Report: US, NATO, and Russia Must Address Nuclear Tensions

The US and its NATO allies are at a heightened state of tension with RUssia, and all sides need to take immediate, yet practical, steps to avoid “the worst kind of catastrophe,” a nuclear incident, a new think tank report warns. The Nuclear Threat Initiative on Thursday released a report, based on a survey of US, Russian, and European defense and security experts, warning that the US, NATO, and Russia are “trapped in a downward spiral of antagonism and distrust.” To counter this, military and political changes need to be made. “Dialogue should never be seen as a sign of weakness—it is essential for nuclear risk reduction to protect our citizens,” the report states. “Military-to-military discussions should be at the top of the list of near-term steps to reduce risk.” Specifically, the report states that all military aircraft must fly with their transponders turned on, all sides need to agree on a “safe distance limitation” on aircraft and ships in international airspace and waters, military-to-military communication needs to be restored, concerns about the deployment of missile systems need to be addressed, the thresholds for notification and observation should be reduced, and nuclear-capable forces should not be incorporated into military exercises. Politically, the report calls on all sides to reaffirm that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” reckless rhetoric should end, and a new, high-level dialogue on risk reduction should begin. (Read the report.)