Pavel Podvig

Pavel Podvig

Articles by Pavel Podvig

27 May 2009

What if North Korea were the only nuclear weapon state?

Pavel Podvig

North Korea's nuclear test will almost certainly fuel skepticism about the nuclear disarmament agenda. If no country has nuclear weapons, skeptics will ask, then how can “nuclear renegades” such as North Korea be deterred or dissuaded from getting a nuclear weapon and how can they be disarmed if they get one? For most opponents of nuclear abolition this argument ends the debate.

3 April 2009

Reaction to the Obama-Medvedev joint statement on arms control

Pavel Podvig

For Russia, dialogue with the United States has always been as much about style as substance. So it isn't surprising that the change of tone brought by the Obama administration has produced encouraging results for nuclear arms control. The joint statement by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is hardly groundbreaking, but it does contain a few remarkable points.

4 March 2009

Broadening the disarmament agenda through START

Pavel Podvig

On the subject of nuclear disarmament, one point is rarely disputed: the United States and Russia should lead the way, and other nuclear weapon states should join the process when U.S. and Russian arsenals are roughly comparable to their own. Given that these two countries have the largest nuclear arsenals, with more than 95 percent of all nuclear warheads, it is reasonable to expect them to start eliminating their weapons first.

16 January 2009

Russia's new arms development

Pavel Podvig

We don't know at this point what the next U.S.-Russian arms control agreement will look like, but everyone in the international community expects it to be a step toward significantly reducing the world's two largest nuclear arsenals. The levels set in the Moscow Treaty, which Washington and Moscow signed in May 2002, commit them to reducing the number of operationally deployed nuclear warheads on each side to no more than 1,700-2,200 warheads by 2012. One would expect that a post-Moscow Treaty agreement will bring much lower numbers.

18 December 2008

Formulating the next U.S.-Russian arms control agreement

Pavel Podvig

As the United States waits for a new administration to take office in January, expectations are high that arms control talks with Russia will be revitalized shortly thereafter. Parties in both countries--no matter political persuasion--think Washington and Moscow should move quickly to devise a new disarmament agreement that would replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires in December 2009.

11 November 2008

Barack Obama's missile defense challenge

Pavel Podvig

What a difference eight years makes. Following the 2000 U.S. presidential election, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a new disarmament initiative that called for reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals to 1,500 warheads apiece. Although that statement was basically ignored--at the time, Washington was embroiled in the recount saga--Putin's proposal remained the official Russian position on disarmament in subsequent years.

14 October 2008

A silver lining to the U.S.-India nuclear deal

Pavel Podvig

The civilian nuclear cooperation deal between the United States and India, which President George W. Bush signed into law last week, has been controversial from the moment it was first outlined in New Delhi about three years ago. It would allow Washington to trade nuclear technology with New Delhi despite the fact that India is a de facto nuclear weapons state outside of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

25 August 2008

U.S.-Russian relations after the conflict in Georgia

Pavel Podvig

If there's a consensus about the confrontation between Russia and Georgia, it's that the conflict has seriously strained the relationship between Moscow and its Western counterparts--namely, the United States and NATO. Now that the worst of the conflict seems over, it appears that the harshest measures suggested in the first days of the conflict, i.e., expelling Russia from the G-8, won't materialize. Despite all of the disagreements and mistrust, each party seems to understand that severing ties between Russia and the West isn't realistic.

23 July 2008

The fallacy of the Megatons to Megawatts program

Pavel Podvig

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.

3 June 2008

The push for a new arms control agreement with Russia is ill-conceived

Pavel Podvig

Skepticism about arms control agreements has been a prominent Bush administration position. As such, its arms control achievements are few and far between. But in its waning days, the administration has finally agreed with the long-standing Russian position that any new arms control agreement should be "legally binding." John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, also recently announced in a major speech on nuclear issues that he would seek a new arms control agreement with Russia.