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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

Pope Calls for Nuclear Weapons Ban

October 2015

By Daryl G. Kimball

In his September 25 address to the UN General Assembly, Pope Francis said there is an “urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons.” (Photo credit: Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)In his first-ever address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 24, Pope Francis delivered a powerful denunciation of nuclear deterrence and reiterated the Holy See’s call for action to eliminate the threats posed by nuclear weapons.

“An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction and possibly the destruction of all mankind are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations,” he said.

“There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the [nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT], in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons,” he said.

The pontiff’s remarks to the General Assembly follow his written statement delivered to a December 2014 conference in Vienna on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons use. In that speech, he reiterated the Roman Catholic Church’s call for the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, deplored excessive spending on nuclear weapons, and urged world leaders to renew action on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. (See ACT, January/February 2015.)

In more recent statements, Vatican officials have expanded on these themes, arguing that precisely because of the growing tensions among nuclear-armed countries and the risk that additional states may acquire nuclear weapons, there must be renewed action for global nuclear arms control and disarmament.

In a statement delivered Sept. 14 to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, said, “The Holy See has no illusion about the challenges involved in achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.”

Although “[p]rogress has been made” through the NPT, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), New START, and “unilateral initiatives and other measures,” those efforts “are limited, insufficient, and often frozen in space and time,” he said.

The NPT review conference earlier this year failed to reach agreement on an action plan to update specific commitments on disarmament and nonproliferation goals, due in part to differences among states in the Middle East on convening a conference to discuss a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and in part to the reluctance of some nuclear-armed states to commit to faster action on nuclear disarmament. (See ACT, June 2015.)

“Precisely because of growing tensions, the nuclear powers must renew arms control and disarmament processes,” Gallagher said in his remarks to the IAEA conference. Gallagher highlighted the need for “real efforts toward facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT, which represents the best hope of stemming nuclear proliferation and is a key to progress on nuclear disarmament.”

In Francis’ UN address, he also welcomed the July 14 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. He described the agreement as “proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity, patience, and constancy. I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved.”

In remarks at a Sept. 17 forum in Washington, ahead of the pope’s U.S. visit to that city, his first stop in the United States, Bishop Oscar Cantu, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that the Vatican’s recent, higher-profile stance on nuclear weapons issues builds on long-standing Catholic teaching on the immorality of nuclear weapons.

Cantu noted that just months after Washington and Moscow narrowly averted nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis, Pope John XXIII delivered an April 1963 encyclical letter, “Pacem in Terris.”

In that letter, John also argued, “Nuclear weapons must be banned. A general agreement must be reached on a suitable disarmament program, with an effective system of mutual control.” Four months later, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union concluded the Limited Test Ban Treaty.

Cantu explained that the Catholic Church’s view of the immorality of the use and the threat of use of nuclear weapons is underpinned by several features of nuclear weapons: they do not discriminate between combatants and civilians, they can produce catastrophic global effects, and they achieve a very low probability of success. Cantu noted Pope Benedict XVI’s January 1, 2006, statement that, “[i]n a nuclear war, there would be no victors, only victims.”

Correction: The original online version of this article misidentified the pope who issued the encyclical letter, “Pacem in Terris.” It was John XXIII.


In his address to the UN General Assembly, Pope Francis denounced nuclear deterrence and called for action to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Civil Society Statement Delivered by Daryl G. Kimball to the 9th CTBT Article XIV Conference

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Redouble Efforts for the CTBT

CIVIL SOCIETY STATEMENT TO THE 9TH CTBT ARTICLE XIV CONFERENCE
SEPTEMBER 29, 2015 

As Prepared for Delivery by Daryl G. Kimball,
Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Nearly all of the world’s nations recognize that nuclear explosive testing is no longer acceptable, yet the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) will not have entered into force by Sept. 24, 2016—20 years after the opening for signature of the Treaty—due to inaction of eight Annex II states.

The CTBT is an effective, verifiable, non-discriminatory, additional barrier to restrain the vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons, and to stop the further spread of nuclear weapons, and it contributes to the establishment of the legal basis for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Bringing the CTBT into full legal force will require more energetic, more creative, more pragmatic and more focused efforts on the part of “Friends of the CTBT” states, eminent persons, responsible lawmakers, the scientific and technical community, and other members of civil society supportive of the CTBT.

We welcome the statements of support for the CTBT from two important hold-out states, China and the United States, but it is very disappointing that neither state has taken sufficient action to ratify the treaty.

The time available for President Barack Obama to pursue the “immediate and aggressive” action to win Senate advice and consent for ratification that he promised in 2009 is shrinking rapidly. More energetic White House leadership, however, would still improve the chances of success after his term expires. We urge bipartisan support for the U.S. ratification of the CTBT, which is clearly and demonstrably in the U.S. national security interest.

China’s leaders maintain that their ratification does not depend on the actions of other states and that they have no intention of resuming testing. We call on President Xi Jinping to show international leadership and pursue China’s ratification without further delay.

