大国竞争中的军备控制与全球战略稳定 ———以美苏核军控谈判为例
Return to the Library

Arms Control and Global Strategic Stability in Great Power Competition——An Analysis Based on U.S.-Soviet Union Nuclear Arms Control Negotiations

大国竞争中的军备控制与全球战略稳定 ———以美苏核军控谈判为例

Wu Riqiang, a senior security expert from Renmin University, argues that Cold War arms control negotiations between the U.S. and Soviet Union showcase the importance of regular bilateral dialogue and transparency in military modernization to build confidence and avoid miscalculations between nuclear superpowers. As China’s security environment sours and tensions with the United States rise, Wu proposes that Beijing draw lessons from this historical example to develop an arms control approach that best safeguards national interests and security.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintCopy Link
Original text
English text
See an error? Drop us a line at
View the translated and original text side-by-side

Global strategic stability is facing increasingly heightened risks and tests. On the one hand, more and more countries have joined the nuclear club, and the interactions between countries are far more complicated than the bipolar confrontation during the Cold War period. In South Asia, India and Pakistan had openly crossed the nuclear threshold in 1998, increasing the risk that a conventional or sub-conventional conflict in the region could escalate to a nuclear war. In Northeast Asia, the North Korean nuclear issue has been dragging on for a long time. The United States has been vigorously developing missile defense technology under the name of responding to North Korean threats, which has raised China’s concerns. In the Middle East, although an agreement was reached on the Iranian nuclear issue in 2015, it faces domestic opposition from Iran and the United States, as well as opposition from Israel, making its future uncertain. If the Iranian nuclear issue spirals out of control, it may trigger further chain reactions in the region. On the other hand, the development of non-nuclear strategic technologies—such as cyber, space, and artificial intelligence technologies—has broadened the field of strategic stability research. The appropriate way to regulate competition among major powers in the field of non-nuclear strategic technologies and avoid an arms race has become a problem that urgently requires a solution. The integration of nuclear and non-nuclear strategic technologies, such as cyberattacks on nuclear command and control systems, also raises new issues of strategic stability in the field of nuclear weapons.


If we wish to use the lessons of the past to shed light on the present, the practices and experience of the United States and the Soviet Union in the field of nuclear arms control during the Cold War warrant careful study. Against the backdrop of opposing ideologies and confrontation between the two major military blocs, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a fierce arms race. During the Cuban missile crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union were very close to the outbreak of a nuclear war, and repeated false alarms from their strategic early warning systems almost triggered an accidental nuclear war as well. It was precisely because the two countries had recognized these risks, that the United States and the Soviet Union concluded a series of effective arms control agreements, which maintained the overall strategic stability of the world.


China is currently facing increasing pressure to participate in nuclear arms control. In April 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed the idea of trilateral arms control among China, the United States, and Russia during his meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House during Sino-U.S. trade negotiations.1 After that, Trump administration officials began to urge China to join the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control negotiations on various occasions. At one point, they even associated China’s participation in the U.S.-Russia negotiations with the possibility of extending the U.S.-Russia Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). In view of the disparity between the nuclear arsenal of China compared to those of the United States and Russia, China explicitly refused to be involved in the U.S.-Russian nuclear disarmament. China believed that the United States and Russia should continue to significantly reduce their nuclear weapons to create favorable conditions for other countries to join in nuclear disarmament.2 Given China’s continued growth in its military power and the large-scale modernization of its weapons systems, China’s participation in some form of arms control may be inevitable in the not-too-distant future.3 Although China has participated in some multilateral arms control negotiations, it has never conducted bilateral negotiations such as those between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia. Therefore, summarizing and learning from the experience and practices of U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations during the Cold War can provide an important reference for China if it participates in similar negotiations in the future.

中国当前开始面临越来越大的参与核军控的压力。2019年4月,美国时任总统特朗普在白宫会见参加中美贸易谈判的中国副总理刘鹤时提出了中美俄三边军控的想法。之后,特朗普政府官员开始在各种场合敦促中国加入美俄核军控谈判,并一度将中国加入与美俄《削减战略武器条约》(New START)的延期挂钩。鉴于中国与美俄核武库之间相差悬殊,中国明确拒绝参加美俄核裁军,认为美俄应继续大幅度削减核武器,为其他国家加入核裁军创造条件。考虑到中国的军事实力持续增长以及大规模开展武器现代化,中国在不远的将来以某种形式参与军备控制恐怕是难以避免的。中国虽然曾经参与过一些多边军控谈判,但未曾进行过如美国和苏联/俄罗斯这样的双边谈判,因此总结和学习冷战期间美苏军控谈判的经验和做法,对未来中大国竞争中的军备控制与全球战略稳定国参加类似谈判有重要的借鉴意义。

I. U.S.-Soviet Nuclear Arms Control Practices


Nuclear arms control between the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as between the U.S. and Russia, can be roughly divided into three stages. The first stage was 1945-1972, which was a period of an unconstrained arms race. During this period, although the United States and the Soviet Union led the negotiation of two multilateral treaties, namely the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), these two treaties placed no substantive restrictions on the development of nuclear weapons by the United States and the Soviet Union. This was the case until the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and the first-round agreement of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I). The second stage was 1972-2002, which was a period of arms control under treaty restrictions. The two parties concluded SALT II, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), START II, the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT), the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty (PNET), and the multilateral Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). This stage ended with the United States’ withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. The third stage is from 2002 to the present, characterized by a power imbalance between the two nuclear superpowers and the gradual decline of arms control. Although the United States and Russia concluded the Moscow Treaty [Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty] (SORT) and New START, it is an indisputable fact that the momentum for traditional treaty-based nuclear arms control has been diminishing during this period.4

美国与苏联以及后来的俄罗斯之间的核军备控制大致可以分为三个阶段:第一阶段是1945-1972年,为无约束军备竞赛阶段。在此期间,美苏虽然主导完成了两个多边条约的谈判,即《部分禁止核试验条约》(PTBT)和《不扩散核武器条约》(NPT),但这两个条约对美苏核武器发展都没有形成实质性约束,直到美苏签署《反导条约》(ABM条约)和《第一阶段限制战略武器协定》(SALT I)为止。第二阶段是1972-2002年,为条约约束下的军备控制阶段。双方达成了SALT II、《中导条约》(INF条约)、《削减战略武器条约》(START I)、START II、《限当量条约》(TTBT)、《和平核爆炸条约》(PNET),以及多边的《全面禁止核试验条约》(CTBT),这一阶段以美国退出ABM条约告终。第三阶段为2002年至今,两个核超级大国之间力量失衡,军备控制日渐式微。虽然美国和俄罗斯达成了《莫斯科条约》(SORT)和New START,但传统的以条约为基础的核军控势头转低已是不争的事实。

This section will review and analyze the history of arms control between the United States and the Soviet Union according to the specific characteristics of U.S.-Soviet arms control practices.


(1) Framework and Details of Arms Control Negotiations


A common practice in U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations was that the two sides would first reach an agreement on the overall framework of the issues to be discussed, and then negotiate specific details (formula-to-details method).5 Generally, the top leaders of both parties decided on the overall framework, while the negotiating delegations at the table were usually only responsible for negotiating the details. The negotiation framework determined the general structure of the future arms control agreement, including the types of weapons to be included in the negotiations, the methods for restrictions, and the general verification methods. The negotiations on the details included specific quantities, ranges, deployments, permitted activities, and detailed verification arrangements.

美苏军控谈判的一个惯用做法是双方先就讨论事项的整体框架达成协议,然后再谈判具体细节(formula-to-details method)。一般由双方最高领导层决定整体框架,一线的谈判代表团则通常只负责细节的谈判。谈判框架决定了未来军控协议的大致结构,包括纳入谈判的武器类型、限制的方式以及大致的核查方法等。细节部分的谈判则包括具体的数量、射程、部署、允许的活动和详细的核查安排等。

After the Nixon administration and the Soviet Union started negotiations on restricting strategic arms, the U.S. National Security Council proposed four alternative plans: (1) Set the upper limit of the number of offensive missiles at the total number of missiles in the United States at that time, with each country building 12 ABM launch sites and no restriction on multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs);6 (2) The restrictions on offensive weapons are the same as the first plan, but each country only builds one ABM launch site to protect their respective capitals; (3) In addition to the restrictions of the second plan, MIRVs are also banned; (4) Massive reduction in offensive missiles, both parties only build one ABM launch site, but no limits on MIRVs.7 These four plans reflected the respective concerns of the United States and the Soviet Union. At that time, the Soviet Union was mainly worried that the United States would achieve technological breakthroughs in the field of missile defense that would cancel out the Soviet Union’s nuclear retaliation capabilities, while the United States was worried about the increase in the number of Soviet offensive missiles. The first plan basically represented the interests of the United States, in which the United States did not need to make any cuts to its missile defense program, while the Soviet Union would have to reduce its offensive missiles. The Pentagon supported this plan, but it was obvious that this plan would not be agreed to by the Soviet Union. The fourth option was too radical, since the two sides were in fact not yet ready to substantially reduce their nuclear arsenals. The second and third differed on whether to ban MIRV, a technology that, if deployed, could significantly expand the nuclear arsenals of both sides. At that time, the United States had completed flight tests of MIRVs, but had not yet begun their deployment, while the Soviet Union was about to begin flight tests. While there were appeals to ban this dangerous technology, neither government was planning to do so.


Henry Kissinger supported the second plan, but his support was intended to fend off criticism from the domestic disarmament faction. He suggested that Nixon could endorse the third or fourth plan first, and then return to the second plan after the Soviet Union rejected the former two. To ensure that the Soviet Union rejected the third or the fourth plan, Kissinger added a clause requiring on-site inspections, because he knew that the Soviet Union would never accept any form of on-site inspection. In the end, as Kissinger had expected, the Soviet Union rejected the third and the fourth plan, and the two sides concluded the ABM Treaty and SALT I based on the second plan.8

基辛格支持第二个方案,但是为了应对国内裁军派的批评,基辛格建议尼克松先选择第三或者第四个方案,在苏联拒绝后再回到第二个方案。为确保苏联拒绝第三或第四方案,基辛格附加了要求现场视察的条款,因为他清楚苏联绝不会接受任何形式的现场视察。最终果然如基辛格所料,苏联拒绝了第三及第四方案,双方按照第二方案达成ABM条约和SALT I。

SALT I was only a provisional agreement, after which the two sides continued to negotiate a formal treaty for the future. In November 1974, Ford and Brezhnev met in Vladivostok and reached the Vladivostok Agreement, which served as the basis for the subsequent SALT II negotiations. The Vladivostok Agreement limited the total number of strategic weapon delivery vehicles (including intercontinental missiles, submarine-launched missiles, and strategic bombers) of both sides to 2,400, among which no more than 1,320 intercontinental missiles and submarine-launched missiles could carry MIRV warheads. If the air-to-surface missiles carried by strategic bombers had a range of more than 600 km, they would be included in the total number of strategic weapon delivery vehicles (2400 vehicles).9 However, Ford failed to complete the SALT II negotiations during the remainder of his term.

SALT I只是一个临时协定,之后双方继续就未来的正式条约展开磋商。1974年11月,福特和勃列日涅夫在海参崴会晤,达成《海参崴协议》,作为大国竞争中的军备控制与全球战略稳定后续SALT II谈判的基础。《海参崴协议》将双方战略武器运载工具(含洲际导弹、潜射导弹和战略轰炸机)总数限制在2400枚,其中携带MIRV弹头的洲际导弹和潜射导弹数量不超过1320枚。如果战略轰炸机携带的空地导弹射程超过600千米,则计入战略武器运载工具总数(2400件)之内。然而,福特未能在剩余任期内完成SALT II谈判。

After taking office, Carter had a choice to make: should he reach a quick agreement with the Soviet Union based on the Vladivostok Agreement, or renegotiate in order to reach a more ambitious agreement? Carter eventually decided to abandon the Vladivostok Agreement and sought to implement further reductions with the Soviet Union. Carter did this for two reasons: first, the new Democratic administration did not want to be limited by an agreement inherited from the previous Republican administration. Second, Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, often obsessively compared himself to Kissinger (瑜亮情结, had a “Yu-Liang complex,”,” or obsessive competition between a pair of well-matched counterparts) and sought to outdo Kissinger by achieving an even better agreement. The cost of this choice was that the SALT II negotiations continued to drag on for a long time, and the agreement was finally reached only at the end of the Carter administration. This resulted in a lost opportunity for the two sides to use the conclusion of SALT II as a chance to improve U.S.-Soviet relations.10

卡特上任后面临一个选择:是以《海参崴协议》为基础,快速与苏联达成一项协议,还是重新谈判,以期达成一个更宏伟的协议?卡特最后决定放弃《海参崴协议》,寻求同苏联实施更进一步的裁减。卡特这么做的原因有两个:一是新一届民主党政府不愿意受限于上一届共和党政府留下的协议;二是卡特的国家安全顾问布热津斯基与基辛格有很强的“瑜亮情结”,一心想搞出一个比基辛格所能达成的更好的协议。这一选择的代价是SALT II谈判旷日持久,直到卡特政府末期才最终达成协议,导致双方丧失了以SALT II签署为契机改善美苏关系的机会。

During Reagan’s first term, both the INF and START negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union were deadlocked. During the INF negotiations, the Reagan administration proposed that the United States would refrain from deploying medium-range missiles if the Soviet Union would destroy their deployed missiles in exchange. The Soviet Union naturally rejected this proposal. The Soviet Union believed that the INF negotiations should include the missiles of Britain and France, while the United States held that these negotiations should only include the United States and the Soviet Union. The START negotiation plan proposed by the Soviet Union planned to reduce the number of nuclear weapon delivery vehicles of both parties by 20% based on the number of vehicles in SALT II. Nevertheless, the Reagan administration wanted to restart the whole process from scratch and proposed to reduce the number of ballistic missile warheads (including submarine-launched missiles and land-based missiles) to 5,000, with land-based missiles not exceeding 50% of the total, and the number of heavy and medium land-based missiles remaining under 210, so that in the future, two countries would gradually achieve equal throw-weights.11 According to this plan, the Soviet Union had to make substantial reductions, while the United States could continue its existing nuclear weapons modernization program. At the end of 1983, NATO decided to start deploying medium-range missiles in Germany, and the Soviet Union withdrew from the negotiations.

在里根第一任期内,美苏之间的INF和START谈判都陷入僵局。在INF谈判中,里根政府提出的方案是美国不部署中程导弹,以换取苏联销毁已部署的导弹。这一建议自然遭到苏联的拒绝。苏联方面认为INF谈判应该将英国和法国的导弹也包括进来,美国则认为这一谈判仅限于美苏之间。苏联提议的START谈判方案是在SALT II的基础上,核武器运载工具数量各削减20%。里根政府认为应该推倒重来,提出弹道导弹(含潜射导弹和陆基导弹)弹头数量减少到5000枚,其中陆基导弹弹头所占份额不大于50%,重型和中型陆基导弹数量不大于210枚,未来逐步实现投掷重量的对等。按照这一方案,苏联必须进行大幅度裁减,而美国却可以继续进行已有的核武器现代化计划。1983年底,北约决定开始在德国部署中程导弹,苏联退出谈判。

The breakthroughs of the INF and START negotiations occurred during Reagan’s second term. After Gorbachev came to power, the Soviet Union first agreed that the INF negotiations would not include the missiles of the United Kingdom and France and that the number of medium-range missiles deployed by the United States and the Soviet Union around the world should be equal (global equality). At the Reykjavik Summit at the end of 1986, Gorbachev proposed that the United States and the Soviet Union should not deploy medium-range missiles in Europe and proposed a global limit of 100 on medium-range missile warheads. Later, when George Shultz visited Moscow in April 1987, Gorbachev agreed to the “Global Zero” plan to destroy all medium-range missiles.12 In Reykjavik, Gorbachev also proposed to reduce all strategic weapons by half. This proposal was a surprise to the United States. But the United States representative believed that, given that the Soviet Union had more nuclear warheads in total, the Soviet Union would still have more warheads after the proportional reduction. In the end, the two sides reached an agreement where, after the reduction, the nuclear capabilities of the two sides would be equal, namely 6,000 nuclear warheads and 1,600 delivery vehicles.13

INF和START谈判的突破发生在里根第二任期。在戈尔巴乔夫上台后,苏联先是同意INF谈判不考虑英国和法国的导弹,美苏全球部署的中程导弹数量对等(global equality)。在1986年底的雷克雅未克峰会上,戈尔巴乔夫提出美苏在欧洲不部署中程导弹,全球中程导弹弹头限额100枚。之后,在舒尔茨1987年4月访问莫斯科时,戈尔巴乔夫又同意了“全球零点”(global zero)方案,销毁所有中程导弹。在雷克雅未克,戈尔巴乔夫还提议将所有战略武器削减一半。这一提议对美国来说是个惊喜,但美国代表认为,鉴于苏联核弹头数量更多,等比例削减后,苏联仍然拥有更多的弹头。最终,双方达成的协议是削减后双方核力量对等,即6000枚核弹头,1600架运载工具。

(2) Restricting Opponents Through Arms Control Negotiations


One of the purposes of arms control is to use arms control negotiations to limit the opponent’s military power, preserve one’s own strategic capabilities, and guide strategic competition to areas in which one has advantages.14 In the arms control negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union’s land-based heavy intercontinental missiles were constantly in focus for the U.S. In the mid-1970s, due to the poor accuracy of Soviet missiles and their lack of capabilities to strike hard targets, U.S. concerns focused on the higher throw-weight of Soviet missiles as compared to those of the United States. Paul Nitze was originally a U.S. SALT negotiator, but he later quit negotiations due to his dissatisfaction with U.S. negotiating strategy.15 He believed that a major flaw of the Vladivostok Agreement was that it did not limit the throw-weight, while the throw-weight of the Soviet SS-19 missile was three times that of the American Minuteman III, and the throw-weight of the SS-18 missile was seven times that of the Minuteman III. According to the Vladivostok Agreement, the Soviet Union would gain a three-fold advantage in terms of per-missile throw-weight and a two-fold advantage in terms of total throw-weight. Therefore, Nitze believed that only limiting the number of missiles without limiting the throw-weight would undermine strategic stability.16

军备控制的目的之一就是通过军控谈判限制对手的军事力量,保留自己的战略能力,把战略竞争引导到自己有优势的领域。在美苏军控谈判中,苏联的陆基重型洲际导弹一直是美国方面关注的焦点。20世纪70年代中期,由于苏联导弹精度较差,没有对硬目标的打击能力,美国关心的重点在于苏联导弹的投掷重量(throw-weight)比美国的高。保罗·尼采曾经是美国SALT谈判代表,后来因为对美国谈判策略不满而选择退出。他认为《海参崴协议》的重大缺陷在于没有限制投掷重量,苏联SS-19导弹的投掷重量是美国民兵 III 的3倍、SS-18导弹的投掷重量是民兵 III 的7倍。按照《海参崴协议》,苏联将在导弹投掷重量上获得3倍优势,在总投掷重量上获得2倍优势。因此,尼采认为,不限制投掷重量的话,单独限制导弹数量会破坏战略稳定。

As the accuracy of Soviet missiles improved, the United States began to worry that the Soviet Union might acquire the ability to destroy American intercontinental missiles in the future. The concern of the U.S. was based on the following logic: When a crisis occurred, the Soviet Union could use its high-precision, high-yield nuclear warheads to destroy all of the United States’ Minuteman ICBMs. The United States would then be left with only two options, either to retaliate against Soviet cities with its remaining less-accurate submarine-launched missiles and bombers, which would incur Soviet retaliation against American cities, or to surrender. In order to avoid this situation, the United States launched research and development on the MX intercontinental missile to obtain the ability to strike Soviet missile silos. However, according to U.S. intelligence assessments, before the MX missile could enter service, the accuracy of Soviet missiles would advance to the level of successfully being able to hit U.S. intercontinental missile silos, creating a so-called “window of vulnerability.”17

随着苏联导弹精度的提高,美国开始担心苏联未来可能获得摧毁美国洲际导弹的能力。美国担忧的逻辑如下:当危机发生时,苏联可能会用其高精度、大当量核弹头摧毁美国所有的民兵洲际导弹。这样美国将只剩下两个选择,要么用剩下的精度较低的潜射导弹和轰炸机报复打击苏联城市,并招致大国竞争中的军备控制与全球战略稳定苏联对美国城市的报复,要么投降。为了避免这种情况,美国启动研发MX洲际导弹,以获得对苏联发射井的打击能力。但是美国情报评估认为在MX导弹服役前,苏联导弹精度就可以达到打击美国洲际导弹发射井的水平,即所谓“脆弱性窗口”(window of vulnerability)。

Negotiations on heavy missile restrictions extended throughout the Cold War period and beyond. The SALT I agreement prohibited the conversion of light ICBM silos to heavy ICBM silos, and encouraged the Soviet Union to dismantle older ICBMs (SS-7, SS-8) in exchange for new submarine-launched missiles (SLBMs). The SALT II Treaty placed limits on nuclear weapon delivery vehicles, nuclear weapon delivery vehicles carrying MIRVs, ballistic missiles carrying MIRVs (including ICBM, SLBM, and air-launched ballistic missiles [ALBM]), and ICBMs carrying MIRVs. Although the treaty stipulated that both parties could adjust the structure of their nuclear forces within these limits, these sorts of complexly nested limits actually meant that the Soviet Union could only convert its intercontinental missiles into SLBMs, but not the other way around. START I set limits on the number of warheads carried by heavy ICBMs and the total throw-weight of strategic ballistic missiles, and prohibited the production, testing, or deployment of new heavy ICBMs, heavy SLBMs, and mobile launchers for heavy ICBMs, while also cutting the number of land-based heavy missile SS-18 in half. START II called for the gradual reduction and eventual elimination of all MIRVed ICBMs. Because START II never actually came into effect, Russia never completely destroyed its heavy ICBMs.

对重型导弹的限制贯穿了整个冷战期间及之后的谈判进程。SALT I协议禁止将轻型ICBM发射井转换为重型ICBM发射井,并鼓励苏联拆除老旧的ICBM(SS-7、SS-8)以换取建造新的潜射导弹(SLBM)。SALT II 条约分别为核武器运载工具、携带分导式多弹头的核武器运载工具、携带分导式多弹头的弹道导弹(包括ICBM、SLBM和空射弹道导弹),以及携带分导式多弹头的ICBM设定了限额。虽然规定各方可以在限额内自行调整核力量结构,但这种层层嵌套的限额实际上意味着苏联只能将洲际导弹转为潜射导弹,而不能反过来。START I规定了重型ICBM携带的弹头数量和战略弹道导弹总投掷重量的限额,禁止生产、试验或部署新的重型ICBM、重型SLBM以及重型ICBM的机动发射架,将陆基重型导弹SS-18的数量削减一半。START II 则要求逐渐减少并最终消除所有多头分导ICBM。由于START II未能最终生效,俄罗斯重型ICBM并未彻底销毁。

The core concern of the Soviet Union was that the United States might use its technological advantages to develop a strategic defense system and cancel out the Soviet Union’s nuclear deterrence capabilities. The ABM Treaty of 1972 prohibited both sides from deploying missile defense systems that protected their entire territory. In 1983, Reagan launched the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which sparked a debate concerning the broad and narrow interpretations of the ABM Treaty.18 Since then, the question of whether the control of strategic offensive weapons had to be linked with strategic defensive weapons had been the focal point of arms control negotiations between the Soviet Union/Russia and the United States. At one point, the Soviet Union insisted that negotiations on medium-range missiles, strategic missiles, and space weapons should be linked together and conducted simultaneously. In Reykjavik, Reagan and Gorbachev almost reached an agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons. The divergence between the two sides was that while Gorbachev demanded that SDI tests should be limited to the laboratory level, Reagan insisted that any test allowed by the ABM Treaty could proceed. The two sides refused to make concessions, so the talks eventually failed. Over the next few years, the Soviet Union gradually abandoned its position regarding the linkage of these issues, and the United States and the Soviet Union signed the INF Treaty and START I.

苏联的核心关切则是美国可能借助其技术优势发展战略防御系统,并抵消苏联的核威慑能力。1972年的ABM条约禁止双方部署保护全部领土的导弹防御系统。里根于1983年提出“战略防御倡议”(SDI),并引发对ABM条约的广义和狭义解释之争。此后,战略进攻武器的控制是否需要与战略防御武器挂钩就一直是苏联/俄罗斯与美国军控谈判中的关注焦点。苏联方面一度坚持中程导弹、战略导弹和外空武器的谈判相互联系、同时进行。里根和戈尔巴乔夫在雷克雅未克几乎达成销毁全部核武器的协议,双方分歧在于戈尔巴乔夫要求SDI试验必须限制在实验室级别,里根则坚持可以进行ABM条约允许的任何试验。双方互不让步,会谈最终失败。随后几年,苏联逐步放弃挂钩立场,美苏先后签署INF条约和START I。

After the Cold War, the START II Treaty between the United States and Russia did not restrict strategic defense. However, when ratifying START II, the Russian State Duma linked its entry into force with the ABM Treaty. In fact, this treaty never entered into force. After the [second] Bush administration withdrew from the ABM Treaty, Russia announced that it would no longer be bound by START II. The issue resurfaced in 2009 when the Obama administration was negotiating the New START Treaty with Russia. The Russian side expressed the hope that strategic arms negotiations could include the issue of missile defense, but the U.S. side firmly rejected such an inclusion. The approach ultimately adopted was to mention the linkage of strategic offensive and defensive weapons in the preamble of the New START Treaty, but there were no restrictions on missile defense in the main text of the treaty. After the treaty was concluded, Russia issued a unilateral statement, saying that, as a premise for the treaty to be meaningful, the United States should not significantly upgrade its missile defenses in terms of its quality and quantity. If the construction of U.S. missile defenses threatened Russia, Russia could withdraw from the treaty.19

冷战后,美国与俄罗斯的START II并没有限制战略防御的内容,但是在批准START II时,俄罗斯国家杜马将条约生效与ABM条约挂钩。实际上,这一条约从未生效。在小布什政府退出ABM条约后,俄罗斯宣布不再受START II约束。2009年,在奥巴马政府与俄罗斯谈判New START时,这一问题重新浮出水面。俄罗斯方面表示希望战略武器谈判能够包含导弹防御问题,美国方面则坚决拒绝。最终的处理方法是在New START条约的序言中提及战略进攻和防御武器的关联,但条约正文中没有对导弹防御的任何限制。条约达成后,俄罗斯发表了一个单方面声明,称条约有意义的前提是美国不对其导弹防御进行质量和数量上的大幅度升级,如果美国导弹防御的建设威胁到俄罗斯,俄罗斯可能退出条约。

(3) Interconnections of Arms Control Negotiations and Domestic Politics


International relations theory often assumes that a country is a unified rational actor whose foreign policy goal is to maximize its own interests. Although this assumption is conducive to theory-building, it is not completely consistent with reality. The government of any country is composed of different departments. These departments have different understandings of national interests, different preferences regarding means and methods to realize national interests, different organizational rules and procedures for strategic issues, as well as different orientations when it comes to power and interests. In fact, policymakers have to negotiate at both the domestic and international levels, participating in a two-level game.20 For arms control negotiations, the game at the domestic level is often more difficult and more important.


