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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION AND NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL Viktor S. Koltunov, Vitali L. Kotyuzhansky, Yuri F. Zabaluyev, Rosatom Institute for Strategic Stability The twentieth century entered history as a century of confrontation between two social and political systems. It was also an era when humanity’s great scientific and technical achievements – the mastery of nuclear and thermonuclear energy – were directed above all at developing nuclear weapons. The development of nuclear weapons brought with it the new threat of spreading nuclear military technology and an increasing number of countries with the bomb. The increasing number of countries with nuclear weapons gave rise in turn to greater risk that these weapons would be used, with all the disastrous consequences this would have for the international community. The prospect of such a turn of events necessitated a radical change of policy in the nuclear weapon states and the creation of reliable barriers to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. At the foundation of the international legal non-proliferation regime is the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),318 which was signed on July 1, 1968, and came into force on March 5, 1970. This Treaty is the broadest international agreement to date with 189 signatories. They include non-nuclear states – countries that did not have nuclear weapons before January 1, 1967, and that committed themselves to maintaining their non-nuclear status – and nuclear weapons states, which committed themselves to not transferring nuclear weapons, other nuclear explosive devices, or the control over such weapons and devices directly or indirectly to any other countries and not helping, encouraging or inciting in any way any country that does not have nuclear weapons to acquire by whatever means nuclear weapons, other nuclear explosive devices or the control over such weapons and devices. One of the most important elements of the non-proliferation regime was the obligation by the Treaty’s signatories to hold negotiations on ending the nuclear arms race in the near future and concluding a treaty on full and comprehensive disarmament under strict and effective international control. Another important element was the right of all of the non-nuclear states to carry out research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination. Despite the colossal efforts made over the NPT’s lifetime to end the nuclear arms race, and despite the radical geopolitical changes in the world over the last 15 years – changes that have ended the global military confrontation between the two political systems – the situation regarding preserving and strengthening the non-proliferation regime remains tense. This is reflected in particular in: the gradual nuclear proliferation that has taken place (nuclear tests in India and Pakistan, a de-facto nuclear Israel, the situation with the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs); differences of opinion between the nuclear weapons states and most of the 318 To read the text of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, see http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Infcircs/Others/infcirc140.pdf; accessed April 6, 2008.
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop non-nuclear states on the ways and pace of nuclear disarmament; problems with bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)319 into force; the deadlock at the Disarmament Conference on concluding a convention to end the production of fissile materials; the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM)320; the standstill in establishing new nuclear-weapons free zones; and the United States’ increasing inclination to use force in resolving international problems and the resulting incentive this gives to a number of non-nuclear countries to obtain nuclear weapons (modern knowledge and technology makes this easier to do, and nuclear weapons are seen as a way for a country to raise its political status and give itself added protection against external pressure). In this context, the issue of countering proliferation of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery remains very relevant. At the same time, it has become clear that the efforts of individual countries (or even groups of countries) to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation are not effective. Proliferation is a global problem and this makes international cooperation all the more important. In his Address to the Russian Federation Federal Assembly in 2006, President Vladimir Putin spoke of the need to adopt comprehensive nuclear non-proliferation measures as “one of the most important issues in today’s world.”321 Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is almost always on the agenda and reflected in the documents of G8 summits (see Appendix D). The non-nuclear NPT signatories consistently express their dissatisfaction with the pace of nuclear disarmament. They quite fairly view nuclear disarmament not as some kind of alternative, but as a strict obligation taken on by the nuclear states under the NPT’s provisions in which progress has virtually come to a halt. Despite the NPT’s positive achievements, it has not become a universal treaty and its lifetime has seen the emergence of de-facto nuclear states – India, Israel, and Pakistan – which symbolize the serious crisis facing the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Moreover, other countries still continue their attempts to join the ‘nuclear club.’ All of the unresolved issues affecting the non-proliferation regime’s effectiveness traditionally emerge in most concentrated form during the NPT review conferences. A program adopted by the conference in 2000, 13 Steps Towards Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, has still not been implemented.322 The most recent conference in New York in 2005, failed to produce a single document containing concrete recommendations for strengthening the NPT.323 The deep-running contradictions that have built up between nuclear states and developing countries over many years have led to a situation where these conferences become bogged down in discussing organizational issues instead of concentrating on matters of substance, namely the NPT signatories’ commitment to the Treaty’s three main principles: non-proliferation, disarmament, and the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The most active position on nuclear disarmament during the conference was taken by countries that are part of the Coalition for a New Agenda: Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden. These countries highlighted the issue of the nuclear states’ 319 The text of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty can be found at http://www.ctbto.org/; accessed April 6, 2008. 320 To read the text of the AMB Treaty, see http://www.state.gov/www/global/arms/treaties/abm/abm2.html; accessed, April 8, 2008. 321 The text of this document can be found at http://www.kremlin.ru/text/appears/2006/05/105546.shtml. 322 For further information, see http://disarmament2.un.org/speech/29apr2001.htm; accessed April 8, 2008. 323 For further information, see http://www.un.org/events/npt2005/; accessed April 8, 2008.
