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

By David E. Mosher; Lowell H. Schwartz et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Five
RECOMMENDATION: A PHASED APPROACH
FOR IMPROVING NUCLEAR SAFETY
AND U.S.-RUSSIAN RELATIONS

Which of the 10 options examined in the previous chapter show the most promise? And how should they be incorporated into a strategy for improving nuclear safety? In our view, a successful strategy for limiting nuclear dangers requires both operational changes in the U.S. and Russian nuclear postures and improvements in the level of trust and cooperation between the two nations. This should be a mutually reinforcing process in which near-term improvements in nuclear safety build confidence and trust between Russia and the United States, thereby enabling more extensive steps in the medium and long term. These dynamics lead us to recommend a phased approach.

Our long-term vision is a U.S.-Russian relationship in which neither country views the other as a nuclear threat. The current relationship between Britain and France is an illustration of this end state. Both are nuclear powers with divergent views on some issues, yet neither would consider using nuclear weapons or even military force against the other to settle a dispute.

Reaching this long-term goal will be difficult, but that is no reason for complacency about nuclear safety issues. As discussed throughout this report, the danger of accidental or unauthorized launch remains a serious problem despite improvements in U.S.-Russian relations. This danger has been heightened by the deterioration of Russia's early-warning system, Russia's economic difficulties, and the continuing U.S. reliance on a damage limitation nuclear strategy. Due to

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