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The Security Index Occasional Paper Series came out with the new report «Opportunities for the transformation of arms control mechanisms in relation to new technologies and types of weapons»

02.02.2021

MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 2, 2021. PIR PRESS. The Security Index Occasional Paper Series came out with the article “Opportunities for the transformation of arms control mechanisms in relation to new technologies and types of weapons” by Andrey Baklitskiy.

The article analyzes the prospects and possibilities for agreements on missile defense systems, laser weapon systems, and non-nuclear strategic weapons control. Based on the balance established in relations between Russia and the US with respect to these weapon systems, the author concludes that their prohibition appears to be unrealistic. It is more feasible that the parties agree on limiting their quantitative and qualitative parameters. It is also advisable to prohibit the deployment of missile defense elements (both based on the use of interceptor missiles and new physical principles) in outer space and outside the national territory.

Key findings:

  • In order to achieve maximum results as regards missile defense systems control, it is worth focusing efforts on mobile missile defense systems and the US missile defense complexes outside its national territory. Restrictions on the export of strategic missile defense systems may meet the interests of both Moscow and Washington.
  • In the field of laser weapon systems control, it is obvious that equipping land, sea, air platforms with lasers, designed mainly for implementing short-range air defense functions, is inevitable. In this context, the greatest threat to the Russian strategic nuclear forces is the deployment of strategic laser weapons in outer space or on air platforms (due to the heavy dependence of sea- and land-based laser weapon systems on atmospheric conditions).
  • Russia and the United States have virtually no experience in controlling strategic non-nuclear weapons. In cases, when Moscow and Washington touched on this issue, strategic non-nuclear weapons were either banned or included under common ceilings with strategic nuclear weapons.
  • Strategic non-nuclear weapons control is complicated by the heavy asymmetry between Russian and the US arsenals. The number of air- and sea-based cruise missiles in service in the United States significantly exceeds the number of Russian ALCMs and SLCMs, which does not stimulate Washington to negotiate its control. Besides, the United States in its planning is also guided by the significant missile arsenal of China.
  • Mass production of hypersonic weapon systems is limited by its high cost and a narrow range of tasks for this type of weapon. It cannot be excluded that hypersonic glide vehicles will remain a niche project that has little impact on strategic stability.
  • Depending on the pace of development of the US hypersonic glide vehicles and the threat it (primarily sea- and air-based systems) will pose to Russia, the parties can consider the issue of their quantitative control in conjunction with the Russian air-based ballistic missile Kh-47M2 Kinzhal ("Dagger"), comparable by parameters.

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