We welcome the support of the CTBT from the Russian Federation, which has already ratified the Treaty, and call upon President Vladimir Putin to actively encourage key Annex II states to move forward on the treaty and engage with his U.S. and Chinese counterparts on promoting the early entry-into-force of the CTBT.

Other states must do their part too. Ratification by Egypt, Iran, and Israel—three other key CTBT holdouts—would also reduce nuclear weapons-related security concerns in the Middle East and help create the conditions necessary for the realization of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction—or at the very least, a nuclear weapons test free zone.

We welcome the support for the CTBT expressed by senior Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has signed but has not yet ratified the CTBT. Israel’s ratification would bring that country closer to the nuclear non-proliferation mainstream and encourage other states in the region to follow suit.

We welcome the support for the CTBT expressed by senior Iranian leaders, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. At the first Article XIV conference in 1999, Mr. Zarif, then Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, spoke in support of the treaty and endorsed the final conference report. The conference report urged its members to sustain the momentum for entry into force of the CTBT at the highest level and to hold informal consultations and promote cooperation aimed at bringing the Treaty into effect.

Neither India nor Pakistan say they want to resume testing, yet their governments have failed to take a serious look at joining the CTBT, which is a non-discriminatory measure that would help reduce global and regional nuclear tensions. In 1998, the leadership of both states said that they would not stand in the way of CTBT entry into force—nearly two decades later, now is the time for Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif to reconsider that position, reinforce their support for their non-testing policies, and become leaders, not followers on the test ban.

North Korea continues its nuclear pursuits in violation of its earlier denuclearization pledges and the NPT and may conduct yet another nuclear weapon test explosion, which would allow it to proof-test more advanced nuclear weapons capabilities. We call on North Korea to cease further nuclear testing and for the resumption of the Six Party Talks that should include support for the CTBT.

Given these realities, states at this conference have a responsibility to take practical steps to support the CTBT, to reinforce the global nuclear testing moratorium and prohibition, and to encourage nuclear-armed states to refrain from nuclear weapons modernization activities that lead to new types of warheads and new military capabilities.

In the interest of global security and out of respect for the victims and survivors of nuclear testing, we call on all states in the coming year to redouble diplomatic efforts to bring the CTBT into force. 

To do so, states parties should consider and undertake one or more of the following initiatives:

  1. Use this Article XIV Conference as a launching point for a powerful, high-level, ongoing multilateral diplomatic campaign, led by states such as Japan and Kazakhstan—two states that have experienced first hand the devastating effects of nuclear weapon explosions—to increase diplomatic efforts to create the conditions for ratification by one or more key Annex II states in the next year.
  2. Utilize the time leading up to the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the CTBT in September 2016 to launch a public campaign to raise governmental and public awareness about the dangers of nuclear testing, the possible resumption of nuclear testing, and the value of the CTBT as a critical element in a comprehensive global strategy to halt the vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons, halt the further spread of nuclear weapons, and contribute to the realization of a world without nuclear weapons.
  3. CTBT States parties, the seven states observing nuclear testing moratoria, and the UN Security Council should explore new approaches to reinforce the global taboo against nuclear testing and clarify that nuclear test explosions by any nation are a threat to international peace and security.

For example, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States could jointly issue a formal joint statement committing not to be the first of the seven to conduct a nuclear test explosion. 

In addition, pending the permanent closure of nuclear test sites, voluntary transparency measures would further strengthen confidence in the CTBT monitoring and verification regime.

None of these options is easy or simple, but without fresh thinking and renewed action, the door to further nuclear testing remains open and the full potential of the CTBT, including the option for on-site inspections to investigate possible noncompliance, will remain unrealized.

Endorsed by:

Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice, Harvard Kennedy School, and former adviser to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Sandra Ionno Butcher, Executive Director, Pugwash Conferences on Science & World Affairs (International)*

David Culp, Legislative Representative, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Washington, DC

Dr. Sidney Drell, Stanford University 

Joe Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Fund

Robert J. Einhorn, former U.S. Department of State Special Advisor for Nonproliferation

Charles D. Ferguson, President of the Federation of American Scientists* 

Nancy Gallagher, Interim Director, Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland 

Richard L. Garwin, 
IBM Fellow Emeritus, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center

Amb. James Goodby, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution,* Stanford University, and former advisor to President Clinton on the CTBT

Jonathan Granoff, President, Global Security Institute 

Dr. Lisbeth Gronlund, Co-Director and Senior Scientist, and Dr. David Wright, Co-Director and Senior Scientist, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

John Hallam, People for Nuclear Disarmament, Sydney, Australia

Morton H. Halperin, Director of Policy Planning, Department of State 1998-2001

Paul Ingram, Executive Director, British American Security Information Council

Dr. Happymon Jacob, Associate Professor of Disarmament Studies, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University 

Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director, Project Ploughshares

Dr. Rebecca E. Johnson FRSA, Director, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy

Togzhan Kassenova, Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*

Ayman Khalil, Director, Arab Institute for Security Studies (Amman) 

Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association 

The Honorable Mike Kopetski, former Member of the U.S. Congress (D-Oregon) and co-author of the Nuclear Test Moratorium Act of 1991-92

Michael Krepon, Co-Founder, The Stimson Center 

Fred McGoldrick, former Director of Nonproliferation and Export Policy, U.S. Department of State

Paul Meyer, Adjunct Professor of International Studies and Fellow in International Security, Simon Fraser University, and Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation 

Matt Pacenza, Executive Director, Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah 

Steven Pifer, Senior Fellow, the Brookings Institution* 

Dr. William C. Potter, Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor of Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey* 

Amb. Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Russian Federation, India, Israel, and Jordan

Jon Rainwater, Executive Director, Peace Action West

Amb. Jaap Ramaker of the Netherlands, Chairman of the CTBT negotiations in 1996, and former Special Representative to Promote CTBT Ratification

Tariq Rauf, Director of the Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)* 

Susan Shaer, Executive Director, Women’s Action for New Directions

Susi Snyder, Nuclear Disarmament Programme Leader, PAX, the Netherlands 

Sharon Squassoni, Senior Fellow and Director, Proliferation Prevention Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies* 

Tatsujiro Suzuki, Director, Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition at Nagasaki University (RECNA), and former Vice Chairman, Japan Atomic Energy Commission 

Honorable Ellen O. Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, U.S. Department of State

Catherine Thomasson, M.D., Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Aaron Tovish, International Director, 2020 Vision Campaign, Mayors for Peace

Amb. Carlo Trezza, former Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non-proliferation for Italy, and outgoing Chairman of the Missile Technology Control Regime

Paul F. Walker, Director of Director of Green Cross International’s Environmental Security and Sustainability Program

Honorable Andy Weber, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, U.S. Department of Defense 

Amb. Norman A. Wulf, U.S. Department of State (ret.), and Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation (1999-2002) 

Dr. Andrei Zagorski, Head of Department of Arms Control and Conflict Resolution, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences* 

*Institution listed for identification purposes only.

Click here for a PDF version of these remarks.

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Nearly all of the world’s nations recognize that nuclear explosive testing is no longer acceptable...

Why Congress Should Support the Iran Deal

By Daryl G. Kimball

This month, Congress faces a pivotal foreign policy choice with far-reaching consequences. Should it approve the July 14 nuclear agreement between six world powers and Iran because the deal promises to verifiably block all of Iran’s potential pathways to nuclear weapons or reject the agreement because it falls short of expectations and in the hope of a “better deal” down the line?

The choice should be clear. The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is a very strong, very thorough nonproliferation agreement that will reverse Iran’s progress and stop it well short of nuclear weapons for a generation or more. Rejection of the agreement would transform a historic diplomatic breakthrough into a geostrategic disaster.

The deal requires a very substantial reconfiguration of Iran’s program so that Tehran cannot amass enough bomb-grade uranium for one weapon in less than 12 months for a period of 13 years or more. The deal accomplishes this vital objective by reducing the number of installed centrifuges from nearly 20,000 to 6,104 first-generation machines, the IR-1, of which only 5,060 would be allowed to enrich uranium and to no more than 3.67 percent uranium-235. 

The nuclear deal also repurposes the underground Fordow enrichment site into a medical isotope production facility where no uranium can be present for a period of 15 years.

Under the deal, Iran must also limit its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to 300 kilograms for 15 years and accept very tough limits on its advanced centrifuge research and development for 10 years. In years 11 through 13 of the agreement, Iran has agreed to limit the possible deployment of any advanced machines so that the overall enrichment capacity remains equivalent to 5,060 IR-1s. Thus, until year 15 of the deal and perhaps longer, Iran’s breakout time will remain lengthy due to the 300-kilogram stockpile limit and the restraints on centrifuge capacity. 

The deal also eliminates Iran’s ability to produce and separate plutonium for a nuclear weapon for at least 15 years by committing Iran to permanently modify the Arak reactor, refrain from reprocessing spent fuel, and ship spent fuel out of the country.

The agreement is effectively verifiable. It will put in place a multilayered monitoring regime across Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, including centrifuge manufacturing sites for 20 years and uranium mining and milling sites for 25 years, and continuous monitoring of a larger number of nuclear and nuclear-related sites. 

The accord requires Iran to implement and ratify the additional protocol to its comprehensive safeguards agreement. This will give international inspectors timely access to any Iranian facility of proliferation concern, including military sites. For 15 years, the agreement will ensure Iran cannot stall the inspectors’ access for more than 24 days without risking serious consequences.

In addition, the deal provides valuable, long-term insight into Iran’s nuclear plans. It puts in place safeguards that require early notification of design changes or new nuclear projects by Iran. The additional protocol and early-notification requirements will remain in place permanently.

The deal also requires that Iran cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conclude the agency’s long-running investigation of past Iranian activities that have possible military dimensions and permanently prohibits certain dual-use activities that could contribute to the design and development of a nuclear explosive device. That IAEA probe may not definitively resolve every concern about Tehran’s alleged past weaponization work, but without the deal, there will be growing uncertainty about whether Iran will renew research and development on weapons design.

Together, these rigorous limits and transparency measures will make it very likely that any future effort by Iran to develop nuclear weapons would be detected promptly, providing world powers with the opportunity to stop the effort. 

Implementation of the deal will help head off nuclear arms competition in the region. A limited, highly monitored Iranian nuclear program poses far less of a threat to the region than an unconstrained program. Without this agreement, Saudi Arabia would be more likely to hedge its nuclear bets. 

The alternative to the effective deal that has been negotiated is no deal. After more than two years of talks and UN Security Council approval of the deal, Iranian leaders would certainly spurn any effort designed to extract further concessions from them.

Congressional rejection of the deal would undercut U.S. negotiating partners and severely undermine U.S. credibility and diplomatic leverage. The necessary international support for Iran-related sanctions would melt away. Iran would be free to rapidly and significantly expand its capacity to produce weapons-grade material. The international community would be deprived of the ability to use enhanced inspections to detect a clandestine Iranian weapons effort. Ultimately, without a deal, the risk of a nuclear-armed Iran and the risk of a war over Iran’s program would increase.

The facts are clear. The Iran nuclear deal is a strong, verifiable agreement that benefits U.S. security and the security of its allies.

Congress faces a pivotal foreign policy choice with far-reaching consequences. Should it approve the July 14 nuclear agreement between six world powers and Iran because the deal...

CTBT Group of Eminent Persons Meets in Hiroshima, Calls for Fortified Effort to Accelerate Entry Into Force

Although the vast majority of the world’s nations recognize that nuclear explosive testing is no longer acceptable, the failure to sign or ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on the part of a few Annex II states will have delayed entry into force for more than 20 years after the opening for signature of the Treaty in 1996. These states are: China, the United States, Israel, Iran, Egypt, India, Pakistan, and the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea. With enormous challenges ahead to secure the necessary signatures and ratifications, progress depends on a more energetic, more...

Statement by Daryl G. Kimball to the 25th UN Conference on Disarmament Issues, Hiroshima, Japan

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Addressing the Disarmament Deficit
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director 

25th United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues, Hiroshima, Japan
August 27, 2015

In the seven decades since the U.S. atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons have become less and less relevant to the security of possessor states and their allies and the potential harm of their further use has become even more harmful to international security and human survival.

Yet the threat of nuclear war remains. As President Obama said in June 2013 in Berlin: “ … so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe.”

And thanks to the moving and inspiring testimonials of the hibakusha many of us have heard this week, we are better able to understand why the use of nuclear weapons is inhumane and unacceptable under any circumstances. 

To ensure the NPT and the broader global nuclear disarmament enterprise remains dynamic and effective, all states-parties must provide leadership and take action to fulfill the treaty’s lofty goals and aspirations.

Unfortunately, rather than help to advance the disarmament cause, the 2015 NPT review conference exposed the imperfections of the NPT and the divisions among key parties.

In addition, to the division on the Middle East Zone conference, the states-parties failed to produce an updated, meaningful action plan on disarmament that builds on the commitments they made at the 2010 review conference.

Although the recent downturn in U.S.-Russian relations and growing U.S.-Chinese tensions have made progress difficult, this does not excuse the NPT nuclear weapon states from their NPT Article VI disarmament commitments.

Without further U.S. and Russian nuclear reductions, until at least 2021, the United States and Russia will deploy more than 1,500 strategic warheads on several hundred bombers and missiles—far more than necessary to deter nuclear attack. If these weapons were used even in a “limited” way, the result would be catastrophic nuclear devastation. 

Making matters worse, the United States and Russia are both modernizing their Cold War nuclear inventories, which will cost of several hundred billion dollars over the next ten years.

Other nuclear arms states—China, India, and Pakistan in particular—are all pursuing new ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based nuclear delivery systems. Pakistan has dangerously lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use by developing tactical nuclear weapons capabilities to counter perceived Indian conventional military threats. 

And North Korea continues its nuclear pursuits in violation of its earlier denuclearization pledges and the NPT and may conduct yet another nuclear weapon test explosion. 

While they agreed to draft conference language outlining some useful new disarmament concepts, the nuclear weapon states did not come to the conference with significant new proposals for progress on disarmament, and they successfully brushed aside calls for new benchmarks and timelines on previous commitments.

In response, 114 governments joined an Austrian-led initiative known as the “Humanitarian Pledge,” which calls on states "to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons."   

Some states and civil society campaigners interpret this to mean that negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons possession and use should begin.

A ban is a necessary step toward a world without nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, will not, by itself, change dangerous nuclear doctrines or eliminate nuclear arsenals of the world’s nuclear-armed states. It is not a panacea for the hard work and bold leadership necessary to change the status quo. 

Thus, additional creative initiatives, new ideas, and bolder leadership are required to move forward.

And, as Amb. Kellerman of South Africa has reminded us, given that the next NPT Review Conference is five years away, given that the Conference on Disarmament is dysfunctional, a new and meaningful forum to develop and launch effective disarmament measures is required.

