"Hard Power" Imperative

7 july 2010

The High and Lows of the New Russian-U.S. Treaty

Sergei Kortunov, professor, is Head of the International Affairs Department at the State University–Higher School of Economics.

Resume: After the New START Treaty is ratified, it would be highly desirable to invite the U.S. leadership to enter into a broader politico-strategic dialogue than reductions of tactical nuclear weapons. To this end, Moscow could propose a joint search for ways to minimize risks stemming from the objectively existing situation of mutual nuclear deterrence.

This article was prepared within the framework of a survey named “Russia on the Way to Global Leadership – Strengthening Soft Power in a Multipolar World.”

On April 8, 2010, the presidents of Russia and the United States signed the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty).

Although the Treaty was drafted within a very short period of time, it proved to be a full-fledged document: 12 pages of text of the treaty proper; another 137 pages of a protocol to it; plus a short statement on missile defense. The Treaty has replaced the START Treaty (START I) of 1991, which expired on December 4, 2009, and the Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT) Treaty of 2002. The new treaty has been concluded for a term of 10 years (until 2020). The Treaty limits the number of deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers to 700; the number of warheads on deployed ICBMs, warheads on deployed SLBMs, and nuclear warheads counted for deployed heavy bombers to 1,550; and the number of deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, deployed and non-deployed SLBM launchers, and deployed and non-deployed heavy bombers to 800. The new warhead limit is down almost two-thirds from the original START treaty and is 30 percent lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty. The number of launchers will be reduced by half with reference to the 2002 SORT treaty limits.

The Treaty has received a mixed reaction from the Russian and U.S. expert and political communities. Some Russian analysts have described it as a “complete surrender” to the U.S., while some American analysts have accused their government of “surrendering” to Russia. In contrast, others have welcomed the Treaty. How really important is the Treaty? What are its main merits and shortcomings?

These questions require an honest and impartial answer, free of political bias, subjective preferences and unjustified emotions.

MERITS OF THE TREATY

Let us begin with merits. The significance of the Treaty is that it overcomes the international legal vacuum that emerged after the main Russian-U.S. nuclear disarmament treaty, START I, expired. START I was the only international legal instrument that regulated verifiable reductions in strategic nuclear forces of the two countries and their maintenance at half the level of the first post-Cold War years. The verification regime provided for by START I served as the basis for SORT. Without START I, SORT would have become a declaration of intent not subject to verification.

Importantly, the new treaty establishes a special bilateral commission to promote its implementation. This means the resumption of a major channel for a permanent strategic dialogue between the parties with a view to removing each other’s concerns about their nuclear policies, clarifying their military construction plans in the sphere of strategic nuclear forces, and ensuring transparency of their intentions. The experience of the two countries’ mutual relations during the Cold War and after it has shown that a channel like this helps strengthen strategic stability.

The Treaty provides for a light inspection and verification regime, compared with the cumbersome mechanism defined by START I. For example, it does not provide for the continuous monitoring of arms production facilities, as it was in the past when such facilities in Russia (Votkinsk, Udmurtia) and the U.S. (Magna, Utah) were subject to permanent perimeter monitoring by the parties’ inspectors. This means that compliance costs under the new treaty at least will not increase and may even decrease. In addition, the light verification regime shows that the level of mutual confidence between the parties is higher today than it was at the time START I was signed and, especially, in the early 1960s when some respectable American policymakers urged the John Kennedy administration after the Cuban Missile Crisis not to sign the Limited Test Ban Treaty with the Russians: they argued that the Soviets would be able to cheat by testing nuclear weapons on the other side of the moon.

Another positive point is that the Treaty allows each party to “determine for itself the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms.” This is very important, especially for Russia, because it can continue to pursue an independent nuclear policy, for example, placing emphasis on ground-based strategic nuclear forces, where it has a traditional advantage over the U.S. Earlier, the U.S. sought to deny Russia this advantage, which made Russia suspect that the United States wanted to reduce its retaliatory capability. The new treaty has given the parties a free hand to build their strategic nuclear forces and thus has removed all grounds for such suspicions.

