rusia deben eventualmente tratar de reanudar las conversaciones a través de su estancado diálogo de seguridad estratégica para calmar las tensiones más amplias entre la OTAN y Rusia y mantener medidas de control de armas de sentido común para evitar una carrera armamentista”.

A continuación se encuentran las respuestas a las preguntas frecuentes sobre la guerra de Putin en Ucrania, las armas nucleares de Rusia y los riesgos de una escalada.—DARYL G. KIMBALL, director ejecutivo, y SHANNON BUGOS, analista principal de políticas

¿Qué dijo Putin, qué significa y cómo debemos responder?

La declaración de Putin probablemente esté diseñada para reforzar sus amenazas implícitas anteriores que estaban claramente diseñadas para tratar de evitar cualquier interferencia militar en su ataque a Ucrania, un estado sin armas nucleares.

“Los países occidentales no solo están tomando medidas económicas hostiles contra nuestro país, sino que los líderes de los principales países de la OTAN están haciendo declaraciones agresivas sobre nuestro país”, dijo Putin el 27 de febrero en una reunión con funcionarios de defensa. “Por eso, ordeno trasladar las fuerzas de disuasión de Rusia a un régimen especial de servicio de combate”.

Unos días antes, en su discurso anunciando su decisión de invadir Ucrania, Putin amenazó a cualquier país que “trate de interponerse en nuestro camino o, más aún, cree amenazas para nuestro país y nuestra gente” con consecuencias “como nunca se ha visto en toda tu historia.”

La amenaza de Putin no tiene precedentes en la era posterior a la Guerra Fría, y es inaceptable. No ha habido ningún caso en el que un líder estadounidense o ruso haya elevado el nivel de alerta de sus fuerzas nucleares en medio de una crisis para tratar de coaccionar el comportamiento del otro lado.

La Casa Blanca y el secretario general de la OTAN, Jens Stoltenberg, denunciaron de inmediato la medida, pero no indicaron que harían lo mismo.

“Este es realmente un patrón que hemos visto del presidente Putin a lo largo de este conflicto, que está fabricando amenazas que no existen para justificar una mayor agresión”, comentó la secretaria de prensa de la Casa Blanca, Jen Psaki, el 27 de febrero. “ En ningún momento Rusia ha estado bajo la amenaza de la OTAN [o] Rusia ha estado bajo la amenaza de Ucrania”.

“Tenemos la capacidad de defendernos”, aseguró Psaki.

“Esta es una retórica peligrosa”, dijo Stoltenberg. “Este es un comportamiento que es irresponsable”.

Sin embargo, en este momento no está claro qué cambios ha puesto en marcha Putin en la preparación operativa rusa. Según se informa, el ministro de Defensa ruso, Sergei Shoigu, le dijo a Putin el 28 de febrero que todos los puestos de mando nuclear han sido reforzados con personal adicional.

Sin embargo, un alto defensor de los EE. UU. advirtió que si bien “no hay motivo para dudar de la validez de esta orden[,]… no creo que esté del todo claro todavía cómo se manifiesta”.

Pavel Podvig, director del Proyecto de Fuerzas Nucleares de Rusia, tuiteó el 27 de febrero que no está seguro de que “estamos lidiando con un nivel de preparación elevado”, y agregó que, en su opinión, “es diferente”. Más bien, propuso que la orden de Putin “muy probablemente… signifique que el sistema de comando y control nuclear recibió lo que se conoce como un comando preliminar”. Este tipo de comando, describió Podvig, pone los sistemas nucleares en condiciones de funcionamiento, pero "no es algo que sugiera que Rusia se está preparando para atacar primero".

“La idea básica aquí es claramente asustar a 'Occidente' para que retroceda. Pero parte [del] peligro aquí es que no me queda claro que Putin tenga en mente un camino claro de desescalada (excepto por la capitulación de Ucrania)”, tuiteó James Acton, codirector del Programa de Política Nuclear en el Fondo para la Paz Internacional de Carnegie.

Lo que la amenaza de Putin de usar armas nucleares también subraya es que las armas nucleares no pueden evitar que los estados con armas nucleares lancen guerras importantes y que aumentan el riesgo de un conflicto armado entre estados con armas nucleares y alianzas con armas nucleares. En lugar de aumentar la seguridad, aumentan el peligro de guerra al fomentar la posibilidad de un error de cálculo y una escalada deliberada o inadvertida.

En el caso de la guerra de Rusia contra Ucrania, Putin está utilizando esencialmente la amenaza de las armas nucleares como una tapadera para su invasión masiva de un estado sin armas nucleares. Funcionarios estadounidenses clave comparten la opinión de que las armas nucleares pueden servir de cobertura para proyectar una fuerza militar convencional. El almirante Charles Richard, jefe del Comando Estratégico de EE. UU., dijo en declaraciones publicadas en febrero de 2021 que "debemos reconocer la naturaleza fundamental de las fuerzas nucleares estratégicas de nuestra nación, ya que crean el 'espacio de maniobra' para que podamos proyectar estratégicamente el poder militar convencional".

¿Han hecho los líderes estadounidenses o rusos alguna amenaza nuclear similar entre sí desde el final de la Guerra Fría?

No. Las amenazas nucleares implícitas públicas de Putin hacia la OTAN y los Estados Unidos y su decisión de elevar el estado de alerta de las fuerzas nucleares de Rusia no tiene precedentes en la era posterior a la Guerra Fría.

Sin embargo, durante la Guerra Fría, entre 1948 y 1961, así como el período entre la Crisis de los Misiles Cubanos de 1962 y mediados de la década de 1970, hubo numerosas amenazas y alertas nucleares diseñadas para cambiar el comportamiento de los adversarios.

Por ejemplo, el presidente Richard Nixon y su asesor de seguridad nacional, Henry Kissinger, desarrollaron lo que él llamó la "teoría del loco", que postulaba que amenazar con niveles masivos, incluso excesivos, de violencia militar, incluidos ataques nucleares, intimidaría a los norvietnamitas y sus patrocinadores en la Unión Soviética a la sumisión en la mesa de negociaciones.

El 9 de octubre de 1969, Nixon y Kissinger ordenaron al Pentágono que pusiera en alerta a las fuerzas nucleares estadounidenses y otras fuerzas militares en todo el mundo, y que lo hiciera en secreto. Durante 18 días en octubre de ese año, el Pentágono llevó a cabo una de las operaciones militares secretas más grandes y extensas en la historia de Estados Unidos. Las fuerzas de bombarderos tácticos y estratégicos y los submarinos armados con misiles Polaris se pusieron en alerta. Esta "Prueba de preparación de los jefes conjuntos" culminó con un vuelo de bombarderos B-52 con armas nucleares sobre el norte de Alaska.

La alerta nuclear secreta de los EE. UU. de 1969, aunque ciertamente notada por los líderes soviéticos, no logró presionarlos para que ayudaran a Nixon a obtener concesiones de Hanoi. Nixon cambió su estrategia de Vietnam de una de intimidación a una de constantes retiradas de tropas y vietnamización, reforzada por el acercamiento a China y la distensión con la Unión Soviética. Al final, salió de Vietnam solo después de negociar un acuerdo de armisticio insatisfactorio.

En el pasado, tácticas nucleares similares no funcionaron según lo previsto. Es poco probable que tales amenazas tengan éxito cuando el lado amenazado posee sus propias capacidades de armas nucleares, cuando un estado no nuclear o un grupo guerrillero o terrorista está presumiblemente bajo la protección de un estado nuclear, o cuando la amenaza nuclear es desproporcionada y, por lo tanto, no es creíble. porque está dirigido a un país pequeño o actor no estatal.

¿Cuántas armas nucleares tienen actualmente Rusia, Estados Unidos y la OTAN?

Estados Unidos despliega 1389 ojivas nucleares estratégicas en 665 sistemas de entrega estratégica y Rusia despliega 1458 ojivas nucleares estratégicas en 527 sistemas de entrega estratégica a partir de septiembre de 2021 y de acuerdo con las reglas de conteo establecidas por el Nuevo Tratado de Reducción de Armas Estratégicas de 2010 (Nuevo START). Ambos países están actualmente modernizando sus sistemas de entrega nuclear.

