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Автор(ы) публикации: Andrei KOKOSHIN

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by Andrei KOKOSHIN, RAS Corresponding Member, Acting Vice-President of RAS, head of Russia's National Security Studies Center, Moscow State University


The present enlargement of the nuclear community differs from the previous cases in that the "club" has got new members in a situation when there is no absolute nuclear pact and no face-off between the two superpowers. Nor is there a global ideological conflict of the two systems headed by the selfsame superpowers, while the level of the military-political confrontation in which the nuclear powers were implicated is much lower (a situation symbolized by a series of agreements on the mutual non-targeting of strategic nuclear forces). Yet on the other hand, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of interethnic and religious conflicts, and there is intensification of rivalry in the economic and scientific-technical spheres.

It is argued every now and then that nuclear deterrence in US-Russia, US-China and Russia-China relations makes no sense any longer (not to speak of the other

page 23

nuclear axes involving Great Britain and France, which were not of much significance in military and political terms anyway). It is hypothesized that the nuclear weapon has gradually "come to naught". Now, such reasoning looked dubious even before the nuclear testings in South Asia. But even barring the new developments on the strategic scene, nuclear weapons would still have continued in operational service within a foreseeable time framework. No doubt, the entry of India and Pakistan into the "nuclear club" has given fresh impetus to the preservation and further development of nuclear arms, and to the development and further complexification of the system of nuclear deterrence. Complexification means heavier demands on the level and reliability of control systems.(*)

The emergence of another two nuclear weapon countries, India and Pakistan, shows up the inadequacy of international order which the United States has been-and is still trying-to construct, the only superpower now, after the cold war. Seeking in fact to tackle many issues single-handedly, despite its agreements with the Russian Federation and more vigorous interaction with China and Western Europe, the United States ought to realize: the moves of India and Pakistan are not so much spearheaded against each other as against the world order that the USA is out to mold.

It was the United States and other Western countries that offered stiff resistance to the Indian missile-nuclear program. As to Russia, the Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapons pose no direct threat, most experts believe. More than that, these weapons are often viewed as a well-nigh positive factor strengthening the power balance on the subcontinent, if we are to judge by so many public statements. Needless to say, the situation is not as simple for our country, and it calls for a careful and considerate analysis of developments, with due account of new factors on the nuclear arena, in mapping out Russia's national strategy. All things considered, this is above all the problem of the erosion of the status of the UN Security Council, which is of far greater significance to us today than in the days of the "bipolar world".

The development of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan as well as the tests of longer-range intermediate range missiles by Iran and North Korea (with varying success) points up the inadequacy of the non-proliferation regime inherited from the days of the cold war. But this is not to mean that non-proliferation is useless and not needed at all. The threat of proliferation of mass destruction weapons and missile technologies is an earnest problem for Russia's national security, as it has repeatedly been stressed by our top political leadership and by the Security Council of the Russian Federation in its decisions. However, the non-proliferation problem is not yet a priority in the thinking of Russia'a nascent political elite, let alone the public. Someday Russia might have to pay a dear price for such insouciance.

It all depends which model of further development India and Pakistan will choose for themselves, and what parameters of the theory and practice of nuclear deterrence they will borrow from the older nuclear powers-whether from those who have been at it for decades (USSR and USA, Russia and USA) or from those in the second echelon of the five declared nuclear weapon states. One should keep it in mind that India and Pakistan are in an utterly different position than the three nuclear weapon countries of the second echelon (Great Britain, France and China). India and Pakistan are not within the system of central nuclear deterrence in which Britain and France, albeit to a different extent, are still there. In the foreseeable future India and Pakistan would not be seeking to join up, trying as they do to keep a free hand in the issue of nuclear weaponry and nuclear policy. But it cannot be ruled out either that in time they will come to understand the shortfalls of such a stance.

In their bilateral relations India and Pakistan may probably be drawing on the experience of "central" deterrence and-so far as their relations with the outside world are concerned-on the experience of the "second-echelon" countries. Whether India and Pakistan will be able to adjust to the global system of nuclear interaction and to the deterrence system or not will largely depend on the behavior of the five nuclear powers, and their course relative to the nuclear arsenals and doctrines.


What we are having today is the desire to revise the very basis of the "code of behavior" in the nuclear age. The first condition for that was the concept of strategic parity between the Soviet Union and the United States way back in the early 1970s. A second trend is manifest in yet another attempt to rethink the role of the missile defense systems in securing strategic stability.

Today the mutual understanding of the basics of strategic stability- what was hammered out at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s-is imperilled. The continued progress in military technologies over the last decades gave rise to attempts to change or modify the system of mutual assured destruction (MAD)

* Systems of operational control of the armed forces-a set of procedures (corresponding commands), materiel and routine decisions. These components are part and parcel of the strategic nuclear forces, and one should never forget about that. - Auth.

page 24

by developing large-scale (national) missile defense systems-in the Soviet Union and in the United States alike.

