News / USA

Ukraine Crisis Stirs Fears of New Nuclear Arms Race

Russian mobile Topol-M missile launching units drive in formation during the Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square May 9, 2014. Russia celebrates the 1945 victory over Nazi Germany during World War II every May 9.
Russian mobile Topol-M missile launching units drive in formation during the Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square May 9, 2014. Russia celebrates the 1945 victory over Nazi Germany during World War II every May 9.
Cecily Hilleary
U.S. forces are conducting large-scale nuclear "deter and detect" drills this week, just days after Russia conducted similar military exercises simulating retaliatory strikes to a hypothetical U.S. or NATO nuclear attack. 

Their timing— during the  tense standoff over Ukraine —combined with Cold-War-era rhetoric coming out of Moscow, have raised fears of a new nuclear arms race between the U.S. and Russia.

In 1994, the U.S., UK, Russia and Ukraine signed the so-called Budapest Memorandum to remove Soviet nuclear weapons from Ukraine. 

In return, the three powers agreed to respect Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and borders, and Ukraine signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
 
Andrei IllarionovAndrei Illarionov
x
Andrei Illarionov
Andrei Illarionov
''The Budapest agreement is a fundamental memorandum, a fundamental element in the modern system of nuclear nonproliferation,” said Andrei Illarionov, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity and former economic adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“By nullifying this document, Mr. Putin has demonstrated that the guarantees of the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia have no worth in the eyes of any prospective holders of nuclear weapons.”

The risk, says Illarionov, is that Iran, North Korea and other prospective nuclear countries will conclude that the only way to guarantee their own territorial integrity is by being nuclear powers.  Implicit is the suggestion--which others have made-- that if Ukraine had not given up its nuclear weapons, Russia would never have dared interfere in Crimea.

“This is the most serious challenge to the system of international relations since the Second World War,” Illarionov said, “and unless the United States, the United Kingdom, the West as a whole are able to solve this problem in a reasonable period of time, it will lead to the nuclearization of the world.”

“Like a bad movie…”

It is a chilling warning for anyone old enough to remember the Soviet-era Cold War and global fears that at any time, one side might push the nuclear button, effectively eliminating the other and devastating the planet. 

As Russia was conducting its military drill last week, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia will quadruple the number of its long-range missiles by 2021.

Russia also announced it will colonize the Moon by 2030.

It was Russia’s launch of Sputnik in 1957 that opened up another front in the Cold War—and created the space race of the 1960s.

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti recently reported that Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Committee had introduced a bill to reestablish Ukraine as a nuclear power and demand financial compensation for Russia’s violation of its territory.

Earlier, CNN reported that two Ukrainian political parties had introduced a separate bill calling for the rejection of the country's 1994 accession to the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
 
George PerkovichGeorge Perkovich
x
George Perkovich
George Perkovich

“It’s like a bad movie,” George Perkovich, Director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said. 

“There is this pathetic rhetoric coming out of Russia and this pathetic political psychology that’s reminiscent of petty dictatorships whose leaders trump up all these great images of strength to mollify the people--and colonizing the moon is a part of that.”

Nuclear race unlikely

Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund and author of several books on nuclear nonproliferation, said fears of nuclear fallout from the Ukraine crisis are unfounded.

Violating the Budapest Agreement is serious, he said, but because Budapest wasn’t a treaty, it is not enforceable.
 
“Nuclear weapons have never prevented conventional conflicts,” Cirincione said.  “Israel was attacked conventionally long after it got nuclear weapons. India and Pakistan went to war long after both got nuclear weapons. China and Russia clashed conventionally long after both got nuclear weapons.”
 
Joseph CirincioneJoseph Cirincione
x
Joseph Cirincione
Joseph Cirincione

Cirincione disagrees that Ukraine’s crisis could have been prevented if Ukraine had kept nuclear weapons.

“Weapons only deter the use of other nuclear weapons,” he said.  “They don’t give states the kind of security that some people claim,” he said.

