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If the nuclear state has no possibilities for ensuring these conditions, the likelihood of its using nuclear weapons will be greatly reduced.

Of course, any situation of increasing crisis between countries that include at least one nuclear weapons state will come in for close scrutiny by other countries’ intelligence services. The information gathered can be used to give timely warning to the state against whom a nuclear strike is being prepared that a sudden strike is already impossible. At the same time, other countries’ air and missile defense forces can be concentrated in the area around the conflict zone in order to prevent attempts to launch an attack using nuclear weapons against any of the parties.

These measures can all be quite effective so long as the legal base and appropriate agreements are already in place and the structures needed for their implementation have been established. These structures should include:

  • A center for collecting, summarizing and analyzing intelligence information from countries taking part in the measures to prevent the use of nuclear weapons. This center would need to have the authorization to inform the parties to the conflict of plans by one of the parties to launch a sudden advance nuclear strike, in the interests of disrupting such plans.

  • An air and missile defense system based on pooling the resources of national air and missile defense systems of the countries taking part in the efforts to prevent the conflicting parties from using nuclear weapons.

  • Command centers for comprehensive use of all the available methods of destroying the means of delivery of nuclear weapons and nuclear warheads in the event of their use.

All of this shows that carrying out military-technical measures aimed at reducing countries’ motivations for obtaining nuclear weapons, and the measures aimed at preventing the use of nuclear weapons, require practically the same kind of command structure and military resources. The conclusion, therefore, is that during their consultations on establishing a European missile defense system, Russia, the United States, and NATO should focus not on neutralizing potential threats to Russia from the American system, but on designing the system for the priority missions of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation and preventing the use of nuclear weapons.

Traditionally, the United States has never been inclined to share command with anyone else, and this is true also of the elements of the proposed European missile defense system in Europe. But the examples of cases when the United States has laid aside other interests and shown initiative and resolution in addressing nuclear non-proliferation issues give hope for full cooperation on the ultimate goal.

As was said, the problem of nuclear arms control in today’s world goes beyond the NPT framework and no matter how great the United States’ efforts to resolve the nuclear non-proliferation issue on its own terms, only a multilateral approach that combines the efforts of different countries will work. We cannot achieve nuclear security unless we address the reasons that incite countries to obtain nuclear weapons and take measures to prevent such weapons from being used.

This does not claim to be an exhaustive list of possible approaches, but the proposals it outlines could be of interest for more detailed examination and drawing up concrete proposals and recommendations that could become the subject of talks and negotiations.

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