The following concepts and initiatives may help catalyze meaningful action:

1. Convene nuclear disarmament summits. As Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, William Perry, and George Shultz argued in an op-ed in 2013, a new multilateral effort for nuclear disarmament dialogue is needed.

In 2009, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon suggested that the UN Security Council convene a summit on nuclear disarmament.

I welcome Amb. Kang of the United States expressing support for the concept in the 2015 NPT draft conference document regarding an “open-ended working group” to “elaborate effective measures for the full implementation of Article VI of the treaty.” The working group could allow for the continuation of the discussions at the NPT Review Conference on disarmament and the introduction of practical new proposals for breaking the current deadlock.

Another, more impactful approach would be for a group of concerned states to organize a high-level conference involving the leaders of a representative group of 20-30 nuclear and nonnuclear armed states to a two- to three-day summit on the pursuit of a joint enterprise to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

The first such high-level meeting could be held in Hiroshima or elsewhere in Japan in 2016 on the margins of the G-7 Summit. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has opened the door to such a gathering with his very important invitation for other world leaders to visit Hiroshima at that time.

This could be an historic, new, and productive starting point to rejuvenate the nuclear disarmament effort. To bring all key states together is should be based on two principles: 1) a clear understanding of the humanitarian impact of the use of nuclear weapons; and 2) an objective assessment of the security concerns of states, including the threats posed by a range of nuclear risks.

All participants should be encouraged to bring “house gifts”—specific actions by states that would concretely reduce the threat of nuclear weapons use, freeze or reduce numbers of nuclear weapons, reduce the role of nuclear weapons, or make their nuclear programs more transparent.

For instance, the United States and Russia could jointly announce they will resume negotiations on a follow-on to the New START agreement, and/or one or more CTBT Annex II states could announce they have taken concrete steps to sign or ratify the treaty.

Such a summit could provide much-needed new momentum on disarmament.

2. Accelerate U.S.-Russian nuclear cuts and freeze other nuclear-armed nation stockpiles. Further nuclear reductions need not wait for a new U.S.-Russian arms control treaty. The United States and Russia could accelerate the pace of reductions under New START to reach the agreed limits before the 2018 deadline. As long as both sides continue to reduce force levels below the treaty limits, U.S. and Russian leaders could undertake parallel, verifiable reductions well below New START ceilings.

Other countries must get off the disarmament sidelines, particularly China, France, India and Pakistan, which continue to improve their nuclear capabilities. These states are all pursuing new ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based nuclear delivery systems. In addition, Pakistan has dangerously lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use by developing tactical nuclear weapons capabilities to counter perceived Indian conventional military threats.

To start, the world’s other nuclear-armed states should pledge not to increase the overall size of their stockpiles as long as U.S. and Russian reductions continue.  

A unified push for further U.S.-Russian arms cuts, combined with a global nuclear weapons freeze by the other nuclear-armed states, could create the conditions for multilateral action on disarmament.

3. Follow through on the CTBT. Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the negotiation and the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

In the interest of global security and out of respect for the victims and survivors of nuclear testing, it is past time to bring the treaty into force.                 

Despite statements of support for the CTBT from China and the United States, neither state has taken sufficient action to ratify the treaty. Stronger leadership from Washington and Beijing is overdue and necessary. 

Other states must do their part too. Ratification by Egypt, Iran, and Israel—three other key CTBT holdouts—would also reduce nuclear weapons-related security concerns in the Middle East and help create the conditions necessary for the realization of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction—or in the very least, a nuclear weapons test free zone.

As Amb. Badr of Egypt eloquently noted, we must respect the wishes of the hibakusha, and it is clear that one of their wishes is the CTBT. And, I agree with him that states cannot pick and choose which NPT commitments they decide to meet and which ones they do not. And so, I would like to invite Amb. Badr to explain whether Egypt still supports the CTBT and explain when Egypt plans to join the treaty.

Neither India nor Pakistan say they want to resume testing, yet their governments have failed to take a serious look at joining the CTBT, which, despite their protestations, is a non-discriminatory measure that would help reduce nuclear tensions throughout Asia.

Even if action by these states toward ratification begins soon, the entry into force of the CTBT is many years away, and it is vital that the international community seek ways to reinforce the global taboo against nuclear testing pending CTBT entry into force. 

To do so, it would be wise for the members of the UN Security Council to consider the adoption of a resolution next year that determines that nuclear testing by any state is a threat to international peace and security. Or the key nuclear testing states could issue a joint statement underscoring their commitment to the CTBT and the test moratorium.

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None of these options is easy or simple, but without fresh thinking and renewed action on the 70-year old problem of nuclear weapons, the risk of the further use of nuclear weapons use will grow.

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In the seven decades since the U.S. atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons have become ...

Country Resources:

Mr. President, 'Yes, We Can'

July/August 2015

By Daryl G. Kimball

Barack Obama came into office with a deep understanding of the dangers of nuclear weapons and a strong commitment and a plan to address them. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the nuclear age, it is time for him to rejuvenate U.S. leadership on nonproliferation and disarmament.

