In a new article, former Russian officials Alexey Arbatov and Igor Ivanov observe that while COVID-19 has delayed the 50th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it “has not visibly affected the main weapons programs of the United States, Russia, China, and other leading military powers.”
A new nuclear and advanced conventional arms race is now gathering momentum, they write, and “against the background of the collapse of nuclear arms control regimes, this arms race inevitably will exacerbate controversies among the great powers, creating a high probability of armed conflict and the ensuing risk of nuclear escalation.”
The authors, both members of the Nuclear Threat Initiative international board of directors, describe a path forward for the United States and Russia, which control more than 90% of all nuclear weapons. Steps include efforts to prevent the negative consequences ensuing from the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty—and extending the New START treaty to preserve limits and verification on Russian and U.S. strategic nuclear forces. This would allow time to negotiate additional bilateral agreements, as well as seek to include China, the UK and France in the future. They also provide specific ideas for the scope and content of the next bilateral agreement that could follow New START, underscoring that it should enhance strategic stability.
“The perfect should not become the enemy of the good, and the half-century successful history of nuclear arms control repeatedly has offered proof of this principle,” they conclude.
Read full article here.