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop observance of Article VI of the NPT. Along with the question of cutting back strategic offensive nuclear weapons, these countries also focused attention on reducing non-strategic nuclear weapons, bringing the CTBC into force, and reaching an agreement on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.324 The developing countries have focused primarily on the issue of negative security guarantees for the non-nuclear states with respect to both the threat and the actual use of nuclear weapons. The developing countries and many European nations link progress on non-proliferation efforts to nuclear disarmament and arms control and therefore expect concrete and practical steps from the five nuclear powers. But at the same time, new threats and challenges to security, regional conflicts, the increased role of force as a factor in resolving global problems, the increased danger of outside intervention in sovereign states’ domestic affairs under the pretext of preventing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation, the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and its plans to develop a global missile defense system (including plans to deploy components of this system in Europe), the new U.S. space strategy giving it the right to deploy weapons in space, and the George W. Bush Administration’s highly negative attitude toward drawing up binding legal instruments in the area of arms control and non-proliferation have all stalled the disarmament process and make the prospect of reaching new nuclear arms control and arms reduction agreements very uncertain at the present time. The U.S. position on this issue is contradictory: on the one hand, the United States resolutely opposes nuclear weapons proliferation, but on the other hand it shows a clear lack of interest in further arms reductions – the aspect of non-proliferation policy that is a determining factor in shaping relations between the leading world powers and the developing countries. The Russian position is that considerable progress in nuclear disarmament has been achieved over the last 10-15 years, and it supports continued development of this process. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on November 13, 2000, that, “We see no reason why further strategic offensive arms reductions should not be carried out. We have proposed to the United States, including at the highest levels, setting the goal of radically cutting back our countries’ nuclear stockpiles to 1,500 warheads each (it would be entirely realistic to do this by 2008). But this is not the limit and we are ready to consider even lower levels in the future.”325 The two countries signed the bilateral Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT) Treaty in May 2002, under which deployed nuclear warheads are to be cut back to 1,700-2,200 units in each country, but no further reductions followed and the disarmament process came to a halt.326 The questions today then are: Is there a future for further cooperation in nuclear arms control? What are the problems involved? What solutions can be found? The answer to the first question is very much in the affirmative, for, so long as we do not lose sight of reality, nuclear arms control remains one of the most important aspects of U.S.-Russian relations, and both countries now need to find common ground in new conditions. As we see it, the following elements could serve as the basis for a new treaty: 324 For further information regarding the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, see http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/fmct/index.html; accessed April 6, 2008. 325 The text of Vladimir Putin’s statement on the antiballistic missile defense issue can be found in Russian at http://president.kremlin.ru/text/news/2000/11/129411.shtml; accessed July 14, 2008. 326 The text of the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/05/20020524-3.html; accessed April 6, 2008.
