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CISAC Affiliate and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists columnist Pavel Podvig argues that the United States could begin reducing its nuclear weapons arsenals unilaterally, without negotiating another arms control treaty first. Russia has signaled that it will only concede to a new round of arms control negotiations if certain criteria are met, which would stall the negotiations process. According to Podvig, a unilateral U.S.
In this piece for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Pavel Podvig dispels the myth that Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, also known as "Star Wars," helped bring the Soviet Union to an end. According to Podvig, these enduring myths about the program create an illusion that missile defense the answer to making the world more secure.
As Russia and the United States reduce their nuclear arsenals, their relationship has undergone a complex transformation toward cooperation and partnership mixed with suspicion and rivalry, writes Pavel Podvig in a new paper. "The focus of Russia’s nuclear policy, however, has remained essentially unchanged."
Russia has the world’s largest stocks of weapon-usable fissile materials. Most of this material is a legacy of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union and the United States each created nuclear industries sized to produce tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Significant quantities of weapon-grade material also are present on the civilian side of nuclear complex, in storage, or being transferred from one facility to another, or used for research and other purposes. Providing security for all this material will continue to be a major task for Russia for decades.
In recent years, Russia and China have urged the negotiation of an international treaty to prevent an arms race in outer space. The United States has responded by insisting that existing treaties and rules governing the use of space are sufficient. The standoff has produced a six-year deadlock in Geneva at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, but the parties have not been inactive. Russia and China have much to lose if the United States were to pursue the space weapons programs laid out in its military planning documents. This makes
"Without a doubt, the U.S.-India nuclear deal presents a serious challenge to the NPT. But it also presents an opportunity to strengthening the regime and its most important, relevant elements."
Few U.S.-Russian cooperation efforts are more popular and less controversial than the "Megatons to Megawatts" program, also known as the HEU-LEU deal, which converts Russia's highly enriched uranium (HEU) from nuclear weapons into low-enriched uranium (LEU) for U.S. nuclear power reactors. Under the agreement that the countries signed in 1993, Moscow made a commitment to eliminate 500 metric tons of HEU--probably more than one-third of the total HEU stock that the Soviet Union produced during the Cold War. About 340 metric tons of HEU has already
The Soviet strategic modernization program of the 1970s was one of the most consequential developments of the Cold War. Deployment of new intercontinental ballistic missiles and the dramatic increase in the number of strategic warheads in the Soviet arsenal created a sense of vulnerability in the United States that was, to a large degree, responsible for the U.S. military buildup of the late 1970s and early 1980s and the escalation of Cold War tensions during that period. U.S. assessments concluded that the Soviet Union was seeking to achieve a
The intercept of the disabled USA-193 spy satellite the United States conducted on February 20 set a new benchmark for military exercises that have no benefits, but come at a tremendous political cost. The intercept topped even the U.S. decision to deploy missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic as an ill-advised maneuver that could only bring scores of suspicion and mistrust--exactly what the deployments inspired in Russia, where missile defense now poisons virtually every other issue in U.S.-Russian relations. In this vein, the intercept, or more aptly, a test of an
At first glance, the U.S. military's response to the incident at Minot Air Base involving the transportation of six nuclear warheads across the United States was reasonably thorough and harsh--three colonel-rank commanders were relieved of their positions, the bomber wing at Minot was decertified from its wartime missions, and a number of air force personnel lost their certifications. More action will probably come in the next few months. Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked the Defense Science Board to review the incident,
The U.S. plan to deploy elements of its Ballistic Missile Defense System in Eastern Europe was bound to be controversial. Russia has long been wary of U.S. missile defense plans and skeptical of U.S. claims about the ballistic missile threat from the third countries that missile defense is supposed to counter. The choice of Eastern Europe as the site of the upcoming deployment has made the plan particularly contentious, linking it to the already controversial process of eastward expansion of NATO. As a result, many Russians believe that in
One of the serious risks associated with the strategic nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States is that an accidental launch might result from a false alarm or from misinterpreting information provided by an early-warning system. This risk will not be reduced by bringing down the number of strategic missiles on high alert to the level of about 500 warheads on each side because this measure will not significantly affect first-strike vulnerability of the Russian strategic forces.
When Norwegian and U.S. scientists launched the Black Brant XII sounding rocket from a small island off Norway's northwest coast on January 25, 1995, they intended for it to harmlessly collect scientific data about the Northern Lights. But when Russia's early warning system radars detected the rocket, they generated an alarm that entered the nuclear forces command and control system and reached the highest levels of government.
The idea of cooperation between the United States and Russia in the area of missile defense has been popular in Russia since at least the early 1990s. The degree of interest has varied over time, but it has been consistently strong for most of the last decade. Disagreement on missile defenses and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which has been plaguing the U.S.-Russian relationships, actually has helped strengthen the popularity of the idea of cooperation.
This article presents an overview of the history of development and the current status of the Soviet and Russian early-warning system, which was built to provide the Soviet strategic forces with information about a missile attack in an event of a nuclear conflict with the United States. Two main components of this system are considered--the network of early-warning radars, and the space-based early-warning system, which includes satellites on highly-elliptical and geosynchronous orbits.
This encyclopedic book edited by Pavel Podvig provides comprehensive data about Soviet and Russian strategic weapons, payloads, and delivery systems and on the nuclear complex that supports them. The data are drawn from open, primarily Russian sources. Information is presented chronologically, arranged by individual systems and facilities, and is not available elsewhere in a single volume.
Since the attacks on September 11, the Bush administration has seemed as determined as ever to move ahead with a national missile defense system, although it would have done nothing to prevent the attacks. Another question is how the rest of the world views U.S. plans. This article contains a sampling of perspectives from around the world.