For the United States, the game between the doves and hawks within the executive branch determines the position of the United States in arms control negotiations. The doves are represented by the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA, which was merged into the State Department in 1999) and the State Department, while the hawks include the Department of Defense and the U.S. military. At times, there were also fierce debates between civilian DoD officials (such as the Secretaries of Defense and Office of Systems Analysis in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations) and the military. The doves usually supported expanding the scope of treaties, hoping to improve bilateral relations through arms control treaties, achieve strategic stability, and reduce the risk of nuclear war. Conversely, the hawks believed that the Soviet Union’s offensive intentions would not change, emphasized seeking peace through strength, sought to avoid concessions to the Soviet Union, and tried to preserve U.S. military superiority. A common justification used by the hawks to oppose expanding a treaty’s scope was that the treaty was not verifiable. On this issue, the Central Intelligence Agency often sided with the doves, arguing that the intelligence community was capable of providing adequate verification. Of course, expanding the range of verification would also help the intelligence community request higher budgets to improve intelligence capabilities. Dovish and hawkish positions were brought together and consolidated through the National Security Council or a specially created coordination group.


In the 1960s, the domestic debate on ABM in the United States fully demonstrated the coupling of military buildup, arms control negotiations, and domestic politics. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was not optimistic about ABM systems, because no matter what missile defense system the United States deployed, the Soviet Union could easily cancel out U.S. efforts by deploying more offensive missiles, which were far cheaper than missile defense systems. The U.S. Army hoped to gain a voice in the field of nuclear weapons through ABMs, and successfully gather the support of other military services to back ABMs. On this issue, Congress trusted military officials more than civilians in the Pentagon. It was hard for Congress to understand why missile defense systems that could save American lives were not deployed. Both the State Department and ACDA opposed ABM systems, believing that they would trigger an arms race and undermine strategic stability. President Johnson did not take a strong stance on ABMs, but feared being accused of disregarding American lives. In December 1966, Johnson decided to start ABM development, but chose not to decide whether to deploy the system before negotiating with the Soviet Union on ABM restrictions. The United States created a negotiation team headed by Ambassador to the Soviet Union Llewellyn Thompson. However, the Soviet Union was not ready to negotiate with the United States at that time. In June 1967, the Soviet Union rejected the U.S. proposal.21


Later, domestic political pressure forced the Johnson administration to deploy some form of ABM. There were three options: The first was a large-scale missile defense system to protect American cities from Soviet missiles. The second was a limited missile defense system to protect cities against future Chinese ICBMs. The third was a missile defense system only used to protect ICBM silos. As a compromise with the military, McNamara eventually announced the deployment of a limited missile defense system targeting China in September 1967, but the military actually considered this as the first step for an ABM system targeting the Soviet Union.22 A year later, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to start SALT negotiations. In discussions about the negotiation plan within the Johnson administration, the military still would not accept any restriction on missile defense systems.23 In the end, due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Johnson administration did not initiate U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations.


After the Nixon administration came to power, the domestic political atmosphere in the United States changed, and the public began to oppose ABMs. In particular, according to the missile defense plan of the Johnson administration, the United States was about to deploy large-scale radars and interceptor missiles carrying nuclear warheads around some major cities. This was met with fierce opposition from local residents. Correspondingly, voices opposing ABMs were also growing in the U.S. Congress. Nixon revised the main purpose of the missile defense system to the protection of ICBM silos in March 1969 and started ABM/SALT I negotiations with the Soviet Union in November of the same year. These negotiations culminated in the ABM Treaty, which banned ABM systems that protected the entire territories of the two countries. Each side could only retain two (later amended to one) ABM systems to protect its capital and/or ICBM launch sites. The U.S. missile defense system at the Grand Forks Air Force Base was operational in October 1975. However, since its technology was at an early stage and had very limited military capabilities, the base was eventually decommissioned in February 1976.

在尼克松政府上台后,美国国内政治气氛发生转变,民众开始反对ABM。尤其是根据约翰逊政府的反导方案,美国即将在一些大城市周边部署大型雷达和携带核弹头的拦截弹,遭到当地居民的激烈反对。与此相应,美国国会反对ABM的声音也越来越大。尼克松在1969年3月将反导系统的主要目的修正为保护洲际导弹发射井,并于当年11月启动与苏联的ABM/SALT I谈判。谈判最终达成《反导条约》,禁止保护全部领土的反导系统,双方只能保留两座(后来修正为一座)反导系统以保护首都和/或洲际导弹发射场。美国位于大福克斯基地的反导系统于1975年10月启动,然而由于技术并不成熟,军事能力非常有限,最终于1976年2月被关闭。

The game between the U.S. executive branch and Congress determined whether the treaty would be approved successfully. According to the U.S. Constitution, arms control treaties must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. Therefore, influential members of Congress—such as Democratic Senator Henry Jackson of Washington State—had a substantial influence on arms control negotiations.24 The SALT I Treaty imposed unequal missile quotas on the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States could deploy no more than 1,710 ICBMs and submarine-launched missiles, while the Soviet Union could deploy 2,347.25 This made Jackson furious. Although he finally consented to ratify the SALT I Treaty, he added an amendment to the Senate’s resolution of ratification, requiring that future negotiations must be based on the principle of equality.26 The Jackson Amendment had a direct impact on subsequent negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union. In addition, to gain Jackson’s support, Nixon also promised to purge the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA). The number of ACDA staff shrank from 219 in December 1972 to 162 in July 1973. By early 1974, only four of the ACDA’s 17 senior officials remained.27

美国行政部门与国会的博弈则决定了条约能否顺利通过。按照美国宪法,军控条约必须由参议院三分之二多数通过,因此,重量级的国会议员———如来自华盛顿州的民主党参议员亨利·杰克逊———对军控谈判有着重要影响。SALT I协定对美国和苏联导弹的限额是不对等的,美国可以部署不超过1710枚洲际导弹和潜射导弹,而苏联可以部署2347枚。对此,杰克逊大为光火,虽然最终同意批准SALT I协定,但在参议院的批准文书中附加了一个修正案,要求未来的谈判必须以对等为原则。杰克逊修正案直接影响了美苏后续的谈判。此外,为了获得杰克逊的支持,尼克松还答应清洗军备控制与裁军署。ACDA雇员从1972年12月的219人缩减到1973年7月的162人。到1974年初,ACDA的17名高级官员只剩下4名。

U.S. presidents often needed to consider the defense budget and arms control negotiations together. In order to obtain the two-thirds majority in the Senate needed to ratify a treaty, the president needed the support of the hawks, so major arms control treaties with the Soviet Union were often accompanied by major investments in nuclear weapon modernization. Furthermore, in order to get the simple majority of both houses of Congress necessary to pass the budget for modernizing strategic weapons, the president also had to win the support of the doves in Congress. Therefore, in terms of defense, the U.S. president must often walk a tightrope between the hawks and the doves: He cannot go too far down the road to military expansion, so as not to anger the doves, but he also cannot place too much emphasis on cooperation and negotiations with the Soviet Union, so that he can appease the hawks.


The personal image of the president also mattered. If he consistently presented a tough image, the public and Congress would be more inclined to believe that any arms control agreement he reached with the Soviet Union would not weaken the security of the United States. Conversely, an arms control deal struck by a president who was perceived as dovish tended to be met with more skepticism. Republican presidents had a natural advantage in this regard, as Nixon and Reagan were considered die-hard anti-communists before taking office. Democrat presidents often needed to prove their tough stance. Kennedy only established himself as a reliable defender of U.S. interests after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Because Carter advocated cutting the defense budget before taking office and unilaterally canceled the B-1 strategic bomber and neutron bomb projects after taking office, he was always considered too weak. As a result, the SALT II Treaty concluded during his term was heavily criticized. Seeing no hope of approval after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Carter withdrew SALT II from the Senate.

