Beyond the Nuclear Shadow: A Phased Approach for Improving Nuclear Safety and U.S.-Russian Relations

Beyond the Nuclear Shadow: A Phased Approach for Improving Nuclear Safety and U.S.-Russian Relations

Beyond the Nuclear Shadow: A Phased Approach for Improving Nuclear Safety and U.S.-Russian Relations

Beyond the Nuclear Shadow: A Phased Approach for Improving Nuclear Safety and U.S.-Russian Relations

Excerpt

The past eighteen months have seen remarkable changes in both U.S.-Russian relations and the planned nuclear postures of the two countries. The Bush administration came into office in 2001 with plans to radically remake U.S. relations with Russia in both the political and nuclear arenas, and so far it has made real progress. It has succeeded in negotiating an arms control agreement that promises to cut nuclear forces below today's levels without getting tied up in the usual complications of specified force structures and verification agreements that often take on a life of their own. The very existence of this agreement suggests that relations have improved between the United States and Russia and, perhaps more important, that the Cold War's long shadow of nuclear confrontation is beginning to recede.

Despite those changes, however, the risk of accidental and unauthorized use of nuclear weapons remains. Both countries continue to keep their nuclear forces ready to launch within minutes, the only explanation for which is that they continue, either by habit or design, to view each other in nuclear terms and to posture themselves to respond to attack by the other. Russia's economic difficulties over the past decade have made the situation worse: Russia's early-warning system is in tatters, and its military has suffered both morale and discipline problems.

The report explores a wide range of approaches by which the United States and Russia could improve nuclear safety. The authors argue that U.S.-Russian relations and nuclear safety are integrally linked and should not be viewed in isolation—improvements in one will lead to improvements in the other. Consequently, they recommend . . .

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