06MOSCOW3333, U.S. NUCLEAR PRIMACY ARTICLE HITS A NERVE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW3333 2006-03-31 08:33 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO8270
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #3333/01 0900833
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 310833Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3309
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 003333 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2016 
TAGS: PREL PARM MNUC PGOV RS
SUBJECT: U.S. NUCLEAR PRIMACY ARTICLE HITS A NERVE 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns per 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1. (C)  Summary:  A Foreign Affairs article asserting the 
advent of U.S. nuclear primacy has caused a stir in the 
Russian political elite and media and forced Russian leaders 
to defend the viability of Russia's deterrent force.  The 
thesis plays to the belief that the U.S. regards Russia as a 
potential enemy, not a partner, and that a U.S. BMD 
capability could serve as a shield enabling an American first 
strike.  We will continue to look for opportunities, 
including upcoming visits by high-ranking U.S. officials, to 
take on these misperceptions.  End Summary. 
 
Defending Russia's Strategic Nuclear Potential 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
2. (C)  The "Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy," an article by 
academics at Notre Dame and the University of Pennsylvania 
that appears in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, has 
created a stir in the Russia political elite and media and 
touched a nerve in the Russian defense establishment.  Deputy 
Foreign Minister Karasin raised the article in a March 28 
meeting with Ambassador, as did Kremlin Foreign Policy 
Advisor Prikhodko on March 30.  Ambassador responded that the 
article reflected the views of its authors, not the U.S. 
government, and said it badly misrepresented U.S. policy. 
 
3. (SBU)  Media interest has compelled senior officials to go 
on record defending the capacity of Russia's nuclear 
deterrent.  Defmin Sergey Ivanov has commented that the 
article shows that some in the U.S. "must dislike the fact 
that we have established good relations with China." 
Underlining that Russia maintains "powerful and effective 
nuclear forces,"  Ivanov said the article was "not serious" 
and compared it to accusations that Russia had provided 
intelligence to Saddam Hussein. 
 
4.  (SBU)  Colonel General Nikolai Solovstov, Commander of 
Russia's strategic rocket forces, focused on the article's 
assertion that BMD technology could give the U.S. a shield 
for a first strike.  He stated in an interview: "We have 
always managed to find resources for preserving and renewing 
our strategic nuclear potential.  Current technologies make 
it possible to develop new missiles and other weapons for 
outsmarting even the most effective ABM system."  Vladimir 
Dvorkin, a former MOD official now at an Academy of Sciences 
institute, told the press that the Foreign Affairs article 
"exaggerated" the incapacity of Russia to ensure continuing 
nuclear deterrence, but confirmed that the general 
degradation of Russian capabilities described in the article 
was closer to the mark.  Former MOD liaison office head 
Leonid Ivashov described the article as "a political means of 
putting pressure on Russia, a warning to Russian 
politicians." 
 
Dismay 
------ 
 
5. (C) Aleksey Arbatov, a former Duma Defense Committee 
Deputy Chairman, raised the article in a March 28 meeting 
with us.  He acknowledged that the authors were not 
well-known, but said the article's publication in Foreign 
Affairs nonetheless gave it the aura of a "semi-official 
statement."  Arbatov, who chairs an advisory group on 
strategic issues at the Security Council, told us officials 
there were dismayed.   He said some in the Kremlin saw the 
article as part of a series of salvos aimed at Russia and 
pointed to "demeaning" references to Russia in the U.S. 
National Security Strategy, the accusation that Russia passed 
military information to Saddam, and the lack of U.S. 
recognition for Russia's prerogatives in its neighborhood. 
 
 
6. (C)  Arbatov added that the idea that the U.S. might seek 
to use nuclear blackmail against Russia resonates strongly in 
Moscow, especially in the MOD, and an attempt to intimidate 
Russia through efforts to develop nuclear primacy would spur 
Russia to be invest more in its own nuclear arsenal.  Arbatov 
said the Foreign Affairs article would be the prime subject 
at a Conference at which he will speak at the Carnegie Moscow 
Center April 4. 
 
7. (SBU)  Former Prime Minister Yegor Gaydar also joined the 
chorus of lamentation in the March 29 Financial Times, noting 
that the Foreign Affairs article had had "an explosive 
effect...Even Russian journalists and analysts not inclined 
to hysteria or anti-Americanism have viewed the article as an 
expression of the U.S. official stance."  Gaydar argued that 
"if someone had wanted to provoke Russia and China into close 
cooperation over missile and nuclear technologies, it would 
have been difficult to find a more skillful and elegant way 
 
MOSCOW 00003333  002 OF 002 
 
 
of doing so." 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
8. (C)  The article's forecast of U.S. nuclear primacy plays 
to deep-seated Russian fears and undermines efforts to build 
confidence that our BMD efforts do not come at the expense of 
Russian security.  While official and expe
rt Russians 
recognize that the article does not formally represent the 
views of the U.S. government, there is wide suspicion that 
its appearance in a prestigious journal, especially in the 
context of other recent strains in our relationship, may 
nonetheless have had some official sponsorship, or at least 
accurately reflect influential views within our government. 
High-ranking U.S. officials who will be visiting Russia in 
the near future (including STRATCOM's General Cartwright, ISN 
Assistant Secretary Rademaker, and U/S Burns) should expect 
questions from Russian interlocutors and the media for 
clarification of whether the U.S. is seeking, or at least 
expecting, to be in a position of nuclear primacy vis-a-vis 
Russia in coming years. 
 
BURNS

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