President Obama’s stirring April 2009 Prague address on steps toward a world without nuclear weapons kicked off a busy and successful phase. He promptly negotiated and won Senate approval of the modest but important New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia. U.S. diplomats helped win consensus on a detailed action plan to strengthen the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 2010. Obama initiated a series of nuclear security summits to accelerate global efforts to lock down nuclear materials. He launched a new and fruitful policy of pressure and engagement with Iran to secure verifiable constraints on that country’s sensitive nuclear activities.

But aside from progress in the Iran nuclear talks since 2013, the president’s efforts have lost focus and momentum, only in part because the Republicans have seized the majority in the Senate and tensions with Russia have worsened.

In his Prague speech, Obama pledged an “immediate and aggressive” effort to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but has not followed through, despite having a strong technical and military case for the 1996 pact.

Since 2011, the U.S.-Russian nuclear disarmament dialogue has atrophied. Obama announced in 2013 that the U.S. arsenal could be cut by one-third more and still meet deterrence “requirements.” He proposed renewed talks with Russia to slash both countries’ arsenals further. Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected that proposal and has failed to offer a substantive alternative.

At the same time, Obama and Putin are pursuing plans for massive nuclear force modernization to preserve their excessive strategic capabilities for decades to come. Although senior Pentagon leaders warn that key elements of the $350 million, 10-year U.S. plan are “unaffordable,” Obama’s team has failed to pursue more-practical, cost-saving options.

Meanwhile, South Asian rivals India and Pakistan continue to amass more fissile material and deploy new nuclear delivery systems, China has begun to put multiple warheads on its arsenal of 75 long-range missiles, and North Korea has tested nuclear weapons and amassed more bomb material as Pyongyang and Washington haggle over the conditions for resuming talks.

Such developments led former Defense Secretary William Perry to warn last month, “We are about to begin a new round in the nuclear arms race unless some brake is put on it right now.”

Worse still, Russian officials are reverting to dangerous Cold War rhetoric and veiled nuclear threats. Washington must not reciprocate. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said June 21 on his way to a NATO meeting, “We all understand the gravity of nuclear dangers. We continue to deter, to have a strong deterrent and prepare to respond.”

Respond? With several hundred nuclear weapons available for striking targets within minutes of a launch order, there is no response that would not risk the total annihilation of both countries and the United States’ NATO partners. Obama’s team must lower, not increase, nuclear tensions even as it counters Russian meddling in Ukraine, beginning with the resumption of military-to-military contacts with Russia. At the same time, Obama must actively pursue new proposals to halt nuclear buildups elsewhere around the globe.         

First, Obama should invite Putin into an arrangement under which the two leaders would jointly accelerate the pace of reductions under New START and cut their respective strategic arsenals to 1,000 deployed warheads and 500 delivery vehicles. In addition, Obama could offer to resume formal talks on missile defense capabilities and deployments to assuage Russian concerns, real and imagined. 

Second, Obama must rein in the Pentagon’s Strangelove-ian nuclear force modernization scheme. To start, he should halt plans for 1,000 to 1,100 new, air-launched cruise missiles, which would cost some $20-30 billion and are designed for nuclear war-fighting, not deterrence. The White House should also put the brakes on Air Force plans to spend $62 billion on a new fleet of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Third, Obama should help initiate a new global nuclear restraint and disarmament dialogue. He should call for other nuclear-armed states to freeze the overall size of their stockpiles as the United States and Russia reduce theirs. He should signal support for high-level summits on multilateral nuclear disarmament involving nuclear-armed and non-nuclear-weapon states. Such a process could begin in Hiroshima, where Japan will host the 2016 Group of Seven summit.

In his final months, Obama must also try to reinforce the nuclear test ban by seeking support from the UN Security Council for a resolution that determines that nuclear testing by any state is a threat to international peace and security.

He cannot do it alone. But with more energy and creativity and the backing of congressional allies, international partners, and the many constituencies that support the “Prague vision,” Obama can still achieve important breakthroughs to reduce nuclear dangers.

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the nuclear age, it is time for [President Obama] to rejuvenate U.S. leadership on nonproliferation and disarmament.

The Disarmament Deficit

Over the past 45 years, the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) has put in place an indispensable yet imperfect set of rules for creating a safer world. But to ensure the treaty remains relevant and effective, all states-parties must provide leadership and take action to fulfill the treaty’s lofty goals and aspirations.

The imperfections of the NPT and the divisions among key parties were exposed at the treaty’s most recent review conference in New York, which ended on May 22. In the final hours, states-parties failed to reach consensus on a final conference document due to differences between Egypt and Israel on the process for convening a long-sought conference on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. 

More significantly, however, states-parties failed to produce an updated, meaningful action plan on disarmament that builds on the commitments they made at the 2010 review conference. These include steps to “to accelerate concrete progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament,” including “all types of nuclear weapons,” and action toward entry into force of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Since the negotiation of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which modestly reduces U.S. and Russian forces, progress on disarmament has been stalled. Neither Washington nor China, two key treaty holdouts, is any closer to ratifying the treaty. As New Zealand’s delegation noted, progress in other areas has been underwhelming at best.

