Almost 30 years after the end of the Cold War, duck-and-cover drills are distant memories for most Americans. Unfortunately, Russia’s nuclear arsenal still poses an existential threat to the United States. Over the years, the United States has worked tirelessly to build an intricate system of treaties and agreements aimed at controlling and reducing the number of nuclear weapons pointed at this nation, including places like the Research Triangle. Many of the tools and measures were directly created or fostered by President Ronald Reagan, who famously said, “A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”
Guided by that idea, President Reagan directed the negotiation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. This groundbreaking achievement eliminated an entire class of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, specifically intermediate-range nuclear missiles. More recently, the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty built on the success of previous administrations, to limit the United States and Russia to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed launchers (land-based missiles, bombers and submarines). It also permits U.S. military inspectors on the ground in Russia, giving us a real-time view of their strategic nuclear arsenal. That allows us to trust, but verify Russian nuclear reductions.