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop Lowered levels (as compared to the SORT) set for the number of warheads and limits on the overall number of means of their delivery, but without sub-limits for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and heavy bombers, and without restrictions set on the structure of strategic nuclear forces. Russia has already stated its willingness to reduce strategic offensive arms to a total of 1,500 warheads or even less, but the United States is not yet ready for such a step. A compromise solution could be to set a level of 1,500-2,000 warheads and 850-1,000 means of their delivery. Conditions could also be agreed for the deployment of non-nuclear armed ICBMs and SLBMs. A ban on the development of new types of strategic offensive weapons and their transfer (sale) to third countries. This would require conditions to be made concerning the current cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom on SLBMs. Development of clear accounting rules that exclude the possibility of building up ‘return potential’ (the existence of such rules is one of the key factors for reaching a new agreement). Bolstering confidence-building measures, transparency and predictability in the area of nuclear arms. Development of control measures that are reliable but at the same time cheaper and simpler than those set out in the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (START-I Treaty).327 Making the agreement legally binding. The drafting of a new agreement is directly or indirectly linked to a number of problems that have an influence on the future treaty’s content. The most important among them (though this is not an exhaustive list) include the following. Restrictions need to apply to all types of strategic offensive weapons, including long-range sea-based cruise missiles. Long-range sea-based cruise missiles are considered to be a separate class of strategic offensive arms. These missiles are equipped with quite powerful nuclear devices (up to 200 kilotons), have high precision (the use of an optical correlation targeting system and satellite navigation equipment gives them probable circular deviation of just 8-10 meters), and a flight range of 2,600 km or more. The fact that they fly at low altitude (only several dozen meters above ground) and have a low effective dispersal surface enables them to approach their targets undetected and carry out an effective strike. The current situation with cruise missiles is as follows: they are not subject to restrictions under existing agreements and the United States opposes the introduction of any restrictions on them, citing the difficulties or even impossibility of carrying out control as the main reason. The problem is that if restrictions and reductions are imposed on some types of strategic offensive weapons, but others – long-range sea-based cruise missiles – are not subject to any 327 To read the text of the START I Treaty, see http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/start1/text/index.html; accessed April 6, 2008.
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop restrictions and the possibility for their unlimited increase remains open, this arms control system in general ends up making no sense. The decision not to include long-range sea-based cruise missiles in arms limitations was to some extent acceptable when the situation was one of reducing strategic offensive weapons to a total of several thousand warheads, but it is quite a different matter if further serious reductions are made to the numbers of strategic offensive weapons while at the same time the number of sea-based cruise missiles increases dramatically. There are problems with long-range sea-based cruise missiles including the fact that they can be equipped with nuclear or conventional devices, and accounting procedures used. Their control does present certain difficulties. But in principle, all of these issues, including the control question, can be resolved. It would be possible, for example, to set a limit on the total number of long-range sea-based cruise missiles and let the parties themselves decide the numbers of nuclear and conventional-armed missiles within this limit. Alternatively, a sub-limit could be set for the number of nuclear-armed cruise missiles. Control measures could include restrictions on deploying cruise missiles on particular types and classes of vessels, distinguishing signs for nuclear and non-nuclear cruise missiles, on-site inspections, the use of radiation control apparatus, the implementation of confidence-building measures, in which the parties already have considerable experience, and the organization of demonstrations of arms. The most important issue is to demonstrate political will and organize cooperation between the parties. All of these issues could become the subject of joint discussions. One of the main issues for the future prospects of a new agreement is controlling the parties’ compliance with their obligations. There can be no doubt that control must guarantee confidence that the parties are indeed complying with their obligations. The experience with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces328 and START-I Treaties shows that future treaties should provide for effective but less costly and unwieldy control measures. The START-1 Treaty, for example, stipulated 13 different types of inspection. The parties conduct several dozen inspections every year and each inspection costs several thousand dollars. At the same time, magnetic tape recordings of telemetric data transmitted from on board launched missiles are exchanged, deployed mobile ICBM launchers are placed in the open air in compliance with highly complicated procedures, and constant monitoring of mobile ICBM production sites is conducted. Analysis shows that it is possible to considerably simplify the control mechanisms. It would be possible to renounce some control measures without reducing the overall effectiveness of control. Instead of 13 different types of inspection it would be possible to have just two: inspections to check initial data and annual inspections to check updated data. The first type of inspection could be conducted once (immediately after the treaty comes into force), and the second could be set as an annual quota of, say, 5-10 inspections, with each side deciding as it sees fit how to use this quota for the agreed inspection purposes. Strengthening and developing confidence-building measures, transparency and predictability in the area of nuclear weapons is also very important. It would make sense in this respect to keep the information mechanism that has already been tried and tested through the START-I Treaty and complement it with the exchange of information on plans and programs in the areas of offensive (including sea-based cruise missiles) and defensive strategic arms. 328 To read the text of the INF Treaty, see http://www.state.gov/www/global/arms/treaties/inf2.html; accessed April 6, 2008.
