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Unfinished Business

Authors: Frank G. Klotz, Senior Fellow for Strategic Studies and Arms Control, Susan J. Koch, and Franklin C. Miller, Scowcroft Group
December 13, 2011
International Herald Tribune

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In September 1991, President George H.W. Bush announced a series of sweeping measures fundamentally reshaping the American nuclear arsenal. One of them called for all U.S. ground-force tactical nuclear weapons to be returned from overseas bases and dismantled. Similarly, all tactical nuclear weapons on surface ships and attack submarines, as well as those associated with land-based naval aircraft, were to be withdrawn.

Eight days later, President Mikhail Gorbachev reciprocated, declaring that similar steps would be taken for Soviet nuclear forces.

As a result of these so-called Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, or P.N.I.'s, thousands of nuclear weapons on both sides were ultimately taken out of service and in some cases eliminated altogether — all based on unilateral, parallel actions, and all without an arms control treaty.

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