总统的个人形象也很重要。如果一贯以强硬形象示人,那么民众和国会更倾向于相信他与苏联达成的军控协议不会削弱美国安全;反过来,一位被认为是鸽派的总统达成的军控协议往往会遭到更多质疑。共和党总统在这方面拥有天然的优势,比如尼克松和里根在上台前就被认为是死硬的反共派。民主党总统则往往需要证明自己的强硬立场,肯尼迪只有在古巴导弹危机之后才树立起可靠的美国利益维护者的形象。卡特因为上台前就主张削减防务预算,上台后又单方面取消了B-1战略轰炸机和中子弹项目,始终被认为过于软弱。他任内达成的SALT II条约遭到严厉批评。在苏联入侵阿富汗后,眼见获批无望,卡特从参议院撤回了SALT II。

II. Experience from U.S.-Soviet Nuclear Arms Control


This section will analyze the experience that can be drawn from the nuclear arms control practices of the United States and the Soviet Union. The experience can still serve as an important reference for maintaining the current global strategic stability.


(1) Nuclear Arms Control Was in the Common Interest of the United States and the Soviet Union


The massive destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons and the emergence of the mutually assured destruction principle had made it impossible and meaningless to win a nuclear war. Therefore, preventing the outbreak of nuclear war had become the common interest of the United States and the Soviet Union. In the words of Thomas Schelling and Morton Halperin, “The central feature of arms control is the recognition of the common interest, of the possibility of reciprocation and cooperation even between potential enemies with respect to their military.”28 Specifically, the common interests of the United States and the Soviet Union in the field of nuclear arms control include: reducing the risk of nuclear war (including nuclear war triggered by pre-emptive attacks, deliberate nuclear war, and accidental nuclear war); preventing the escalation of crises; reducing spending on nuclear weapons; and preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.


Strategic stability is the core concept that guided U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms control. This theory was conceived with the birth of nuclear weapons and reached its maturity in the early 1960s. The condition for stability was “mutually assured destruction,” meaning that if either side could survive the first strike from the other with enough nuclear weapons to inflict devastating blows on the society of the other side, neither side would have any incentive to strike first. According to this theory, missile defense systems that could protect the entire territory of one side and silo-launched MIRVed ICBMs would create instability, while missile defense systems that could only protect ICBM silos and SLBMs deployed on survivable nuclear submarines would increase stability. This principle was embodied in nuclear arms control between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War and later between the United States and Russia.


However, even under a stable power structure, nuclear war could still break out due to misunderstandings, accidents, or unauthorized actions, so the two sides needed to eliminate misunderstandings and ensure prompt communication through transparency and confidence-building measures. As early as 1955, Eisenhower proposed the idea of “open skies,”,” believing that the United States and the Soviet Union could open their airspace to each other’s reconnaissance planes in order to dispel concerns about surprise attacks. This vision eventually became a reality with the signing of the Treaty on Open Skies in 1992.29 After the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union concluded the Hotline Agreement in 1963, establishing two 24/7 two-way telegraph lines linking their respective capitals. Both countries subsequently modernized and expanded these hotlines several times. The United States and the Soviet Union also signed the Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Risk of Outbreak of Nuclear War and the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War in 1971 and 1973, respectively. The two countries agreed that eliminating the risk of nuclear war and avoiding the use of nuclear weapons were the policy goals of both parties, and one should notify the other party when their early warning systems detected an unknown target and before test-firing any missiles from outside their own territory in the direction of the other party.


The United States and the Soviet Union’s recognition of their common interests in the field of nuclear weapons gradually deepened through interactions, crises, dialogues, negotiations, and learning.30 In 1987, Joseph Nye proposed the concepts of “nuclear learning” and “security regime” for the United States and the Soviet Union. Learning can be divided into two types: simple learning and complex learning. The former can change policy means to better achieve established goals, while the latter may lead to the reevaluation of policy goals. U.S.-Soviet interactions in the security field produced common knowledge, which changed the two parties’ original beliefs and their perceptions of security interests, and facilitated the gradual establishment of certain security mechanisms to prevent risks. These security mechanisms, in turn, facilitated mutual learning between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.31

美苏对核武器领域共同利益的认知是通过互动、危机、对话、谈判和学习逐渐加深的。约瑟夫·奈在1987年提出了美苏“核学习”(nuclear learning)以及“安全机制”(security regime)的概念。学习可以分为简单学习和复杂学习两类,前者可以改变政策手段以更好实现既定目的,后者则可能导致对政策目的的重新评估。美苏在安全领域的互动产生了共同的知识,改变了它们原有的信念以及对安全利益的认知,并逐渐建立起一些安全机制以防范风险,这些安全机制反过来又促进了美苏的学习。

It should be pointed out that the Track 2 diplomacy between U.S. and Soviet academics had an important impact on U.S.-Soviet nuclear learning and their conceptualization of common interests.32 The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs was a typical example.33 The Pugwash Conferences originated from the Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955. This manifesto warned that nuclear weapons threatened the survival of mankind, called on scientists from the East and the West to discuss measures to avoid nuclear wars, and urged governments to resolve disputes by peaceful means. The first Pugwash Conference was held in Canada in 1975. Scientists from the Eastern and Western camps participated in their individual capacities, and discussed the dangers of nuclear weapons and measures to prevent nuclear wars. The goal of the Pugwash Conference was to build a platform for communication, educate the public, and ultimately influence government decision-making in direct or indirect ways. In 1995, the Pugwash Conferences and its Secretary General Joseph Rotblat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in bringing about the PTBT, NPT, and SALT I treaties as well as the Biological Weapons Convention, and for their significant contributions in changing the thinking on nuclear disarmament after the Cold War.34

值得指出的是,美苏学术界之间的二轨交流对美苏核学习以及对共同利益认知的形成有着重要的影响。普格瓦什科学与世界事务会议(Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs)是其中的典型代表。普格瓦什会议起源于1955年的《罗素—爱因斯坦宣言》。宣言警告核武器威胁人类生存,大国竞争中的军备控制与全球战略稳定呼吁东西方科学家一起讨论避免核战争的措施,敦促各国政府以和平方式解决争端。第一次普格瓦什会议于1957年在加拿大召开,东西方科学家以个人身份参会,研讨核武器的危害与防止核战争的措施。普格瓦什会议的目标是搭建沟通平台,教育公众,并最终以直接或间接的方式影响政府决策。1995年,普格瓦什会议及其秘书长约瑟夫·罗特布拉特获颁诺贝尔和平奖,以表彰他们在促成PTBT、NPT、SALT I协定和《禁止生物武器公约》过程中所发挥的作用,及其对冷战后核裁军思想变迁的重大贡献。

(2) Arms Buildup and Arms Control Are Both Means to Realize National Interests


Both arms buildup and arms control are means to realize national interests, but not ends in themselves. A country should choose policies that best suit its national interests based on the international security landscape and its own interests. Military expansion does not necessarily strengthen national security. Excessive military buildup will result in a heavy economic burden and the aggravation of the security environment, thereby weakening national security in turn. In the same way, arms control does not necessarily mean greater security. If too many concessions are made in order to sign an agreement or if insufficient concessions are obtained from the other side, it will also be detrimental to national security.


Assessing the other side’s intentions is the key for deciding whether to engage in confrontation or seek cooperation. If the other side’s goal is backed by extreme expansionism at any price, then the interaction between the two sides is a zero-sum game. In this case, concessions and compromises will be seen as weak and vulnerable to bullying, so confrontation is the best choice. However, if the other party’s goal is to maintain the status quo, then the interaction between the two sides is not a zero-sum game, and arms buildup will lead to unnecessary security dilemmas and arms races. In this case, the best strategy is self-restraint and active communication that demonstrates each side’s intentions.35 Needless to say, however, assessing the other party’s intentions is precisely the hardest thing to do.


