A consensus has grown in Washington that the next nuclear arms negotiation with Moscow should aim to limit all U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, not just deployed strategic ones. That would raise challenging issues. Moscow may insist that it would put non-strategic weapons on the table only if Washington addresses issues of concern to Russia, particularly, missile defense.
If that is the case, the Joe Biden administration should consider whether the benefits to the United States and allied security of limiting all nuclear weapons, including non-strategic nuclear arms, would justify accepting some constraints on missile defense. There are reasons to consider such a trade-off. Refusing to discuss missile defense could mean forgoing limits on non-strategic nuclear weapons and provide an impetus to others to increase their strategic offensive forces.
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