The Good Old Days of the Cold War: US–Soviet Cooperation on Nonproliferation

August 7, 2018
William Potter
Sarah Bidgood

The following is an excerpt from War on the Rocks.

As delegates to the April-May meeting of the NPT review process, we witnessed first-hand the furious volley of rights-of-reply in which the Russian and American delegations engaged. The two nuclear powers traded jabs over a host of issues ranging from chemical weapons attacks in Salisbury and Syria, violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), and NATO nuclear sharing arrangements. The Russian representative even suggested that the United States violated the NPT before it existed by using nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even the one issue on which the two sides recently appeared to be in agreement — a visceral dislike of the Nuclear Ban Treaty — seemed to have little in the way of unifying power. Adding to the disarray, the Palais itself was undergoing a huge renovation during the two-week long meeting, leading us to wonder whether the din of jackhammers in the background was in fact the distant sound of the nonproliferation regime crumbling.

Notwithstanding the Potemkin-like harmony at the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki, discord in U.S.-Russian relations is the norm, and it has been for quite some time, even before Russia’s seizure of Crimea. Nonproliferation has historically united the largest nuclear weapons states. Indeed, U.S.-Soviet cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation was largely immune to the political storms swirling around it. But no longer.

Continue reading at War on the Rocks.


Comments Are Closed