Pavel Podvig

Pavel Podvig

Articles by Pavel Podvig

2 April 2013

Shooting down the Star Wars myth

Pavel Podvig

It has been 30 years since US President Ronald Reagan called for development of a missile defense system that was supposed to make nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete." The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) launched by Reagan's famous "Star Wars" speech in March 1983 has survived to the present day, but with ever-lower expectations.

31 October 2012

The myth of strategic stability

Pavel Podvig

Strategic stability is one of those ideas that seem to enjoy almost unqualified support among nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states, nuclear disarmament advocates and skeptics, as well as nuclear abolitionists and nuclear hawks. And it is probably because of this universal support that the pursuit of strategic stability became the single most serious obstacle on the way toward nuclear disarmament.

1 June 2012

Point of distraction

Pavel Podvig

Judging by the intensity of Russia's constant opposition to US missile defenses in Europe, one might think that the very survival of the nation is in danger. In reality, though, the opposite is true: The battle over missile defense is so fierce because the stakes are so low. In terms of an actual impact on Russia's security, US defense is largely irrelevant.

22 February 2012

Toward a better Nuclear Security Summit

Pavel Podvig

The Nuclear Security Summit taking place in Seoul next month is expected to reinforce the commitment of the international community to confronting the threat of nuclear terrorism. The summit process provides a unique opportunity to ensure that nuclear security receives the high-level attention it deserves from governments around the world. It also entrusts the participants with a special responsibility not to let this opportunity pass by.

6 January 2011

Offense and defense after New START

Pavel Podvig

Senate approval of New START on Dec. 22 opened the way for quick reciprocity on the side of the Russian parliament, which launched its own ratification process just two days later. Russia has expressed some concerns about the wording of the Senate's ratification resolution on missile defense and conventionally armed strategic launchers; however, since the treaty text remained unchanged, the Duma will pass a resolution in which it will register its own understandings of some of the treaty provisions, but will avoid inserting those into the treaty itself.

28 October 2010

NATO and the future of missile defense in Europe

Pavel Podvig

At its Lisbon summit in November, NATO is expected to make two important decisions: whether to build its own missile defense system in Europe and whether missile defense should be part of the alliance's core mission. Neither of these proposals has generated much controversy among the alliance members, so we can expect a reasonably strong commitment to missile defense to emerge from the summit.

29 March 2010

Assessing START follow-on

Pavel Podvig

After missing more than a few deadlines and achieving several so-called significant breakthroughs, the United States and Russia finally have reached an agreement on a new arms control treaty. It will be signed in Prague on April 8, almost a year to the day U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to begin treaty negotiations and Obama announced, also in Prague, his commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

25 February 2010

What to do about tactical nuclear weapons

Pavel Podvig

Since the United States and Russia might soon sign a new treaty that limits their strategic nuclear weapons, it's natural to wonder about Washington and Moscow's tactical nuclear weapons, which the treaty won't cover. The hope is that the momentum for a nuclear-weapon-free world, the renewed U.S.-Russian negotiations, and the ongoing review of the U.S. nuclear posture and NATO strategic concept will help make progress on reducing nonstrategic nuclear arsenals--an issue that has been largely neglected for more than a decade.

14 September 2009

The false promise of missile defense

Pavel Podvig

Of the many security quagmires confronting President Barack Obama, perhaps the most challenging is how he navigates the Bush administration's decision to place missile defense installations in Eastern Europe. As a candidate, Obama didn't rule out keeping the Bush plan to put a missile defense radar in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland, but he did place the onus on the technology--i.e., it had to be viable. True to his campaign promise, upon taking office, he ordered a review of the program, which is about to be completed.

22 July 2009

The Moscow summit: A positive first step

Pavel Podvig

The U.S.-Russian summit held earlier this month in Moscow marked a good beginning for the relationship between the Obama and Medvedev administrations. While the two presidents made promising progress on the most urgent issue on the table--replacing START--it wasn't the only important agreement they made.