Here’s One Way to Reduce the Number of Nuclear Weapons in the World

David Axe

A former U.S. ambassador to NATO offered some unsolicited advice to the next U.S. president for reducing the threat of nuclear war.

Ivo Daalder, who served under former U.S. president Barack Obama, told the nonprofit Ploughshares Fund that whoever wins the presidency in 2020 could reconceptualize nuclear deterrence in order to begin making meaningful progress toward disarmament. 

“You need to decide what you want for deterrence,” said Daalder, who now is the president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

That could mean giving up on the idea of nuclear parity between the United States and Russia, Ploughshares’ Joe Cirincione explained. “Removing the obsession with parity -- or matching the Russians warhead for warhead -- is a good start,” Cirincione wrote.

Pres. Donald Trump, who is running for reelection, has loosened the rules governing America’s use of atomic weapons and unilaterally has withdrawn the United States from several nuclear treaties.

Trump’s administration currently is negotiating with the Russian government over the fate of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

New START, which caps the American and Russian nuclear arsenals each at 1,550 deployed atomic warheads, expires in February 2021. The treaty emphasizes parity between the two major nuclear powers.

Some experts worry that Trump intends to abandon New START, thus potentially walking away from parity as a guiding principle. Trump has called for the United States to greatly grow its atomic arsenal.

The Trump administration’s cover story for possibly allowing New START to lapse is that it wants a new, three-way nuclear-weapons pact that also involves China. But negotiating a three-way treaty could take years and should not preclude an extension of New START.


"It would malpractice to discard New START in the hopes of negotiating a more comprehensive, ambitious nuclear arms control agreement with Russia and China and getting it ratified and into force,"  Daryl Kimball, an expert with the Arms Control Association in the United States, told The Associated Press.

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