Las ojivas estratégicas se cuentan utilizando las disposiciones del Nuevo START, que Biden y Putin acordaron extender por cinco años en enero de 2021 pero que expirará en 2026. El Nuevo START limita a cada país a 1550 ojivas estratégicas desplegadas en 700 sistemas de lanzamiento, incluidos misiles balísticos intercontinentales ( ICBM), misiles balísticos lanzados desde submarinos (SLBM) y bombarderos pesados ​​asignados a una misión nuclear.

Se estima que el Reino Unido y Francia, también miembros de la OTAN, poseen 225 ojivas nucleares y 290, respectivamente.

Estados Unidos también tiene un estimado de 160 bombas de gravedad nuclear B-61 que están desplegadas en seis bases de la OTAN en cinco países europeos: Italia, Alemania, Turquía, Bélgica y los Países Bajos. La reserva total estimada de B-61 de EE. UU. asciende a 230.

Además, se cree que Rusia tiene un estimado de 1.900 armas nucleares no estratégicas o tácticas, todas las cuales se cree que están en almacenamiento central, no desplegadas en el campo.

Rusia, al igual que Estados Unidos, mantiene sus misiles balísticos intercontinentales terrestres en un alto estado de preparación en todo momento, y se cree que los SLBM de Rusia, al igual que las fuerzas estadounidenses, tienen una postura similar. Las fuerzas de misiles balísticos intercontinentales de ambos países se mantienen en una postura de "lanzamiento bajo ataque", lo que significa que pueden lanzarse a los pocos minutos de una orden de "ir" autorizada por cualquiera de los líderes y pueden llegar a sus objetivos en 20 minutos o menos. Esta postura deja a cada lado con muy poco tiempo para tomar una decisión sobre el lanzamiento de un ataque de represalia si detectan un lanzamiento de armas nucleares estratégicas contra sus fuerzas, lo que crea el riesgo de que una falsa alarma pueda desencadenar una guerra nuclear.

Las armas nucleares estratégicas basadas en el mar, que son extremadamente difíciles de detectar y destruir, pueden dispararse casi tan rápido a sus objetivos dependiendo de su ubicación. Otros sistemas, como las armas estratégicas basadas en bombarderos, tardan relativamente más tiempo en armarse con armas nucleares y llegar a sus puntos de lanzamiento objetivo, pero los bombarderos pueden retirarse durante un período de tiempo después de que se dan las órdenes de lanzamiento.

¿Cuáles son las políticas que rigen el uso nuclear de EE. UU. y Rusia?

Tanto los presidentes de EE. UU. como los de Rusia tienen la autoridad exclusiva para autorizar el uso de armas nucleares, lo que significa que no requieren el consentimiento de sus respectivos asesores militares y de seguridad ni de otros representantes electos del pueblo.

Las estrategias militares actuales de EE. UU. y Rusia reservan la opción de usar armas nucleares primero. En el caso de Rusia, su política militar permite que el presidente ordene el uso de armas nucleares si el estado está en riesgo o posiblemente si Rusia está perdiendo una guerra importante. La teoría es que un uso “limitado” de armas nucleares podría detener los avances de un adversario o incluso inclinar la balanza a favor del bando perdedor.

Algunos funcionarios estadounidenses han abogado por el despliegue de tipos adicionales de armas nucleares de bajo rendimiento "más utilizables" en el arsenal. Sin embargo, incluso las que hoy en día se consideran armas nucleares de bajo rendimiento todavía tienen un poder inmenso. Por ejemplo, se estima que el W76-2 de bajo rendimiento, una nueva ojiva desplegada a fines de 2019 para misiles balísticos lanzados desde submarinos estadounidenses, tiene un rendimiento explosivo de cinco kilotones, aproximadamente un tercio del rendimiento de la bomba que Estados Unidos cayó sobre Hiroshima en 1945.

Pero una vez que se usan armas nucleares en un conflicto que involucra a adversarios con armas nucleares, incluso si en la llamada "escala limitada" que involucra un puñado de bombas "más pequeñas" del tamaño de Hiroshima, no hay garantía de que el conflicto no se intensifique y se convierta en un conflicto. conflagración nuclear mundial.

Biden y Putin parecen entender que “una guerra nuclear no se puede ganar y nunca se debe librar”, una declaración respaldada originalmente en 1985 por los presidentes Ronald Reagan y Mikhail Gorbachev y reiterada por los cinco países con los mayores arsenales nucleares en enero de 2022.

El exjefe del Comando Estratégico de EE. UU., el general John Hyten, describió en 2018 cómo el comando y control nuclear anual y el entrenamiento de campo del comando siempre terminan. “Termina mal”, dijo. “Y el mal significado de que termina con una guerra nuclear global”.

Sin embargo, tal reconocimiento entre los líderes no significa que no vaya a estallar una guerra nuclear. Después de todo, Putin ha demostrado que es un tomador de riesgos extremo.

Para reducir el riesgo de una guerra nuclear y establecer una fuerte distinción entre las amenazas nucleares irresponsables de Putin y el comportamiento de EE. UU., Biden debería ajustar la política declaratoria de EE. UU. aclarando que el único propósito de las armas nucleares es disuadir a otros de que las usen por primera vez. Una política de propósito único descartaría el uso de armas nucleares en un ataque preventivo o en respuesta a un ataque no nuclear contra los Estados Unidos o sus aliados, aumentaría la estabilidad estratégica y reduciría el riesgo de una guerra nuclear.

De hecho, durante la campaña presidencial de 2020, Biden escribió en Foreign Affairs: “Como dije en 2017, creo que el único propósito del arsenal nuclear de EE. UU. debería ser disuadir y, si es necesario, tomar represalias contra un ataque nuclear. Como presidente, trabajaré para poner en práctica esa creencia, en consulta con el ejército de los EE. UU. y los aliados de los EE. UU.

En última instancia, incluso las mejores intenciones de un lado no pueden garantizar que triunfen los intereses de todos para evitar el uso de armas nucleares. Por lo tanto, la única acción que realmente puede prevenir el uso de armas nucleares es la remoción de estas armas del campo de batalla y su eliminación verificable.

¿Cuáles serían los efectos de un estallido de guerra nuclear?

Más allá de los muchos peligros para los millones de personas inocentes atrapadas en la guerra elegida por Putin contra Ucrania, también existe un mayor riesgo de que la guerra pueda conducir a una escalada aún más grave, aunque involuntaria, en espiral que involucre a las fuerzas de la OTAN y Rusia, las cuales tienen armas nucleares a su disposición.

Los efectos indiscriminados y terribles del uso de armas nucleares están bien establecidos, razón por la cual la gran mayoría de las naciones del mundo consideran que las políticas que amenazan el uso nuclear son peligrosas, inmorales y legalmente injustificables y, en consecuencia, han desarrollado el Tratado sobre la prohibición de armas nucleares de 2017. Armas Nucleares (TPNW).

Si los líderes rusos o de la OTAN optan por usar armas nucleares primero en un conflicto en Europa, el resultado podría ser una rápida escalada de un desastre local a una guerra nuclear europea y luego a una catástrofe global. Millones, quizás decenas de millones, morirían en los primeros 45 minutos.

Un estudio detallado publicado en 2002 evaluó las consecuencias directas de un gran conflicto entre Estados Unidos y Rusia.

El estudio concluyó que si 350 de las ojivas nucleares estratégicas en el arsenal ruso alcanzaran objetivos industriales y militares importantes en los Estados Unidos, se estima que entre 70 y 100 millones de personas morirían en las primeras horas a causa de las explosiones y los incendios.

El presidente de EE. UU. podría tomar represalias rápidamente con hasta 1.350 armas nucleares en misiles y bombarderos de largo alcance y, en consulta con los aliados, otras 160 bombas de gravedad nuclear en cazabombarderos de corto alcance con base en cinco países de la OTAN en Europa.

Muchas más personas estarían expuestas a dosis letales de radiación. Se destruiría toda la infraestructura económica del país: Internet, la red eléctrica, el sistema de distribución de alimentos, el sistema de salud, el sistema bancario y la red de transporte.