In addition, the Treaty places no limitations on the movement of mobile nuclear missile systems (the U.S. has no such systems, while Russia has Topol and Topol-M ICBMs). Under the previous treaty, these systems were concentrated in the so-called deployment areas and could not be relocated from them without notifying the other party. According to Russian experts, that provision reduced Russia’s retaliatory and launch-under-attack capability, which had a negative impact on strategic stability. Now there are no restrictions on the mobility of Russia’s ground-based strategic nuclear forces, which compensates to some extent for the mobility of U.S. nuclear-powered submarines and thus strengthens strategic stability.

Thanks to Russian diplomats’ efforts, the Treaty’s Preamble recognizes “the existence of the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms, that this interrelationship will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced, and that current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the parties.” The previous agreements on strategic offensive armaments contained a similar linkage, but that was a direct linkage to the then existing ABM Treaty. In addition, an offensive armaments treaty could hardly stipulate any parameters limiting missile defense. Nevertheless, Barack Obama at a meeting in London in April 2009 agreed to a wording recognizing such a linkage, and this wording was included in the preamble of the new treaty.

Also, at the signing ceremony in Prague, the Russian party made a unilateral statement on missile defense, saying that the new treaty “can only function and be capable of life in conditions where there is no qualitative and quantitative expansion of a possible U.S. missile defense system.” The statement continued that the “extraordinary events” mentioned in Article XIV of the Treaty, include “an expansion of the possible U.S. missile defense system that would threaten the potential of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.” This is probably the maximum that could be done after the termination of the 1972 ABM Treaty.

Considering experts’ conclusions that the present U.S. strategic missile defense system does not seriously threaten Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, and the Obama administration’s decision to freeze the funding of some programs in this field, including the construction of a third position area of a U.S. global missile defense system in Central and Eastern Europe, one can firmly say that the Treaty preserves the nuclear balance between Russia and the U.S. (which should be distinguished from nuclear parity). If the Americans do not revise these decisions  – which is quite probable, especially if the Republicans return to the White House in 2012 – and if they do not increase the density of their strategic missile defense system, nuclear balance will be preserved until the Treaty expires, that is, throughout the next ten years.

Finally,the purely political aspect of the Treaty is important, as well: it reiterates the United States’ readiness to view nuclear interaction between the two countries as a sphere of privileged bilateral political relations, which is highly valuable for Russia which insists on its status as a great power.

CRITICISM: MISSILE DEFENSE

Critics of the Treaty say that it does not provide for limitations on the U.S. missile defense system. Naturally, one could not expect the Americans to agree to such limitations. But in a strategic perspective, the global missile defense system being built by the U.S. to neutralize the nuclear potentials of other nuclear powers, especially Russia, evokes a legitimate concern among Russian politicians and the military.

In February 2010, the U.S. Department of Defense published the Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report. It says that “the ballistic missile threat is increasing both quantitatively and qualitatively, and is likely to continue to do so over the next decade.” Among threats, the report names efforts by other states “to increase the protection of their ballistic missiles from pre-launch attack.” This means that pre-launch attack is part of U.S. operational plans. Washington hopes that a U.S. strategic missile defense system would help destroy individual delivery vehicles and warheads of the Russian strategic nuclear forces that would survive a pre-emptive strike.

The excessive attention that Russian diplomats and propaganda gave to a possible deployment of components of a U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe created an impression that a ground-based interceptor missile defense system poses the greatest threat to Russia. Meanwhile, both quantitatively and qualitatively, GBI missiles cannot seriously threaten Russia’s strategic nuclear forces yet, even considering radical reductions of the latter. Today, the main threat to Russia is posed by the U.S. Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, deployed on naval ships and based on Standard missiles. Their SM-3 modification has been successfully tested as an anti-satellite weapon; therefore, it has a capability against any ballistic missiles, including ICBMs. The ship-based missile defense system is highly mobile as it can operate in different geographical areas. In particular, due to the melting of Arctic ice, a group of several cruisers and destroyers can permanently patrol the high latitudes, that is, areas crossed by potential trajectories of Russian U.S.-bound ICBMs and SLBMs. U.S. naval ships can simultaneously carry not less than 1,000 Standard SM-3 missiles. It is this factor that guarantees the destruction of individual Russian missiles that would survive a pre-emptive strike, even if the efficiency of the U.S. missile defense system does not exceed 25 to 30 percent.

