Summary of Proposals 

From A World Without Nuclear Constraints - Discussion Series

This set of summary points and proposals arising from the four virtual sessions - A World Without Nuclear Constraints: Virtual Discussion Series - was compiled by Academy staff. This itemized list does not represent consensus positions of all the participants; instead it conveys the range of ideas and topics covered during the discussions.

The positions of the United States and Russia on the terms of extension of the New START treaty and the negotiation of a follow-on arms control treaty have been uncertain and changeable. It is in the strategic interest of both countries not to allow a situation of unconstrained arms racing to occur. The U.S. and Russia have a special obligation – as the possessors of the largest nuclear forces – to work together to reduce nuclear risks and seek measures to enhance strategic stability.  

  1. Renewing New START for a five-year period will encourage stability, predictability, and provide the grounds to explore future arms control options and frameworks. 

  1. A joint statement committing in good faith to begin negotiations on a follow-on treaty could accompany the New START extension. 

With respect to a follow-on arms control treaty, there is clear divergence between the positions of the U.S. and Russia on the volume, scale, and scope of what to include, as well as which other countries ought to be included.  

  1. The U.S. and Russia should commit to bilateral negotiations to further reduce the numbers of warheads (combined limit on deployed/non-deployed) and delivery vehicles, demonstrating to other nuclear weapons states that they take seriously their disarmament obligations. 

  1. The U.S. and Russia should commit to not deploy or further develop warheads and delivery vehicles which lower the nuclear use threshold. 

  1. The U.S., Russia, and China could negotiate a verifiable agreement on integrated launchers, capping or freezing the numbers of ICBMs, SLBMs, heavy bombers, and land-based medium- and intermediate-range missiles. 

Arms control cooperation involving other nuclear weapons states is desirable and necessary to promote understanding on a range of threats and technological developments that challenge strategic stability. Sets of strategic dialogues amongst nuclear weapons states can be feasibly conducted in parallel to bilateral talks, across a number of areas.  

  1. A joint political statement between the nuclear weapons states or P-5 states acknowledging that it is in their common interest to manage strategic competition, avoid an arms race, and reduce the risks of nuclear weapons use. 

  1. The U.S., Russia, and China must address the issue of ballistic missile defense. This can be done through joint open-source study of the technical feasibility of building a U.S. homeland missile defense system that will not compromise Chinese or Russian ICBMs. 

  1. A strategic dialogue on space issues involving the U.S., Russia, and China to lay out their understandings and jointly develop a code of conduct to prevent the weaponization of space. 

The virtual discussion series was undertaken by the Academy's Meeting the Challenges of the New Nuclear Age project, which is dedicated to examining escalation pathways that could lead one or more nuclear weapons states to use nuclear weapons. Through dialogue and consultations with various domestic and international nuclear consistencies, the Academy project aims to articulate a set of recommendations for de-escalating possible nuclear crises.

Read "Meeting the Challenges of a New Nuclear Age" the Spring 2020 issue of Dædalus