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop The ABM issue needs to be jointly examined. U.S. plans to deploy a global missile defense system and its withdrawal from the ABM Treaty cannot fail to have an impact on nuclear arms reductions and limitations. This arises from the objective interrelationship between offensive and defensive arms. The extent of this impact can vary depending on a number of factors, but that there is an impact of one kind or another is indisputable. Although the ABM Treaty has ceased to function, the ABM problem has not disappeared. The reality is such that the parties will have to address this issue sooner or later, because if the United States does go ahead with its missile defense system plans, it will ultimately set off (and is already setting off) an insidiously developing arms race, the threat of weapons being deployed in space, which will call the whole future of continued confidence-building efforts into question. Increased ABM potential will lead to the domination of a strategy based on preventive nuclear strikes in the event of international crises. Rather than holding back the spread of missiles and missile technology, this situation will give their proliferation an added boost. The interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and missile defense systems will create a situation that considerably complicates any further nuclear arms reductions. In order to stop the world from sliding toward a situation the international community thought had become a thing of the past, it must be clear that the ABM issue has to remain on the bilateral relations agenda. Steps to reduce the negative impact of the above-mentioned factors could begin with the agreement of ABM-related confidence-building measures. Taking a sober look at the current situation with regard to missile defense, the aim today is not one of trying to achieve a far-reaching agreement, but rather of adopting a gradual approach and beginning with the more modest objective of agreeing to carry out confidence-building and transparency measures in this area. The possibilities for this exist. The positive experience already built up by the parties and reflected in the Agreement on Confidence-Building Measures Related to Systems to Counter Ballistic Missiles Other Than Strategic Ballistic Missiles, signed on September 26, 1997, in New York, could serve as a concrete base upon which to build in this area.329 Under this agreement, the parties inform each other of test grounds, other test sites and launches of interceptor missiles, organize voluntary demonstrations of their missile defense systems and components and the observation of their tests, and provide information on the parameters of the missile defense systems and components. Settling on confidence-building and transparency measures that would be then drawn up as an agreement would help to assuage the concerns arising from the deployment of missile defense systems as part of efforts to counter the strategic ballistic missile threat. An agreement of this kind would put in place the conditions for gradually expanding the range of issues the parties could then examine and resolve. In this respect, they would be better informed on the actual state of affairs and each other’s intentions in the area of missile defense. One proposal in this area is to establish a joint information system for collective use. The information provision system is the central, most complex, labor-intensive component of the missile defense system, and also the component that raises the greatest concerns. If, as the United States declares, the planned missile defense system is not directed at intercepting Russian ballistic missiles, and if Russia and America really are partners, then it would be possible to unite the two countries’ efforts in developing this component of the system under the understanding 329 The text of this agreement can be found at http//www.fas.org/nuke/control/abmt/text/abm_cbm.htm; accessed July 14, 2008.
