Russia and the world arms race (part 3)

Author : Oleksiy Arbatov

Source : 112 Ukraine

Strengthening nuclear arms control system in the near future will require a multilateral effort, but without the initiative of Russia and the United States this issue would not get off the ground
14:04, 29 April 2016

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Related: Russia and the world arms race (part 1)

Non-proliferation regime will inevitably fall apart; Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 2015 is an illustration of it. This agreement is almost 50 years, it was created for a different world, and it is full of gaps: first of all, in the delimitation of the peaceful and military uses of nuclear energy. The agreement with Iran in 2015 could be a step in resolving this issue, but the agreement expressly states that all conditions are applicable only Iran and cannot be a precedent for other similar cases. The great powers cannot reach an agreement concerning NPT. Cooperation between Russia and the United States on improving the security of nuclear materials and facilities is stopped. Russia even refused to participate in the latter's nuclear summit on the topic in the spring 2016.

The development of nuclear energy in the coming 20 years will make a huge leap. Now there are 435 nuclear reactors in the world, another 65 are under construction, and 167 are to be reconstructed, some of them are in the most volatile regions of the world: the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Nuclear technology and materials might fall into the hands of terrorist organizations, which seek to acquire a nuclear weapon, explosive device or even radioactive material for a "dirty bomb."

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Finally, there are new problems: for example, the threat of cyber-attacks that may be directed against information systems of nuclear forces.

This set of issues must be the central place of international security, but it is on the periphery of world politics. Without negotiations and regular contacts between military and civilian representatives of Russia, the United States and some other countries on the rules and thresholds of nuclear deterrence and the role of nuclear weapons, it can lead to a crisis. Hence, the paradox of the current situation is that the number of nuclear weapons dropped about five to seven times, but the likelihood of its use has increased considerably over the last 25 years. Unless urgent measures to strengthen the regime of reduction are taken, the likelihood of military, terrorist or accidental use of nuclear weapons will continue to rise, with catastrophic consequences for modern civilization.

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Strengthening nuclear arms control system in the near future will require a multilateral effort, but without the initiative of Russia and the United States this issue would not get off the ground. These two states still account for 90% of nuclear weapons and materials that exist on the planet. The first steps should be the resolution of conflicts, the start of negotiations on a new START treaty for the period after 2020. This will give impetus to other areas of non-proliferation and reduction of nuclear weapons and materials in other nuclear states.

All the existing problems of the world, including migration, climate and economic crises, ethnic and religious conflicts, sooner or later could be resolved only if it is possible to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. 

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