Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Time for Control

By Taina Susiluoto | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 6

TACTICAL NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL? 1

Alexander A. Pikayev

The rapid decline of Russia's conventional military might since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 has understandably led to a growing emphasis on the country's still powerful nuclear arsenal for protecting it and its allies from nuclear and large scale conventional attack. In the course of the 1990s this new emphasis together with deteriorating Russian-Western political relations prevented radical steps towards nuclear disarmament. The sizeable and unprecedented nuclear reductions witnessed during the last decade took place thanks to unilateral and bilateral decisions made in early the 1990s 2 and Russia's economic hardships. Since the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START) I and II were signed in 1991 and 1993 respectively, no new major disarmament accord between Russia and the United Sates has been reached.

In the area of tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) no formal arms control regime was negotiated, although Russia and the United States continued to abide by the unilateral declarations made by presidents Bush and Gorbachev in the fall of 1991 whose implementation had been nearly completed by the year 2000. Due to these unilateral initiatives, the field deployments of TNWs has decreased dramatically with thousands of warheads being destroyed annually by each side. Russia withdrew all TNWs to its national territory, while the United States has significantly reduced its TNWs deployments in Europe.

Nevertheless, the unilateral declarations have never been codified into legally binding arms control provisions. As a result, they remain non- verifiable and reversible. There is also no confidence in whether they have been fully implemented by the end of 2000, as originally mandated. The 2001 controversy around the possible transfer of Russian TNWs to

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