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Contents

SIPRI Yearbook 2010

SIPRI Yearbook 2010

II. Staged reductions in Russian and US nuclear weapons

Chapter:
1. A world without nuclear weapons: fantasy or necessity?
Source:
SIPRI Yearbook 2010
Author(s):
James E. Goodby

Russia and the United States together possess about 90 per cent of the world’ s inventory of nuclear weapons. Understandably, these states have taken the lead in reducing their nuclear arsenals. The next phase of Russian–US nuclear arms reductions would follow the implementation of the 2010 New START Treaty, the successor treaty to the 1991 Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START Treaty) and the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT).6 This phase might be concluded in the medium-term but it is better to define this by a functional, rather than a time-bound measure. That construct is more meaningful than a guess about the time it would take to get there. The next phase of reductions will bring Russian and US nuclear forces to the lowest level that the two countries can accept in the absence of binding limitations on the nuclear forces of other states.

What that level might be is a rather subjective question but several private studies have coalesced around several hundred bombs and warheads for each side and delivery vehicles amounting to about half that number.7 Much ambiguity must remain about future counting rules for warheads, bombs and missiles. Non-deployed bombs and warheads will be difficult to verifiably limit, and the limits may be less rigorously defined initially as a result. The increasing use of missiles and bombers for conventional weapons introduces additional complexities into the counting of delivery systems.

The New START Treaty defines a framework, including verification provisions, that will ease the future work of US and Russian negotiators, but the process will not be easy. Several difficult issues were set aside for future decision and an agreed framework for subsequent detailed negotiations would likely be the first step.

Several technical issues will have to be addressed in the next phase. In addition to the question of how to count and verify non-deployed bombs and warheads, they include: how to limit and reduce short-range (tactical) nuclear weapons; how to verify the dismantlement of nuclear warheads and ensure that this process is irreversible; and how to relate ballistic missile defence systems to further reductions in offensive systems.

These are not insurmountable issues. Solutions are readily available and under optimum conditions probably could be accepted by both sides. More difficult to assess is whether Russia and the USA will have the political will to proceed with deeper reductions of nuclear weapons. The outcome will depend primarily on two factors: (a) how the New START Treaty is implemented, and (b) whether other nuclear-armed states act in a way that encourages the process of Russian–US nuclear negotiations.

Citation (MLA):
Goodby, James E.. "1. A world without nuclear weapons: fantasy or necessity?." SIPRI Yearbook. SIPRI. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2017. <http://www.sipriyearbook.org/view/9780199581122/sipri-9780199581122-div1-5.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Goodby, J. (2016). 1. A world without nuclear weapons: fantasy or necessity?. In SIPRI, SIPRI Yearbook 2010: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 Feb. 2017, from http://www.sipriyearbook.org/view/9780199581122/sipri-9780199581122-div1-5.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Goodby, James E.. "1. A world without nuclear weapons: fantasy or necessity?." In SIPRI Yearbook 2010: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, SIPRI. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). Retrieved 24 Feb. 2017, from http://www.sipriyearbook.org/view/9780199581122/sipri-9780199581122-div1-5.xml