Washington, Dec.11 (ANI): A joint working group of scientists and policy experts has said that the United States must re-establish its global leadership in nuclear arms control while continuing to update its nuclear arsenal as necessary.
But it has also suggested that Washington should not add any new nuclear capabilities.
The study says upgrading of the nuclear stockpile should be limited to "those activities that would typically be done to any existing weapon system as it ages," such as replacement of worn, dysfunctional or no longer reliable components with the same or newer materials and technologies.
In a study prepared by it, the working group of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has offered options that would allow the United States to refurbish its nuclear stockpile without pursuing totally new, untested weapon designs.
The study was drawn from a series of workshops in the first half of 2008 with more than 100 nuclear experts from the scientific, defense and diplomatic policy communities.
The study, "Nuclear Weapons in 21st Century U.S. National Security," notes that the "truly pressing nuclear issues that will demand presidential attention are few in number."
They include preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to countries such as North Korea and Iran; securing and reducing global inventories of nuclear materials to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists; and reversing Russia's apparent increasing reliance on nuclear weapons in its security policy.
As far as opening a new dialogue with Russia is concerned, the study says, the United States should reinvigorate efforts to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which is scheduled to lapse in December 2009.
The treaty has verification and compliance procedures that are lacking in the more recent Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty of 2002. The new administration should pursue deeper reductions in both the number of deployed nuclear warheads and in overall nuclear inventories, the study says.
It also urges the U.S. to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to work to close a loophole in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) that gives non-nuclear weapons states the opportunity to seek nuclear technologies, such as uranium enrichment, and then divert them to more nefarious uses without penalty.
The NPT will be the subject of a review conference in 2010. The study says that will be an opportunity for the United States to re-assert its leadership on nonproliferation, arms control and disarmament.
It says that the lack of a well-articulated strategy on nuclear weapons in the post Cold War, post 9/11 era has produced a policy vacuum that must be addressed by the new administration.
To retain a credible nuclear deterrent, the United States also needs to recruit, retain and sustain highly skilled and motivated scientists and engineers, the report says. (ANI)