Russia Seeks Nonstrategic Talks with US

According to the Global Security Newswire, ITAR-Tass reported  that on November 8 Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said his country wants to join the United States in discussions on short-range atomic armaments,.

“Dismantling the infrastructure of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and deploying them in the U.S. is the condition for efficiency. These aspects should be discussed within the multilateral format in full compliance by Washington with the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty,” he stated.

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Removing U.S. and Russian Tactical Nuclear Weapons from European Combat Bases

Recommendations of Global Zero NATO-Russian  Commission Report

“Following on the New START treaty recently brought into force, Global Zero calls for the United States and Russia to begin comprehensive nuclear arms negotiations in early 2013 to reduce their arsenals to as low as 1,000 total weapons each, and, as part of these negotiations, to pursue the expedited removal of all of their tactical nuclear weapons from combat bases on the European continent to national storage facilities in the United States and Russia.

“These comprehensive negotiations would, for the first time in history, include all nonstrategic nuclear weapons (commonly referred to as tactical or sub-strategic nuclear weapons) and all non-deployed strategic weapons (‘reserve’ strategic vehicles and warheads in storage) in addition to the deployed strategic warheads and delivery vehicles that are constrained by New START.”

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POGO Asks Panetta to Stop Funding B61 Nuclear Bombs in Europe

Dana Liebelson of the Project on Goverment Oversight (POGO) on February 2, 2012 reported: “When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta unveiled his plan to achieve $487 billion in budget cuts over the next ten years, he hinted  that a smart strategy would mean cutting the number of nuclear weapons.  Today, POGO sent him a very timely letter:  the U.S. should cease funding the B61 nuclear bombs stationed in Europe, or pass the costs on to the countries where they’re stationed. This would save taxpayers more than $2 billion dollars.

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NATO allies grapple with shrinking defense budgets

Craig Whitlock writing in the January 30, 2012 Washington Post indicates: “NATO allies are confronting a sustained weakening of the military alliance as ailing economies are forcing nearly all members, including the United States, to accelerate cuts to their defense budgets at the same time.

“The Pentagon’s recent decision to eliminate two of the Army’s four brigages in Europe  is the latest blow to NATO’s military capabilities. It extends a year of grim announcements from members of the alliance that they can no longer afford their security commitments and that a long period of austerity is in the offing.”

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2 Army brigades to leave Europe in cost-cutting move

Greg Jaffe in an article in the January 13, 2012 Washington Post writes:  “The Obama administration has decided to remove two of the four U.S. Army brigades remaining in Europe as part of a broader effort to cut $487 billion from the Pentagon’s budget over the next decade, said senior U.S. officials.

“The reductions in Army forces, which have not been formally announced, are likely to concern European officials, who worry that the smaller American presence reflects a waning of interest in the decades-long U.S.-NATO partnership in Europe.”

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Rose Gottemoeller Discusses Non-strategic Nuclear Weapons and Conventional Forces in Europe

In an interview with Maria Tabek of Ria Novosti on December 23, 2011, Rose Gottemoeller, assistant secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, U.S. State Department, among other topics discussed non-strategic nuclear weapons and conventional armed forces in Europe.

Here are excerpts from the interview on these topics. Continue reading

Mutually Assured Stability

Simon Saradzhyan, a research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, writing about tactical nuclear weapons in The Moscow Times (December 20, 2011), indicates: “Given the scarcity of benefits and abundance of costs of these arsenals, Moscow should join Washington in negotiating measures to bring tactical nukes into the realm of bilateral arms control. The two powers can start with defining the weapons and exchanging information on their past reductions and current stockpiles. They could then negotiate the verifiable reduction of their stockpiles and their consolidation in one or two of the best-guarded facilities.”

He concludes:  “It is time that Russia and United States move away from deterrence based on a 20th-century concept of mutually assured destruction. Instead, they should move toward what experts on both sides have referred to as mutually assured stability. Consolidation and reduction of tactical nuclear weapons will facilitate this transition, advancing both countries’ common vital interests in preventing the use of nuclear weapons. These measures will also allow Moscow to allocate more funds to building conventional forces capable of countering more imminent threats to Russia’s security, such as a low-intensity insurgency or local conflicts, without risking a nuclear Armageddon.”

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Unfinished Business on Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Frank Klotz, Susan Kuch, and Franklin Miller, writing in a December 14, 2011 New York Times op-ed article, recall how in 1991 U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in a reciprocal Presidential Nuclear Initiative led the way to taking thousands of tactical nuclear weapons out of service and in some cases eliminating them all together.  This was accomplished on the basis of unilateral, parallel actions without an arms control treaty.

The authors believe that it is time to take up unfinished business of reducing tactical nuclear weapons.  They indicate: “The next logical step would be for both countries to disclose, on a reciprocal basis, the location, types and numbers of tactical nuclear weapons that remain.

“This should pose few problems for the United States and its allies; well-informed accounts of deployed American weapons have been around for years. But disclosing such data might prove difficult for Russia, given its penchant for secrecy and the political risks of confirming it does indeed possess a far greater number of these weapons.

“If such difficulties can be overcome, these two steps would enhance transparency and mutual confidence. In the process, they could help pave the way to future negotiations on reducing both tactical and nondeployed nuclear weapons.”

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Salvaging the CFE Treaty: Options for Washington

In a March 2010 paper from the Brookings Institution, Anne Witkowsky, Sherman Garnett, and Jeff McCausland offer ideas that remain relevant even as the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty is more-or-less in suspension.  Entitled Salvaging the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty Regime: Options for Washington, this 39-page paper presents four options. 

 1)     Continue the current policy course of seeking parallel actions by NATO members and Russia to resume Russian CFE implementation and move toward the Adapted CFE Treaty, with some additional inducements to Moscow.

2)     Continue the current policy course while opening the Adapted CFE Treaty to amendment.

3)     Initiate provisional application of Adapted CFE Treaty, but with conditions.

4)     Decline to continue implementing the CFE Treaty and manage a “soft landing” for the end of the CFE regime.

 See full paper.

Whither the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty?

Daryl G. Kimball in a November 22, 2011 post on Arms Control NOW wrote: “Today, the Obama administration announced it ‘would cease carrying out certain obligations under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty with regard to Russia.’  The announcement is a symptom of the long-running disputes that have emerged over CFE implementation over the years and the inability of key parties to reach common ground, despite the Obama administration’s recent diplomatic overtures on the issue.”

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