In the 1980s it became possible to avert a dangerous imbalancing of the military- strategic relationship that could be brought about by implementation of missile defense programs and abrogation of the 1972 ABM Treaty Yet the missile defense idea is still alive and kicking-the military, scientists and politicians are actively involved in it, though different arguments are cited as justification. This issue is being widely debated in the United States with respect to different levels, i.e. "nonstrategic missile defense" and national strategic defense. The pressure of congressional proponents and powerful interest groups of manufacturers is very great, especially considering the excellent fiscal situation of the USA and President Clinton's decision not to veto the draft bill. All that came into play during the Senate voting of 17 March 1999 when the missile defense advocates won by an absolute majority- 97 versus 3.

But while until recently theater defense missile were in the focus of discussions, today the American side-for the first time since the dismantling of the fire means of the Safeguard system-is raising the issue of rebuilding the national missile defenses. According to available estimates, the new system will be capable of intercepting 20 to 40 warheads, which will make it possible not only to repel single strikes from Iran or North Korea (the Americans are speaking openly about that) but also cover in full the "Chinese direction" (something that the Americans are loath to advertize), since China is thought to have not more than 17 intercontinental ballistic missiles (not MIRVed). Therefore the United States might suggest revising the US-Soviet ABM Treaty of 1972 and the protocol to it (1974) whereby the number of deployment areas of national missile defense systems was reduced from two to one. This poses new problems and dilemmas for Russia, the successor state of the Soviet Union, a country which more than once emerged as a leader in US-Soviet rivalry in missile defenses.

The compounded relationship of the nuclear and non-nuclear spheres poses new threats to strategic stability. But even though nuclear power has been devalued somewhat due to the development of precision conventional weapons, this factor is not as much significant as to ponder renouncing nuclear weaponry even in a distant future.

US leadership (judging by what we know about a presidential directive of November 1997) has officially proclaimed a possibility of using nuclear weapons against non- nuclear countries having chemical and bacteriological weapons. Since any advanced state may be suspected of possessing CB weaponry, this paves the way to a dangerous precedent of "blurring" the frontiers of nuclear deterrence. A US nuclear stance like that has caused concern and anxiety in some countries.

As we have said, the ideological standoff of the cold-war era is a thing of the past, and the level of military-political tension is down. Cuts are being effected in the nuclear arsenals. Neither are there political objectives for the sake of which one would take a risk. Still and all, nuclear deterrence remains a kind of contingency "insurance policy". It is playing an immense role as a status symbol. The ideas of a nuclear-free world have won no broad support in the United States, let alone France or China. Hence Russia ought to draw proper conclusions.


The above factors are certainly taken into account by the Russian Federation in decision-making bearing on the further development of Russia's strategic nuclear force and on her nuclear policy. Important decisions to this effect were adopted by the RF Security

page 25

Council at its meeting of 3 July 1998. In many respects these decisions drew upon conclusions and recommendations made by a special presidential commission headed by the Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Academician Nikolai Laverov. In fact, that was a package of policies determining the countenance of Russia's offensive and defensive weapons up until the year 2010 and on. This package provided for the preservation of the three-component structure of the strategic nuclear forces (ground-, sea-and air-based missiles). The presidential commission likewise determined the scope of financing, and passed decisions on its economic, industrial and R&D support. All these decisions were adopted proceeding from the then estimates of this country's economic prospects within a foreseeable future. Unfortunately the real situation appears quite sad in the wake of the financial crash of August 16-17, 1998. The plan for the development of strategic nuclear forces and of nuclear deterrence arsenals at large needs fundamental rethinking, not just rejiggings or changes in the modernization schedules for certain components.

Assessing the status role of nuclear weaponry for our country, we should consider the economic aspect of nuclear deterrence as well.

Russia still keeps a nuclear arsenal and other elements of nuclear deterrence commensurate with those of the United States while, according to some authoritative sources, her gross national product (GNP) is only a tenth or even a twelfth of the American one. The GNP of each of the other three nuclear weapon states, UN Security Council Members (Great Britain, France, the People's Republic of China), is severalfold as much as Russia's. However, their nuclear arsenals are much smaller than ours. Besides, Russia's requirements for conventional, general-purpose forces- ground, air (missile defense including) and naval forces-are far greater than those of France or Britain. Considering our slender resources, it is obvious that without a major economic breakthrough, Russia will not be able to sustain her nuclear status even in the next few years. Even given the most favorable march of events in our economic development, we shall not be able to bear the burden of quantitative equivalence with the United States. As a matter of fact, there is no acute need for that. This is another important argument: that Russia will stand to gain by ratifying the follow-on START II Treaty of 1993 so as to move forward to START III with much lower ceilings for nuclear warheads than envisaged by START II. A ratification of START II will also help keep the ABM Treaty of 1972 in force, and will have a positive effect on tightening the international regime of non-proliferation. Yet another argument in favor of START II ratification was cited by Academician Alexander Prokhorov, a Nobel prizewinner, at a meeting of the RAS Presidium. He noted that ratification of START II would enable us to pool our resources toward developing new weapons, for

page 26

otherwise we would have to expend significant means for keeping the old weaponry in operational service, and that would result in our lagging behind the United States.

