Policy Memos

The IMF-Russian Negotiations and Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Policy Memo:


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The continuing standoff between the Russian government and the IMF threatens the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Dialogue with the Russian government, the Cooperative Threat Reduction program (also known as Nunn-Lugar), sanctions against Russian firms suspected of cooperation with Iran, even an agreement to allow national missile defense all could be invalidated if the Primakov government does not reach an agreement with the IMF.

US nuclear non-proliferation policy is predicated on the assumption that the Russian government (like its Soviet predecessor) supports the regime as a fundamental Russian interest. According to this view, one needs only to keep the Russian government in line, deflect domestic pressures for cooperation with Iran and India, stop illicit transfers of technology, and ensure that no fissile materials are stolen.

However, what if Russian support is more fragile and the next Russian government does not support the nuclear non-proliferation regime? What if it decides that the whole international system is so unacceptable to Russia that the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is no longer in its interests? Without active Russian cooperation, the regime will collapse: there is essentially nothing the United States can do unilaterally to counter a massive breakdown of the NPT. The importance of the Russian government's cooperation is not fully appreciated. [...]

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About the author

Senior Fellow
Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non‑Proliferation