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop that both countries would use the information it provides. In this respect, the Russian proposal for joint use of the Gabala radar station should be given consideration. The idea of a common European missile defense system offers great potential for bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Joint evaluation of the nature and scale of missile proliferation and the potential threats of these weapons’ use could provide the initial base on which to build. It is extremely important that work on this kind of system not lead to increased tension in relations with countries that for whatever reason will not be taking part in the work or that are considered as potential dangers to the European region. In order to achieve this objective, a European missile defense system, if the need for its development really does arise, should be based on the principle of ‘rapid reaction missile defenses.’ In other words, directing the system from the outset against this or that specific country (or group of countries) would not be the right approach. Cooperation could extend to a wide range of areas, including the formation of a common database on potential means of attack, the development of the European missile defense system’s concept, definition of the procedures, scale and deadlines for potential deployment of the system’s formations, creation of its information field and pool of weapons resources, organization of command-headquarters exercises, and so on. The problem of outer space. There is reason today to believe that conditions are emerging for the potential deployment of weapons in outer space. The gaps in international law in this area, the development of new strategic military doctrines as well as scientific and technical advances all lend weight to this conclusion. A number of international agreements concerned to a greater or lesser extent with preventing the militarization of outer space already exist, but this does not mean that there are no gaps in the law that cannot be exploited. Military activities in outer space not covered by international agreements can be divided into two categories: activities to create and use so-called space support systems activities related to space weapons systems The first type of systems (support systems) encompasses systems designed for the following tasks: timely detection of signs of preparation and launch of an attack, rapid warning of attack threats (vision-based, radio and radio-technical intelligence systems, missile attack warning systems, control of air space and outer space) systems to support state management and command of armed forces (space communications and data transmission systems) systems to monitor compliance with international treaties and agreements (space observation systems, systems for detecting missile launches and nuclear explosions) systems providing navigation, meteorological, topographical, surveying and cartographical support to armed forces units, systems for controlling the location of various objects (space-based systems for corresponding purposes) systems for detecting and assessing the consequences of emergency situations and natural disasters (space-based observation systems)
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop Current provisions of international law do not place any restrictions on the development and deployment of such systems, and the space powers sought precisely to avoid the imposition of such restrictions. Military systems of this kind considerably reduce the surprise factor in other countries’ behavior, make it easier to forecast developments in the international situation, help prevent dangerous incidents related to the everyday activities of armed forces, and contribute overall to increasing national and international security and strengthening strategic stability. Space systems of the second type (weapons systems) include space-based attack systems, anti-satellite systems, and radio-electronic and optical-electronic suppression systems. Activities related to these systems can have several objectives. Development and testing of objects with different types of WMD, which could be intended for deployment in outer space. Development, testing and deployment in outer space of weapons that are not WMD (missile defense systems, for example, or weapons systems designed for selective destructive of targets in the air, on land or at sea). The cessation of the ABM Treaty means that one of its most important aspects related to legal regulation of military activity in outer space, namely, the ban on the creation, testing and deployment of space-based missile defense systems and components, is no longer covered by legal provisions. Development, testing and deployment of anti-satellite weapons in outer space. Development, testing and deployment of various types of radio-electronic and optical-electronic suppression systems in outer space. An analysis of these different objectives leads us to the conclusion that, in legal terms, outer space is not entirely protected from the possibility of becoming an arena for the deployment of weapons under certain conditions, and even a potential theater for military operations. Time will tell whether or not anyone will actually make use of the gaps in the international law on outer space, but the conditions for such developments are already emerging. What are the possible consequences of deploying weapons in outer space? The one issue that is without doubt is that it would have a serious destabilizing effect on the international situation. The global reach of space-based weapons, the surprise factor in their use, the possibilities for covertly acting against and debilitating other countries’ space objects, and monopoly possession of these weapons would place the international community in a situation where it feels like it has a ‘sword of Damocles’ hanging permanently over its head, all the more so as, unlike WMD, space-based weapons can be used selectively and are thus weapons that could actually be used in practice. All of this leads to the conclusion that it is urgent to address this issue and prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space. It is not hard to realize that it is easier to keep outer space free of weapons when there are not actually any weapons there yet than to try to clear outer space of weapons after they have already been deployed. Based on this position, Russia has consistently supported immediate agreement of measures aimed at preventing the deployment of weapons in outer space. These measures could include: the use of outer space in accordance with international law that is, in the interests of peace and security
