Academic journal article Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy

The Continuing Chill of the Cold War

Academic journal article Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy

The Continuing Chill of the Cold War

Article excerpt

The end of the Cold War marked the first time in 40 years that U.S. and Soviet citizens were no longer in danger of nuclear annihilation. Or so they thought. Unfortunately, thousands of nuclear weapons remain in the arsenals of both the United States and Russia. Hundreds of tons of weapons materials lie waiting in storage facilities, ready to defend these countries. As M.V. Ramana notes in "Reinventing the Arms Race" (FORUM, Summer 1999), in the 10 years since the end of the Cold War, little progress has been made in reducing the stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Moreover, thousands of weapons in the United States and Russia still remain ready to launch.

In the unipolar world of the late l990s, the United States is the one country that must lead the way in the march toward nuclear disarmament. But, as Ramana points out, the United States appears to be entrenched in its old Cold War ideology and is clinging to its nuclear weapons stockpile and its Cold War policies.

Although a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons may seem to provide the United States with security, in actuality, it makes for an unstable situation. This is mainly due to the difficult economic situation in Russia, America's old Cold War adversary. The ongoing economic crisis has begun to eat away at Russia's atomic infrastructure. As a consequence, systems to detect incoming nuclear missiles are faulty at best, and materials used to power nuclear weapons are increasingly vulnerable to theft. In fact, some of the materials may already have been stolen or sold by financially desperate guards or technicians working at the sites where the weapons materials are housed.

As a result of the precarious situation in Russia, the United States remains vulnerable to attack by nuclear weapons. …

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