- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

U.S., Russia Cooperate To Reduce Nuclear Threats

Winter 2013-14

Two Studies Recommend Steps To Transcend Mutual Deterrence, Prevent Terrorism

Continuing its long-standing tradition of encouraging U.S.-Russia collaboration to reduce nuclear arms threats, the Belfer Center released two reports this fall produced jointly with the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies (ISKRAN).

Authored by nuclear arms experts – high-ranking U.S. and Russian former government officials, retired military officers, and academics – the reports recommend steps to move the countries beyond the doctrine of mutual deterrence with nuclear weapons and measures to prevent nuclear terrorism worldwide.  Published in English and Russian, the studies have been shared with government officials in both countries.

While U.S.-Russian relations have vastly improved since 1990, the authors write in   “Transcending Mutual Deterrence in the U.S.-Russian Relationship” that the healthier relationship has not resulted in corresponding easing back from the threat of mutual nuclear annihilation. The report lays out a path for the two countries to put nuclear weapons in a context appropriate to the post-Cold War relationship.

The authors propose improving political, intelligence, and economic cooperation in non-nuclear areas and changing both countries’ nuclear posture and defense. They also suggest steps to build trust and cooperation, including a mutual agreement to give political leaders “hours or days, rather than minutes, to make nuclear decisions that could mean life or death for millions.”

The second report recognizes that nuclear terrorism remains a real and urgent threat, requiring relentless attention and actions by the United States, Russia and other responsible nations.

The report “Steps to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism: Recommendations Based on the U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment” outlines concrete actions for the United States and Russia to take in leading international efforts to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism. The report follows up a groundbreaking Belfer Center-ISKRAN 2011 study titled “U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment on Nuclear Terrorism.”

The new study argues that the U.S. and Russia, working with other countries, should take steps in nuclear security, intelligence, law enforcement, emergency response, and other areas to improve their ability to detect, prevent, disrupt, and recover from acts of nuclear terrorism.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: U.S., Russia Cooperate To Reduce Nuclear Threats.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Winter 2013-14).