Parity in Peril? the continuing vitality of Russian-US strategic nuclear deterrence

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The stability of nuclear deterrence between the United States and Russia no longer can be regarded as a relic of the Cold War. The topic is rapidly re-emerging as one of ever-greater relevance and policy-strategic urgency. A more fluid international order, the complexity of post-Cold War security issues, and the pressure of incipient nuclear proliferation in Asia, make clarity in American-Russian nuclear arms control of first importance. Through the revival of proven analytical techniques, however, this article self-consciously reintroduces concepts long at the heart of strategic nuclear debates. These show that although there is no imminent risk to first strike stability, arms control stability is more nuanced and cannot be assumed without deliberate effort. Missile defences, already deployed by the US and possibly appealing to others, may further complicate the stabilisation of Russian-American nuclear security relations and the containment of nuclear arms races in Asia. Strategic stability is not as important as before for immediate human survival, nor does it raise a significant danger of Russian-American confrontation, and certainly not a risk of pre-emptive attack. The strategic balance, rather, remains a precondition to cooperation on other issues, above all nuclear proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-434
Number of pages18
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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