Security decision-makers often tend to estimate the other party’s intentions in a pessimistic way and exaggerate the other party’s capabilities. In the later years of the Eisenhower administration, the U.S. ruling and opposition parties began to worry that the deployment of intercontinental missiles in the United States had lagged behind that of the Soviet Union, the so-called “missile gap.”36 A U.S. intelligence assessment in 1960 concluded that the Soviet Union would deploy 140–200 intercontinental missiles in 1961, and this number would increase to 250–350 in 1962 and 350–450 in 1963.37 However, after the deployment of reconnaissance satellites, the United States finally confirmed that the Soviet Union had deployed only 10–25 ICBMs in September 1961.38 In the 1970s, in the face of the Soviet Union’s growing strategic capabilities, then-CIA Director George H.W. Bush appointed an independent external group called “Team B” to assess the Soviet Union’s strategic intentions. “Team B” judged that the aim of the Soviet Union was not only to deter a nuclear war, but to seek a strategic advantage over the United States in order to win a nuclear war.39 This conclusion had a significant impact on internal debate within the United States regarding the U.S.-Soviet détente and SALT II negotiations. In the end, post-Cold War interviews with Soviet officials showed that the conclusions of “Team B” were wrong.40

安全决策者往往倾向于悲观估计对方的意图,夸大对方的能力。在艾森豪威尔政府后期,美国朝野开始担忧美国洲际导弹的部署落后于苏联,即所谓“导弹差距”。1960年美国的一份情报评估认为,苏联在1961年将部署140—200枚洲际导弹,1962年这一数字将增加到250—350枚,1963年将达到350—450枚。然而,在侦察卫星部署到位后,美国最终证实苏联在1961年9月只部署了10—25枚洲际导弹。20世纪70年代,面对苏联战略能力的不断增长,时任美国中央情报局局长的老布什任命了一个独立的外部小组“B队”来评估苏联的战略意图。“B队”研判,苏联的目的不止是吓阻核战争,而是寻求对美国的战略优势以赢得核战争。这一结论极大地影响了美国内部有关美苏缓和与SALT II谈判的辩论。最终,冷战后对苏联官员的访谈表明,“B队”的结论是错误的。

An overly pessimistic assessment of the other side’s capabilities and intentions can trigger overreactions, leading to unnecessary arms races.41 In the 1960s, the Soviet Union began building its “Tallinn” air defense system near Leningrad. American intelligence agencies had difficulties judging whether the system was an air defense system or a missile defense system, and if it was an air defense system, whether it could be potentially upgraded to a missile defense system. Coupled with the fact that the Soviet Union was building a missile defense system around Moscow, the United States was worried that the Soviet Union might build a missile defense system covering the whole country, thereby weakening U.S. nuclear deterrence capabilities. As a result, the United States began to develop penetration aids and MIRVs, and updated its nuclear war plan, adding more than 100 nuclear warheads to specifically attack the “Tallinn” system and Moscow’s missile defense system. Ultimately, the result was that, if a nuclear war did break out, not only would Moscow not be sufficiently protected, but it would suffer significantly greater damage.42 As the construction of “Tallinn” system proceeded and U.S.-Soviet SALT I negotiations began, the United States was subsequently able to confirm that “Tallinn” was not an anti-missile system, and the Soviet Union did not intend to expand its construction for a national missile defense system. However, at the time, the U.S. military was not willing to give up its MIRV technology, and the final SALT I agreement did not restrict MIRVs.

过于悲观评估对方能力和意图会引发过度反应,导致不必要的军备竞赛。20世纪60年代,苏联开始在列宁格勒附近建造“塔林”(Tallinn)防空系统,美国情报机构难以判断这一系统是防空系统还是反导系统,以及如果是防空系统的话,是否具有升级为反导系统的潜力。再加上苏联正在莫斯科周边建设反导系统,美国由此担心苏联可能建设一个覆盖全国的反导系统,从而削弱美国的核威慑能力。于是,美国开始开发突防装置和分导式多弹头,并更新核战争计划,专门增加了100多枚核弹头用来打击“塔林”和莫斯科反导系统。最终的效果是,如果核战争真的爆发,莫斯科不但得不到保护,遭受的破坏程度反而会大幅度增加。随着“塔林”建设的推进,以及美苏SALT I谈判的展开,美国后来确认“塔林”并非反导系统,苏联也没有扩展建设一个全国导弹防御系统的意愿。但美军此时并不愿意放弃多头分导技术,最终的SALT I协定也没有限制多头分导。

Arms control can constrain the development of strategic weapons on both sides and improve the security environment through cooperative measures. Before the conclusion of SALT I and the ABM Treaty, the number of Soviet offensive missiles had surpassed that of the United States, and it was still increasing its missile deployments at a rate of about 200 missiles per year. In contrast, the United States had no plans to increase its deployment of new missiles. The essence of SALT I and the ABM Treaty was to use restrictions on U.S. strategic defense capabilities in exchange for restrictions on the Soviet Union’s offensive weapons. At that time, the U.S. Congress also had no plans to fund a large-scale strategic defense system.43 Another example came in the late 1970s when the Soviet Union began deploying the SS-20 medium-range missile, which could reach Europe but could not strike the United States. This deployment raised concerns in Europe. At the end of 1979, NATO proposed the principle of a “double-track system,” that is, while negotiating with the Soviet Union to destroy SS-20 missiles, it was simultaneously preparing to deploy “Pershing II” medium-range ballistic missiles and “Tomahawk” cruise missiles in Europe. At the end of 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union reached the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the two sides destroyed all land-based short-range and medium-range (range 500-5500 km) ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

军备控制可以通过合作举措约束双方战略武器的发展、改善安全环境。在SALT I/ABM条约达成前,苏联进攻导弹的数量已经超过了美国,而且还在以每年大约200枚的速度增加,美国则没有增加部署新导弹的计划。SALT I/ABM条约的实质是用美国战略防御能力的限制来换取对苏联进攻性武器的限制,而当时美国国会原本也不打算拨款来建造大规模的战略防御系统。另一个例子是,20世纪70年代后期,苏联开始部署射程可以覆盖欧洲但无法打击美国的SS-20中程导弹,这一部署引发欧洲担忧。1979年底,北约提出“双轨制”原则,即一边与苏联谈判销毁SS-20导弹,一边准备在欧洲部署“潘兴 II ”中程弹道导弹和“战斧”巡航导弹。1987年底,美苏达成《中导条约》,双方销毁所有的陆基中短程和中程(射程500—5500千米)弹道导弹和巡航导弹。

Arms control also helps improve bilateral relations. In its essence, arms control is the result, not the cause, of the easing of tensions between states. However, since the issue of nuclear weapons is such a strong indicator, nuclear arms control agreements could in turn have an important feedback effect on inter-state relations. Looking at the history of nuclear arms control between the United States and the Soviet Union, arms control agreements were “a magic wand” (定海神针, Divine Needle that Calms the Sea, from Chinese mythology) that could calm the relationship between the two countries. These agreements were able to lay the foundation for U.S.-Soviet cooperation in other fields and provide predictability. In addition, regardless of whether an agreement could be reached in the end, the arms control negotiation process itself was of great significance. The protracted U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations during the Cold War gradually developed into a security mechanism for both sides and was backed by institutional momentum, becoming the anchor of stability in U.S.-Soviet relations.44


(3) Transparency and Verification Are Important Means of Confidence-building


The U.S.-Soviet and later U.S.-Russian arrangements for arms control inspections deepened with the advancement of technology, bilateral relations, and the goals of arms control negotiations. Verification methods include notification, data exchange, weapons expos, national technical means of verification, and on-site inspections. SALT I and the ABM Treaty only stipulated the use of national technical means for verification, and the two parties promised not to interfere with verification, nor to adopt concealment measures to obstruct verification. However, the agreements did not clearly indicate which measures would be deemed as obstructing verification. In addition to limiting the number of nuclear weapon delivery vehicles, SALT II also restricted qualitative improvements. For this reason, it was necessary to verify certain characteristics and parameters of missiles, such as the number of stages, length, maximum diameter, take-off mass, throw-weight, and type of propellant. Therefore, the agreement further clarified that both parties should not adopt measures to encrypt telemetry data as this could obstruct verification. The INF Treaty, START I, START II, and New START all require verification of reductions in nuclear weapon delivery vehicles and introduced detailed on-site inspection measures for this purpose, including baseline data inspections, facility closure/new construction inspections, warhead count inspections, destruction inspections, and short-notice inspections.45

美苏以及后来美俄有关军控核查的安排随着技术进步、双边关系发展以及军控谈判的目的逐步深化。核查的手段包括通报、数据交换、武器展示、国家技术手段以及现场视察等。SALT I/ABM只规定采用国家技术手段进行核查,双方承诺不干扰核查,也不采取隐藏措施来阻挠核查,但并未明确指出哪些措施会阻挠核查。SALT II除限制核武器运载工具数量外,还限制质量的改进,为此需要核查导弹的一些特征参数,如级数、长度、最大直径、起飞质量、投掷质量、推进剂类型等,因此,进一步明确双方不得采取可能妨碍核查的遥测数据加密措施。《中导条约》、START I、START II以及New START都需要核查核武器运载工具的削减,为此引入了详细的现场视察措施,包括基准数据视察、设施关闭/新建视察、弹头数量视察、销毁视察、短时通知视察等。

In addition to detecting and deterring treaty violations, a more important function of transparency and verification measures is to build confidence. Through transparency and verification measures, both sides can gain confidence during the implementation of the treaty and a better understanding of the other side’s nuclear force structure. This can help avoid worst-case scenarios in defense planning. Long-term cooperative transparency and verification arrangements can also enhance mutual understanding, promote the stability of the strategic relationship between the two countries, and reduce tensions. It is no exaggeration to say that well-designed transparency and verification measures are more important than specific reductions in the number of nuclear weapons. In July 2010, seven former commanders of the U.S. Strategic Air Command and U.S. Strategic Command sent a letter to four influential senators, expressing their support for the New START Treaty reached by the United States and Russia. They believed that the transparency and verification measures in the treaty would allow the United States to effectively gain insight into Russia’s nuclear forces, which would help stabilize the relationship between the two countries. The function provided by these measures is something that cannot be replaced by national technical means.46 In March 2017, at a hearing of the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva and Commander of U.S. Strategic Command John Hyten said that the verification provisions of the New START treaty would allow the United States to predict Russia’s behavior in the field of strategic nuclear forces to a certain extent and prevent arms races.47

