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U.S. Antinuclear Steps Should Focus on Russia: State Dept. Advisers
The United States should prioritize improving its ties with Russia in any broader effort to reduce the importance of nuclear armaments in relations between governments, a U.S. State Department panel said in an assessment made public on Tuesday.
In a world political climate characterized by "mutual assured stability," countries would no longer use nuclear weapons to ward off aggression because their connections would include no "major, core security issues such as ideological, territorial, or natural resource competition issues, and the benefits from peaceful integration in economic, political, and diplomatic spheres provide a counterbalance to the perceived advantages of nuclear conflict," according to the Aug. 14 analysis by the International Security Advisory Board.
It would be "a critical, first step" to establish the dynamic in U.S.-Russian ties, as the former Cold War rivals' "nuclear weapons stockpiles are so large as to overshadow other nations’ stockpiles," the document says. Moscow and Washington are believed to hold more than 90 percent of all nuclear weapons.
The sides have achieved "some modest progress" since the Soviet Union's collapse in creating such conditions, but "many years" would be required to achieve them more fully, the paper's authors wrote.
The panel advised Washington to carry out formal exchanges with Moscow on "matters of force structure, posture and doctrine to avoid strategic surprise or misunderstanding," and to hold bilateral sessions on steps aimed at achieving a more comprehensive improvement in ties.
In addition, the sides might together assess antimissile needs for individual countries as well as coalitions of nations, "with the goal of achieving a shared understanding of each nation’s requirements for effective missile defense," the analysis suggests.
The United States could shift toward a nuclear strategy based on "general deterrence," rather than focusing on Russia as its central antagonist, according to the board, which also endorsed potential new Nuclear Security Summit initiatives.
Other steps could include bilateral discussions on each side's rationale for holding atomic armaments, the group said, adding such sessions would conside nondeployed and battlefield weapons. Justifications for nonstrategic arsenals could be a focus in engaging Moscow through the NATO-Russia Council, it added.
Another objective for the two powers could be the "standardization of classification guidelines for nuclear-related information deterrence," according to the board.
The panel recommended looking to Cooperative Threat Reduction activities in potentially moving to establish "a 'gold standard' in technologies and best practices for nuclear materiel security," associated verification measures and procedures for updating the standard in accordance with factors including scientific progress and evolving hazards.
Additional bilateral discussions might "define appropriate and acceptable measures useful to influence other nations toward responsible nuclear materiel security, using an appropriately tailored standard," the paper states.
The State Department body proposed creating arrangements with Moscow to cooperatively monitor for potential ballistic missile firings; to warn of any atomic technologies half a decade before fielding them; to provide one another with inventories of their fissile substances; and to plan together for the possible use of an atomic armament by another power.
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This report is the result of a Track II dialogue including distinguished former senior political leaders, senior military officers, defence officials, and security experts from Europe, Russia, and the United States.
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