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"The Arms Control Association’s work is an important resource to legislators and policymakers when contemplating a new policy direction or decision."

– General John Shalikashvili
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Daryl G. Kimball

Beyond Rhetoric of a Looming U.S.-Iran War, Growing Political Tension is Already Changing the Middle East

Here is what war with Iran would look like

News Source: 
ThinkProgress
News Date: 
May 20, 2019 -04:00

Document of the Week: The 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on WMDs in Iraq

News Source: 
Foreign Policy
News Date: 
May 17, 2019 -04:00

Expert welcomes US-Russia hashing over options for nuclear arms control

News Source: 
TASS
News Date: 
May 15, 2019 -04:00

Russian President Vladimir Putin calls special counsel Mueller's inquiry 'very objective'

Backgrounder: Pompeo-Lavrov to Discuss Nuclear Arms Control

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State Dept. says Secretary will explore “a new era of arms control” in Sochi meeting. But first, the U.S. and Russia should extend New START to maintain a foundation for more ambitious future efforts, say security experts.

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For Immediate Release: May 13, 2019

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104

(Washington, DC)—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Sochi, Russia Tuesday, May 14 to discuss what the State Department calls a “new era” in “arms control to address new and emerging threats” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Two weeks ago, senior administration officials told reporters that Trump had directed his administration to seek a new arms control agreement with Russia and China. One official told CNN that the agreement should include: “all the weapons, all the warheads, and all the missiles.” The officials criticized New START, which will expire in February 2021 is not extended, because it only limits U.S. and Russian deployed strategic nuclear weapons.

Pompeo acknowledged May 6 that such an agenda might be “too ambitious," noting "there are just a couple years left before New START expires. It may be that we have to do that on a bilateral basis.”

China is estimated to possess roughly 300 nuclear warheads, of which some 100 are deployed on intercontinental-range ballistic missiles. China has never been a party to any agreement that limits the number or types of its nuclear weaponry.

The United States and Russia possess far larger arsenals, estimated at 6,500 warheads (of all types) each. The two countries currently deploy roughly 1,400 New START accountable warheads on a variety of long-range delivery systems.

President Trump told reporters May 3 at the White House: “And China — I’ve already spoken to them; they very much would like to be a part of that [a trilateral nuclear arms control deal].”

But a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said May 6: "China opposes any country talking out of turn about China on the issue of arms control and will not take part in any trilateral negotiations on a nuclear disarmament agreement.”

U.S. officials also say they want to limit Russia’s stockpile of some 2,000 sub-strategic warheads in central storage inside Russia. The United States possesses several hundred, including approximately 180 deployed in five European NATO countries that can be delivered on fighter-bombers.

Russia is open broader arms control talks with Trump, but it has a long list of grievances about U.S. policies and weapons systems.

Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, suggested April 26 Moscow’s response would depend on the nature of any U.S. proposals. “Further steps towards nuclear disarmament will require creating a number of prerequisites and taking into account many factors that have a direct impact on strategic stability” including missile defense systems, cyber weapons, weapons development in space, and advanced conventional arms, he said.

A large number of Democratic Senators and some Republicans, have expressed strong support for New START extension. Last week, the Democratic Chair and the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs introduced a bill urging the extension of New START.

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“At first glance, a broader nuclear arms control deal with Russia and China may sound promising. But the Trump administration does not appear to have a plan or the capacity to negotiate such a far-reaching deal, which would likely take years. Agreement on the extension of New START, which will be difficult enough, should be the first step forward."

- Kingston Reif, director of disarmament and threat reduction policy

“Without extending New START, there will be no legally-binding, verifiable limits on the world’s two largest nuclear stockpiles for the first time since 1972. The risk of an unbridled arms race would grow. Extending New START would provide a necessary foundation and additional time for any follow-on deal with Russia that addresses other issues of mutual concern.”

