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The US-Russian strategic nuclear balance continues to be a destabilizing factor in the international security system. Both nations maintain thousands of nuclear weapons, and both nations continue to target each other. Additionally, Russia and the US maintain a reciprocal Launch on Warning (LOW) posture, allowing the bulk of active strategic missiles to be launched in under twenty minutes. This remains true despite the deterioration of Russian launch-detection abilities. In the decade and a half since the end of the Cold War, both nations gradually moved towards decreasing the numbers, uses, and legitimacy of nuclear weapons. However, with Russia's renunciation of its no-first-use pledge, and as the US continues to fund research into earth-penetrating nuclear weapons and to develop a limited national missile defense system, this movement seems to have stopped. Moreover, it is likely that the Defense Department's Quadrennial Defense Review, coming out later this year, will continue to emphasize the importance of nuclear weapons. Finally, in spite of the great importance both nations place on preventing terrorist access to nuclear weapons and materials, Russia's vast arsenal and nuclear infrastructure remains far from secure. This security problem is significantly aggravated by the large numbers of nuclear weapons and the LOW posture Russia maintains. As correctly pointed out by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "America is threatened less by Russia's strength than by its weakness and incoherence."

From CIAO's database:

Hair-Trigger Missiles Risk Catastrophic Nuclear Terrorism

Russia: Grasping Reality of Nuclear Terror (PDF)

Illusory Security: Nuclear Weapons in the Second Nuclear Age

Nuclear Conflicts of the Twenty-First Century

The Global Nuclear Balance: A Quantitative and Arms Control Analysis (PDF)

U.S.-Russia Nuclear Reductions November 2001

Slipping Down the Nuclear Slope: Bush Administration Nuclear Policy Lowers Bar Against Usage

Bush's Nuclear Revolution: A Regime Change in Nonproliferation

Dangerous Doctrine: How New U.S. Nuclear Plans Could Backfire (PDF)

The Trajectory of the Russian Military: Downsizing, Degeneration, and Defeat

Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces

Outside Links*:

Federation of American Scientists nuclear weapons page

Excerpts of the Nuclear Posture Review

US Bureau of Nonproliferation

State Deptartment page on the WMD threat

Natural Resources Defense Council nuclear weapons site

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine [].