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

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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May 1, 2003
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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.