In each month's issue of Arms Control Today, executive director Daryl Kimball provides an editorial perspective on a critical arms control issue.
Seventy-five years ago, on July 16, the United States detonated the world’s first nuclear weapons test explosion in the New Mexican desert. Just three weeks later, U.S. Air Force B-29 bombers executed surprise atomic bomb attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing at least 214,000 people by the end of 1945, and injuring untold thousands more who died in the years afterward.
Three and a half years since taking office, the Trump administration has failed to develop, let alone pursue, a coherent nuclear arms control strategy. The administration’s official nuclear policy document, the “2018 Nuclear Posture Review,” barely discusses arms control as a risk reduction tool.
As global leaders appropriately focus on the steps necessary to deal with the deadly effects of the coronavirus pandemic, they cannot afford to lose sight of the actions necessary to address the ongoing threat of nuclear proliferation and catastrophic nuclear war—the ultimate pandemic.
For decades, national security and health experts have warned of the risks of global threats that are simply too big for one country to handle, such as disease pandemics, climate change, and nuclear war. For many years, the response of our national and global leaders has fallen short.
Fulfilling a goal outlined in its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review report, the Trump administration acknowledged last month that the United States has deployed for the first time a low-yield nuclear warhead on some U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
This year, the world will mark the 75th anniversary of the catastrophic atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the indispensable but imperfect nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
*Updated: March 16, 2020
Four decades ago, the U.S. Defense Department detected an imminent nuclear attack against the United States through the early-warning system of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
Since 2017, the Trump administration has sought to expand the role and capability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal while withdrawing the United States from key agreements designed to reduce nuclear dangers.
Over the long course of the nuclear age, millions of people around the world, often led by a young generation of clear-eyed activists, have stood up to demand meaningful, immediate international action to halt, reduce, and end the threat posed by nuclear weapons to humankind and the planet.
Everybody knows that nuclear weapons have been used twice in wartime and with terrible consequences. Often overlooked, however, is the large-scale, postwar use of nuclear weapons: At least eight countries have conducted 2,056 nuclear test explosions, most of which were far larger than the bombs that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Last year, President Donald Trump told reporters that he wanted to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin “to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.”
One year after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the multilateral 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the deal is in deep trouble.
Smart U.S. leadership is an essential part of the nuclear risk reduction equation.
Fifty years ago, shortly after the conclusion of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the United States and the Soviet Union launched the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). Negotiated in the midst of severe tensions, the SALT agreement and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty were the first restrictions on the superpowers’ massive strategic offensive weapons, as well as on their emerging strategic defensive systems. The SALT agreement and the ABM Treaty slowed the arms race and opened a period of U.S.-Soviet detente that lessened the threat of nuclear war.
Every U.S. president since John Kennedy has successfully concluded at least one agreement with Russia or the Soviet Union to reduce nuclear dangers. These agreements have helped to slash nuclear stockpiles, manage nuclear competition, and provide greater stability, thereby reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe between the world’s two largest nuclear actors.