The disarmament community in the United States — made up of organizations such as Global Zero and the Ploughshares Fund — believes that America’s nuclear modernization program is “stoking a new arms race.”
Downplaying threats from North Korea, Iran, China and Russia, pro-disarmament groups want the U.S. unilaterally to eliminate more than 90% of its strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and drastically reduce strategic nuclear bombers, submarines and silo-based missiles.
The notion of a unilateral U.S. cut completely disregards Moscow’s large-scale nuclear modernization that has been going on since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the effort in April 2000. It is a build-up that includes thousands of additional theater nuclear systems, as well as deployments that directly violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) between the U.S. and Russia.
Sadly, this is not mere speculation. During his state-of-the-nation address on March 1, Putin boasted of technological breakthroughs in Russia’s nuclear-weapons capabilities, which have rendered NATO’s U.S.-led missile defense “useless.” Four years earlier, in 2014, Putin announced that Russia’s nuclear capabilities would be 100% modernized by 2021. Meanwhile, America’s nuclear upgrades — including a new bomber, submarine and land-based missile — will not go into the field until 2027 at the earliest, and will not be completed before 2042.