En las siguientes semanas y meses, la gran mayoría de los que no murieron en el ataque inicial sucumbirían al hambre, la exposición, el envenenamiento por radiación y las enfermedades epidémicas. Un contraataque de EE. UU. causaría el mismo nivel de destrucción en Rusia, y si las fuerzas de la OTAN estuvieran involucradas en la guerra, Canadá y Europa también sufrirían un destino similar.

Estudios científicos más recientes indican que el polvo y el hollín producidos por un intercambio nuclear de 100 a 200 detonaciones crearían efectos climáticos duraderos y potencialmente catastróficos que devastarían la producción de alimentos y conducirían a la hambruna en muchas partes del mundo.

¿Cuáles son los tratados de control de armas pasados ​​y presentes que han limitado las armas nucleares estadounidenses y soviéticas/rusas? ¿Cuál es el estatus de esos tratados?

Durante la Guerra Fría y después, los acuerdos de control de armas ayudaron a ganar y mantener la paz.

Sin embargo, ha habido una creciente desconfianza entre Rusia y Occidente en los últimos años, lo que ha provocado y alimentado la pérdida de tratados fundamentales de control de armas nucleares y convencionales y/o reducción de riesgos por negligencia, incumplimiento o retiro total.

Algunos de estos tratados, que han actuado como barandillas para prevenir el estallido de guerras nucleares y convencionales catastróficas, incluyen:

  • El Tratado sobre Misiles Antibalísticos (ABM) de 1972, que fue diseñado para prevenir una carrera armamentista ofensiva-defensiva sin restricciones;
  • El Tratado sobre Fuerzas Nucleares de Alcance Intermedio (INF) de 1987, que redujo el peligro de una guerra nuclear en Europa al eliminar toda una clase de misiles;
  • El Tratado sobre Fuerzas Armadas Convencionales en Europa (FACE) de 1990, que fue diseñado para prevenir grandes acumulaciones de armas y fuerzas convencionales en el continente europeo; y
  • El Tratado de Cielos Abiertos de 1992, que brindó transparencia sobre las capacidades y movimientos militares.

En ausencia de estos acuerdos, la cooperación entre las partes se ha erosionado, ha aumentado la preocupación por las capacidades militares y se ha disparado el riesgo de errores de cálculo.

Cabe destacar también el Tratado de Prohibición Completa de los Ensayos Nucleares (CTBT) de 1996, que prohíbe las explosiones de pruebas nucleares y estableció una red global de monitoreo y verificación. El tratado tiene 185 signatarios, incluidos China, Rusia y Estados Unidos. Durante el transcurso de la era nuclear, al menos ocho estados llevaron a cabo más de 2000 explosiones de prueba de armas nucleares en la superficie, bajo tierra y bajo el agua. El Tratado de prohibición completa de los ensayos nucleares ha detenido de forma eficaz las explosiones de ensayos nucleares. Sin embargo, el tratado aún no está en vigor debido a que ocho estados no lo ratificaron, lo que deja entreabierta la puerta a las pruebas nucleares en el futuro.

Además, Estados Unidos y la Unión Soviética, y más tarde Rusia, negociaron una serie de tratados que limitaron y finalmente revirtieron la carrera de armamentos nucleares. Estos incluyeron:

  • El Tratado sobre la Limitación de Armas Estratégicas de 1972 (SALT I): aunque importante como el primer tratado de este tipo, sólo frenó el crecimiento de los arsenales nucleares de largo alcance de los dos países. Ignoró a los bombarderos estratégicos con armas nucleares y no limitó el número de ojivas, dejando a ambos lados libres para ampliar sus fuerzas mediante el despliegue de múltiples ojivas en sus misiles y aumentando sus fuerzas basadas en bombarderos.
  • El SALT II de 1979: este tratado nunca fue ratificado formalmente porque la Unión Soviética invadió Afganistán más tarde ese año, pero Reagan acordó respetar sus límites.
  • El Tratado de Reducción de Armas Estratégicas de 1991 (START I): este acuerdo, que expiró en diciembre de 2009, fue el primero en exigir a los Estados Unidos y la Unión Soviética que redujeran sus arsenales estratégicos desplegados y destruyeran los sistemas de entrega en exceso a través de una verificación intrusiva que involucraba en- inspecciones del sitio, el intercambio regular de información y el uso de medios técnicos nacionales (es decir, satélites). START I se retrasó varios años debido al colapso de la Unión Soviética y los esfuerzos subsiguientes para desnuclearizar Ucrania, Kazajstán y Bielorrusia al devolver sus armas nucleares a Rusia y convertirlos en estados sin armas nucleares en virtud del Tratado de No Proliferación Nuclear (TNP) de 1968. y partes de START I.
  • El START II de 1993: este tratado pedía más recortes en los arsenales estratégicos desplegados y prohibía el despliegue de misiles terrestres desestabilizadores de cabezas múltiples. Sin embargo, nunca entró en vigor debido a la retirada de Estados Unidos en 2002 del Tratado ABM.
  • Marco START III de 1997: este marco para un tercer START incluía una reducción de las ojivas estratégicas desplegadas a 2000-2500. Significativamente, además de requerir la destrucción de los vehículos de entrega, las negociaciones de START III debían abordar "la destrucción de ojivas nucleares estratégicas... para promover la irreversibilidad de las reducciones profundas, incluida la prevención de un rápido aumento en la cantidad de ojivas". Se suponía que las negociaciones comenzarían después de que START II entrara en vigor, lo que nunca sucedió.
  • El Tratado de Reducciones de Ofensivas Estratégicas de 2002 (SORT o Tratado de Moscú): Este tratado requería que Estados Unidos y Rusia redujeran sus arsenales estratégicos a 1.700-2.200 ojivas cada uno. Desafortunadamente, no incluía un régimen de verificación y monitoreo específico del tratado. SORT fue reemplazado por New START el 5 de febrero de 2011.
  • El Nuevo Tratado de Reducción de Armas Estratégicas de 2010 (Nuevo START): este acuerdo legalmente vinculante y verificable limita a cada parte a 1550 ojivas nucleares estratégicas desplegadas en 700 ICBM estratégicos, SLBM y bombarderos pesados ​​asignados a una misión nuclear. El tratado tiene un fuerte régimen de verificación. Estados Unidos y Rusia acordaron el 3 de febrero de 2021 extender el Nuevo START por cinco años, según lo permite el texto del tratado, hasta el 5 de febrero de 2026.

Como resultado de estos acuerdos, las reservas totales de los dos países se han reducido de sus picos a mediados de la década de 1980 en casi 70.000 armas nucleares a alrededor de 10.000 armas nucleares estadounidenses y rusas en la actualidad. Además, ya no vivimos en un mundo en el que los estados con armas nucleares están detonando explosiones de prueba nucleares para perfeccionar tipos nuevos y más mortíferos de armas nucleares.

Sin embargo, Estados Unidos y Rusia todavía poseen muchas más armas nucleares de las necesarias para destruirse mutuamente muchas veces y más que suficientes para disuadir un ataque nuclear del otro.

En consecuencia, Estados Unidos y Rusia deberían reducir aún más sus reservas nucleares y trabajar para involucrar a otros países con armas nucleares en el proceso y eventualmente en los acuerdos. En 2013, por ejemplo, la administración Obama descubrió que Estados Unidos podía reducir aún más su arsenal nuclear desplegado a unas 1000 sin sacrificar la seguridad de Estados Unidos o de sus aliados.

A menos que Washington y Moscú reanuden las conversaciones para llegar a un nuevo acuerdo que reemplace el Nuevo START antes de su vencimiento, no habrá límites para los dos arsenales nucleares más grandes del mundo por primera vez desde 1972, y corremos el riesgo de una carrera armamentista nuclear total una vez más.

Es cierto, sin embargo, que la guerra destructiva e indefendible de Putin contra Ucrania hará que esa tarea sea mucho más difícil.

¿Cómo deberían responder Estados Unidos y la OTAN a la amenaza de Putin y minimizar el riesgo de un estallido de guerra nuclear?

El peligro de error de cálculo y escalada, incluso al nivel nuclear, entre los adversarios es real y alto.