In response, three-quarters of all states at the 2015 conference argued that the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use underscore the need to act with greater urgency to eliminate nuclear weapons dangers. The NPT’s five nuclear-weapon states insisted that the pursuit of disarmament must be step by step, which requires time and the right security conditions. For now, they argued, their security requires nuclear weapons.

Surely, the recent downturn in U.S.-Russian relations and growing U.S.-Chinese tensions make progress difficult, but it does not excuse the nuclear-armed states from their NPT Article VI disarmament commitments. Unfortunately, the nuclear-weapon states came to the NPT conference without new ideas or proposals for overcoming obstacles to further disarmament. 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated a June 2013 U.S. proposal for talks with Russia on a further one-third reduction of their strategic nuclear arsenals. But Russia’s delegation argued that it had reduced to its “minimum level” and that, “[in] fact, it is the U.S. policy” and the “build-up of the global missile defense system” that prevent further progress.

Complicating matters, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are pursuing very expensive strategic nuclear modernization programs designed to maintain force levels in excess of plausible deterrence requirements for decades to come. 

For example, the U.S. Air Force wants 1,000-1,100 new, nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles, which are a nuclear warfighter’s dream and an arms controller’s nightmare because New START does not cap the number of bombs or cruise missiles that can be carried on treaty-limited strategic bombers. Meanwhile, China is continuing to gradually expand its arsenal and has begun to deploy multiple warheads on its intercontinental ballistic missiles. 

The nuclear-weapon states successfully brushed aside calls for new benchmarks and timelines. The draft final document only would have “encouraged” Russia and the United States to hold talks on further nuclear cuts and the nuclear-weapon states to “engage…with a view to achieving rapid reductions in the global stockpile of nuclear weapons.”

In response, 107 governments joined an Austrian-led initiative known as the Humanitarian Pledge, which calls on states “to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.” 

It is in the interest of all states to pursue new and more-effective measures to address the disarmament deficit. The NPT draft conference document suggests a potentially useful path—an “open-ended working group” established by the UN General Assembly to “elaborate effective measures for the full implementation of Article VI of the treaty.”

Some states and civil society campaigners want to begin negotiations on a treaty to ban the possession and use of nuclear weapons. A ban is a necessary step toward a world without nuclear weapons, but will not by itself change dangerous nuclear doctrines or eliminate nuclear arsenals. Nevertheless, pressure for a ban treaty will grow unless the nuclear-armed states accelerate action on disarmament.

Moscow and Washington could announce they will implement New START cuts early and immediately begin talks on a follow-on treaty that would take into account other types of strategic weapons. China could freeze the overall size of its nuclear arsenal as long as the United States and Russia continue to reduce theirs. This would help establish the conditions for a series of high-level summits on multilateral, verifiable nuclear disarmament involving the world’s seven acknowledged nuclear-armed states and leading non-nuclear-weapon states.

Without fresh thinking and renewed action on the 70-year-old problem of nuclear weapons, the future of the NPT will be at risk and the possibility of nuclear weapons use will grow. 

Over the past 45 years, the NPT has put in place an indispensable yet imperfect set of rules for creating a safer world. But to ensure the treaty remains relevant and effective...

In Memoriam: John D. Steinbruner (1941-2015)

May 2015

By Daryl G. Kimball

John D. Steinbruner (World Affairs Council of Northern California)John David Steinbruner, who for decades was a leading international security affairs and arms control scholar and educator, died on April 16 at his home in the woods of northwest Washington, D.C., following his nine-year struggle with multiple myeloma. His wife, Chris Gobin, and other family members were by his side. 

John was an insightful and creative thinker, a persistent advocate for sensible security policies, a supportive colleague, and a generous friend and mentor for the many who had the privilege to work with and learn from him.

The Arms Control Association family and the wider peace and security community are far wiser and stronger because of John’s uncompromising dedication to creating a more peaceful world and avoiding catastrophes caused by great-power conflict, regional war, dangerous pathogens, climate change, cyberattacks, space weaponry, or nuclear war.

For nearly two decades, John was a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland and the influential director of the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland at the university’s College Park campus. He trained and inspired generations of students, many of whom are now leaders in the field.

Beginning in 1991, John became an active member and leader of the Arms Control Association Board of Directors. After becoming chairman of the board in 2000, he oversaw a rejuvenation of the organization, encouraged work on a wider range of weapons-related security threats, and helped guide the organization through the unique challenges that arose after the September 11 attacks. 

Well before then, John had already established himself as a leading academic in the field who pushed the boundaries of conventional thinking on the most difficult international challenges. 

After receiving his undergraduate degree in psychology from Stanford University, he earned his Ph.D. in political science in 1968 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1974, his doctoral dissertation became his first and very influential book, The Cybernetic Theory of Decision, which explores how policymakers deal with the intense uncertainty and fundamental value conflicts that arise in bureaucratic politics.

After graduate school, John served on the political science and government faculties at MIT, Harvard, and Yale until 1978, when he arrived in Washington to direct the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. 

