Pulling the U.S.-Russia Relationship Back from the Nuclear Brink
The key obstacle to resolving the compliance concerns is not the absence of options to do so, but Russia’s unwillingness to acknowledge U.S. concerns. To increase pressure on Russia and make it harder for Russia to deny a violation exists, the United States should be more transparent with the American people and U.S. allies about the nature of the violation, something the Obama administration was reluctant to do.
In addition, Tillerson should make it clear to Lavrov that so long as Russia remains in violation of the treaty, the United States will pursue steps to reaffirm and buttress its commitment to the defense of those allies threatened by the treaty-noncompliant missiles.
The downward spiral in the U.S.-Russia relationship makes the objective of reducing the risks of nuclear conflict all the more urgent. The time to act on this common interest is now, lest a dangerous situation grow even more precarious.
Kingston Reif is the Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association, where Maggie Tennis is a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow.
Image: Uranium ore in barrels. Flickr/IAEA Imagebank