In addition, the U.S. may create an airborne missile defense system, comprising a laser placed on a Boeing 747 plane to intercept ICBMs and SLBMs while they are in their boost phase. As the effective range of such a system will not exceed several hundred kilometers, it could hardly be used against ICBMs launched from deep in Russia, but it could be successfully used against SLBMs launched from ballistic missile submarines deployed in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. A laser-armed plane can patrol those areas for a long time and it will not need fighter cover, as it will be out of reach for Russian fighter aircraft.

As regards land-based missile defense systems, it is not GBI missiles but, rather, early warning radars deployed outside U.S. territory (in the UK and Greenland, and earlier planned to be deployed in the Czech Republic) that pose more threat to Russia. These radars are capable of detecting ICBM launches from Russian territory almost immediately and feeding targeting designation data to ships equipped with the Aegis system.

President Obama’s decision of mid-September 2009 to scrap the Bush administration’s plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic was based on new intelligence assessments, made in May. According to them, Iran had slowed the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach U.S. territory. Instead, the CIA’s report said, Iran had focused on accelerating the production of shorter-range missiles that could be used to attack Israel, as well as other countries in the region where U.S. troops are located.

Simultaneously, Washington explained that the new plan for using ship-based Aegis radars and Standard interceptor missiles can become a reliable system capable of countering the existing challenges and defending NATO allies. In this connection, the White House proposed deploying Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) and Patriot systems in Poland and command-and-control facilities in the Czech Republic. To counter potential threats from Iran, the Americans still assign the key role to interceptor missiles deployed in Alaska and California.

The Obama administration has made important decisions to cut budget spending on missile defenses and close or, at least, freeze some of the programs. An analysis of these decisions shows that U.S.-based elements of the strategic missile defense system are now limited quantitatively even to a lower level than the 1972 ABM Treaty provided for. (One may ask, what was the big idea behind the U.S. decision to withdraw from that treaty?)

The present U.S. missile defense system is developing as a regional system, similar to the European theater missile defense system. Russia already raised this issue in its dialogues with NATO and the United States. It is relevant to threats that can really emerge.

In this respect, it would be well to recall proposals Russia made in 1997. They included not only the joint use of two Russian radar stations (one in Azerbaijan and the other in Armavir, southern Russia) but also the establishment of joint data exchange centers – one center in Moscow (Russia and the U.S. even signed a memorandum on the establishment of the Moscow center, which has never been opened though) and the other center in Brussels. The centers would help the parties to assess the situation, identify missile threats and make decisions on the deployment of mobile missile defense systems in Russia, the U.S. or Europe, depending on where a threat comes from. That is, Moscow proposed a format of joint command and control. The documents on the data exchange centers, signed more than ten years ago, provided that the centers would be open for participation by all interested states. This proposal still stands but it needs support from other states, including European ones. First, Russia and the U.S. should jointly assess missile threats, in keeping with an agreement the two countries’ presidents reached in July 2009. This would help the parties to establish the data exchange centers jointly with the Europeans for exchanging notifications of planned launches of missiles.

According to some Russian experts, the existing components of the U.S. missile defense system do not pose an immediate threat to Russian national security, at least for the next 15 to 25 years, until the U.S. deploys a strategic missile defense system (if it happens) and if Moscow proves to be unable to counter this threat with countermeasures.

At the same time, the technological groundwork laid by the U.S. and the results of field tests of individual missile defense components (despite the cuts in allocations for their development in recent years) testify to Washington’s ability to deploy a limited missile defense system in the medium term (5 to 10 years), whose density can be continuously increased. It will hardly threaten Russia’s interests during the next 15 to 25 years, especially if the Russian Federation modernizes its strategic nuclear potential. However, after the U.S. missile defense system is put into operation, other countries may retarget their nuclear forces from U.S. facilities to Russian ones, which would destabilize the strategic situation in the world.

This is why it would be expedient to put forward well-thought-out and well-reasoned proposals for cooperation with the U.S. in missile defense, which would not undermine strategic stability. This cooperation may include joint establishment and use of global information systems, as well as a new generation of confidence-building measures with regard to strategic and tactical nuclear weapons.

In particular, the parties might jointly develop a space-based information system. The Americans are already working on such a low earth orbit system, called SBIRS Low (Space-Based Infrared System), which is one of the most critical components of the future U.S. missile defense system to Russia. This idea could be motivated by the readiness, declared by the U.S., to cooperate with Russia, specifically in missile defense and confidence building, and by statements of the U.S. president that the future missile defense system will not be targeted against Russia. Washington’s response to such a proposal would demonstrate how true these statements are.