Aunque Rusia aún tiene que ubicar fuerzas militares a lo largo de la frontera entre Ucrania y Polonia, por ejemplo, existe la posibilidad de que las fuerzas rusas y de la OTAN se enfrenten militarmente, lo que provocaría que la situación se descontrolara rápidamente.

También existe la posibilidad de encuentros militares cercanos en otros lugares que involucren aviones, buques de guerra y submarinos de EE. UU./OTAN y Rusia.

En los días, semanas y meses venideros, los líderes en Moscú, Washington y Europa, así como los comandantes militares en el campo, deben tener cuidado de evitar despliegues militares nuevos y desestabilizadores, encuentros peligrosos entre las fuerzas rusas y de la OTAN y la introducción de nuevos tipos de armas convencionales o nucleares que socavan los intereses de seguridad compartidos.

Por ejemplo, la oferta del estado cliente de Rusia, Bielorrusia, de albergar armas nucleares tácticas rusas, si Putin la persigue, socavaría aún más la seguridad rusa y europea y aumentaría el riesgo de una guerra nuclear. Desafortunadamente, Bielorrusia votó el 27 de febrero en un referéndum para abandonar su condición de estado no nuclear.

¿Cómo pueden Estados Unidos y Rusia volver a encarrilar los esfuerzos de reducción de armas nucleares?

Debido a la invasión de Ucrania por parte de Rusia, el régimen de Putin deberá enfrentar las consecuencias y sufrir el aislamiento internacional impuesto a través de un frente fuerte y unificado.

Por el momento, este aislamiento incluye la suspensión del diálogo de estabilidad estratégica bilateral entre Estados Unidos y Rusia, que Biden y Putin reanudaron en junio de 2021 y convocaron por última vez a principios de enero de 2022.

La subsecretaria de Estado, Wendy Sherman, confirmó el 26 de febrero que Washington no continuará con el diálogo en las circunstancias actuales y dijo que “no ve razón” para hacerlo. El día anterior, el portavoz del Departamento de Estado, Ned Price, dijo que si bien “el control de armas es algo que seguirá siendo de nuestro interés para la seguridad nacional… no tenemos planeada otra iteración del Diálogo de Estabilidad Estratégica”.

Eventualmente, sin embargo, los líderes de EE. UU. y Rusia deben buscar reanudar las conversaciones a través de su diálogo de seguridad estratégica bilateral para evitar tensiones aún mayores entre la OTAN y Rusia y mantener medidas de control de armas y reducción de riesgos de sentido común.

La propuesta rusa sobre garantías de seguridad de diciembre de 2021 y la contrapropuesta de EE. UU. (así como la OTAN) de enero de 2022 contienen áreas de superposición, lo que demuestra que hay espacio para negociaciones para resolver preocupaciones de seguridad mutua. Las áreas más prometedoras están relacionadas con la elaboración de un nuevo acuerdo similar al ya desaparecido Tratado INF; negociar una continuación del Nuevo START; acordar reducir los grandes ejercicios militares; y establecer medidas de reducción de riesgos y transparencia, como líneas telefónicas de atención.

Washington debe probar si Moscú se toma en serio tales opciones y, si es posible, reiniciar el diálogo de estabilidad estratégica, y debe intentar hacerlo antes de que el Nuevo START expire a principios de 2026, de lo contrario, el próximo enfrentamiento será aún más riesgoso.

A la larga, los líderes estadounidenses, rusos y europeos —y su pueblo— no pueden perder de vista el hecho de que la guerra y la amenaza de una guerra nuclear son enemigos comunes. Rusia y Occidente tienen un interés compartido en llegar a acuerdos que reduzcan aún más las fuerzas nucleares estratégicas infladas, regulen los arsenales nucleares de "campo de batalla" de corto alcance y establezcan límites en las defensas de misiles de largo alcance.

¿Ucrania debería haber mantenido sus armas nucleares que heredó de la Unión Soviética? ¿Ucrania buscará tener armas nucleares una vez más?

La invasión de Crimea por parte de Putin en 2014 y la invasión actual violan el Memorando de Budapest de 1994 sobre garantías de seguridad.

En 1994, Estados Unidos, Rusia y el Reino Unido firmaron este importante acuerdo, que amplió las garantías de seguridad contra la amenaza o el uso de la fuerza contra el territorio de Ucrania o su independencia política. A cambio, la recién independizada Ucrania se adhirió al Tratado de No Proliferación Nuclear (TNP) de 1968 como un estado sin armas nucleares y renunció a las 1.900 ojivas nucleares que heredó de la Unión Soviética.

Ucrania no tenía el control operativo de esas armas nucleares y no podía haberlas mantenido en condiciones de seguridad. Cualquier intento de Kiev de mantener estas armas nucleares solo habría resultado en un mayor peligro para Ucrania, Europa y el mundo.

Los argumentos de que una Ucrania con armas nucleares sería más segura hoy en día son falacias, al igual que cualquier afirmación de que Kiev busca construir u obtener armas nucleares. Las armas nucleares no hacen que nadie esté más seguro y, en cambio, representan una amenaza existencial para todos nosotros.

La toma de Crimea por parte de Putin en 2014 y esta nueva invasión masiva en 2022 sirven para socavar el TNP y reforzar la desafortunada impresión de que los estados con armas nucleares pueden intimidar a los estados no nucleares, reduciendo así los incentivos para el desarme nuclear y haciendo que sea más difícil de prevenir una proliferación nuclear.

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Si bien el régimen de Putin debe sufrir el aislamiento internacional ahora, los líderes de EE. UU. y Rusia deben buscar eventualmente reanudar las conversaciones a través de su estancado diálogo de seguridad estratégica para calmar las tensiones más amplias entre la OTAN y Rusia y mantener medidas de control de armas de sentido común para evitar una carrera armamentista total.

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U.S., German, Russian Experts Outline Plan for Defusing Russia-NATO Crisis Through Arms Control

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For Immediate Release: Feb. 11, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association 1-202-463-8270, ext. 107; Oliver Meier, +49 171 359 2410, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy Hamburg

(WASHINGTON, D.C)—In a joint statement issued today, a senior group of American, European, and Russian security experts warn that: “The tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and NATO create the potential for a disastrous war that can and must be avoided through serious and deft diplomacy.”

“Among other steps, NATO and Russia should pursue agreement on common sense arms control instruments to help move away from the brink of disaster and promote stability and security in Europe,” they write. The experts are members of a 24-member group of leading nuclear arms control and risk reduction experts known as the Deep Cuts Commission.

“NATO and Russia have advanced different ideas on conventional and nuclear arms control. Yet, the two draft agreements put forward by Moscow in December 2021 as well as the U.S. and NATO responses to these texts submitted in January 2022 indicate there is room for negotiations designed to resolve mutual security concerns,” the Commissioners note.

“Both sides have stated that they are ready to engage in talks on risk reduction and confidence-building concerning offensive and defensive missile deployments in Europe, transparency on conventional weapons and military exercises, as well as on conventional forces posture and arms control,” the Commissioners point out in their Feb. 11 joint statement.

Among other steps, the Commission recommends negotiations on a balanced agreement between the United States and Russia on a verifiable moratorium on the deployment of intermediate-range missiles between the Atlantic and the Urals and an arrangement between NATO and Russia for reciprocal transparency visits to NATO’s Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland and Russia’s 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile sites.

Other recommendations include agreements, guidelines, and notifications designed to scale back major military exercises and avoid close military encounters between Russian and NATO forces.

“Substantive discussions on these important issues as well as information exchanges and confidence-building steps offer a path to stabilize the current crisis and enhance European security in the longer term,” the Commissioners say.

The full statement from the Deep Cuts Commission, “Defusing the Ukraine Crisis through Arms Control, Transparency and Risk Reduction,” is available online.

The Deep Cuts Commission was established in 2013 and is based at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH). The Commission was established to provide decision-makers with concrete, practical policy options to enhance international security by reducing the number and risks of nuclear weapons. The Arms Control Association (ACA) and the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO, RAN), are the U.S. and Russian project partners.

 

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A senior group of American, European, and Russian security experts warn that "tensions between Russia, Ukraine and NATO create the potential for a disastrous war that can and must be avoided through serious and deft diplo­macy.”

