Report calls for a phaseout of ‘Cold War autopilot’ plan

WASHINGTON — Dwindling military budgets and the diminished threat of a nuclear war in Europe dictate that the United States and Russia abandon their Cold War mentality and gradually remove some nuclear weapons from ready-to-launch status, according to a report Wednesday.

The study by an international group of political, military, and security experts questions the billions of dollars spent by the United States, Russia, and European nations on new ­nuclear-armed submarines and weapons when those countries are facing deep budget cuts and austerity measures.

The experts, including several retired US, Russian, and European generals, say that high-level talks involving leaders of the nations are imperative to establish a new strategy far from one that largely is on ‘‘Cold War autopilot.’’


Citing the current political cooperation among the countries, the report recommends that they work together on missile defense, reduce tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, and develop a new strategy.

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‘‘Outdated Cold War-era security concepts and their associated weapons and military postures (in particular, mutual assured destruction and nuclear forces on prompt-launch status), continue as if the Berlin Wall had never fallen, producing a dangerous asymmetry between military capabilities and true political partnership,’’ the report said.

The document, developed over the past year, makes 19 recommendations.

Among the leaders of the group are former US senator Sam Nunn, a Georgia Democrat best known for his work with then-senator Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, in 1991 in creating the program to help the former Soviet states destroy and secure their weapons of mass destruction; former British defense minister Des Browne; former German deputy foreign minister Wolfgang Ischinger; and former Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov.

In contrast with the saber-rattling from North Korea, the report highlights improved relations among the United States, European nations, and Russia, and the unlikelihood of a conventional or nuclear war.


Against that backdrop, the group argues for the United States and Russia to take the lead in systematically moving nuclear weapons off high-alert status, a template for France and Britain to follow.

In an interview, Nunn said the US-Russia relationship is one of both growing distrust and increasing mutual interest. The former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman said issues such as missile defense and nuclear weapons need to be addressed as the world faces new challenges such as cybersecurity.

‘‘We have to have a breakout in thinking about how we’re going to deal with these issues in the future,’’ Nunn said.