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop a commitment to not put any object equipped with weapons of any type into orbit, nor to deploy such weapons on celestial bodies or deploy them in outer space through any other means a commitment not to use force or the threat of force against objects in outer space These provisions could form the basis for negotiating an agreement that would provide full protection against the deployment of weapons in outer space. One of the biggest problems today with regard to possible future agreements on strategic offensive arms is the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This process has already continued for more than 10 years and the treaty’s future still remains unclear. The main argument for not bringing the treaty into force advanced by its opponents in the nuclear powers is that without nuclear tests it will be impossible to guarantee the safety and reliability of existing nuclear weapons. Opponents to the treaty from countries not officially in the ‘nuclear club’ try to advance their own arguments, obviously hoping to ensure they have the opportunity to carry out nuclear tests in the event that their country manages to acquire nuclear weapons. But there is a clear need for the CTBT to come into force as soon as possible. The importance of this treaty is reflected in its place and role in the system of international nuclear arms control and nuclear non-proliferation agreements. When drafting the CTBT, the participants in the negotiation process were aware that if all countries are involved, the treaty can provide reliable barriers not only to the efforts of ‘threshold states’ to develop nuclear weapons, but would also make it more difficult to improve existing nuclear arsenals. In this sense, the aim of the CTBT was not only the general goal of saving humanity from the possible environmental consequences of nuclear tests, but it would also make an important and in some ways unique contribution to non-proliferation efforts and would create favorable conditions for further nuclear arms reductions. Influential arms experts assert that the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons can be guaranteed without conducting nuclear tests. All that is needed in this respect is to make use of the intellectual, technological and financial resources required to create the relevant diagnostic and control systems. The technological progress that is inherent to the development of science and technology in the world today will help in this work. Are the conditions in place today for the CTBT to come into force? The answer is more affirmative than negative. First, the nuclear powers have observed a moratorium on nuclear tests during the last 10 years (Russia and the United States have observed a moratorium for more than 15 years now) and, according to the relevant authorities in these countries, the safety and reliability of their nuclear arsenals measure up to the stipulated demands. Second, the vast majority of countries have already made their choice in favor of the treaty. The treaty has already been signed by 177 countries and ratified by 140 (including 34 countries on the list of 44 countries whose participation is an essential condition for the treaty to come into force). Third, considerable sums of money, around $1 billion, have already been spent on technical preparations for the treaty to be able to function, establishing a verification mechanism (an international monitoring system, international data center, the infrastructure for a global communication system, and the technical secretariat), and also on the work of the CTBT Preparation Committee. It would be unjustified to have carried out this work and spent this money in vain. Finally, in the opinion of experts, the verification system put in place by the CTBT would have sufficient possibilities for effectively controlling the ban on nuclear tests in all
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop environments. This is confirmed by the results already achieved in the system’s development. This system would be unprecedented in its global reach. All of these facts indicate positive prospects for the CTBT to come into force and begin functioning in full. Speeding up this process could help to reinvigorate the spirit of cooperation between countries that was reflected in work on planning and drafting the CTBT (the work of an international group of seismology experts, the joint Russian-U.S. nuclear explosion control experiments and so on). Problems that could arise and dissuade a country from joining the CTBT could be resolved together by developing scientific and technical cooperation, exchanging experience, technology and knowledge; searching for confidence-building measures; and encouraging comprehensive and concrete dialogue on all unresolved issues. The problem of reduced combat readiness of strategic nuclear forces – an issue that remains the subject of much discussion at various levels in the United States and is