Will the continuing war in Ukraine and resulting toxic relations between Russia and NATO push nuclear arms control into the dustbin of history? Hopefully, the war in Ukraine will soon end in a negotiated peace settlement, and something resembling normal US-Russian diplomatic relations will return. Doubtless the transition from war to peace will not be easy, and Russia, Ukraine, and NATO will all have their dissatisfactions with the peace agreement. Nevertheless, other important issues of international security and world order cannot be postponed indefinitely.
One of the most critical issues requiring imminent future discussion and resolution is the challenge of nuclear arms control. Even before Russia’s war on Ukraine, the Russian–American nuclear arms control dialogue had reached a state of paralysis. But any post-war attempt to revive arms control will face four major challenges: the rise of China as a major nuclear power; new technology, including hypersonic missiles and drone swarms, that stresses strategic stability; US military budgetary constraints; and the real possibility of increased nuclear proliferation. These new challenges will require new arms control approaches, including, at the least, some method of including China in any efforts to further extend the US-Russia New START limits on strategic nuclear weapons.
The above excerpt was originally published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
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