Print Читать на русском
Rate this article
(votes: 1, rating: 5)
 (1 vote)
Share this article

On October 16, 2017, Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) conducted a webinar "Russia, USA, and China, and the prospects for "global zero». The event was attended by Richard Weitz, Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis, Hudson Institute, expert of the Valdai Club, and Ilya Kravchenko, an Americanist, RIAC expert. The moderator of the event was Nikolay Markotkin, RIAC Media and Government Relations Manager.

The issue of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is extremely pending. On October 6, the Nobel Committee announced the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). At the same time, the administration of Donald Trump, the President of the United States, recently announced his intention to cancel the «nuclear deal» with Iran, concluded in July 2015. In the meanwhile, Washington is uttering unfounded accusations towards Russia on violating the START Treaty. All this is taking place against a backdrop of the ongoing crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program. In this context, the cooperation of the three key nuclear powers — Russia, the United States, and China — is becoming a vital necessity. The question of how this interaction can be implemented became the main topic on the agenda of the discussion.

On October 16, 2017, Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) conducted a webinar “Russia, USA, and China, and the prospects for ‘global zero’”. The event was attended by Richard Weitz, Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis, Hudson Institute, expert of the Valdai Club, and Ilya Kravchenko, an Americanist, RIAC expert. The moderator of the event was Nikolay Markotkin, RIAC Media and Government Relations Manager.

The issue of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is extremely pending. On October 6, the Nobel Committee announced the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). At the same time, the administration of Donald Trump, the President of the United States, recently announced his intention to cancel the “nuclear deal” with Iran, concluded in July 2015. In the meanwhile, Washington is uttering unfounded accusations towards Russia on violating the START Treaty. All this is taking place against a backdrop of the ongoing crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program. In this context, the cooperation of the three key nuclear powers — Russia, the United States, and China — is becoming a vital necessity. The question of how this interaction can be implemented became the main topic on the agenda of the discussion.

Richard Weitz identified three main, in his opinion, dimensions of possible cooperation between the US, China, and Russia, namely, arms control and disarmament; “horizontal” proliferation of nuclear weapons (NW); prevention of nuclear terrorism.

At the moment, Russia and the United States already have positive experience of cooperation in the field of non-proliferation, successfully reducing their nuclear arsenals of weapons under the relevant treaties. However, the main problem is that countries implement different approaches towards disarmament and arms control. So Obama administration sought to reduce strategic nuclear forces (SNF), while the Russian authorities insisted on radically changing attitudes to this issue, noting that the traditional approach had exhausted its potential. Russia advocates that the issue of missile defense should be taken into account in future agreements on arms reduction. Russia also seeks to attract more countries to this approach, believing that the bilateral format of the U.S.-Russia has long since outlived itself. According to Russian experts, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, the DPRK, and Israel, if it has nuclear weapons, could take part in future agreements. Obama administration, on the contrary, believed that before proceeding to a comprehensive solution of the issue, it is necessary to conclude at least one bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Russia in this area. As for China, he always distanced himself from participation in the disarmament process, adhering to the position “before coming to us, you must put things in order at home”. France and Britain also do not want to participate in such agreements, noting that their nuclear capabilities are needed to ensure national security and are not relevant to Russia.

R. Weitz also noted that the administration of D. Trump has adopted a new approach to the issue of arms reduction. However, in order to better understand its outlines, it is necessary to wait for the release of the corresponding document. Now the U.S. is adopting new strategies (the strategy on Iran was presented last week, and on Afghanistan, a few weeks ago). The nuclear strategy should be developed before the end of this year. Until then, it is impossible to say exactly what Trump will do if he accepts Putin's plan to extend the existing agreement on strategic arms reduction for another 5 years or take other steps. What line of behavior D. Trump chooses towards the PRC is also not completely clear. China, obviously, is not the main goal of the U.S. in the negotiations on strategic arms reduction, since the U.S. and the PRC do not have relevant treaties. In addition, it is not known for certain how many warheads Beijing has, which generates various speculations on the topic.

