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"I actually have a pretty good collection of Arms Control Today, which I have read throughout my career. It's one of the few really serious publications on arms control issues."
– Gary Samore
Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and WMD Terrorism
Daryl G. Kimball

Transcript: The Arms Control Landscape ft. DIA Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, Jr.

News Source: 
Hudson Institute
News Date: 
May 31, 2019 -04:00

Putin moves to leave weapons treaty as US accuses Russia of nuclear violations

Putin moves to leave weapons treaty as US accuses Russia of nuclear violations

A Response to Claims of Illegal Russian Nuclear Testing

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For Immediate Release: May 29, 2019

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

(Washington, DC)—In prepared remarks delivered Wednesday at a Hudson Institute event, Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, Jr., the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, stated that “The United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the ‘zero-yield’ standard” outlined in the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Any violation of the CTBT by Russia, which has signed and ratified the agreement, would be a serious matter. But when pressed on the allegation in the question and answer session of the event by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Gordon, Ashley would only say that Russia had the "capability" to conduct very low-yield supercritical nuclear tests in contravention of the treaty, a capability which Russia, China, and the United States have long had. He did not say that Russia has conducted or is conducting such tests.

The CTBT prohibits any nuclear test explosions that produce a self-sustaining, supercritical chain reaction and creates a robust international verification regime.

The United States has signed but not ratified the treaty.

Critics of the CTBT and arms control more broadly, including National Security Advisor John Bolton, have long claimed that the treaty does not adequately define a nuclear test, that Russia and China have a different interpretation than the United States of what the treaty prohibits, and that Moscow and Beijing have conducted nuclear tests in violation of the treaty.

But no public evidence has ever been provided to support the claim of illegal Russian testing and Gen. Ashley didn’t provide any Wednesday. Former Undersecretary of States for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller told the House Armed Services Committee in December 2015 that “within this century, the only state that has tested nuclear weapons ... in a way that produced a nuclear yield is North Korea.” This begs the question of what, if anything, has changed since then that would support a different conclusion.

Gen. Ashley also claimed that Russia has “not affirmed the language of zero-yield.” But Russia has repeatedly affirmed publicly that they believe the treaty prohibits all nuclear test explosions. For example, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov noted in a 2017 op-ed that the treaty “prohibits ‘any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion,’ anywhere on Earth, whatever the yield.”

The most effective way for the United States to enforce compliance with the zero-yield standard is for the Trump administration and the U.S. Senate to support ratification of the treaty and help to bring it into force, which would allow for intrusive, short-notice, on-site inspections to detect and deter any possible cheating. In the meantime, if the U.S. has credible evidence that Russia is violating its CTBT commitments, it should propose, as allowed for in Article VI of the treaty, mutual confidence building visits to the respective U.S. and Russian test sites by technical experts to address concerns about compliance.

Description: 

The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency stated Wednesday that the United States believes that Russia "probably" is not adhering to its obligations outlined in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but offered no public evidence to support the claim of illegal Russian testing.

Country Resources:

Russia Has Restarted Low-Yield Nuclear Tests, U.S. Believes

News Source: 
The New York Times
News Date: 
May 29, 2019 -04:00

Top U.S. military intelligence official says Russia ‘probably’ not adhering to nuclear test ban

News Source: 
The Washington Post
News Date: 
May 29, 2019 -04:00

Are Russia & China Violating Nuke Test Ban Treaty?

News Source: 
Breaking Defense
News Date: 
May 29, 2019 -04:00

Russia Analytical Report, May 20-28, 2019

News Source: 
Russia Matters
News Date: 
May 28, 2019 -04:00

New START Must Be Extended, With or Without China

News Source: 
The National Interest
News Date: 
May 27, 2019 -04:00

New START Must Be Extended, With or Without China

This op-ed originally appeared in The National Interest , May 27, 2019. The baffling non-answers from the senior administration officials strongly suggest that the president’s impulse for a grand U.S.-Chinese-Russian arms control bargain is not backed up with a realistic plan. On May 14, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Sochi, Russia to discuss what the State Department called a “new era” in “arms control to address new and emerging threats” with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin. The trip follows reports that Donald Trump has directed his...

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