make cooperation more difficult in the coming decade. But it would be a serious error of both analysis and policy to believe that either internal political developments or the existence of such tensions precludes strengthened cooperation in the area of nuclear security. Even at the height of the Cold War, when military planners on both sides thought that nuclear war was a real possibility, the United States and the then-Soviet Union cooperated to help create the international non-proliferation regime that, despite the challenges it faces today, has served humanity well. The challenge for today’s policy makers and analysts is to find those areas where cooperation is possible and build on them to strengthen the overall relationship.
Finding areas where cooperation is possible is a major purpose of the current project. There have been many studies, articles, and papers calling for improved cooperation between the United States and the Russian Federation. Most of their recommendations have not been implemented. Thus, the task facing us is not to generate bold new ideas for cooperation, but rather to focus on two types of ideas. The first are those where the conditions for implementation (including political acceptability) exist now. These ideas should be seized upon and implemented to help create the future world of partnership, even if the specific ideas are relatively modest. In building a true partnership over the next several years, it will be far better to succeed in small areas than to fail in big ones.
The second important set of ideas is that which are crucial to a true partnership but where the time is not yet ripe for implementation, whether for political or technical reasons. Here the task will be to identify the obstacles and assess whether they can be removed and if so, how. This aspect of building a true partnership will be time-consuming and, often, frustrating, but the long term benefits to security and stability of a world in which Russia and the United States exercise global leadership in nuclear security through a truly equal partnership will be worth the effort.
The vision set forth in this paper is demanding. It will almost certainly be impossible to reach all of the goals set forth above by 2015 or by any fixed date. That is the nature of visions. Further, much will depend on factors outside the control of the nuclear community in either Russia or the United States. Mutual suspicion, political issues, and commercial conflicts could impede progress. There will doubtless be setbacks and difficulties. But no single item described in this paper is impossible. The closer the two states and the two nuclear communities can come to this vision, the greater will be the security of both the United States and the Russian Federation and the greater will be the stability of the global nuclear regime.