Richard Weitz did not express optimism about the issue of arms reduction in the next few years. As for non-proliferation, trilateral cooperation can take place, for example, on North Korea issue. Also, the parties may cooperate on a nuclear deal with Iran - the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) expires in a few years, so they will have to decide on further actions. The most effective is the cooperation of the three countries in preventing the entry of nuclear materials into the hands of terrorists by reducing the volume of such material, upgrading the reactors, strengthening the protection of nuclear scientific reactors and increasing cybersecurity.

The main issue at the moment is what the countries can do further in this direction. Russia did not participate in the last nuclear security summit in 2016, there is no certainty that D. Trump will take part in the future summit. Richard Weitz noted that China-the U.S. cooperation in this area is more successful: there is a joint nuclear safety center, under the auspices of which work is done to rebuild nuclear reactors, for example, in Africa. The reactors are modernized in such a way that there is no need to use dangerous «proliferation-sensitive» nuclear materials. However, until Trump's position becomes finally known, there will be no clarity on this topic.

Ilya Kravchenko said that nuclear non-proliferation has failed. In addition to the five nuclear powers, other states possess nuclear weapons today. Now it is important to agree to what extent the number of charges should be reduced.

Discussing the situation with North Korea, Ilya Kravchenko noted that verbal provocations on the part of Trump lead to the fact that the DPRK launches new missiles. The military power of the DPRK only grows every year, 10 years ago few believed that the DPRK would be capable of launching the missile for a long distance. In fact, as of today, it is not completely clear what is really happening in the DPRK, as well as in the PRC.

Ilya Kravchenko expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the tripartite dialogue on nuclear weapons both among the DPRK, China, and the U.S., and among the DPRK, PRC, and Russia. All the states are now arguing about testifies in favor of the fact that non-proliferation does not really work. It's easy to talk about non-proliferation at forums and summits, but when it comes to specifics, saying something definite seems problematic. The expert also noted that in the Russian Federation the overwhelming majority of citizens do not consider the process of nuclear disarmament from a positive point of view, as the loss of a nuclear shield will lead to a reduction in the military potential of the Russian Federation, which, naturally, will be used by Russian opponents. Among the majority of Russian politicians, especially in both houses of Parliament, the idea that nuclear weapons are necessary is also dominating. The expert said that states should keep parity on nuclear weapons, stop negotiating their reduction, and start a dialogue on conventional weapons (tanks, warships, military aviation). The number of states possessing nuclear weapons should not expand. However, maintaining the status quo in this area between nuclear powers is permissible, because their reduction will not lead to fundamental changes in the balance of power.

Further, the experts discussed the possibility of rescuing the Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA). The position of Trump administration boils down to the fact that the 2015 deal has its shortcomings, which should be adjusted. The U.S. wants to start a dialogue on the terms of the deal, which involves discussing a number of issues: the Iranian missile program, missile tests, restrictions that will eventually disappear. The United States does not intend to change the agreement alone. Trump wants other countries to pay attention to the existing problems. Richard Weitz noted that the proposal of the French president to sign an additional agreement that would cover Iran's missile program is likely to impose restrictions on European countries in the supply of technologies that could be used in the missile program. The expert drew attention to the fact that there are many people in the U.S. Congress who are satisfied with the deal, and they do not want to change anything, but there are also those who are in favor of early cancellation of the Iranian deal. It can not be stated that the United States will “block the deal” — the development of the situation depends on the reaction of other countries, in particular “what will happen in Russia, China, Europe and other countries.” Ilya Kravchenko noted that the Iranian problem is similar to the North Korean problem: “if you press on the regime, the regime will want to possess nuclear weapons.”

Video

Rate this article
(votes: 1, rating: 5)
 (1 vote)
Share this article

Poll conducted

  1. Korean Peninsula Crisis Has no Military Solution. How Can It Be Solved?
    Demilitarization of the region based on Russia-China "Dual Freeze" proposal  
     36 (35%)
    Restoring multilateral negotiation process without any preliminary conditions  
     27 (26%)
    While the situation benefits Kim Jong-un's and Trump's domestic agenda, there will be no solution  
     22 (21%)
    Armed conflict still cannot be avoided  
     12 (12%)
    Stonger deterrence on behalf of the U.S. through modernization of military infrastructure in the region  
     4 (4%)
    Toughening economic sanctions against North Korea  
     2 (2%)
 
For business
For researchers
For students