This volume contains the proceedings of a conference held at the Center for International Security and Arms Control in May 1996. The meeting was the latest in a series that CISAC had held over the years with Russian specialists from the Center for Scientific Research of the Committee of Scientists for Global Security, the Ministry of Defense, and the Russian Academy of Sciences. The general rubric under which these meetings were organized is "Strategic Stability to the Year 2000."
The May meeting had a special significance because 1996 was a year of presidential elections in both Russia and the United States, and the prospect of these elections was inevitably reflected in the discussions. But another general point emerged in the meeting, and that was the need to pay more attention to the strategic relationship between Russia and the U.S. Much had been done since the end of the Cold War to wind down the nuclear competition between the two countries, and agreements have been signed to reduce the enormous nuclear arsenals built up during the Cold War. There is much to be done, however, to ensure that this course is continued. The uncertainty
about ratification of START II by the State Duma, and the proposals in the U.S. Congress for deployment of a national ABM system both cast doubt on the possibility of further reductions in strategic offensive arms. The prospects for pushing nuclear weapons into the background of international politics are clouded by the renewed Russian interest in the role of tactical weapons in regional conflicts, and by U.S. interest
in the use of nuclear weapons to deter chemical and biological weapons attacks.
The issues discussed in the conference are embedded in broader political relationships, and this meeting suggested the need for a more intensive and broader strategic dialogue. In both countries there had been a lessening of interest in issues of arms control, but the process of reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons, to which both states are formally committed, is a complex and contentious one, which requires
political trust and careful management. Hence, the importance of a strategic dialogue which examines the conceptual basis of Russian-U.S. relations. Several participants in the conference spoke of the need to transform, or move away from, nuclear deterrence.
Many proposals were advanced for further cooperation in arms control and disarmament. But it is clear that much remains to be done to move Russian-U.S. relations onto a more stable footing.