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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Expert questions effectiveness of nuclear deterrence strategy

RIA Novosti

15/10/2007 18:26 MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti) - Nuclear deterrence as a key to international stability is becoming irrelevant, but Russia cannot afford to abandon it just yet, the director of a Russian think tank said Monday.

"In the past several years, I have not once seen nuclear deterrence work," said Alexander Konovalov, president of the Institute of Strategic Assessments.

He said nuclear deterrence exists on paper, but it has not stopped anyone or anything.

"Nuclear weapons were unable to stop a single internal conflict, be it in Chechnya or Daghestan, and did not prevent states leaving the Soviet Union: They just went ahead and left it," he said.

He said the concept of deterrence is dubious, and the time has come to decide which strategy should replace it.

But he said Russia will not abandon nuclear deterrence in the foreseeable future and the Russian leadership has already reaffirmed its commitment to building and maintaining a strong nuclear deterrent.

"Our military have come to the conclusion that they cannot guarantee the performance of combat missions against a 21st century army," he said.

Konovalov said that Russia does not possess advanced precision-guided weapons or a global positioning system to aim and guide these weapons accurately enough.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last year that developing Russia's strategic forces is the main priority on the national defense agenda.

"Maintaining a strategic balance will mean that our strategic deterrent forces should be able to guarantee the neutralization of any potential aggressor, no matter what modern weapons systems he possesses," the president said.

The theory of nuclear deterrence was developed and used throughout the Cold War up to current times. The military strategy, which is part of U.S. foreign policy, was based on the credible threat of retaliation to stop enemy attacks.

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