The Soviet Debate on Strategic Nuclear Arms
In line with Gorbachev’s Programme for a Nuclear Free World by the Year 2000, the abolitionists reject both nuclear deterrence and military-strategic parity as foundations for security and stability, advocate the transition to a nuclear-free world; and propose the prevention of war through political means.
The moderates assume that nuclear weapons will form part of strategic reality for a prolonged period; suggest a broad interpretation of sufficiency; define specific force criteria for strategic stability (minimum deterrence); advocate asymmetrical responses and unilateral adjustments on the side of the USSR; and propose a negotiated, radical reduction of strategic forces.
The unilateralists focus on minimal force requirements for an assured retaliatory capability; advocate unilateral cuts of Soviet nuclear forces; and propose the transition to a French-type minimum deterrence posture.
The pacifists are part of the growing anti-nuclear constituency in the USSR, consider nuclear forces as symbols of Soviet imperial power and as a serious hazard to the environment; and advocate immediate denuclearisation at the local level.
The conservatives equate sufficiency with strict parity in forces, insist that the Soviet Union has to ‘keep its powder dry’, yet concede that current force levels could be lowered substantially on a reciprocal basis.
KeywordsNuclear Weapon Soviet Leadership Defence Expert Nuclear Disarmament Strategic Relationship
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- 1.For an analysis of earlier discussions, see S. Shenfield, Minimum Nuclear Deterrence: The Debate Among Soviet Civilian Analysts (Brown University: Center for Foreign Policy, 1989)Google Scholar
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