Russian-American Tactical Nuclear Arms Control Unlikely

Russian-American Tactical Nuclear Arms Control Unlikely

On Sept. 3, the Russian government indicated it would insist on challenging conditions for negotiating any limitations on its tactical nuclear weapons (TNW). Russian Col. Gen. Vladimir Verkhovtsev, head of the Defense Ministry's 12th Main Directorate, which is responsible for Russia's nuclear weapons, told reporters that Russia would require that other countries -- "above all France and Britain" -- join with Moscow and Washington in any future TNW arms control talks.

For years, Western officials, legislators, and analysts have called for additional measures to eliminate, or at least sharply reduce, the remaining TNWs in the U.S. and Russian arsenals. TNWs are smaller weapons as air-delivered bombs, torpedoes and artillery shells equipped with nuclear warheads. Two recent examples of such calls for TNW reductions include a November 2005 report by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Parliamentary Assembly and a February 2006 report (pdf file) by a Council of Foreign Relations task force.

In accordance with the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNI) of 1991-92 -- a set of parallel and reciprocal measures taken by both Moscow and Washington -- Russia and the United States have eliminated many of their TNWs. They also removed other TNW systems from operational deployment, transferring the warheads to separate secure storage.

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