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U.S., Russia Must Elevate Action on Arms Control in Strategic Stability Dialogue

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Jan. 13, 2022

As U.S. and Russian diplomats engage in a high-stakes negotiation on a broad range of challenging European security and nuclear arms control issues, it is in the interest of both sides to ensure that progress on new nuclear arms control arrangements does not fall victim to deep, and perhaps irreconcilable, differences over NATO’s relationship with Russia and the delays on the implementation of the Minsk II agreement, which was designed to avoid further conflict over Ukraine.

It has been nearly a year since U.S President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to extend the only remaining treaty limiting their massive nuclear arsenals, the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which limits each side to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 700 deployed strategic delivery platforms.

It has been more than six months since Biden and Putin agreed in June 2021 to restart a Strategic Stability Dialogue (SSD) in order “to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.”

Since then, too little progress has been achieved to negotiate a new agreement or agreements before New START expires in early 2026.

On Monday, Washington and Moscow concluded the third round of the bilateral strategic stability dialogue, which was focused on Russia’s new and broader package of proposals on mutual security guarantees. The initial two rounds of the SSD were held in July and September 2021.

Russia’s decision to inject additional demands on “security guarantees” has, unfortunately, further complicated the equation. As we and other U.S., Russian and European experts have suggested, the two sides can and need to develop new understandings on four sets of nuclear arms control issues through this process:

  • deeper verifiable cuts in the bloated U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals,
  • achieving new understandings designed to limit and account for Russian and U.S. non-strategic (or tactical) nuclear weapons,
  • new measures to prohibit or limit the reintroduction of intermediate-range missiles in Europe, and
  • new understandings on how to limit strategic missile defense capabilities.

On Jan. 10, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman noted, correctly, that “these kinds of arms control negotiations – as President Putin himself has said – don’t happen in just a day or even a week. They’re generally quite complex, very technical, and take some time. But we’re certainly ready to move as expeditiously as one possibly can in these circumstances.”

Concluding durable, new arrangements to supersede New START will ensure there are verifiable limits on the massive and deadly U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles, which are critical to U.S. and Russian national, as well as for international, peace and security. Without such guardrails, U.S.-Russian relations will become even more dangerous.

We call on the two sides to redouble their efforts to keep their nuclear disarmament discussions moving forward so new, follow-on nuclear disarmament agreements can be concluded no later than 2025, and preferably sooner.

INF Missile Restriction Options

While some Kremlin demands, including Putin’s call for legally-binding assurances regarding NATO expansion, may reflect serious Russian concerns, they are non-starters. On the other hand, some other Russian proposals on arms control challenges are quite serious and deserve a substantive response from the United States.

For instance, Russia has reiterated its concept for a moratorium on U.S. and Russian deployment of missiles formerly banned by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which Putin first proposed in 2019 and expanded in 2020 to include mutual verification measures.

Russia’s INF missile proposal needs further work, but it can serve as a starting point for negotiations on a deal with the United States that can help avert a new Euromissile race.

It is incumbent upon the Biden administration, in coordination with NATO, to put forward a constructive counterproposal regarding an INF-range missile moratorium.

One approach would be for U.S./NATO leaders to pledge not to field any INF Treaty-prohibited missiles in Europe so long as Russia does not deploy treaty-prohibited systems where they could hit NATO territory.

Other options that might be considered include agreeing to a verifiable ban on all nuclear-armed ground-launched and sea-launched cruise missiles and ballistic missiles of intermediate range (500-5,500 km) or a prohibition on ground-launched ballistic missiles of intermediate range. This would require a return to an INF Treaty-like verification system and would require Russia to move or destroy its currently deployed 9M729 missiles, which violated the terms of the original INF Treaty.

The U.S. and Russian presidents could codify these INF missile restrictions through an executive agreement. Progress on this issue could build momentum in other areas of nuclear arms control and improve the climate for talks broader security matters.

On Jan. 3, the United States, Russia, France, China, and the United Kingdom issued a rare joint statement reiterating the 1985 Reagan-Gorbachev principle that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Now, the two countries with the largest nuclear arsenals can start to put these words into action by empowering their negotiators to reach new agreements that sharply reduce nuclear risks and the number of nuclear weapons. —SHANNON BUGOS, senior policy analyst, and DARYL G. KIMBALL, executive director

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It is in the interest of both the United States and Russia to ensure that progress on new nuclear arms control arrangements does not fall victim to deep, and perhaps irreconcilable, differences. 

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U.S., Russia Broaden Strategic Dialogue


January/February 2022
By Daryl G. Kimball and Shannon Bugos

Senior U.S. and Russian officials have agreed to meet in Geneva on Jan. 10 to discuss a long list of security issues, including a wide-ranging set of Russian proposals that Moscow says are designed to provide “security guarantees.” In recent weeks, tensions have flared as Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped up Russian military activity near Ukraine, which Russia invaded in 2014, and complained about NATO military support for Ukraine and Georgia.

President Joe Biden speaks to the press as he departs the White House on Dec. 8, a day after a virtual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Another virtual summit was held on Dec. 30 as tensions over Ukraine heated up.  (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)On Dec. 15, Karen Donfried, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who transmitted two draft agreements outlining political and military security guarantees Moscow wants from the United States and NATO. They include demands that NATO renounce any expansion eastward into states of the former Soviet bloc, including Ukraine, and limit troop and weapons deployments and military drills on NATO’s eastern flank.

Two days later, Russia published its proposals, one between Russia and the United States and another between Russia and NATO. “We hope that the United States will enter into serious talks with Russia in the near future regarding this matter, which has critical importance for maintaining peace and stability, using the Russian draft treaty and agreement as a starting point,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The White House quickly announced it would engage on the proposals, but insisted its European partners would also be involved. The Russian-U.S. strategic stability dialogue in Geneva is expected to be followed on Jan. 12 by talks in Brussels within the NATO-Russia Council, which has not met in more than two years.

“We’ll listen to Russia explain its proposals and the underlying concerns motivating them. We’ll respond and share our own concerns, and we do have many,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Jan. 4 of the Geneva meeting.

He stressed that the talks are narrowly focused on strategic stability matters and described the U.S. goal as being able to “identify a few issues where there might be enough common ground to continue discussions and ultimately address together.”

Price also emphasized that the talks would deal strictly with bilateral matters and “we’re not going to talk above the heads of our European allies and partners.”

On Dec. 30, President Joe Biden spoke with Putin on security matters, the second such conversation that month. According to a statement released by the White House, Biden “… urged Russia to deescalate tensions with Ukraine. He made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine. President Biden also expressed support for diplomacy, starting early next year [and] reiterated that substantive progress in these dialogues can occur only in an environment of deescalation rather than escalation.”

The January meetings were scheduled as fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine continues and as concerns linger about Russia’s military activities along its common border with Ukraine. Last month, U.S. officials said Russia has amassed around 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border that could be used against Ukraine. On Dec. 25, Reuters reported that more than 10,000 Russian troops were leaving regions near Ukraine, including Crimea, Rostov, and Kuban, and returning to permanent bases in Russia.

The Russian-U.S. talks will occur in the context of the strategic stability dialogue launched after the June summit between Biden and Putin to discuss nuclear weapons-related issues. The previous two rounds, in July and September, were led by Ryabkov and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

The dialogue was originally designed to explore future arms control options. After the September dialogue, Moscow and Washington agreed to establish two working groups, one on “principles and objectives for future arms control” and the other on “capabilities and actions with strategic effects.”

How the broadened dialogue will affect progress toward negotiations on new nuclear arms control arrangements is not yet clear. Both sides have indicated interest in a new agreement or agreements to supersede the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which expires in February 2026. The treaty caps Russian and U.S. strategic nuclear arsenals at 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed delivery vehicles and heavy bombers each. The Bilateral Consultative Commission, the treaty’s implementing body, last met Oct. 5–14 in Geneva.

One Russian security proposal calls for the United States not to deploy outside its borders any missiles formerly banned under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Under that treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union banned all nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, leading to the elimination of a total of 2,692 missiles.

