Nuclear deterrent: World needs new pillar

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. Source: ITAR-TASS

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. Source: ITAR-TASS

Military hardliners and political traditions prevent Cold War-era dogmas from being scrapped once and for all.

Nuclear deterrent remains a cornerstone of strategic stability, but its mechanism shaped during the Cold War shows signs of destruction due to new challenges. The topic was high on the agenda of an international conference in Moscow called Nuclear Weapons and International Security in the 21st Century.

Speaking at the conference on Thursday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said, in particular, that politicians assess possibilities rather than intentions, a clear nod to Washington’s attempts to create a global missile defence system. Rogozin also singled out other steps by Washington that he said may undermine the current parity in the sphere of strategic arms. At the same time, more experts question the very necessity of ensuring strategic stability based on the Russian-American nuclear parity.

Speaking of a possible “big war” between Russia and NATO is irrelevant given that the Cold War has long ended. Participants of the conference said that at present, Russia and the United States refrain from perceiving each other as enemies. Even so, military hardliners and political traditions prevent the Cold War-era dogmas from being scrapped once and for all.

A nuclear war threat is currently transformed in risk of a possible use of nuclear weapons in a local conflict. Meanwhile, the number of the so-called “threshold nuclear countries” continues to grow, while the nuclear arms are seen as the only guarantee to maintain independence, especially in case of a potential conflict with a great power.

Additionally, nuclear terrorism-related risks are coming to the fore, even though some experts warn against overdramatizing the situation in this regard.

Russia and the United States should scrap plans on nuclear deterrent, something that will help maintain world peace, Richard Burt, head of the Global Zero project, told the Moscow conference on Thursday. In 1989, Burt served as chief negotiator for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty-1.

According to Burt, Russia’s and the US’ further joint efforts to reduce nuclear arms could help involve other countries, including China, in the process.

At the same time, such cooperation is tarnished by the problem pertaining to the above-mentioned missile defence system. On the one hand, it is impossible to create a missile shield capable of repulsing a possible Russian nuclear strike, but on the other – the modernization of the missile defence system and the US’ offensive potential may lead to a situation when a reckless and irresponsible leadership may overestimate their abilities in their perennial spat with Russia. Such scenarios were not uncommon in history, and it would be naïve to think that the modern-day world has changed the human nature somehow. In any case, it is already clear that a possible political blunder may be fraught with far-reaching consequences.

US tactical missiles deployed in Europe threaten Russia’s security while Russian nukes pose no danger to the US, the country’s deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov stated at the conference.

He also urged the US not to be afraid to discuss the issue and called for talks. No US-Russia nukes reduction talks without Euro missile shield accords. 

First published in the Voice of Russia.

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