The financing of R&D for the Defense Ministry does not meet the exigencies of stability and what is needed for ensuring an equivalence of the strike and support systems. And what concerns the economic background of the issue, the state should overhaul its policy through and through, for the present course does not respond to the needs of the nation's security.

Nuclear weapons are not only an effective political tool and a status hallmark, they are likewise a colossal burden. Their security-against acts of terrorism, against accidental and unsanctioned use-is an ever-present concern. Next, the problem of utilization of nuclear weapons and appropriate delivery vehicles (and of liquid radioactive waste from nuclear-powered submarines) involves ever larger expenses. Therefore nuclear arms are a rather dear price for ensuring national security, contrary to what some of the rabid protagonists of such weaponry might be saying.

To conclude his analysis of problems related to nuclear deterrence and its role in ensuring Russia's security, the author would like to accentuate these main points:

-Humankind is moving into the twenty-first century against the background of a "completely different strategic landscape" than it was envisioned by many experts even a year ago. The emergence of two new nuclear powers as well as countries developing long-range missiles makes it possible to state that a qualitatively new situation is evolving in international relations, and a liberal world order, on which many were pinning their hopes with the close of the cold war, has not come to be. Once again this argues in favor of efforts toward sustaining and further development of the Russian "nuclear shield";

-Nuclear weapons are playing a special political role for our country. Today and in a foreseeable future it might be the only high-visibility factor underwriting a great power status for us. Therefore we should do our utmost to keep a maximum of independence for Russia's nuclear forces as a key element of Russia's sovereignty. The international system has no alternative to nuclear deterrence and hence to bolstering the linchpin of Russia's military security;

-The military factor is going to play a significant role in international relations of the future, especially on account of the two young nuclear states, India and Pakistan, and in view of the ongoing modernization of conventional forces in many countries, even though the pace of military preparations has fallen significantly since the end of the cold war;

-Obviously, nuclear deterrence is no panacea, be it in safeguarding national security or in parrying, neutralizing the entire spectrum of military-political threats to Russia. More than that, placing excessive hopes on nuclear deterrence in Russia's national security policy would be noxious and even perilous. Nuclear might can offset a nation's economic and political weakness but partially.

World experience and our own domestic record tell us that nuclear weapons are of little effect as a political remedy for containing and defusing local wars and armed conflicts, particularly low-intensity conflicts. Yet it is such conflicts that are viewed by most experts as most likely in a list of potential threats to Russia's military security.

Nuclear power and nuclear deterrence should be assigned an orderly place within the framework of the country's national security:

-Russian strategic nuclear forces are not only a part of our defences but are also an essential element of global stability. By her very geopolitical position, her history and her manifest historical destiny Russia is bound to play an eminent role in the global military-political balance of the twenty-first century. Without Russia any lineup offerees would be precarious-so much so that in case of several military-political flashpoints at a time the situation may get out of hand;

-The West should be awake to the importance of Russia's adequate defense capability, including a surging defence industry as a material warranty of stability- both in the interests of her own national security and in the interests of the world community of nations at large.

But while counting on an understanding from the West, we must certainly realize that no one is going to tackle the problem of Russian industry but ourselves. We must achieve a breakthrough in the financing of R&D and of arms and materiel purchases. Urgent steps are needed in support of our aerospace and nuclear industries. Besides, the aerospace industry should be streamlined before long, but so as to keep its "load- carrying structures" from collapsing. The ageing of the personnel employed in the nuclear and aerospace industries-both the managerial and the engineering-technical personnel-is another problem that needs close attention, and so is the problem of skilled manpower.

Nuclear non-proliferation should become a key element of Russia's intercourse with the other seven leading powers, and also with India, China and other states. This policy also covers other weapons of mass destruction, missile technologies and the domestic export control regime that should be tightened. No doubt, it should be implemented on a parity basis.


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Andrei KOKOSHIN, NUCLEAR DETERRENCE AND RUSSIA'S NATIONAL SECURITY // Москва: Русский Либмонстр (LIBMONSTER.RU). Дата обновления: 14.09.2018. URL: https://libmonster.ru/m/articles/view/NUCLEAR-DETERRENCE-AND-RUSSIA-S-NATIONAL-SECURITY (дата обращения: 22.02.2019).

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