In the nearly six decades since the advent of nuclear arms control, virtually all negotiated agreements to limit stockpiles of nuclear weapons have been concluded by the United States and the Soviet Union or Russia. That is logical, given that even today the U.S. and Russian arsenals are many times larger than those of other nuclear weapons states.
The United States continues to focus on bilateral nuclear reductions with Russia. However, in recent years, Russia has signaled its desire to include other nuclear weapons states—such as Britain, France, and China. Though it is unlikely that other states will agree to reduce or even cap their nuclear stockpiles without further reductions by the United States and Russia, it is useful to identify prospective entrants to the global arms control regime, as well as possible concrete means of pursing arms control on a multilateral basis.
In a recent Brookings paper, “Third-country nuclear forces and possible measures for multilateral arms control,” we examine three broad avenues for opening space for multilateral nuclear arms control: new arms control agreements, concrete transparency and confidence-building measures, and new multilateral channels for dialogue on the nuclear file. Continue reading.