After Washington withdrew from the accord in 2019, Putin proposed that the two countries impose a moratorium on the deployment of INF Treaty-range missiles and later added mutual verification measures to the proposal. Russia also indicated that its 9M729 cruise missile, which the United States alleged was a violation of the INF Treaty, would be covered by its proposal.

At the time, the Trump administration and NATO dismissed the Russian proposal. The Biden administration has not clarified whether it would consider the Russian concept or offer a counterproposal.

The draft Russian-U.S. agreement proposes that the two countries “shall undertake not to deploy ground-launched intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles outside their national territories, as well as in the areas of their national territories, from which such weapons can attack targets in the national territory of the other party.”

The draft Russian-NATO agreement also includes a moratorium, proposing that “the parties shall not deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas allowing them to reach the territory of the other parties.”

Additionally, Moscow proposed that Russia and the United States “refrain from deploying nuclear weapons outside their national territories” and “not train military and civilian personnel from non-nuclear countries to use nuclear weapons.”

This refers to the U.S.-NATO nuclear sharing agreement, under which Washington is estimated to deploy more than 100 B61 gravity bombs across Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey, with all but the Turkish air force assigned and trained to carry out nuclear strike missions with the U.S. weapons.

Bonnie Jenkins, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, outlined the key concepts for U.S. arms control efforts in a Sept. 6 speech. “First, we will look to capture new kinds of intercontinental-range nuclear delivery systems. Second, we will seek to address all nuclear warheads, including those which have not been limited previously, like so-called non-strategic nuclear weapons. Third, we will seek to retain limits on Russian intercontinental-range ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments after New START expires in 2026,” she said.

It remains unclear how the two sides could bridge their nuclear differences and when they might transition from the dialogue to more formal negotiations on a successor to New START. Biden said in June that “we’ll find out within the next six months to a year whether or not we actually have a strategic dialogue that matters.”

Russian, U.S. officials planned security talks for Jan. 10.

Russia Officially Leaves Open Skies Treaty

January/February 2022

Russia officially withdrew from the 1992 Open Skies Treaty on Dec. 18, leaving the remaining 32 states-parties to figure out how to maintain the utility of the treaty without either the United States or Russia.

The Tupolev Tu-214ON Zherdin is one of the planes Russia used to carry out the Open Skies Treaty, before it officially withdrew on Dec. 18. (Photo by Dmitry Zherdin)“Responsibility for the deterioration of the Open Skies regime lies fully with the United States as the country that started the destruction of the treaty,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a Dec. 18 statement.

The Trump administration withdrew the United States from the treaty in November 2020, and the Biden administration informed Moscow in May that it would not seek to rejoin. (See ACT, June 2021; December 2020.) Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off in June on the decision to kick-start the six-month withdrawal process. (See ACT, July/August 2021.)

After the U.S. withdrawal, Moscow sought written guarantees from the remaining states-parties that they would neither continue to share data collected under the treaty with Washington nor prohibit overflights of U.S. bases in Europe, but states-parties dismissed the request.

“Regrettably, all our efforts to preserve the treaty in its initial format have failed,” the ministry statement said. “Washington set the line towards destroying all the arms control agreements it had signed.”

Under the treaty, Russia formed a group of states-parties with Belarus. Minsk initially seemed to plan to withdraw from the treaty alongside Moscow, but now appears likely to remain a state-party.

“What is important now is for the remaining states to continue implementation, modernize the treaty (digital cameras and new sensor types), and seriously discuss additional forms of use, i.e., cross-border disaster relief or environmental monitoring,” Alexander Graef, a researcher at the Institute for Peace, Research, and Security Policy in Hamburg, tweeted on Dec. 17.

Entering into force in 2002, the Open Skies Treaty permits each state-party to conduct short-notice, unarmed observation flights over the others’ entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities.—SHANNON BUGOS

Russia Officially Leaves Open Skies Treaty

U.S., Russia to Continue Strategic Stability Dialogue in 2022

The United States and Russia aim to meet early next year for further talks on the future of arms control to follow the expiration of the last remaining agreement on the two countries’ nuclear arsenals in four years. This will mark the third round of the bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in January and met in person with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June. The first round took place in July , and the second occurred in September , during which two working groups were formed. These groups are officially named the “Working Group on Principles...

Back to the Future: Reviving U.S.-Russian Lab-to-Lab Cooperation


November 2021
By Noah C. Mayhew

An era of remarkable cooperation between two Cold War adversaries started in 1988 with a controlled detonation of a nuclear device at the Nevada Test Site. Teams of U.S. and Soviet scientists looked on, hoping that the heavy instrumentation they had jointly designed would accurately measure the yield of the explosion in support of verification of the 1974 Threshold Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.1 The exercise, known as the Joint Verification Experiment, was a success. It was also the first concrete manifestation of official laboratory-to-laboratory cooperation on nuclear treaty verification between the two nuclear superpowers.

A controlled nuclear test and a joint verification experiment between U.S. and Soviet scientists at this test site in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, in 1988 and a similar exercise at the Nevada Test Site in the United States opened the door to decades of laboratory-to-laboratory cooperation between the two nuclear superpowers.  (Photo by TASS via Getty Images)This exercise and an analogous test at the Semipalatinsk site in Kazakhstan four weeks later would open the door to decades of intensive collaboration between U.S. and Soviet scientists, and later Russian scientists, on reducing the legacy nuclear dangers born of the Cold War. During this unprecedented period of cooperation, lab-to-lab projects became a constructive tool in the bilateral diplomatic tool belt. They transformed the old adage “trust but verify” into “trust and benefit” and provided a parallel track for advancing mutual security alongside traditional governmental diplomatic channels.

Due to the serious downturn in U.S.-Russian relations in the last decade, however, lab-to-lab cooperation has all but disappeared. A crushing blow came in 2016 when Russia, under the pressure of intensifying U.S. sanctions, suspended a 2013 agreement on scientific cooperation that built on the landmark 1992 Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program.2

That history is relevant now as the United States and Russia pursue strategic stability talks at a moment of intense animosity and distrust. The summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in June opened a window to begin to stabilize the bilateral relationship; reviving lab-to-lab cooperation could be a relatively easy first step on that difficult path.

The two leaders articulated a clear-eyed vision of their national priorities and met without any pretense that the summit would be, as Biden put it, a “kumbaya moment.” The outcome was modest: an agreement to launch a series of talks on strategic stability that will be “deliberate and robust” and will seek to “lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.”3

With no treaty yet lined up to replace the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and two other treaties—the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty, which were undermined by the withdrawal of Washington and Moscow—U.S.-Russian relations are at a crossroads, and success at these talks is sorely needed. If the dialogue, which started in July and September, devolves into toxic accusations, bilateral relations would become even more hostile and could result in New START expiring in 2026 with nothing to replace it.

On the other hand, productive talks could advance relative stability and predictability in the U.S.-Russian security domain by facilitating new treaties, a reduction in deployed and maybe nondeployed nuclear weapons, and perhaps further cuts in fissile material stockpiles. Without a doubt, any agreement with a realistic chance of entering into force requires verification and a mechanism to resolve disputes. These components are no panacea—they did not save the INF Treaty, for example—but without them, no agreement is possible at all.

As the two sides move to discuss verification, they need to consider the rich history in which the U.S. and Russian national laboratories worked together on technical solutions to one of the core challenges of any arms control agreement: verifying that both sides are adhering to their commitments. Reviving and expanding formal lab-to-lab cooperation and technical cooperation between the national academies of sciences would be an easy way for the White House and the Kremlin to test their commitments to ensuring that strategic stability talks make progress.

The Urgency

Success will depend heavily on the confluence of political will and technical verification capability. As political will can be fleeting, cooperation at the technical level needs to be put in place to support the critical verification aspects of a potential agreement. Commencing formal lab-to-lab cooperation on nuclear verification now will make it more likely that a potential agreement can be operationalized immediately.

Past arms control agreements, including New START, have been verified through on-site inspections, notifications on the movements and status of nuclear armaments subject to the agreement, and data exchanges, including on telemetry information related to intercontinental ballistic missile and submarine-launched ballistic missile launches. Today, the nuclear arms control community is facing new challenges in verification, and emerging technologies could help address them.