Cirincione said only two states are currently either looking to consolidate as a nuclear state or develop nukes, i.e., North Korea and Iran. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, recently reported Iran has diluted or converted nearly three-quarters of its weapons-grade stockpile, in accordance with the interim deal negotiated with the US, UK, Germany, France, Russia and China.
 
“There is growing international expectation that we are going to be able to get a deal with Iran by the July 20 deadline set by the interim agreement,” Cirincione. “If that happens, sanctions will start to be lifted and Iran will be open for business again.”

But that still leaves North Korea, which has continued with nuclear tests in defiance of U.S. sanctions and warnings from its only ally, China.

“North Korea already has nuclear weapons,” George Perkovich, director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“It has tested them.  There are no further arguments they need or would seek to justify whatever it is that they are doing.”

Like Cirincione, Perkovich does not view the crisis in Ukraine as a nuclear threat.  He said Russia has nuclear weapon forces and is attaching great status and importance to those precisely because the country has declined in recent years.

“Its economy is in trouble; its demographic situation is negative; its public health situation is negative. So countries in that kind of condition often have parades with missiles and tell their people, ‘Look!  We’re great!’” he said.

But Perkovich said that the crisis in Ukraine has a downside: It could make it much harder--both psychologically and politically--for U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladmir Putin to reduce their nuclear arsenals.
    
In 2010, Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the New START treaty, promising to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear missiles and launchers and commit to a series of annual nuclear inspections, a program that is ongoing.
 
­­­­­­

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

update Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, US demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Aruna from: Colombo
May 15, 2014 1:18 PM
The U.S. forign policy has been deeply flawed from the time Iraq was invaded by Obama's predecessor and has been on this destructive path under Obama at an even faster pace. It is rather surprising to me that the American public accept this systematic destruction of very important regions of the world causing misery to millions. The so called 'international coomunity' and the 'free press' are happy to tow the line relatively without criticism.


by: Hudson Maina from: kenya
May 14, 2014 2:26 PM
The whole saga of Ukraine was precipitated by US foreign policy of regime change gone badly after Russia stopped the party mid stream.Aftet this wait for the ramifications including resurgence of nuclear race


by: baldurdasche from: botswana
May 14, 2014 12:24 PM
Reading the text of the Budpest Memorandum, I'm inclined to think that, atomic weapons aside, virtually every other term of that agreement has been violated by one or more of the signatories on a number of occasions since it was signed.

Of course Ukraine has the same right as any other nation to abnegate the NNPT and become another 'rogue' nuclear state. I would hope that, for the sake of world peace, the UN would be prepared to deal with that situation as they have the one decried in Iran - which strangely enough has never abrogated its obligations under the NNPT.


by: meanbill from: USA
May 14, 2014 11:15 AM
"What difference does it make" was a famous response to another question -- (BUT?) -- does it really matter, if they build more nuclear bombs to destroy the earth, when they already possess enough nuclear bombs to destroy the earth over ten times? --
Would the nuclear weapons have altered the Ukraine crisis? -- The Ukraine crisis was, and is, an internal uprising and coup on the Ukraine government, (and the opposition to the coup leaders), and the Ukrainians themselves are responsible for it's beginning and outcome? --- It was NOT an external attack on Ukraine.... REALLY


by: sebastian from: New jersy
May 14, 2014 11:04 AM
Kiev sold Ukraine like a cheap prostitute to the vice president son John Biden! !!. Where are the pro Ukrine protesters now???


by: Alexander M Swan from: Edison, New Jersey
May 14, 2014 9:55 AM
All issues in the world can be should be resolved fairly with mutual respect and mutual benefit without playing the game of taking advantage every step on the way to achieve the goal of middle ground to preserve peace and prosperity for all.


by: Eric from: California
May 14, 2014 9:54 AM
Isn't this "revelation" a bit late? Under Budapest, NONE of the signatories should have been "mucking around" in the Ukraine at any time. ALL of the signatories were bound by it not to send in money, or undeclared agents of any type. ALL of the signatories need this agreement to insure their own safety. That includes Russia. Did they not need The Budapest accord most of all? Bad movie, add a love story.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid