The Cold War ended nearly two decades ago, but U.S. and Russian leaders have missed opportunities to implement agreements that would have achieved deeper, irreversible cuts in their nuclear and missile stockpiles. As a result, their nuclear weapons doctrines and capabilities remain largely unchanged, and mutual suspicions linger.
Beginning with their inaugural meeting April 1, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev have the opportunity to reset the U.S.-Russian relationship with the negotiation of a new and far-reaching nuclear arms reduction treaty before the year’s end. If a new treaty is not concluded and the 1991 START is allowed to expire as scheduled on Dec. 5, there will effectively be no limits on the two country’s still bloated nuclear stockpiles. (Continue)
Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Russia's new ambassador to the United States, has assumed his post at a critical time in U.S.-Russian relations and at a point when presidential transitions are underway in both Moscow and Washington. Kislyak has served in a number of senior foreign policy positions in Moscow. Most recently, he served as Russia's deputy foreign minister where he played the lead role on arms control and nonproliferation issues. On November 14, Arms Control Today spoke with Ambassador Kislyak about his views on a number of issues in U.S.-Russian strategic relations, including missile defense, future strategic arms reductions, the status of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and Russian views on how to deal with Iran's nuclear program. (Continue)
With its time at the helm of U.S. nuclear policy dwindling, the Bush administration announced plans to discuss the expiring START agreement with Russia, which is pressing for a follow-on weapons-cutting treaty. But the outgoing Bush administration endorses a more modest approach and recently reiterated its case for revitalizing the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and developing a new generation of nuclear warheads. (Continue)
During his 2000 presidential campaign, Gov. George W. Bush pledged to "leave the Cold War behind [and] rethink the requirements for nuclear deterrence." Today, the United States and Russia each still deploy about 3,000-4,000 strategic nuclear warheads, many of which are primed for launch within minutes in order to deter a surprise attack by the other. The Cold War may technically be over, but the practical reality is that the weapons and outdated nuclear deterrence thinking of that era persist.
Although the United States is on track to deploy no more than 1,700-2,200 strategic warheads by 2012 as mandated by the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), the agreement's limit expires the day it takes effect. It also allows each side to store thousands of reserve warheads and missiles as a hedge against unforeseen threats. The treaty fails to establish new verification mechanisms, relying instead on those contained in the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). (Continue)
Several weeks after the Russian-Georgian military conflict and several weeks before the United States elects a new president, formal U.S.-Russian talks on nuclear weapons and anti-missile systems are languishing. Neither Moscow nor Washington seem eager to change the pace, suggesting the two capitals might be content simply to let the dialogue linger until the next U.S. administration takes power. (Continue)
With the Sochi Declaration in April 2008, the poker players in Washington and Moscow effectively laid down their strategic arms control cards for the last time in the Bush and Putin administrations. They reiterated their intention to carry out further reductions in strategic offensive arms, they pledged to continue development of a legally binding post-START arrangement, and they restated their commitment to Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which calls for eventual total elimination of nuclear weapons. (Continue)