For instance, it may be desirable to use remote sensing or monitoring technology, paired with jointly trained machine-learning algorithms to augment the work done by inspectors. This could increase confidence in implementing an agreement at a time when trust is virtually nonexistent. Given the U.S. intelligence community reports of rising Russian cyberattacks against the United States, joint development of such a tool could be a useful way to shield a future agreement from accusations of cheating or more efficiently deal with them should they arise.

If lab-to-lab cooperation is not prioritized early, it may lead to a situation where political will to conclude an agreement will not be matched by the technical capability to verify it. As demonstrated by the demise of the Trilateral Initiative, which was envisioned by the United States, Russia, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to remove excess fissile material from weapons programs and place it under IAEA safeguards without exposing proliferation-sensitive information, the technical capability often takes longer to develop and authenticate than the political will lasts.4

The initiative was active from 1996 until 2002. Although U.S. and Russian scientists continued to jointly develop the technical aspects of verification after the project ended, they did not demonstrate a prototype that would satisfy U.S. and Russian security officials until 2010, long after the political will to implement the initiative had dissipated.5

The Benefit

Lab-to-lab and other technical cooperation, such as through the national academies of science, do not just help avoid pitfalls in treaty verification. Research into new and emerging technologies could be used to strengthen a verification regime, perhaps by identifying options to verify provisions that once were considered unverifiable. Verification is about the balance between transparency and secrecy. Each side must disclose enough information to ensure effective verification but not more than is absolutely needed. New technologies can expand options available to negotiators as they search for that balance.

As they are developed and authenticated, new approaches could include machine learning to better analyze large data sets and enhanced use of satellite imagery. Utilizing these technologies would not come without challenges. Machine-learning algorithms require extensive development before deployment, and their application would likely be limited to open-source data. They would not replace on-site inspections as both sides would surely wish to keep their own “boots on the ground,” but they may provide an extra layer of confidence that both sides are adhering to an agreement. They could also enable a jointly managed technical basis for addressing potential discrepancies or suspicious activities should they arise.

Similarly, satellite imagery is already used as national technical means, but the quality is much higher than in the past and can now provide more data. If used for treaty verification, however, more work will need to be done to ensure mutual access to data from satellite imagery and to assure both countries that no one has tampered with the data.

Another possibility for cooperation is distributed ledger technology (DLT), commonly known as blockchain, which is used to establish a digital, cryptographically verified, tamper-evident, shared ledger that could record data related to arms control verification activities.6 DLT could be used to share data in a more secure way, inspiring confidence that data exchange logs are genuine and have not been altered while avoiding complete disclosure of sensitive data. The tamper-evident feature of the technology is particularly salient, considering the allegations of Russian cyberattacks.

These and other tools are already being researched for application in IAEA safeguards, but could also have applications in arms control verification if the parties to an agreement can authenticate them for use. Emerging technologies cannot replace any existing part of arms control verification, such as on-site inspections or radiation measurements, but they could augment existing capabilities and increase confidence that all parties to an agreement are in compliance.

U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz (L) and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze signed the Joint Verification Experiment Agreement in Moscow in 1988, providing the first opportunity for scientists from the two nuclear superpowers to cooperate on measuring nuclear test yields. (Photo by Stanford University)Revitalized scientific cooperation would also be beneficial in advancing existing techniques, such as radiation measurements using neutron multiplicity counting and high-resolution gamma spectrometry. They have been used for verifying fissile material, including warheads, for decades.7 Could these techniques be used more effectively? Might they be reconfigured to suit new verification challenges? U.S. and Russian scientists have worked together in this domain before and could do so again.

In this regard, scientific cooperation serves not just as a supporting mechanism for treaty negotiations, but also as a mechanism to lay the groundwork for future cooperative endeavors. Over the years, the experience of implementing joint projects provided the United States and Russia a view into each other’s nuclear thinking. They cooperated not just on nuclear safety, security, and other defense-related fields, but also on the fundamental sciences. It proved that cooperation did not threaten national security, but rather strengthened it.

The Challenge

Lab-to-lab cooperation is not an arms control panacea, nor is it as simple as flipping a switch for it to resume. Although immensely beneficial to the United States and Russia in the 1990s and 2000s, such collaboration is very sensitive and requires a level of trust that is now absent in the U.S.-Russian relationship. That is why one of the first tasks of the strategic stability talks must be establishing a minimum level of confidence that would allow scientific cooperation to proceed.

History has proved that such cooperation is possible, and the field of nuclear arms control would be well served to capitalize on the experience of those who have already participated in these activities.

The bilateral relationship is at a critical juncture. If the talks go well, a period of more stable relations could ensue, even as certain tensions persist. If talks do not go well, the already poisonous state of U.S.-Russian relations could worsen.

Both governments must invest now in new confidence- and transparency-building measures to keep their delicate relationship from breaking. As with the nuclear age itself, that starts with cooperation among the scientists and engineers who command the technical nuclear expertise.

 

ENDNOTES

1. See Siegfried S. Hecker, ed., Doomed to Cooperate: How American and Russian Scientists Joined Forces to Avert Some of the Greatest Post-Cold War Nuclear Dangers (Los Alamos, NM: Bathtub Row Press, 2016).

2. Government of the Russian Federation, “Suspending the Russian-U.S. Agreement on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development,” October 5, 2016, http://government.ru/en/docs/24766/.

3. The White House, “U.S.-Russia Presidential Joint Statement on Strategic Stability,” June 16, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/06/16/u-s-russia-presidential-joint-statement-on-strategic-stability/.

4. Thomas E. Shea and Laura Rockwood, “IAEA Verification of Fissile Material in Support of Nuclear Disarmament,” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, May 2015, https://www.belfercenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/files/iaeaverification.pdf.

5. Sergey Kondratov et al., “Testing the AVNG,” Los Alamos National Laboratory, LA-UR-10-02626, July 11, 2010.

6. Cindy Vestergaard and Maria Lovely Umayam, “Complementing the Padlock: The Prospect of Blockchain for Strengthening Nuclear Security,” Stimson Center, June 2020, https://www.stimson.org/2020/complementing-the-padlock-the-prospect-of-blockchain-for-strengthening-nuclear-security/.

7. Edward M. Ifft, “Verifying Nuclear Arms Control and Disarmament,” in Verification Yearbook 2001, n.d., https://www.vertic.org/media/Archived_Publications/Yearbooks/2001/VY01_Ifft.pdf.


Noah C. Mayhew is a research associate at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation focusing on nuclear non-proliferation, safeguards and verification, arms control, and U.S.–Russian relations. He is a commissioner on the trilateral Young Deep Cuts Commission and the co-chair of the Emerging Voices Network’s nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Working Group.

Scientific cooperation could offer a relatively easy way to begin stabilizing troubled ties.

U.S., Russia Establish Strategic Stability Groups


November 2021
By Shannon Bugos

The United States and Russia established two working groups during a September strategic stability dialogue as a next step to make meaningful progress on arms control for the first time in nearly a decade.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (left) and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, leaders of their respective delegations, bump elbows  in front of their national flags before a round of strategic stability talks in Geneva on July 28. (Photo by U.S. Mission Geneva)The two countries released a joint statement following the Sept. 30 meeting in Geneva, which described the dialogue as “intensive and substantive” and officially named the Working Group on Principles and Objectives for Future Arms Control and the Working Group on Capabilities and Actions With Strategic Effects.

“The delegations additionally agreed that the two working groups would commence their meetings, to be followed by a third plenary meeting,” the statement said. The date of the third meeting is yet to be announced.

After the dialogue, a senior U.S. administration official told Reuters there was “a detailed and dynamic exchange” and “the discussion was very interactive and broad based and we think we were able to cover a variety of issues.”

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman led the U.S. delegation alongside Bonnie Jenkins, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov led the delegation from Moscow.

“It is no surprise that the dialogue proves that the two sides have many discords, disagreements, and contradictory views on things, and only a few points of convergence,” Ryabkov told the Geneva Centre for Security Policy on Oct. 1. But “it is just the beginning of the journey. If political will and readiness for creative diplomacy prevail on both sides, then there are no unbridgeable gaps.”

