If the leading economic powers cannot demonstrate the urgency of the threat of nuclear terrorism and proliferation, then we have little hope of preventing those who seek to use nuclear capabilities against us from succeeding. We have to remember that there are no good responses once a nuclear weapon or enough material to produce one goes missing.
Cooperative threat reduction in Russia today needs to be addressed on three platforms: what has been accomplished so far and why it is not enough; prospects for the G-8; and what needs to be done to speed up progress.
If the U.S-Russian relationship stabilizes and an agreement is reached on missile defenses, Russia’s nuclear arsenal could dip as low as 1,000 weapons by 2010, allowing the U.S. to pursue deep cuts. It is unlikely, however, that Washington’s current position on missile defenses, the ABM Treaty, or negotiated arms control will create the environment needed for these reductions to materialize.
After the 9/11 attacks and the rash of anthrax mailings, renewed attention is being paid to the risks posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) falling into the hands of additional states and nonstate actors. The vast majority of scenarios involving WMD proliferation invariably stems from the current insecurity characterizing the state of the Russian WMD complex, particularly its nuclear complex.