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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


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weapons on surface ships and attack submarines, as well as those associated with land-based naval aircraft, were to be withdrawn.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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