The first round of the strategic stability dialogue under the Biden administration took place in July. (See ACT, September 2021.) President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed during their June summit to relaunch the dialogue to “seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.” (See ACT, July/August 2021.)

Jenkins outlined the Biden administration’s goals for the dialogue on Sept. 6, saying that U.S. efforts “are guided by several key concepts,” which include seeking to limit new kinds of intercontinental-range nuclear delivery systems; address all nuclear warheads, such as nonstrategic, or tactical, nuclear weapons; and maintain the limits imposed by the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). She added that the administration has also made pursuing new risk reduction measures with China a “priority.”

Russia has sought to develop “a new security equation” that addresses all nuclear and non-nuclear, offensive and defensive weapons that affect strategic stability. That would include U.S. missile defense systems, which Washington has resisted putting on the table.

The new groups are different than those established by the Trump administration that focused on nuclear warheads and doctrine, verification, and space. The new working group on future arms control might aim, for instance, to outline the scope of what agreement could follow after New START expires in 2026. Ryabkov has said that what may come next could be “a legally binding document, perhaps not one, but several texts, both legally and politically binding, if such an option is deemed preferable by both parties.”

The other new working group on capabilities and actions with strategic effects might cover discussion on issues such as long-range conventional or dual-capable precision fires, such as hypersonic weapons, and tactical nuclear weapons.

It remains unclear whether or how the Biden administration plans to transition the strategic stability dialogue to more formal negotiations on an arms control agreement or other arrangement to follow New START. Biden said in June that “we’ll find out within the next six months to a year whether or not we actually have a strategic dialogue that matters.”

Following the September meeting, Ryabkov described the Biden administration’s “concepts and ideas” as “immature at this stage” due to the ongoing Nuclear Posture Review. “We take it as it is and believe that, in the meantime, there is enough space for intense discussions,” he told the Geneva Centre on Oct. 1.

Ryabkov reiterated Moscow’s rejection of a 2020 proposal that paired a one-year extension of New START with a one-year freeze on the numbers of U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads. (See ACT, November 2020.) At the time, New START was set to expire in February 2021. But the Trump administration also requested that the freeze contain detailed definitions and verification measures, which prompted Russia to dismiss the proposal.

“It was a one-time offer,” said Ryabkov after the September dialogue, and the United States “missed the opportunity.” Last year, he had said that, by adding other terms to the freeze, the Trump administration “will immediately destroy the possibility of reaching the agreement.”

New START, signed in 2010, caps the U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals at 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed delivery vehicles and heavy bombers each. The Bilateral Consultative Commission, the treaty implementing body, restarted its meetings for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic on Oct. 5-14 in Geneva. “The U.S. and Russian delegations continued the discussion of practical issues related to the implementation of the treaty,” the U.S. State Department said a statement. But on-site inspections conducted under the treaty have not resumed.

The United States and Russia established two working groups as a next step to make meaningful progress on arms control for the first time in nearly a decade.

U.S., Russia Expected to Continue Stability Talks


September 2021
By Kingston Reif and Shannon Bugos

The United States and Russia are expected to continue talks in September in an attempt to make progress on nuclear arms control before the last remaining agreement limiting the two countries’ nuclear arsenals expires in less than five years.

Flags representing Russia and the United States. Strategic stability talks between these nuclear powers will substantially determine the future of arms control. (Photo by Vladimir Gerdo\TASS via Getty Images)U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to relaunch a bilateral strategic stability dialogue during their June summit, and delegations representing Washington and Moscow held their first meeting in Geneva on July 28. (See ACT, July/August 2021.)

During the “professional and substantive” talks in Geneva, “the U.S. delegation discussed U.S. policy priorities and the current security environment, national perceptions of threats to strategic stability, prospects for new nuclear arms control, and the format for future strategic stability dialogue sessions,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Biden pronounced himself “hopeful” in brief comments to journalists on July 30 when asked about his views on how the talks went and the prospects for success.

The Russians have not been much more forthcoming. In a statement on July 28, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the two countries held “a comprehensive discussion of the sides’ approaches to maintaining strategic stability, the prospects for arms control, and measures to reduce risks.”

“We have significant differences on key issues,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said after the talks concluded, but “there are also points of convergence, and we intend to capitalize on them.”

Following the dialogue, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on an Aug. 11 call “to support transparency and risk-reduction efforts,” according to a Pentagon statement.

In the weeks ahead of the July meeting, multiple Russian officials called for the dialogue to focus first on conducting “a joint review of each other’s security concerns,” given the differing priorities on strategic stability.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman led the U.S. delegation in a first round of the U.S.-Russia stability talks in Geneva in July with the Russian delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The two sides are expected to meet again this month. (Photo by Vladimir Gerdo\TASS via Getty Images)The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Bonnie Jenkins, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. The U.S. team included officials from the National Security Council and the Defense, Energy, and State departments. Ryabkov led the Russian delegation.

This was the first round of U.S.-Russian strategic stability talks since Biden took office and the two countries extended the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) until 2026. (See ACT, March 2021.) The Trump administration held multiple rounds of the dialogue between September 2017 and August 2020, but failed to agree on extending New START, which was scheduled to expire in February 2021.

A key goal of the dialogue is to “lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures,” according to the joint U.S.-Russian presidential statement from the June 16 summit in Geneva. Biden told reporters afterward that he expected results relatively quickly. “We’ll find out within the next six months to a year whether or not we actually have a strategic dialogue that matters,” he said.

The two countries have agreed to meet again formally in September and to meet informally before then “with the aim of determining topics for expert working groups at the second plenary,” Price said. But so far, no specific dates have been announced.

“This focused approach has been used repeatedly in strategic stability consultations in the past,” commented Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the United States, on July 29. “It has proven to be effective in situations where the parties need to discuss a wide range of issues and not superficially.”

The number of working groups and their topics remain to be decided. Last year, the two countries formed three strategic stability working groups on nuclear warheads and doctrine, verification, and space systems. (See ACT, July/August 2020.)

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters after the dialogue that, in addition to arms control, the two sides touched on issues related to space and the strategic implications of artificial intelligence and cyberspace policy, which suggests possible subject matters for the groups. Rose Gottemoeller, chief U.S. negotiator for New START, told Defense One that some topics could be missile defense, new and emerging technologies such as hypersonic glide vehicles, and the framework for a successor agreement to New START.

As for the different priorities, the Biden administration has expressed a desire to address Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons and new nuclear delivery systems, as well as to bring China into the arms control process.

Beijing repeatedly rejected calls by the Trump administration to join trilateral talks with Washington and Moscow, but expressed a willingness to engage in arms control discussions in other settings, such as a meeting with the five nuclear-weapon states or in a bilateral dialogue.

Russia, meanwhile, wants to focus on developing “a new security equation” that addresses all nuclear and nonnuclear, offensive and defensive weapons that affect strategic stability. That would include U.S. missile defense systems, which Washington has long resisted putting on the table.

The State Department official noted that the Russian delegation brought up U.S. missile defenses during the dialogue and that the U.S. delegation responded by arguing that those defense systems are meant to counter threats from Iran and North Korea rather than Russia.

Moscow has suggested including France and the United Kingdom, as well as China, in arms control discussions. It has also continued to propose a moratorium on the deployment of ground-launched missiles that would have been prohibited under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (See ACT, November 2020.)

Although separate from any formal negotiations on an arms control agreement or arrangement to follow New START, the strategic stability dialogue and its corresponding working groups could help establish the foundation for those formal talks in the future.

New START, signed in 2010, caps the U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals at 1,550 deployed warheads
and 700 deployed delivery vehicles and heavy bombers each. Ryabkov noted on June 25 that the two countries are working on restarting the inspections conducted under the treaty, which have been paused since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but “there are no agreements yet.”

 

Neither side has said much about where the process stands.

U.S., Russia Strategic Stability Meeting Held in Geneva

The United States and Russia restarted in July a bilateral dialogue to discuss strategic stability and the future of arms control and agreed to meet again in late September. U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to relaunch the dialogue during their June summit to begin what will likely be a long, contentious process to make progress on nuclear arms control before the last remaining arms control agreement between the two countries expires in under five years. During the “professional and substantive” talks July 28 in Geneva, “the U.S. delegation discussed U.S...

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