Deterrence and its discontents

A new article by Ulrich Kühn, examining the deterrence fixation of the US defense establishment through the lens of Sigmund Freud, has just been published in the latest issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. In this essay, Kühn uses psychoanalytic metaphors to explain why the United States does not currently have a long-term strategy for dealing with its most fundamental foreign policy challenges – and why it needs one, particularly as regards the global nuclear dilemma. The article is available behind a paywall here.

Last to Escape, First to Disarm? Three Scenarios of Peace and War on the Korean Peninsula

In his latest essay for the "Conflict Zone Asia-Pacific" reader of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, Ulrich Kuehn developed three scenarios ahead of the Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore. One of the scenarios depicts an inconclusive summit with no tangible results that would, over time, lead the US to tacitly accept a deterrence relationship with the North - much to the detriment of the international non-proliferation order. Read more...

Structuring Security: Dialogue and Arms Control in the OSCE Area

This report offers concrete recommendations on how to revitalize dialogue and arms control in the OSCE area. It follows a three-stage approach for structuring security. The first stage focuses on how to regain trust through diplomatic dialogue based on lessons learned from the Cold War. The second stage explores a new generation of confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs) with a particular focus on risk-reduction measures as currently discussed in the framework of the Structured Dialogue. The third stage outlines future and more far-ranging CSBMs and arms control measures for Europe in the conventional and nuclear realms. Each stage comes with a number of key takeaways. Read more...

Nuclear Arms Control Shaken By New Instability

In his latest Op-Ed for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Deep Cuts Commissioner Ulrich Kühn argues that the nuclear deterrence relationship between the West and Russia is becoming increasingly unstable. Driven by mutual perceptions of insecurity, both are about to enter a new arms race. The main problem is that each side is entertaining very different threat perceptions on very different levels of military competition. This situation heightens the risk of a complete breakdown of the bilateral nuclear arms control architecture what is compounded by the lack of regular strategic dialogue. Read more...

High-Level Group Issues Urgent Call for Trump, Putin to Take Steps to Avoid a New Nuclear Arms Race

With relations between Washington, Moscow and Europe at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War, the Deep Cuts Commission together with a number of additional high-level actors is warning that urgent steps need to be taken to contain nuclear risks and tensions and prevent a new nuclear arms race.

In a statement issued today, the group notes that: “Existing nuclear arms control agreements are at risk, and both sides are pursuing costly programs to replace and upgrade their Cold War-era strategic nuclear arsenals, each of which exceed reasonable deterrence requirements. A compliance dispute threatens the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) will expire in 2021 unless extended.”

Among the 41 signatories to the statement are: Des Browne, former Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom; Richard R. Burt, former U.S. negotiator of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty; Tom  Countryman, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association; retired Major General Dvorkin, chief researcher at the Center for International Security at the Institute of Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations; Gen. Victor Esin, former Chief of Staff and Vice Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces; Volker Rühe, former Minister of Defense, Germany; Strobe Talbott, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State; and Sen. Richard G. Lugar, former Chairman, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The full statement is available here in English, Russian and German. Inter alia, the Guardian featured the statement in an article, read more...

Preventing Escalation in the Baltics: A NATO Playbook

Amid the rollout of the February 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, security analysts have understandably focused much attention on its implications for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, intra-alliance ties with key North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partners, and Washington’s icy relations with Moscow. But nuclear deterrence only partially addresses NATO members’ shared concerns about Russian behavior, especially in light of Moscow’s growing propensity to undermine the alliance with nonkinetic operations and other tactics that nuclear warheads cannot easily deter, argues Deep Cuts Commissioner Ulrich Kühn in his latest report for the Carnegie Endowment. Click here...

Germany's Nuclear Education

Only a few days after the U.S. presidential election in November 2016, a small group of pundits, scholars, journalists, as well as a senior Member of the German Bundestag began to individually debate whether Germany should, perhaps, pursue one of three nuclear options: (1) fielding an indigenous nuclear force; (2) preserving a latent nuclear hedge capacity; or (3) cooperating with the French to open an extended nuclear deterrent umbrella over Europe. In this article for The Washington Quarterly, Ulrich Kühn and Tristan Volpe explain why this short-lived debate happened and what it could mean for Euro-Atlantic security. Click here...

The article comes with an addendum, listing all original sources linked to the German nuclear debate, click here...

With Zapad Over, Is It Time for Conventional Arms Control in Europe?

Perhaps like no other exercise since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia’s recently concluded Zapad (West) exercise was of serious concern to NATO’s easternmost members. It provided ample opportunity for pundits to engage in hysteria about Russian intentions. No seasoned NATO official expected the exercise to be the not-so-secret cover for a Russian invasion of the Baltic States. Rather, the real problem with Zapad is that it underscored once more the precarious state of security in Europe. Because NATO also decided at its 2016 Warsaw Summit to remain open to dialogue with Russia, and since Germany, in particular, has only recently made a renewed push for conventional arms control in Europe, it makes sense to ask whether a novel conventional arms control arrangement could provide for more security. Ulrich Kühn discusses these questions in his latest article, click here...

