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Pulling Nuclear Powers Back from the Brink

The Kremlin’s decision to suspend its participation in New START, the last nuclear-arms-control agreement between Russia and the US, risks contributing to a new wave of global proliferation. To prevent this dangerous outcome, responsible world leaders must encourage constructive dialogue.

OSLO – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has elevated global nuclear tensions to a level not seen since the height of the Cold War. Absent any signs of responsible leadership from Russian President Vladimir Putin, it is incumbent on the leaders of other nuclear-armed countries to take practical and prompt action to de-escalate, counter immediate threats, and agree on common steps toward non-proliferation and eventual disarmament.

The war in Ukraine, accompanied by Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling, has done serious damage to the decades-old taboo against the use of such weapons. The lack of constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia as they press ahead with nuclear modernization programs, as well as China’s apparent decision to enlarge its arsenal, risk accelerating a new global arms race.

The risk is compounded by the diplomatic paralysis that continues to block efforts to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), under which Iran curbed uranium enrichment in exchange for sanctions relief, and by North Korea’s determination to build up its nuclear capability. This forward march has prompted other states in the Middle East and Northeast Asia to express a renewed interest in nuclear weapons.

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