This article is a guest post submitted to PJSA by Sarah Daren. Any views or opinions expressed do not represent PJSA.
The Nuclear Problem: Russia & The U.S.
Since World War II, the threat of nuclear weapons has been a major factor in international relations and potential global conflict. The most notable, of course, was the Cold War, which threatened all-out conflict, but eventually ended without a “winner” due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, without direct conflict or a single nuclear warhead entering hostilities. This does not mean, however, that nuclear war is no longer a threat to global stability. The United States and the Russian Federation own 94% of the world’s 16,000 nuclear weapons, and tensions over these weapons still pose a threat to peace worldwide.
The Status of Nuclear Weapons
Though no nuclear weapons have been used in combat since the end of World War II, thousands of warheads have been deployed over the years by both the United States and Russia. Russia has set off 1,796 strategic warheads, while the US has deployed 1,267. As of 2017. The United States had around 2,800 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement. Though the number of nuclear weapons in stockpiles around the globe had been decreasing, that trend is starting to turn around, and the potential for increased tension is becoming more apparent. Both nations have stockpiles of highly powerful and accurate nuclear weapons that are designed to safeguard against threats from other nations.
Russia has been more aggressive in its nuclear policies than the former Soviet Union, which did not endorse the use of a first strike. In 2014, Russia introduced this possibility in their Military Doctrine, causing other nations to become uneasy—especially as Russia did not exclude nations with no nuclear programs from this possibility.
Nuclear treaties have been a key part of ongoing peace among nuclear powers. In 1993, the first START treaty was ratified, which was created to reduce nuclear stockpiles and decrease nuclear threat between Russia and the U.S. The treaty based on this first agreement (New START) will expire in 2021 unless the two leaders agree to renew it. The agreement, formed in 2011 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, was designed to cut down on nuclear arms by about 30%. Currently, threat of withdrawal from the United States could change the face of nuclear relations substantially, destabilizing the progress that has been made.
Terrorism and Nuclear Threat
Though terrorism is currently the most visible threat to global peace, one of the greatest concerns for international security is preventing nuclear terrorism. Should diplomacy efforts between nations become less effective, the possibility of nuclear combat becomes very real indeed. Only recently, Vladimir Putin, Russian leader, stated that if the United States develops new weapons or withdraws from treaty agreements, the Russian Federation will do the same. Today, with nations like North Korea threatening nuclear activity and ISIS targeting religious and racial groups, the need for stronger treaties and accountability between nations is key for ensuring that potential terrorist attacks pose little threat to global peace. Without these treaties and ongoing transparency, the nuclear problem between Russia, the U.S., and smaller countries could lead to devastating consequences.
Written by: Sarah Daren
Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life, including her position as a yoga instructor and raising her two children. When she's not watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.