While nuclear arms control is enjoying a renaissance of late, whether that momentum dissipates or leads to further agreements will require a painstaking effort by U.S. and Russian diplomats and experts to move past Cold War prejudices and the mistakes and misunderstandings of the post-Cold War era.
The 2011 conference focused on new actors and new agendas, reflecting the need to develop cooperative responses to challenges being posed by changing technology, distributions of political power, interest in nuclear energy, and security conditions in key regions.
As U.S. policy seeks to create the conditions that would allow for deep reductions in nuclear arsenals, the United States and Russia can undertake a practical approach to their stockpiles to 500 nuclear warheads each and those of other nuclear-armed states to no more than about half that number.
The Russian Duma’s likely ratification of New START Agreement this month will open a new debate over the strategic arms threats and emergent arms control opportunities that might be usefully added to the President's current arms control agenda.
Confronting the global challenges in 2011, from the ongoing war in Afghanistan and a rising China to continuing international economic turmoil, will require an understanding how much has changed and the extent to which the center of gravity in global power has shifted.
The ratification of the New START Treaty by the U.S. Senate speaks to the stability of the Russian-American “reset.” But the next challenge for Russia and the United States—missile defense—will be much more difficult.
Nearly two years after President Obama’s reset of bilateral relations with Russia, the ratification of New START by the U.S. Congress is an important step forward both for U.S.-Russia cooperation and for global nuclear security.
Having cleared the Senate, New START is now proceeding towards implementation, but the method for verifying the dismantlement of warheads remains a key challenge that must be resolved in a future agreement.
Given the current status of nuclear security and nonproliferation in South Asia, nuclear powers like China, Russia, and the United States should look for a path of engagement for India and Pakistan to be brought into the global nonproliferation regime.
When NATO leaders convene in November, they will undertake a reexamination of the alliance’s policy on nuclear weapons, a review that, spurred by recent nonproliferation initiatives, could split NATO’s members if not handled carefully.