CRITICISM: COUNTING RULES

Another provision of the Treaty that has drawn criticism is the absence of limitations on sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCM), in which the U.S. has an overwhelming superiority over Russia. SLCMs are much larger in number than air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM) but they are not covered by the new treaty, unlike ALCMs (we will discuss this problem below). This situation is very strange as these missiles are almost identical in design (SLCMs only have an additional booster).

The exact number of SLCMs simultaneously deployed on multi-purpose nuclear-powered submarines, cruisers and destroyers of the U.S. Navy is not known, but one can assume, with a high degree of certainty, that it may be several thousand – in any case, not less than 1,000. The Russian Navy has about 20 nuclear submarines capable of launching SLCMs through torpedo tubes. The total number of SLCMs carried by Russian combat-ready nuclear submarines apparently does not exceed 100; that is, Russia is behind the U.S. in this type of weapons at least by an order of magnitude. In addition, Russian cruise missiles (both sea- and air-launched) carry only nuclear warheads and therefore cannot be used in conventional warfare.

Meanwhile, cruise missiles cannot be detected by early warning systems and are  detected with great difficulty by radio engineering troops of the Air Force and Air Defense Forces. They can be detected and destroyed by the S-300 and S-400 air defense systems; however, the number of the former in the Russian Army is declining rapidly, while the latter have not entered service yet. U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles are a very convenient weapon, as they are relatively cheap, highly accurate against targets at great distances from the launch point (1,200 to 2,500 kilometers and more) and flexible in use (due to their fast conversion from nuclear to conventional use and vice versa ). The U.S. Air Force and Navy used ALCMs and SLCMs en masse with high efficiency in combat in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia.

In conditions of an almost complete degradation of Russia’s Air Defense System, this country today is highly vulnerable to SLCMs. This also applies to strategic aviation. Russian strategic bombers are deployed only on two airfields (in the Saratov and Amur regions); they are large targets and highly vulnerable to air strikes. Several cruise missiles carrying conventional (high-explosive/fragmentation or cluster) warheads can destroy all these aircraft.

Russian naval surface ships have nothing that even remotely resembles the Aegis system. The heavy nuclear-powered cruiser Pyotr Velikiy, the only one of its kind in the country, formally has enormous combat power; however, it is intended only for naval warfare, and even there its flexibility is close to zero – it can attack only large surface ships. The other few ocean-going ships in the Russian Navy that are still capable of putting to sea have a zero potential in this regard (we are not considering here the use of anti-ship missiles against ground targets by ships in close proximity to the coast).

Another drawback of the new treaty pointed out by its critics is the absence of limitations on conventional precision-guided weapons. Indeed, the presence in the U.S. Air Force and Navy of a large number of cruise missiles and other precision weapons guided by satellites in real time poses a real threat of a preemptive strike against Russia’s strategic nuclear forces. This strike may most likely be conducted with conventional weapons (for environmental reasons) or micronuclear weapons. The rapid reduction of the Russian strategic nuclear forces and air defense only serves towards the success of this strike. As the Russian strategic nuclear forces and air defense continue degrading and as the number of precision-guided weapons in the U.S. increases, the likelihood of such a strike will grow.

In addition, the Treaty provides for no limitations on a qualitative arms race in strategic offensive weapons, that is, on the development of new types of nuclear and other weapons (in particular, those based on new physical principles), which may give major advantages to the United States in the future, as it is far ahead of Russia in technological development. These new weapons include electromagnetic guns and kinetic antimissile systems intended to destroy ICBMs in all phases of the missile’s trajectory.

Finally, nuclear warhead counting rules are the weakest point of the Treaty.

First, the Treaty counts only deployed warheads, so the Pentagon can put nuclear warheads in storage and, if necessary, quickly restore its nuclear arsenal. This poses the problem of the so-called breakout potential, which is not verifiable by the other party. According to some estimates, the number of such unaccounted warheads may reach 3,000 warheads, which the U.S. can re-deploy within 6 months. The specifics of nuclear warhead storage make this situation more disadvantageous to Russia than to the U.S.