Return to Security Cooperation in Europe: The Stabilizing Role of Conventional Arms Control

Deep Cuts Working Paper #11 on European security cooperation by Wolfgang Richter is out now!

The European security order as agreed upon in the 1990s has eroded dramatically. The objective of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to create a common European space of cooperative security without dividing lines has been replaced by new geopolitical zero-sum games, deep rifts, military interventions and protracted conflicts. Conventional arms control lies in ruins and the OSCE Confidence and Security-Building Measures (CSBM) are insufficient to stabilize the situation and dispel new threat perceptions. These developments started long before the Ukraine conflict triggered the second nadir in NATO-Russia relations since the end of the Cold War. In his latest Deep Cuts Working Paper, Wolfgang Richter elaborates the stabilizing role of conventional arms control regarding the return to security cooperation in Europe. Click here...

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Can Germany Be Europe’s Nuclear Bridge Builder?

In his latest article, Deep Cuts Commissioner Ulrich Kühn argues that to prepare for future nuclear crises that will affect Europe, the next German government must double down on its role of building bridges in the nuclear realm. And thus posing the general question whether Germany can be Europe's nuclear bridge builder. Click here...

Meeting with German Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel

At the invitation of the German Federal Foreign Office, members of the Deep Cuts Commission came together to a fruitful discussion with German Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Patricia Flor, the Federal Government Commissioner for Disarmament and Arms Control, on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 in Berlin. The discussion focused on the current state of arms control regimes such as the INF Treaty, the New START Treaty or the JCPOA as well as conventional arms control, the role of the European Union and interlinked security policy implications. In the light of newer political developments, the Commission stressed the urgency of these issues and proposed concrete steps for risk reduction measurements and the strengthening of arms control. An article by the German Federal Foreign Office can be found here (in German) or an article by the German Missions in the United States here (in English). Also various press agencies wrote about the meeting, inter alia Reuters, The Japan News or TASS. A part of the press conference which Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel gave after the meeting can be found here.

A Two-Pronged Approach to Revitalizing U.S.-Russia Arms Control

Deep Cuts Working Paper #10 on Revitalizing U.S.-Russia arms control by Kingston Reif and Victor Mizin is out now!

This jointly elaborated Working Paper, written by Kingston Reif and Victor Mizin (with assistance of Maggie Tennis), assesses the state of the current NATO-Russia relationship, examines the bilateral arms control relationship and prospects for future progress, proposes options to reduce the risks of conflict between NATO and Russia, and strengthen strategic stability, and lastly makes the case for unilaterally adjusting the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and responds to arguments against such an adjustment. See "Publications" on the top menu bar or click here...

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Europe’s nuclear woes: Mitigating the challenges of the next years

As long as the relationship between Russia and "the West" continues to be confrontational, the urgent task will be to stabilize and manage the confrontation. Over the mid- to long-term, NATO and Russia must initiate a serious and open dialogue about the two core issues at stake – the freedom and sovereignty of states to seek alliance membership and the Russian interest of maintaining a sphere of influence over its “near abroad.” A well-prepared conference – akin to the 1975 Helsinki Summit, with various preceding rounds of consultations at ambassadorial level, and including the nonaligned states in Europe – might be a way to kick-start the discussion. In their latest article, Ulrich Kühn, Shatabhisha Shetty and Polina Sinovets are addressing various steps for mitigating the challenges between Russia and "the West". Click here...

Keine Atombombe, Bitte - Why Germany Should Not Go Nuclear

The election of U.S. President Donald Trump last November confounded Berlin. What, German politicians, policymakers, and journalists wondered, should they make of Trump’s vague or even hostile stances toward the EU and NATO or his apparent embrace of Russia? Some hoped that Trump meant to push NATO members to spend more on defense but would, in the end, leave the long-standing U.S. guarantee of European security intact. Others, less optimistic, argued that the days when Germany could rely on the United States for its defense were over - and that the country must start looking out for itself. In their latest article for Foreign Affairs, Deep Cuts Commissioner Ulrich Kühn, together with Tristan Volpe, argues why Germany should not go nuclear. Click here...

Side Event at the 2017 Preparatory Committee in Vienna

On the occasion of the 1st Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the Deep Cuts Commission in cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office organized a Side Event at the Vienna International Center on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. The panel was chaired by Ambassador Susanne Baumann, the German Deputy Commissioner for Arms Control and Disarmament at the Federal Foreign Office; the three Deep Cuts Commissioners Greg Thielmann (Arms Control Association, Washington D.C.), Victor Mizin (Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Moscow), and Götz Neuneck (Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, Hamburg) participated as panelists. The panel discussed the future of nuclear arms control in the light of newer political developments such as the INF Treaty, the New START Treaty and Conventional Arms Control in Europe.