Fragile Denuclearization: Russia steps up arsenal build ups
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
Denuclearization has remained a useless myth since it is purely utopian to expect the big nuke powers USA and Russia to renounce their arms arsenals, especially the weapons of mass destitution (WMD). While arms race is being propelled by these powers, the arms limitation talks are also going on, achieving literally nothing, while more and more nukes are being manufactured to terrorize the humanity on permanent basis.
Even arms control mechanisms evolved by nuclear powers are in fact meant to get rid of only the outdated or those reached the acutely dangerous level without having used them for too long.
Notwithstanding all treaties between USA and Russia, missile arsenals kept increasing in both countries, giving no chances for world peace. USA tops in warheads with 45000 warheads while Russia is second with about 40000 warheads and these arsenals are sufficient enough to destroy entire world in hours.
Americans also make Israel a nuke power by adding it more arsenals. Israel is now self proclaimed super power of Mideast, threatening the Arab nations and Iran.
Though both former Cold War adversaries have massively cut their nuclear arsenals since 1991, the data shows that over the past six months — a period that has seen Russia-West relations dive bomb over the crisis in Ukraine — both nations have boosted their nuclear forces. Although both nations increased their deployments this year, over the past three years they have moved in different directions: In 2011, Russia had 1537 warheads deployed — 106 less than now. The USA claims three years ago it had 1,800 warheads deployed, meaning it has decommissioned 158.
Since March this year, when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, Moscow has upped the ante in both regards, increasing the number of launchers from 906 to 911 and its arsenal of warheads deployed from 1,512 to 1,643. According to US State Department report, with 1,643 nuclear warheads deployed, Moscow has now reversed 14 years of US superiority, and now has one more warhead in the field than the Pentagon. The report, which is released annually to monitor arms control efforts, has two key metrics — the number of individual nuclear warheads deployed, and the number of launchers and vehicles to deliver those warheads, such as intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) systems, submarines and bomber planes.
This has allowed Russia to achieve parity with the USA, which has showed less zeal in deploying new weaponry, growing its deployment of its nuclear warheads from 1,585 to 1,642 since March. Washington has reduced the number of its launchers from 952 to 912.
That is to say, maintaining the nukes for a long period of time is a big task.
The veto nations, having amassed huge piles of conventional and nuclear weapons do not want to disarm themselves but expect other powers to give up their nukes.
On the other hand, those emerging nations that want to go nuclear are eager to somehow enter the veto regime so that they can share the global wealth.
Nevertheless, not many nations ask for dismantle the veto regime of UNSC so that credible peace could prevailed on earth.
Every nation is fearful of other nations having nukes in their arsenals. Several treaties have been signed by nuke powers, especially by former super powers USA and Russia , but have never been implemented.
The ever-growing rift between the USA and Russia is a concern throughout the foreign policy community.
Arms controlling mechanisms evolved so far by big powers have only promoted the powers concerned and not worked to advantage of the humanity since no nuclear power is interested in really give up its nuclear and conventional arsenals. In 1968, the USA and the Soviet Union hashed out their first arms control measures at the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), freezing the number of missiles in their arsenals. At that time, the USA had 1,710 missiles, and the Soviet Union had 2,347.
Although SALT attempted to curb the arms race, it did not address limitations on warheads. Both sides quickly realized that they could outfit their limited missile arsenals with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing a single missile to deploy many nuclear warheads after launching. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met in Reykjavik to talk arms reduction. On the table was a 50 percent reduction in nuclear arsenals and at one point Gorbachev even told Reagan he would eliminate all of the weapons if the USA were to ditch its missile defense plans. Reagan refused, and the arsenals survived, but the conference produced the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which was the first to eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons. Today, the INF treaty is under fire, with U.S. officials accusing Putin’s Russia of violating the treaty, and senior Russian officials openly mulling pulling out of the agreement.
In 1991, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was signed, limiting nuclear arsenals to 1,600 delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads. Over the next two decades, attempts to work out a START II and III treaty never panned out, but in 2002 Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin agreed to reduce warhead arsenals to 2000 warheads under the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT, which is also known as the Treaty of Moscow). New START brought the cap down by a further 450.
However, these treaties have only applied to deployed weapons, and as such mask the still massive arsenals both sides have shacked up in storage. According to data from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a global nuclear watchdog, the total size of the US strategic nuclear arsenal peaked at 32,000 warheads in 1966. The Soviet Union surpassed the US in 1978 and hit a high of 45,000 warheads by 1986. It should however be noted that these figures ignore technical capabilities and differences and don’t say much about the actual strength of each side. Russia still has 8,000 nuclear weapons, and the USA — 7,000.
Under the New START arms control treaty, which was signed into force in 2011 by Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, the size of each nation’s nuclear arsenal is reported every six months. Although the treaty sets a cap of 1,550 nuclear warheads, it counts weapons on bomber aircraft as being a single warhead — meaning that each side may have a few hundred warheads over the limit. That cap is a fraction of what Russia and the US once aimed at one another.
Last month, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin said Russia’s nuclear forces — the backbone of its military might — would receive a complete overhaul by 2020 as part of the nation’s massive $700 billion rearmament campaign. Moscow is pressing forward with its troubled Bulava (Mace) submarine-launched missiles, and new Yars land based intercontinental ballistic missiles and the uptick in Russian deployment mirrors advances in weapons delivery systems.
The dominant US narratives tend to stress the anti-democratic features of Russian politics, Vladimir Putin’s so-called dictatorship, his heavy-handed leadership, and aggressive foreign policy. The picture drawn has hardened during the Ukrainian crisis. The narratives point to a Russia that stands apart from the international community and to a president who cares little about this isolation and its political, security, and economic ramifications for his country.
However, US specialists do not compare Russian position as being very much equal to isolated Israeli position.
The current state of affairs in US-Russia relations is as distressing as it is alarming. By all accounts, this critical relationship has reached a point of rupture. In the United States, much of the discourse is centered on how to push back against Russia and President Vladimir Putin in light of what is happening in Ukraine. The answers stem from a set of narratives about Russia’s domestic trajectory, foreign policy objectives, and Putin’s personality.
Are dominant US narratives about Russia and Putin accurate, sufficient, and useful for guiding policy toward Russia? What are Putin’s objectives toward Ukraine and other post-Soviet states? What interests and assumptions are driving Russia’s policies toward the region? Are there ideas that would help end the crisis that have been obscured by a hardening of attitudes in Russia and the USA?
Ukraine is only the recent issue between the Americans and Russians but there have been similar issues over which both reacted aggressively. Without effective denuclearization or verifiable arms control mechanisms, not only Ukraine issue cannot be resolved but more complex issues would crop up in future too.
The dire consequences of an escalation of conflict between the US and its allies and Russia call for a debate in the USA that examines the basic assumptions that shape American super power ideas about, and policies toward, Russia. It is no less important that Russians examine the assumptions that underlie their views about the West.
There is no commitment to improving the US ability to understand Russia and interpret its policies. Because prevailing narratives impact foreign policies, it is imperative to get the basic narratives right and subject them to continued scrutiny.
There is also no real US commitment to denuclearization globally. This is because neither USA nor Russia is keen to dismantle all its nuke arsenals. USA wants all other powers to sacrifice their nukes and obey Washington.
Most Russians know that dismantling fo the mighty Soviet Russia was the work of USA and its imperialist allies and they don’t want Russia to be ready to be fooled by Washington again. Under the US command circumstances, Russia needs to worry about US intentions and secret operations targeting the Kremlin.