4 July 2017

The future of US–Russian nuclear deterrence and arms control

Tatiana Anichkina

Tatiana Anichkina is a research fellow at the Center for International Security at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences. From 2006 to 2013...

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Anna Péczeli

Anna Péczeli is an adjunct fellow at the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs, where she works on nuclear arms...

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Nickolas Roth

Nickolas Roth is a research associate at the Belfer...

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During the latter part of the Cold War, many strategists thought of nuclear deterrence and arms control as two of the most essential stabilizing elements of the same strategy in managing an adversarial relationship. The renewed crisis between the West (the United States and NATO member states) and Russia demonstrates how critical these elements are to the strategic nuclear relationship. As a result of recent setbacks between Washington and Moscow in the past few years, arms control has taken a back seat, and the risk of conflict due to miscalculation is the highest it has been since the 1980s. If the United States and Russia want to rebuild trust and continue reducing the risk of nuclear use, a meaningful dialogue is needed to reconcile nuclear deterrence and nuclear arms control. How can the world’s two largest nuclear superpowers re-establish the harmony that once existed between deterrence and arms control? What should a stable framework look like for managing that nuclear relationship, taking into account other regional security challenges? The answer to these questions lies in establishing a new, common interpretation of US–Russian strategic stability. Both parties need to find mutually acceptable solutions to the challenges of reconciling nuclear deterrence and arms control. In general, the most important issues include disputes surrounding strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, global ballistic missile defense capabilities, and the problems of conventional precision-guided munitions. Read this article in the July/August issue of our subscription journal.