Conference of the Luxembourg Forum “Prospects for Nuclear Arms Control”

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Luxembourg Forum Experts Discuss Prospects for Nuclear Arms Control

Viatcheslav Kantor: “The current state of U.S.Russian relations is at their lowest point in decades”

Sergey Ryabkov: “We see the depoliticization of the process of substantive negotiations as one of the tasks”

The International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe held an online conference billed as Prospects for Nuclear Arms Control.

Leading international experts in nuclear arms non-proliferation, limitation and control, and nuclear security from Russia and the United States discussed most important and pressing issues concerning global strategic stability, disarmament, bilateral relations and treaty obligations in this area.

The Conference participants stated that after the extension of the New START, in order to preserve the general principles of strategic stability after 2026, both qualitative and quantitative aspects of further nuclear arms control need to be developed taking into account autonomous and hypersonic weapons, missile defense developments, strategic non-nuclear weapons, the introduction of certain limitations from the INF treaty, reviving the Iran nuclear deal, the Open Skies Treaty and opportunities to engage China.

“Everyone is well aware of the current state of U.S.–Russian relations, which are at their lowest point in decades. The challenge is to make sure that no one knocks from below and drags them down even further,” president of the Luxembourg Forum Viatcheslav Kantor said.

“Arms control is now going through an unprecedentedly deep crisis,” noted Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Ryabkov. “We consider it unacceptable that the atmosphere of confrontation of bilateral relations with the United States poisons our strategic dialogue. Therefore, we see the depoliticization of the process of substantive negotiations as one of the tasks. Arms control cannot be ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ ‘democratic’ or ‘authoritarian.’ Attempts to introduce such a gradation invariably emasculate the very idea of equal and mutually beneficial interaction in this area.”

The experts observed that the United States will be able to begin discussing the format of the follow-on treaty only after the development and approval of the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), while this process may take long. In this case, there could be insufficient time for reaching agreement on the text of the follow-on treaty before 2026, given many other issues to be addressed.

Furthermore, the format for the follow-on treaty is unclear. It must include all the new types of nuclear weapons currently being developed, such as autonomous systems and hypersonic weapons, and, even more challenging, verification of respecting its terms as an integral part of any such document.

“The big question is whether the range of issues can be solved through the negotiating process by 2026,” stated Dr. Kantor.

The Conference also discussed the danger of possible use of nuclear weapons at the regional level with subsequent escalation. Threats of the actual use of such weapons can be found in doctrinal documents and have been included in the discussions of influential experts. The discussion now centers not only on how to prevent this threat, but also on how to minimize catastrophic damage from nuclear explosions through the reduction of warhead capacity when they are used, in particular, to de-escalate the possible development of nuclear conflicts.

“One can only regretfully note the departure from the fundamental conclusions of our distinguished predecessors, who considered any use of nuclear weapons to be absolutely unacceptable—here I include the long-standing conclusion of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan that it is impossible to win a nuclear war. I believe that measures to prevent any use of nuclear weapons should always be part of our discussions in the Luxembourg Forum”, Dr. Kantor noted.

“Henry Kissinger, who is a member of the Luxembourg Forum Supervisory Board, has said that in the past the fear of a new world war among U.S. and Soviet leaders was so existential in nature that, after the Cold War ended, peace depended to a great extent on the parties’ ability to make asymmetrical concessions,” the Luxembourg Forum president pointed out. “The 76 years separating us from the catastrophe of World War II have negated our shared understanding of the need to negotiate a nuclear peace, even when there are significant differences in starting positions.”

The online conference was attended by the Luxembourg Forum president Dr. Viatcheslav KANTOR; Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey RYABKOV; Professor at Stanford University, former U.S. Secretary of Defense William PERRY; Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, former Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. State Department, Chief U.S. Negotiator of the New START Treaty Rose GOTTEMOELLER; co-chairman and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, former chairman of the Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the US Senate Sam NUNN; Research Professor at the Center for Advanced Studies of National Security of Russia at the Higher School of Economics, former Chief of Staff – First Deputy Commander-in-Chief at Strategic Missile Forces, Colonel General (ret.) Victor ESIN; Adjunct Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation, former Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security and Administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, Lieutenant General (ret.) Frank KLOTZ; Director of RAS IMEMO, RAS corresponding member Feodor VOITOLOVSKY; President of RAS IMEMO, Academician Secretary of the Division for Global Issues and International Relations at RAS, RAS Academician Alexander DYNKIN; Director of James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies, Professor of Non-Proliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey William POTTER; Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the International Luxembourg Forum, chief researcher at the Center for International Security at RAS IMEMO, former Director of the 4th Central Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, General (ret.) Vladimir DVORKIN; head of the Center for International Security at RAS IMEMO, RAS Academician Alexey ARBATOV; Vice President of Nuclear Threat Initiative Lynn RUSTEN; Non Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, former Ambassador to Ukraine Steven PIFER; Vice President for Studies at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace George PERKOVICH; Deputy Chairman of the Organizing

Committee of the International Luxembourg Forum, Head of Section of Military–Political Analysis at RAS IMEMO, Professor Sergey OZNOBISHCHEV; Senior Researcher of the Centre for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies, Moscow Institute of Physics and

Technology, Professor Anatoly DIAKOV, and other renowned international experts.

As an outcome of the meeting, the Luxembourg Forum experts will issue a final document containing key conclusions and recommendations on enhancing nuclear non-proliferation regime and strengthening global nuclear security, to be circulated to heads of state, officials and leaders of the UN Security Council, the IAEA and other international organizations.