除了发现以及吓阻违约外,透明与核查更重要的功能在于建立信心。通过透明与核查措施,双方可以对条约的履行获得信心,对对方的核力量结构有更好的理解,这样可以避免在防务规划中预估最坏情况。长期的合作性透明与核查安排也可以增进相互理解,促进两国战略关系的稳定,缓和紧张局势。不夸张地说,设计良好的透明与核查措施要比具体的核武器数量裁减更加重要。2010年7月,七位前美国战略空军司令部司令和战略司令部司令致函四位重量级参议员,支持美俄达成的New START条约。他们认为,美国可以通过条约的透明与核查措施有效洞察俄罗斯核力量,有助于稳定两国关系,这是国家技术手段所无法替代的。2017年3月,在美国众议院军事委员会听证会上,美国参谋长联席会议副主席保罗·席尔瓦和战略司令部司令约翰·海登都表示,New START条约的核查条款使美国可以在一定程度上预测俄罗斯在战略核力量领域的行为,防止军备竞赛。

In the early stages of U.S.-Soviet arms control, the Soviet Union’s attitude towards transparency and verification measures was very conservative. During the SALT I negotiations, the Soviet Union refused to provide the United States with any information about its nuclear forces. Negotiations were based entirely on U.S. data, using U.S. code names for Soviet weapons rather than their actual model names. Not only was this information kept secret from the United States, but the Soviet military also kept it strictly secret from the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The negotiators from the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs knew nothing about the performance, parameters, quantities, and deployment locations of Soviet strategic weapons, and were completely dependent on the reports provided by the U.S. representatives. There was one well-publicized example: During the negotiations, the U.S. military representative General Royal Allison showed a map that indicated the deployment sites of Soviet ICBMs. The Soviet representative General Nikolai Ogarkov got up and took Allison aside and told him not to do that again because the civilian officials in the Soviet delegation were not authorized to see such things.48 The final SALT I agreement did not include any mutual exchange of data and relied entirely on national technical means for verification. During the Senate ratification hearings, Senator Jackson accused the executive branch of failing to pressure the Soviet Union to provide data, arguing that while U.S. intelligence agencies had a good understanding of Soviet nuclear forces, the American people did not.49 During the SALT II negotiations, the United States put strong pressure on the Soviet Union to provide basic data, and the final SALT II Treaty included a simple dataset on the nuclear force structures of both parties.

在美苏军控的早期阶段,苏联对透明与核查措施的态度一度非常保守。在SALT I谈判过程中,苏联拒绝向美国提供任何有关核力量的信息。谈判完全基于美国的数据进行,使用美国给苏联武器起的代号,而不是真实的型号名称。不光是对美国保密,苏联军方对苏联外交部也同样严格保密。外交部的谈判代表对苏联战略武器的性能、参数、数量和部署位置等一无所知,完全依赖美国代表的通报。有一个广为流传的例子:谈判期间,美国军方代表罗伊尔·阿利森将军展示了一张地图,上面标出了苏联洲际导弹的部署地点。苏联代表尼古拉·奥加科夫将军起身把阿利森拉到一边,告诉他不要再这么干了,因为苏联代表团中的文官没有看这些东西的权限。最终SALT I协定不包括任何相互交换的数据,完全依赖国家技术手段进行核查。在参议大国竞争中的军备控制与全球战略稳定院批约听证会上,杰克逊参议员指责行政部门没有向苏联施压以提供数据,认为虽然美国情报机构对苏联核力量有很好的理解,但美国人民并不了解。在SALT II的谈判过程中,美国极力要求苏联提供基础数据,最终的SALT II条约包含了一个简单的双方核力量结构的数据集。

Whether there could be effective verification and to what extent it could be accepted had been the key issues during the negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union on the prohibition of nuclear testing since the late 1950s. In the summer of 1958, a meeting of experts in Geneva devoted itself to researching the feasibility of the verification techniques needed to stop nuclear testing. The final report issued by the meeting argued that a global monitoring network composed of land-based stations, monitoring ships, and sampling aircraft could be established. This system would provide a high detection and identification probability for atmospheric nuclear tests with a yield of more than 1 kiloton (height below 50 kilometers) and underground nuclear tests with a yield greater than 5 kilotons. When incidents of an uncertain nature were detected, they could be resolved through on-site inspections.50 Afterward, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union announced a moratorium on nuclear testing and began negotiations on the issue of banning nuclear testing. The focuses of the debates included “decoupled underground nuclear explosions,”,” the number of on-site inspections, and veto power against inspections.51 The parties came very close to reaching an agreement, but negotiations eventually failed because of the aborted four-country Paris Summit.52 Starting in 1961, the Soviet Union and the United States resumed nuclear testing in succession. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, both the United States and the Soviet Union felt the threat of nuclear war. In 1963, the United States and the Soviet Union finally concluded the PTBT, which did not require on-site inspections. This treaty prohibited nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and outer space.


Subsequently, the United States and the Soviet Union concluded the TTBT and PNET in 1974 and 1976. The TTBT stipulated that the yield of underground nuclear tests could not exceed 150 kilotons, while PNET stipulated that the yield of a single nuclear explosion could not exceed 150 kilotons, and the total yield of a group of explosions could not exceed 1,500 kilotons. In order to verify the equivalent of the nuclear explosion, the TTBT protocol stipulates that both parties must submit geological information of the nuclear test site, which would be used to work backward from the seismic waves to calculate the explosion equivalent. The PNET protocol stipulated that detailed technical data must be submitted before peaceful nuclear explosions. If the total yield of a group of explosions exceeds 150 kilotons, on-site observers shall be allowed to use instruments to confirm that the yield of any single explosion does not exceed 150 kilotons. However, the United States Senate refused to ratify the treaty because they believed the treaty’s verification measures were insufficient. In order to promote the ratification of the treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union conducted one nuclear test each at nuclear test sites in the two countries in August and September 1988 and used their own measurement methods to monitor each other’s nuclear tests. After the joint test, the two sides agreed on a new verification protocol and made detailed regulations on the methods for monitoring nuclear tests. Both treaties finally entered into force in December 1990.


III. Lessons for China


Arms building and arms control issues are gaining increasing importance in Sino-U.S. security relations. For a long time, nuclear arms control was not a high-priority topic in Sino-U.S. relations due to the disparity in competitiveness between China and the United States. The traditional view of American experts was that, after New START, the United States and Russia needed to conduct one or two more rounds of disarmament before it would be China’s turn to participate.53 However, as the modernization of China’s nuclear weapons advanced, the United States began to pay increasing attention to China’s nuclear weapons and other non-nuclear strategic capabilities. The Trump administration went so far as to directly propose the idea of trilateral arms control. Although the Trump administration did not propose any substantive arms control plan and its methods of promoting the idea were too simple and crude, the proposal did successfully mobilize public opinion and domestic politics to focus on this topic. After the Biden administration came to power, they also expressed a view that China needed to join future arms control negotiations.54

军备建设与军备控制问题在中美安全关系中的重要性正逐渐上升。长期以来,由于中美实力相差悬殊,核军控并不是中美两国关系中的优先话题。美方专家的传统观点是,在New START之后,美国和俄罗斯还需要再进行一到两轮裁军,然后才轮到中国参加。然而,随着中国核武器现代化的推进,美国方面开始越来越关注中国核武器及其他非核战略能力,特朗普政府更直接提出了三边军控的设想。虽然特朗普政府并未提出任何实质性的军控方案,其推动方式也显得过于简单粗暴,但是却成功地为这一话题进行了舆论和国内政治的动员。拜登政府上台后也表示,中国需要加入未来的军控谈判。

In recent years, the capabilities of China’s nuclear force technology have improved significantly, and China’s nuclear warhead count has also been slowly increasing. China has successively unveiled the DF-5B ICBM capable of carrying MIRV warheads, the DF-26 medium- and long-range missile supporting both nuclear and conventional weapons, the modified ICBM DF-31AG, the new land-based mobile ICBM DF-41, and a new ballistic missile nuclear submarine. According to reports, China has also been developing air-launched ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads as well as next-generation ballistic missile nuclear submarines and their submarine-launched missiles.55 The academic community’s estimation of China’s total number of nuclear warheads has gradually increased from 240 in 2011 to 350 in 2020.56 The U.S. Department of Defense’s Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021 report states that the number of Chinese nuclear warheads may reach 700 by 2027 and at least 1,000 by 2030.57


