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Arms Control without Treaties? Rethinking U.S.-Russian Strategic Negotiations in Light of the Duma-Senate Slowdown in Treaty Approval
Working Paper

Published By

CISAC

February 1998

This report on non-binding, non-treaty approaches to arms control draws upon research and discussion at the Center for International Security and Arms Control during 1990 and 1991, after the Cold War had ended but before the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It was apparent at the time that the traditional approach to arms control--through detailed treaties resulting from long negotiations--might not be adequate to deal with the new situation in which arms reductions could be made quickly but coordination would still be needed in order to preserve stability. We examined the possibility of using reciprocal unilateral measures (RUMs) in place of treaties as a mechanism for achieving arms control.

A striking example of the approach we were recommending was when Presidents Bush and Gorbachev announced major withdrawals of non-strategic nuclear weapons in September and October 1991 (We describe the Bush-Gorbachev RUMs in this paper.) The strategic picture changed dramatically soon after those measures were announced. The Soviet Union was replaced by the Russian Federation and 14 other newly independent states. For several years, the treaty method worked well in U.S.-Russian arms control, alongside other forms of cooperation such as the Nunn-Lugar program. We put aside our work on RUMs.

Although we are far from a resumption of the Cold War, U.S.-Russian relations are no longer as cooperative as they were in the early 1990s. Besides, the treaty method has slowed almost to a standstill. We have therefore returned to the draft final report of 1991 and drawn from it the history we thought is relevant to the current problem of reducing the strategic nuclear threat Russia and the United States pose to each other--and to the rest of the world.

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