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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 18, September 1997

Nuclear Risk Reduction Agreement Anniversary

'Secretary Albright commemorates tenth anniversary of the US-USSR 'Nuclear Risk Reduction Center' agreement,' Statement by James B. Foley, Deputy Spokesperson, State Department, 15 September 1997

Full text

"Secretary of State Albright today sent a message of congratulations to Russian Foreign Minister Primakov on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the signing of the US-USSR 'Agreement on the Establishment of Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers.' This agreement, signed in Washington Sept. 15, 1987, by then Secretary of State George Shultz and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, enabled the establishment of Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers (NRRCs) in Washington, D.C., and Moscow, the first direct communications link between the two capitals since the Presidential 'Hotline' was instituted in 1963.

The establishment of the NRRCs represented the fruition of an idea first promoted by former Senator Sam Nunn and Senator John Warner. Originally intended to carry occasional clarifying messages to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear conflict, the US NRRC now sends and receives thousands of messages annually under a wide range of arms control and security agreements, including START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks), INF (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces), Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE), and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

While not replacing normal diplomatic channels of communications or the famous 'Hotline' available in times of crisis, the NRRC has become part of an increasingly complex system of confidence- and security-building measures (CSBM's) designed to reduce the risk of war and to promote arms control and stability in the post Cold War period. The break-up of the former Soviet Union, however, presented a unique set of challenges. The four START Treaty successor states of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan have become involved in the information exchange process, and the NRRC has opened communications links with the three new republics, while maintaining its link to Moscow.

Secretary Albright, in her congratulatory message to Foreign Minister Primakov (sent over the NRRC link), noted that, 'The world has changed much during this decade. Our great nations, which once viewed each other as adversaries, have found many more areas of agreement and cooperation than could have been imagined ten years ago. No area of cooperation has more profoundly benefited the futures of our peoples than the agreements we have reached to reduce our nuclear armaments and diminish the risk of nuclear war.

'The Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers stand as concrete symbols of the desires of our governments to work together to increase trust, transparency, and security. They are more than symbols, however; they are the actual channels through which both sides exchange the many thousands of messages which slowly, day-by-day, build the foundation of mutual understanding and confidence necessary for success in arms control.'

The NRRC is a unique US government entity located in and staffed by the Department of State. The Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, Thomas E. McNamara, has been appointed by the President to serve as the Director of the US NRRC. The NRRC staff consists of both Foreign Service officers and Civil Service employees, including those with Russian and four other OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) language proficiencies."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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