Second, the new treaty includes a provision under which each bomber counts as one warhead, regardless of how many nuclear warheads it can deliver and how many warheads are stored in storage facilities. This provision rests on the nuclear deterrence logic, imposed on Russia by the Americans back in the late 1980s. According to this logic, “low speed” bombers are less destabilizing, because the leader of an attacking country can revoke his decision to attack after their takeoff, and the target country will have more time to prepare for the attack. Therefore, START I offered generous “discounts” for bombers. New B-1 and B-2 bombers were counted as one unit, although they can carry up to 20 nuclear warheads. As for the older B-52 bombers, only half of their full combat load was counted, and each bomber was attributed with ten warheads. According to the New START Treaty, “one nuclear warhead shall be counted for each deployed heavy bomber.” The Federation of American Scientists has concluded that the new counting rule “hides” 450 U.S. warheads and 860 Russian warheads. However, as the U.S. has a serious advantage in heavy bombers over Russia (Russian heavy bombers are almost worn out), this situation is more advantageous to Washington.

Third, unlike START I, the new treaty does not count the maximum number of warheads on each missile, which will allow Washington to carry out reductions by dismantling warheads and putting them in storage, while missiles will remain in their silos. This means that the United States will be able to quickly restore its potential and essentially exceed the Russian arsenal, which has missiles that carry much fewer additional warheads.

So, the counting rule provided for by the Treaty opens up opportunities for its circumvention in many ways.

THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS ARE STILL AHEAD

The signing of the Treaty, which has met with a mixed reaction in the world, does not mean that it will enter into force. Its ratification in the United States requires votes of 67 out of 100 senators, while the Democrats now have only 58 votes. On December 15, 2009, 41 senators, that is, all the Republicans plus one independent deputy, sent Obama a letter saying they would support the START Treaty only if the Administration fully funded the modernization of the aging U.S. nuclear arsenal. Key conservative senators still do not support the new treaty and demand guarantees that it will not limit the missile defense system, the verification regime and efforts to modernize nuclear weapons.

In November this year, the U.S. will hold mid-term elections to Congress. There is a very high probability that Democrats will lose them and that Republicans will get a few more seats in the Senate. The Democrats’ position may improve only if Obama quickly regains his former popularity. But this is unlikely, since unemployment in the U.S. remains high, the situation in the U.S. economy remains difficult, and the Americans are failing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, if the Treaty is not introduced to the Senate any time soon, the vote on its ratification will take place only next year, and most likely it will not be ratified.

Another problem is posed by dim prospects for further reductions in nuclear weapons. The Obama administration has said that at the next stage of the negotiation process it wants to discuss tactical nuclear weapons (TNW). According to various sources, the U.S. arsenal has 1,200 TNWs, of which 500 are in combat readiness, including 200 TNWs deployed in Europe. Russia has 5,400 TNWs, according to unofficial sources (in keeping with tradition, Moscow does not provide any official figures). Of them, 2,000 are kept in combat readiness. Most of these weapons are deployed in the European part of the country. Russia needs most of these weapons – to deter extra-European threats, and as a psychological compensation for the numerical superiority of NATO’s conventional forces in Europe. If Russia and the U.S. enter into formal negotiations on TNW reductions, then, as Sergei Karaganov rightly believes, another Pandora’s box would be opened, predictably releasing new threats, even though fictitious ones. Russian officials would demand the inclusion of sea-launched cruise missiles and the more numerous conventional forces of NATO in these negotiations, as well as the limitation of missile defense systems. They may also demand a complete withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe, while U.S. NATO allies would insist on keeping these weapons in Europe as a symbol of U.S. determination to defend European countries. All these factors would complicate the already difficult situation still further and would revive the ghosts of the past.

Finally comes the nuclear non-proliferation issue. The haste with the New START Treaty was due to Moscow’s and Washington’s desire to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. In May 2010, the 2010 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons will be held. If Russia and the U.S. had not demonstrated their commitment to reduce nuclear arsenals (Article VI of the NPT), serious complications might have arisen, considering nuclear programs of Iran, North Korea, India, Pakistan and Israel. Without the New START Treaty, the arms control regime could have collapsed already this year.

