Russia and INF

As someone who thinks that strategic nuclear issues don’t get enough attention, I was glad to see “Jane raise the issue”: of Russia’s position vis a vis the “INF Treaty”:

Anyway, ACA issued a “press release”: about the issue:

“The White House and congressional leaders should urge Russia not to abandon the INF Treaty,” Kimball recommended. He also encouraged the U.S. and Russian governments to “engage in talks to accelerate the drawdown of their strategic nuclear weapons and to account for and eliminate their tactical nuclear weapons arsenals.” The size and security of Russia’s tactical nuclear arms holdings are unknown, while the United States deploys roughly 480 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

In addition, the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is set to expire in December 2009. If START lapses and Russia scuttles the INF Treaty, the sole agreement left to restrict U.S. and Russian nuclear force levels would be the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. This agreement lacks verification provisions and its ceiling of 2,200 operationally deployed strategic warheads expires in December 2012. The United States currently claims to operationally deploy approximately 3,900 strategic warheads, and it keeps thousands of additional warheads in reserve. Russia fields some 4,300 strategic warheads, according to its latest accounting under START.

“Without the transparency and limits of the START and INF accords, the United States and Russia risk returning to the distrust, worst-case assumptions, and arms competition of the past,” warned Wade Boese, ACA research director.

“Russia’s overreaction to the possible fielding of up to 10 unproven U.S. missile interceptors already underscores the fragile state of U.S.-Russian security relations,” Boese stated.

He recommended that in addition to talks on extending START or its verification regime, “the former rivals should explore measures to address Russian concerns about any future stationing of U.S. anti-missile systems in Europe.” Boese concluded, “Such a process would be a much more constructive approach than carelessly scrapping the INF Treaty.”

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