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

Lynn E. David

David R. Howell

RAND

David E. Mosher

Lowell H. Schwartz

A RAND report warns of the danger of accidental or unauthorized nuclear weapons launch and recommends actions to enhance nuclear safety.

The report says that nuclear weapons continue to play a role that is out of proportion with other aspects of the U.S.-Russian relationship and that a combination of the following three factors increase the risk of accidental or unauthorized nuclear launch:

  • Large U.S. and Russian nuclear forces that can be delivered within minutes against the other;
  • A dramatic decline in survivable nuclear forces in Russia along with a Russian early-warning system in serious disrepair; and
  • Highly capable U.S. forces that can exploit Russian vulnerabilities.

The authors recommend a phased approach with a series of immediate, near-term and longer-term measures designed to reduce the risk of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons, with the long-term goal being to eliminate the importance of nuclear weapons in the relationship altogether. The report was commissioned by NTI.

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A RAND report warns of the danger of accidental or unauthorized nuclear weapons launch and recommends actions to enhance nuclear safety.

Understanding
the Nuclear Threat

Reducing the risk of nuclear use by terrorists and nation-states requires a broad set of complementary strategies targeted at reducing state reliance on nuclear weapons, stemming the demand for nuclear weapons and denying organizations or states access to the essential nuclear materials, technologies and know-how.

In Depth

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Russia

This article provides an overview of Russia’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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