At the same time, the significance of the New START Treaty for strengthening the NPT should not be overestimated. It may slow down nuclear proliferation for some time, but most likely it will not solve this problem strategically. It would be naХve to expect that Russia and the U.S. will seriously strive for a nuclear-free world. In light of the above-said about TNW, it is doubtful that negotiations on nuclear disarmament will continue. Further reductions in nuclear weapons will, at best, take place as parallel unilateral steps and, possibly, without any mutual coordination, that is, when either party finds this technically and economically feasible – at its own discretion and without consulting the other party. In addition, despite significant improvements in the international situation and the minimization of the likelihood of large wars and military conflicts among major powers, the role of nuclear weapons in world politics has not decreased significantly yet. On the contrary, unprecedentedly large-scale terrorist attacks and the changing priorities of threats lead to a dangerous lowering of the threshold for using nuclear weapons, and a higher likelihood of their use and possible uncontrolled escalation. The continuing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery is one more factor contributing to this tendency.

The lack of serious progress on nuclear disarmament (the new treaty, just as most of the previous ones, reduces mostly only those weapons whose warranty is about to expire) is not the main factor in the crisis of nuclear non-proliferation. This crisis is largely due to the lack of a consolidated policy among the permanent members of the UN Security Council towards actual and potential violators of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, as well as with regard to the adoption of effective political, diplomatic and economic sanctions against “threshold states.”

During the Cold War years, countries joined the “Nuclear Club” not so much in order to “deter” the Soviet Union or the United States (China, for example, could not seriously expect to deter the U.S., while France could not deter the Soviet Union) as for reasons of prestige and to increase their weight in the international arena. European countries also sought to prevent the United States from breaking away from Europe in the field of security: theoretically, Western European nuclear forces were intended to serve as a “fuse” linked to U.S. nuclear forces, thereby increasing the deterrence potential in that region).

Today the situation is different. Many countries need nuclear weapons not only for prestige but also as the only means of defending their national sovereignty and civilizational choice (that is, their national identity). The examples of near-nuclear North Korea and non-nuclear Iraq are very illustrative in this respect. In the case with North Korea, the U.S. chose diplomatic efforts to settle the conflict, while with Iraq, it used military force. It is not surprising that many countries have already made relevant conclusions and are following in North Korea’s footsteps. Iran is the most illustrative example in recent time – its leadership is skillfully playing on conflicts among the leading countries of the world and is ignoring UN Security Council resolutions. The Iranian nuclear crisis keeps growing, and there are no signs in sight of its settlement. Moreover, it would be safe to assume that, despite the international community’s efforts, Iran will de facto become a nuclear power or will achieve the “five-minute readiness” level, that is, one step before the bomb, which will be enough for political blackmail.

ROADMAP FOR RUSSIA

After the New START Treaty is ratified, it would be highly desirable, politically and diplomatically, to invite the U.S. leadership to enter into a broader politico-strategic dialogue than reductions of tactical nuclear weapons. To this end, Moscow could propose a joint search for ways to minimize risks stemming from the objectively existing situation of mutual nuclear deterrence (“moving beyond containment”).

If the U.S. displays readiness for serious consultations on strategic stability (which is possible under the Obama administration), it would be advisable to work towards achieving the following accords:

  • making reductions in strategic offensive arms irreversible;
  •  fixing a provision limiting the future U.S. missile defense system by setting agreed limits on the number of warheads that this system will be capable of intercepting;
  •  banning the deployment of space-based systems;
  • ensuring transparency and enhanced confidence-building measures in the field of strategic weapons.

However, if the U.S. is not ready for new accords, Russia will most likely have no choice but to pursue an independent nuclear policy. This would not be at variance with the provisions of the new treaty and would logically follow from the termination of the ABM Treaty and the inaction of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In any case, it would make sense for Russia to independently determine the quantitative and qualitative composition of its nuclear forces, traditionally making emphasis on land-based ICBMs, above all those with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV), which would allow it to maintain a guaranteed nuclear capability to deter the United States and other countries, no matter how the military-political situation may develop. Estimates show that Russia has the economic potential for that. In addition, it may consider resuming work on means to effectively counter the U.S. missile defense system, including ways to penetrate it and restrain its development. This could be achieved with the help of flat trajectories, maneuvering warheads, the reduction of the boost phase of ballistic missiles, etc. The nuclear shield should be used to step up the modernization of the Armed Forces to make them adequate to 21st-century risks, challenges and threats.

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