The Opportunity

The Opportunity: Next Steps in Reducing Nuclear Arms

Steven Pifer
Michael E. O’Hanlon
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 242
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt4cg896
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  • Book Info
    The Opportunity
    Book Description:

    For some observers, nuclear arms control is either a relic of the cold war, or a utopian dream about a denuclearized planet decades in the future. But, as Brookings scholars Steven Pifer and Michael O'Hanlon argue inThe Opportunity, arms control can address some key security challenges facing Washington today and enhance both American and global security.

    Pifer and O'Hanlon make a compelling case for further arms control measures-to reduce the nuclear threat to the United States and its allies, to strengthen strategic stability, to promote greater transparency regarding secretive nuclear arsenals, to create the possibility for significant defense budget savings, to bolster American credibility in the fight to curb nuclear proliferation, and to build a stronger and more sustainable U.S.-Russia relationship.

    President Obama gave priority to nuclear arms control early in his first term and, by all accounts, would like to be transformational on these questions. Can there be another major U.S.-Russia arms treaty? Can the tactical and surplus strategic nuclear warheads that have so far escaped controls be brought into such a framework? Can a modus vivendi be reached between the two countries on missile defense? And what of multilateral accords on nuclear testing and production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons? Pifer and O'Hanlon concisely frame the issues, the background, and the choices facing the president; provide practical policy recommendations, and put it all in clear and readable prose that will be easily understood by the layman.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2430-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    Strobe Talbott

    SHORTLY AFTER THE UNITED STATES conducted the Trinity test in 1945, President Truman confided to his diary, “We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark.” When Albert Einstein—who had been indispensable in developing the physics that made the weapon possible but who had been cut out of the Manhattan Project—learned that Truman had approved use of Fat Man and Little Boy against Japan, he said, simply, “Vey iz mir” (Yiddish for “Woe is me”).

    Following...

  4. CHAPTER ONE WHY NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL SHOULD BE ON THE PRESIDENT’S AGENDA IN 2013
    (pp. 1-14)

    NUCLEAR ARMS REMAIN the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. As 2012 draws to a close, Iran and North Korea tend to dominate the headlines about nuclear arms issues. To be sure, the efforts to dissuade the regime in Tehran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability and to persuade North Korea and its new young autocrat to abandon its already established nuclear arms program are critical challenges facing the United States. They will rank high on the foreign policy agenda of the American president in 2013, be it Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, as will concerns about keeping nuclear weapons and...

  5. CHAPTER TWO U.S. NUCLEAR POLICIES AND FORCES
    (pp. 15-45)

    THE UNITED STATES used nuclear weapons to bring an end to World War II with Japan. Nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence subsequently formed a key foundation for U.S. security policy starting in the early 1950s, when substantial numbers of these weapons began to be introduced into the arsenal. Deterrence requires persuading a potential adversary that the risks and likely costs of aggression far outweigh any benefits that it might hope to achieve. U.S. strategists recognized early on that nuclear weapons posed great risks and massive potential costs.

    In the aftermath of the Korean War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sought to...

  6. CHAPTER THREE STRATEGIC NUCLEAR FORCE REDUCTIONS AFTER NEW START
    (pp. 46-80)

    THE UNITED STATES and the Soviet Union (or Russia) have engaged in negotiations to control and reduce strategic nuclear forces for more than forty years. However, only since the mid-1980s have Washington and Moscow pursued genuine nuclear reductions. The 1990 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (referred to as START I) required real cuts in both sides’ strategic forces. The New START Treaty that entered into force in early 2011 will build on START I and the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty to cut U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads to about one-fifth of the number that were in each side’s inventories at...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR ADDRESSING NONSTRATEGIC NUCLEAR WEAPONS
    (pp. 81-112)

    UNLIKE STRATEGIC NUCLEAR WEAPONS, nonstrategic nuclear weapons have not been subject to arms control efforts, with one very successful exception—the 1987 U.S.-Soviet intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty banned all U.S. and Soviet land-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Still, thousands of nonstrategic nuclear weapons exist today, particularly in the Russian inventory. Making a case for further cuts in strategic nuclear forces is becoming increasingly difficult while this category remains outside limits. Indeed, when consenting to ratification of the New START Treaty, the U.S. Senate made clear its desire to see an effort to address nonstrategic nuclear weapons....

  8. CHAPTER FIVE MISSILE DEFENSE ISSUES
    (pp. 113-138)

    BOTH THE UNITED STATES and Russia have long been interested in missile defense. In 2013, missile defense and the interrelationship between strategic offense and strategic defense are likely to occupy a central spot on the agenda between Washington and Moscow, as they have done for much of the time since the 1960s. The Russians attach great importance to the interrelationship and assert that planned U.S. missile defense deployments in Europe could degrade their strategic missile force and undermine the strategic balance. Moscow thus has demanded a legally binding guarantee that U.S. missile defenses would not be directed against Russian strategic...

  9. CHAPTER SIX THE COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY AND STOCKPILE MAINTENANCE
    (pp. 139-161)

    ONE QUESTION THE PRESIDENT will need to consider in 2013 is what to do about the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). For fifteen years, an uneasy compromise has existed in American nuclear weapons policy. President Bill Clinton signed the treaty in 1996, but in 1999 the Senate refused to approve it for ratification. The Obama administration, according to its 2010 nuclear posture review, states as a matter of official policy that it intends to pursue ratification of the CTBT but has not indicated any specific plans for doing so.¹ Yet, the United States has not tested a nuclear weapon...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN FISSILE MATERIALS AND A PRODUCTION CUTOFF
    (pp. 162-174)

    AN ARMS CONTROL PROPOSAL that has been around for many years, but that has gained greater currency in recent times and will be on the agenda in 2013, is a ban on the further production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium-235 for military purposes. One of these two materials is present in all nuclear bombs. They are the fissile materials that are split into smaller atoms in the chain reactions that power all nuclear weapons, whether of the simple one-stage variety or the thermonuclear type. They are also difficult to isolate in weapons-usable form, making them the hardest materials to...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT MULTILATERALIZING THE PROCESS—AND ASPIRING TO ZERO?
    (pp. 175-198)

    ONE ISSUE REMAINS to be discussed—the multilateralization of the nuclear arms reduction process. Although securing the participation of other countries in this process may take some time, the U.S. government should be thinking now about steps that could encourage other countries besides Russia to begin to reduce their nuclear arsenals and perhaps even move toward total elimination of nuclear weapons. This objective has been advocated by important voices ever since the dawn of the nuclear age. In the modern era, Ronald Reagan was the first to articulate the goal forcefully, and Barack Obama reiterated it in his Prague speech...

  12. CHAPTER NINE LOOKING FORWARD
    (pp. 199-206)

    IN THE PRECEDING CHAPTERS, we have offered ideas for further reducing nuclear arms that the president could pursue in 2013 and beyond. They include engaging in bilateral U.S.-Russian efforts to cut strategic nuclear weapons below the levels of New START, bringing nondeployed strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons into the arms control mix, and addressing missile defense in a way that would remove the issue as an impediment to further nuclear reductions and irritant in the broader U.S.-Russia and NATO-Russia relationships. We have also suggested that the United States could ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and press to conclude a...

  13. APPENDIX A: NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL TREATIES
    (pp. 207-216)
  14. APPENDIX B: ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. 217-218)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 219-230)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 231-242)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 243-243)