On Tuesday [June 4], the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces debated the draft Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
It voted out, on party lines, language that prohibits deployment of a low-yield warhead on the Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile. That makes sense: The rationale for the warhead is dubious, and the weapon likely would never be selected for use.
Thirty years ago this week, I watched the news from Beijing and started shredding my bedding. It was the night before my college graduation, I had been studying Chinese politics, and news had broken that college students just like us had been gunned down in Tiananmen Square after weeks of peaceful and exhilarating democracy protests—carried on international TV. In the iconic square where Mao Zedong had proclaimed the People’s Republic decades before, bespectacled students from China’s best universities had camped out, putting up posters with slogans of freedom in Chinese and English.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Brussels on June 4 and 5, where he met with the leadership of the European Union and NATO. He reaffirmed Kyiv’s goal of integrating into both institutions—goals enshrined earlier this year as strategic objectives in Ukraine’s constitution.
China is making a risky bet in the Middle East. By focusing on economic development and adhering to the principle of noninterference in internal affairs, Beijing believes it can deepen relations with countries that are otherwise nearly at war with one another—all the while avoiding any significant role in the political affairs of the region. This is likely to prove naive, particularly if U.S. allies begin to stand up for their interests.
For nearly five decades, Washington and Moscow have engaged in negotiations to manage their nuclear competition. Those negotiations produced a string of acronyms—SALT, INF, START—for arms control agreements that strengthened strategic stability, reduced bloated nuclear arsenals and had a positive impact on the broader bilateral relationship.
If voters in Ukraine elect television star Volodymyr Zelensky president Sunday, as seems almost certain, that should please the Kremlin, which in the course of supporting rebels in the eastern regions of Ukraine has made clear its dislike for incumbent Petro Poroshenko.
Ukraine is halfway through a presidential election: The first round took place on March 31, and the run-off is coming up on April 21. At the annual Kyiv Security Forum and in other conversations in Kyiv last week, I had the opportunity to catch up on the latest developments in Ukraine, and came away with five key observations.
UKRAINE AGAIN SCORES A DEMOCRATIC ELECTION
The Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) is pleased to announce the selection of its pre-and postdoctoral fellows for the 2019-20 academic year. They will begin their appointments at Stanford in the coming Autumn quarter.
CISAC fellows spend the academic year engaged in research and writing and are expected to participate in seminars and to interact and collaborate with leading faculty and researchers.
April 5 marks the 10th anniversary of the speech in which Barack Obama laid out his vision for a world without nuclear weapons. It did not gain traction. Instead, the United States and Russia are developing new nuclear capabilities, while the nuclear arms control regime is on course to expire in 2021. The result will be a world that is less stable, less secure, and less predictable.
A WORTHWHILE VISION
March 18 marks the fifth anniversary of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, which capped the most blatant land grab in Europe since World War II. While the simmering conflict in Donbas now dominates the headlines, it is possible to see a path to resolution there. It is much more difficult with Crimea, which will remain a problem between Kyiv and Moscow, and between the West and Russia, for years—if not decades—to come.
THE TAKING OF CRIMEA
Congress’s annual worldwide-threat hearings are usually scary affairs, during which intelligence-agency leaders run down all the dangers confronting the United States. This year’s January assessment was especially worrisome, because the minds of American citizens were listed as key battlegrounds for geopolitical conflict for the first time.
After Hanoi: APARC and CISAC Experts Discuss the Outcome of the Trump-Kim Summit and the Future of U.S.-DPRK Diplomacy
Following the abrupt ending of the highly anticipated second bilateral summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, APARC and CISAC scholars evaluate the result of the summit, its implications for regional relations in Northeast Asia, and the opportunities moving forward towards the goal of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Political scientist Asfandyar Mir has studied security affairs in South Asia for years. Now a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, Mir explains the latest developments, old conflicts, and potential conflagrations in the ongoing crisis between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan.
RFE/RL: Where do you see the military situation moving after India and Pakistan engaged in what appears to be retaliatory air strikes and cross-border shelling?
The Trump administration has finished off the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a treaty mortally wounded by Russia’s deployment of a banned intermediate-range missile. That leaves the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) as the sole agreement limiting U.S. and Russian nuclear forces.
In May 2018, Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) scholars Siegfried Hecker, Robert Carlin, and Elliot Serbin released an in-depth report analyzing the nuclear history of North Korea between 1992 and 2017 alongside a historical research-based “roadmap” for denuclearization.
I used to think we didn’t have enough strategic documents guiding U.S. cyber policy. Now I think we have at least one too many. In September, the Trump administration published a National Cyber Strategy—proudly declaring that it was the first fully articulated cyber strategy in 15 years. This week, the annual intelligence threat hearing laid bare the fantasy world of that four-month-old document and the cold hard reality of, well, reality.
In December, Secretary of State Pompeo said Russia had 60 days to come back into compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Otherwise, the United States would suspend its treaty obligations.
The clock runs out on February 2. Unfortunately, U.S. and Russian officials, already anticipating the treaty’s demise, have turned to finger-pointing…and Washington is losing the blame game.
CHARGES OF TREATY VIOLATIONS
Today, January 14, marks the 25th anniversary of the Trilateral Statement. Signed in Moscow by President Bill Clinton, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, the statement set out the terms under which Ukraine agreed to eliminate the large arsenal of former Soviet strategic nuclear weapons that remained on its territory following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly voted down a Russian-proposed resolution calling for support for the INF Treaty. That Moscow gambit failed, in large part because Russia is violating the treaty by deploying prohibited missiles.
This bit of diplomatic show came one week after Russian officials said they would like to discuss INF Treaty compliance concerns. That could be—not is, but could be—significant. Washington should test whether those suggestions represent just more Kremlin posturing or a serious effort to save the treaty.