—Daryl G. Kimball, executive director

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Iran Announces Countermoves on Nuclear Deal | P4+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, May 10, 2019

Iran Announces Countermoves on Nuclear Deal Tehran announced it will no longer be bound by certain limits set by the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal. Iran’s leaders also threatened to restart other nuclear activities restricted by the agreement in the future if the Europeans, China, and Russia do not deliver on sanctions relief (see below for details). The announcement was a delayed if not predictable response to the Trump administration’s systematic attempt over the past year to deny Iran any benefits under the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran’s...

Congress tries to defund US nuclear transfers to Saudi Arabia

News Source: 
Al-Monitor
News Date: 
May 9, 2019 -04:00

Iran’s Countermoves on Iran Nuclear Deal Are a Predictable But Worrisome Response to U.S. Sanctions

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Statement from the Arms Control Association notes that the proliferation threat will grow over time if European powers do not respond.

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Statement from the Arms Control Association

Proliferation Threat Will Grow Over Time If European Powers Do Not Respond


For Immediate Release: May 8, 2019

Media contacts: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director (202-462-8270 x107); Kelsey Davenport, Nonproliferation Policy Director, x102

(Washington, D.C.)—Iran’s threat to violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a very worrisome but predictable response to Trump's dangerous decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal one year ago. The Trump administration’s systematic campaign to deny Iran any benefits from the agreement has driven the leadership in Tehran to take these retaliatory steps.

From Iran's perspective, there is very little incentive to continue complying with the nuclear deal if Washington’s actions block the promised sanctions relief and if other key European states, along with Russia and China, do not work harder to facilitate legitimate commerce with Iran.

The initial steps that Iran announced—that it will no longer abide by limits on its stockpiles of low enriched uranium and of heavy water—could possibly result in Tehran violating its commitments in the coming months, depending on the rates of production. These steps may result in a technical breach of the JCPOA, but do not represent a near-term proliferation threat.

Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani, gave the other parties to the JCPOA (France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Russia and China) 60 days to help it thwart American sanctions on oil sales and banking transactions or Iran would take additional measures.

The steps that Iran threatened to take down the road if the Europeans, Russia, and China fail to compensate for U.S. sanctions pose a more serious proliferation risk.

If these states fail to deliver sanctions relief, Iran says it will resume construction on the unfinished Arak nuclear reactor. This may be done on the basis of the modified, more proliferation resistant design Iran agreed to in the nuclear deal and pose less of a threat. Even if Iran pursued the completion of the reactor based on the original design, which would produce enough plutonium for about two nuclear weapons per year, construction would take time. Furthermore, Iran does not have a reprocessing facility to separate plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel.

If the Europeans and the Chinese do not take more serious steps to allow for legitimate Iranian petroleum exports and banking transactions, Iran threatened to take more consequential measures, specifically resuming uranium enrichment to levels above the 3.67 uranium-235 level allowed by the JCPOA. This step is a more serious proliferation risk that would shorten the time it would take Iran to accumulate enough nuclear material for a weapon.

The most responsible path forward in the face of the Trump administration’s gross violations of the nuclear deal is a more robust and effective effort by the European powers, Russia, and China to facilitate legitimate trade with Iran. It is also in Iran’s interests to exercise restraint, continue to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency with respect to its safeguards commitments and obligations, and refrain from taking further steps that threaten to reignite a nuclear crisis and increase the risk of conflict.

Iranian press reports indicate that Iran’s leadership is threatening to withdraw from the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) if the JCPOA file is referred again to the UN Security Council. Under Article X of the NPT, "a state may withdraw from the treaty, requiring three month's advance notice should "extraordinary events" jeopardize its supreme national interests.”

The NPT, under Article II, obligates Iran an all other non-nuclear weapon states "not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

Withdrawal from the NPT by Iran would be extremely counterproductive for Iran and global security. All sides need to comply with the JCPOA and UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and respect their solemn legal obligations under the NPT.

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