In addition, the construction of the U.S. strategic missile defense system will weaken the strategic stability between China and the United States. The United States has always publicly stated that the scale of the missile defense system protecting its homeland is designed to address risks from North Korea and Iran. China and Russia have far more strategic missiles than North Korea and Iran, and the U.S. missile defense system cannot intercept them.58 However, given the asymmetry in nuclear force structure between China and the United States, only a small number of Chinese nuclear warheads would survive a U.S. attack designed to destroy them. This means even a small-scale U.S. strategic missile defense system could potentially intercept China’s retaliatory nuclear warheads.59 Therefore, any improvement in the performance and reliability of the U.S. strategic missile defense system will inevitably mean a reduction in China’s nuclear retaliation capability. However, the U.S. has always explicitly refused to accept any restrictions on its development and deployment of missile defenses, which may lead to an offensive/defensive arms race between the two countries.60


In addition to nuclear weapons, the competition between China and the United States in other fields also warrants our attention. First, one of the reasons that the Trump administration withdrew from the INF Treaty was that China was not restricted by the treaty in its development of conventional ballistic missiles.61 The United States wants to limit China’s conventional missile capabilities, but it is unclear what price the United States is willing to pay to achieve this goal. Second, China and the United States have been accusing each other with regard to aspects of cyber economic intelligence, cybersecurity intelligence, and cyberattack weapons. In 2015, it was reported that China and the United States might reach an agreement on cyber arms control, promising not to attack each other’s key infrastructure in peacetime, but the agreement eventually fell through.62 Finally, since the Chinese space test in 2007, the United States has been paying much more attention to space security. However, the United States still rejects any form of substantive arms control measures, only accepting transparency and confidence-building measures.63


In order to cope with challenges to global strategic stability, China can draw many lessons from US-Soviet arms control during the Cold War.


(1) Significantly Increase Transparency and Participate in Strategic Dialogues at all Levels


The experience of U.S.-Soviet arms control during the Cold War shows us that appropriate military transparency and continuous bilateral arms control negotiations and dialogues are of great significance for building confidence, preventing miscalculations, and avoiding worst-case scenarios. In recent years, as China’s economic strength has grown, China’s national defense budget has increased year by year with a steady stream of emerging military capabilities and weapons. The issue of China’s military transparency has received an increasing amount of attention, gradually becoming one of the most controversial areas in China’s security policy. Although China’s military transparency has greatly increased compared to the past, on the whole, the level of China’s military transparency is still low, its military transparency policies have not substantially changed, and China’s responses to finger-pointing from the outside world are still passive. China’s comparatively low level of transparency damages the country’s image, raises unnecessary suspicions, and reduces the effect of deterrence to a certain extent.


Therefore, China should substantially increase its nuclear transparency. First, China can consider making public the approximate number of its nuclear warheads, the model numbers of all nuclear missile weapons, and launch tests for the vast majority of strategic missiles. Second, nuclear transparency must adhere to the principle of “strategic transparency and tactical ambiguity.” Troop numbers, weapon model numbers and weapon’s purposes generally do not need to be kept secret, while specific technical details and operating procedures should not be made public. Third, government departments with publicity, secret protection, intelligence, and operational functions can formulate unified and operable classification guidelines and revise them as the project progresses.64


China and the United States should actively promote strategic dialogues at all levels. Sino-U.S. strategic dialogues can be divided into Track 1, Track 1.5, and Track 2 dialogues. Broadly construed, Track 1 dialogue includes both exchanges between the Chinese and U.S. militaries as well as dialogues between the U.S. State Department and the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Narrowly construed, Track 1 dialogue only refers to the former. In April 2008, a Chinese military delegation visited Washington for a joint symposium between the Chinese Ministry of Defense and the U.S. DoD. Since then, this dialogue was halted for certain reasons and has not been resumed. Track 2 dialogue refers to the dialogue between the academic communities of the two countries, while the Track 1.5 dialogue is led and organized by the academic communities, with government officials and military personnel participating in their private capacities.65 In strategic dialogues, China and the United States can focus on each other’s military theories, nuclear policies, concepts of conflict escalation, and assessments of strategic weapon capabilities.


(2) Proactively Design Arms Control Framework Plans


Although China is unlikely to participate in substantive arms control in the short term, this does not mean that China will do nothing as it waits for that day to come. China should make full use of this interval period, plan ahead, and proactively design arms control plans it desires for the future. First, it can coordinate its own nuclear weapons modernization with future arms control. Second it can gain an advantage in future negotiations. There has already been much academic discussion about how China could participate in arms control negotiations in the future, and it is necessary for the Chinese government and military to conduct relevant research as soon as possible.66 Factors that need to be considered in the arms control plans include: the relationship between strategic offensive and strategic defensive weapons, the relationship between nuclear weapons and non-nuclear strategic weapons, the control of non-strategic nuclear weapons, the disposal of nuclear warhead stockpiles, new nuclear weapon delivery platforms, and the establishment of a mutual notification mechanism of launches and other confidence-building measures.


It is also necessary for China to research the verification technology and counting rules needed for possible future arms control. Unlike the United States and Russia, China’s nuclear deterrence relies on the concealment and maneuverability of nuclear weapons.67 The on-site inspection approach adopted in U.S.-Russian arms control treaties would undermine China’s nuclear deterrence capabilities, so it is not suitable for China. In addition, during peacetime, most of China’s nuclear warheads are separated from the missiles and stored in special warhead bases.68 According to the counting rules of the U.S.-Russian arms control treaties, the number of deployed nuclear warheads in China is close to zero.69 How to factor in China’s practices in future arms control and formulate corresponding counting rules is an issue that needs to be resolved in advance. As a first step, with the permission of the host country, China could observe the verification process for U.S.-Russian arms control treaties as an observer in order to become familiar with the existing verification methods of the United States and Russia.


(3) Unwaveringly Uphold China’s Nuclear Strategy Tradition


During the Cold War, China maintained its unique nuclear posture without participating in the frantic arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. China’s nuclear strategy tradition is quite different from that of the U.S. and the Soviet Union: First, China believes that nuclear weapons are “paper tigers.” Due to the existence of the nuclear taboo, the probability of actually using nuclear weapons remains very low. The main purpose of developing nuclear weapons is to counter nuclear blackmail, rather than their actual use.70 The nuclear postures of the United States and the Soviet Union focused on nuclear warfighting and limiting losses as much as possible in the event of a nuclear war. Second, the principle guiding the construction of China’s nuclear forces is “efficient and effective” (精干有效). This principle does not require a large nuclear arsenal. As long as China possesses “a basic means of counterattack” (有起码的还击手段), so that “if you want to destroy us, you will also suffer some retaliation” (你要毁灭我们,你自己也要受到点报复), it would be enough.71 The United States and the Soviet Union had far more nuclear warheads than necessary to completely destroy each other. At its peak, the combined total number of nuclear warheads of the two countries exceeded 70,000.72 Third, in peacetime, China’s nuclear weapons are kept at a relatively low state of readiness.73 The nuclear forces of the United States and the Soviet Union maintained a rather high level of readiness and could launch within minutes after receiving an order.74

冷战期间,中国没有参与美国和苏联之间疯狂的军备竞赛,保持了自己独特的核态势。中国核战略传统与美苏迥然不同:第一,中国认为核武器是“纸老虎”,由于核禁忌的存在,实际使用核武器的概率很低,发展核武器的主要目的是反核讹诈,而不是实际使用。美苏的核态势则着眼于打核战争(nuclear warfighting),并且要在核战争发生时尽可能限制损失。第二,中国核力量的建设原则是“精干有效”,对核武器数量的要求不高,只要能实现“有起码的还击手段”、“你要毁灭我们,你自己也要受到点报复”就够了。美苏核弹头数量远远超出彻底摧毁对方所需的水平,最高峰时期两国核弹头总量达7万多枚。第三,和平时期,中国核武器置于较低的戒备状态。美苏核力量则都维持很高的戒备水平,可以在接到命令后几分钟内发射。

China’s unique nuclear posture is an important contribution to world peace. China should unwaveringly adhere to its nuclear strategy tradition and use it to guide its modernization of nuclear weapons and the possible arms control it may face in the future. From the arms control experience of the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, we can see that both arms control and arms buildup are means of improving national security. Traditionally, China lacks experience in arms control. And it needs to adjust its way of thinking as it is facing a new security environment. On the one hand, it is necessary to break free from the past mindset and dispel fear and resistance towards arms control. The purpose of arms control is not merely to safeguard and support arms buildup, but also to serve as another path for realizing national interests. On the other hand, as China’s economy advances and technological capabilities improve, the development model for its strategic forces will change from a capability-oriented model designed to catch up with more advanced countries to a model that places more emphasis on the guiding role of top-level strategies.


To top

Cite This Page

吴日强 (Wu Riqiang). "Arms Control and Global Strategic Stability in Great Power Competition——An Analysis Based on U.S.-Soviet Union Nuclear Arms Control Negotiations [大国竞争中的军备控制与全球战略稳定 ———以美苏核军控谈判为例]". CSIS Interpret: China, original work published in Foreign Affairs Review [外交评论], November 15, 2021

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintCopy Link