presented as one of the main directions for maintaining strategic stability – deserves separate analysis. The following arguments are commonly advanced with regard to this problem: Russian-U.S. relations have undergone radical change. Russia and the United States are now building relations based on partnership and it would not be in keeping with these new relations to maintain strategic nuclear forces at a high level of combat readiness and continue targeting them at each other. A high level of combat readiness of strategic nuclear forces combined with the concept of retaliatory strike increases the risk of accidental nuclear war (as a result of mistakes in the information processing and military command systems, inadequate evaluation of the situation, mistaken decisions, unauthorized action by service personnel or terrorists, and provocation by third countries, etc.). Missile attack warning systems could possibly send out a false alert, especially given the current state of Russian warning systems. Analysis of these arguments reveals that there is no real evidence to support them. The high level of combat readiness of strategic nuclear forces achieved by the two sides earlier is not a hindrance to developing partnership relations today. The possibility of an accidental nuclear war is purely theoretical (the two sides have adopted constructive organizational and technical measures that practically rule out the possibility of a missile being launched through unauthorized action by service personnel or terrorists). At the same time, lowering the combat readiness level of strategic nuclear forces would deprive nuclear weapons of their main function – the deterrent function – and this could negatively affect strategic stability. Various possibilities for lowering the combat readiness level of strategic nuclear forces are being examined. The main options are removing warheads from missiles and storing them at a considerable distance from the missile systems’ launch sites (other methods are not very effective and cannot be controlled). But removing the warheads from missiles creates new demands: the missiles need to be fitted with electronic equivalents to replace the warheads removed, additional storage facilities need to be prepared and additional service personnel needs to be brought in, all of which are quite costly undertakings. Nor should it be forgotten that these measures to reduce the combat readiness of strategic nuclear forces concern Russia and the United States but do not address the question of similar steps being taken in the UK and France. Also, the measures primarily concern ICBMs, which
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop constitute the backbone of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces. Finally, there can be no ruling out a situation in which the two sides are forced to start raising the combat readiness level of their strategic nuclear forces once again but do not do so simultaneously. The country that first restores its strategic nuclear forces to full combat readiness could be tempted to make use of the opportunity for a first strike, and this could create an extremely unstable and dangerous situation. Objectively speaking, proposals for reducing the combat readiness level of strategic nuclear forces are not in the interests of strengthening strategic stability and preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Based on all of the above, we can draw the following overall conclusion: there is no doubt as to the need to activate the arms control process. A breakdown in the disarmament process in not in the interests of Russia, the United States, or the international community in general. Disarmament has been an important part of international politics for several decades now. Russia and the United States have both made a significant contribution to maintaining strategic stability in the world and it would be completely irrational now to take disarmament issues off the global agenda. Only joint, open, concrete and unbiased discussion of the existing problems and divergences in approach and close cooperation can bring positive results in the form of legally binding agreements that are in keeping with national interests and the interests of the entire international community. The current attempts to reduce the disarmament process to unilateral steps cannot achieve these objectives because in the absence of legally binding agreements each side will have a less clear picture of the other side’s real forces and will think them greater than they are in reality. Suspicions could arise that the other side is concealing the true scale of its forces. The absence of legally binding control measures makes it impossible to verify whether such concealment is actually taking place. Unilateral steps do not make for a more predictable future because they are implemented without mutual legal obligations and can be reversed with greater ease and rapidity. The problem of the irreversibility of arms reductions is becoming more acute; (this is an especially sensitive issue for Russia, given NATO’s eastward expansion, the U.S. plans to deploy components of a missile defense system close to Russia’s borders, and the prospect that weapons will be deployed in outer space. The increasing importance of WMD proliferation issues and the growing problem of international terrorism, including nuclear terrorism, should also be kept in mind. If extremists get their hands on weapons of mass destruction the results would be catastrophic. There is thus a clear need for the international community to coordinate efforts to prevent further erosion of the non-proliferation regime. There can be no doubt that success in this important area will facilitate more rapid progress in resolving other important international issues.
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