Feature

Russia: Why we need so many nuclear bombs

It’s time to “recognize that eliminating nuclear weapons is not just a myth but a harmful myth," said Sergei Karaganov in The Moscow Times.

Sergei KaraganovThe Moscow Times

Russia and the U.S. recently agreed to cut their nuclear arsenals by one-third. That’s fine, said Sergei Karaganov, but let’s not get carried away with the whole disarmament thing. “The risks of a world without nuclear weapons—or with only a minimal number of them—are tremendous.” A small arsenal wouldn’t ensure deterrence, because missile-defense systems, hopeless against hundreds of missiles, could be effective against just a few. And once deterrence ceases to operate, the odds soar that a nuclear weapon might actually be used.

Moreover, if Russia and the U.S. both cut their stockpiles down to a “bare minimum,” smaller nuclear powers would have a huge advantage. They would be able to act with the same autonomy that previously only superpowers enjoyed. That’s troubling considering that the main nuclear threat today is the proliferation of small nuclear powers, not war between two great powers.

So instead of “mimicking Cold War–era treaties,” Russia and the U.S. should create a joint policy to deter new nuclear states. It’s time to “recognize that eliminating nuclear weapons is not just a myth but a harmful myth, and that nuclear weapons are a useful asset that has saved, and may continue to save, humanity from itself.”

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