Beginning in the late 1970s, his articles and papers helped focus attention on the vulnerability of U.S. and Soviet nuclear command-and-control systems to attack and the potential effects on crisis decision-making. Through the 1980s, along with Brookings colleague Bruce Blair, he helped draw national and international attention to the dangers of the superpowers’ launch-on-warning posture and the attendant risks of catastrophic miscalculation. His last major work at Brookings, Principles of Global Security, stands as a sweeping and insightful analysis of the new factors affecting the post-Cold War global security landscape. 

His interdisciplinary thinking was well suited for his work from 1981 to 2004 as a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee on International Security and Arms Control. During this period, the NAS undertook several major studies that were ahead of their time, including the 1997 report “The Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy.” In the study, Steinbruner and his NAS colleagues outlined a plan for progressive nuclear restraints on global nuclear arsenals and argued for active consideration of “proposals to prohibit the possession of nuclear weapons.”

Through the years, John was often sought out by others for guidance on the dangers of nuclear weapons. Beginning in the early 1980s, he was an informal and later a formal consultant for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. During that time, the bishops developed their groundbreaking 1983 pastoral letter on the morality of nuclear deterrence, “The Challenge of Peace.” In his last days, John remained keenly interested in the ongoing evolution of the church’s thinking on nuclear weapons and its renewed attention to the issue under Pope Francis.

John was also keen to build bridges and promote dialogue across political and cultural borders. Through the years, he maintained a quiet rapport with leading Russian security specialists who shared his vision for a more cooperative U.S.-Russian relationship. 

In 2014, he and his University of Maryland graduate students helped provide advice and support for a historic visit by U.S. Catholic bishops to the Iranian theological center in Qom to discuss the morality of nuclear weapons and the urgency of a comprehensive diplomatic arrangement to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons potential. John was heartened by the recent progress on the issue, which he said was a sign that strategies designed to forge cooperation rather than perpetual confrontation might, in at least one important case, prevail. 

John Steinbruner, who brought a common-sense, human perspective to the study and practice of security policy and who inspired others to think in new ways for a better world, will be sorely missed.

John David Steinbruner, who for decades was a leading international security affairs and arms control scholar and educator, died on April 16, 2015 at his home in the woods of northwest Washington, D.C.

New Pathways on Disarmament

May 2015

By Daryl G. Kimball

Since the inception of the NPT, the United States and Russia —the world’s first nuclear-weapon states and possessors of the largest and most deadly nuclear arsenals—have been central to the success or failure of the treaty.

Successive U.S.-Russian arms control treaties have slowed the growth of and then cut the massive arsenals built up during the Cold War and lowered the risks of a nuclear exchange. Nevertheless, the threat of nuclear war and global nuclear competition persists. 

Today, Russia still has some 1,780 and the United States has some 1,900 nuclear warheads that can be delivered on several hundred strategic bombers and missiles—far more than necessary to deter nuclear attack. Many of these weapons are primed for launch on warning. Since the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), further progress on disarmament has been stalled due to the severe downturn in U.S.-Russian relations and differences among key nuclear-armed states on the way forward.

In 2013, President Barack Obama said he was prepared to cut the U.S. arsenal by an additional one-third if Russia reciprocated. To date, Russian President Vladimir Putin has rebuffed the offer, citing differences over missile defense and the threat posed by other nuclear-armed states. Meanwhile, Russia and the United States are modernizing their arsenals, and China, India, and Pakistan are pursuing new ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and sea-based nuclear delivery systems. Chinese officials are reluctant to engage in talks on nuclear restraint without deeper cuts in U.S. and Russian stockpiles.

Frustrated by the impasse, more than 150 states have convened important international conferences highlighting the catastrophic humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use. Some non-nuclear-weapon states want to begin negotiations on a ban on nuclear weapons possession and use. However well intentioned, a ban treaty involving only non-nuclear-weapon states will not do much, if anything, to halt nuclear competition or move key states to engage in multilateral disarmament talks. 

At the 2015 NPT Review Conference, which is under way in New York, non-nuclear-weapon states must press for specific actions by the nuclear-weapon states to accelerate progress on disarmament and reduce the risk of nuclear war. Russia, the United States, and the other NPT nuclear-weapon states must find new ways to get back on track or risk the fracturing of the NPT regime. To do so, the NPT conference should come together on several practical and overdue initiatives.

Accelerate U.S.-Russian New START implementation. In 2010, all of the nuclear-weapon states committed “to accelerate concrete progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament,” including “all types of nuclear weapons.” 

The NPT review conference should call on Washington and Moscow to accelerate the pace of reductions under New START and continue to reduce force levels below the New START ceilings (1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles). 

Initiate New START follow-on talks no later than 2017. The conference should call on Washington and Moscow to begin formal negotiations on a follow-on to New START by 2017. The goal should be to cut each side’s strategic arsenal to fewer than 1,100 deployed strategic warheads and 500 deployed strategic delivery vehicles, including any strategic-range conventional prompt global-strike weapons. Such talks can and should explore options on transparency and confidence-building steps on tactical nuclear weapons and joint understandings on missile defense capabilities and deployments.

Press for global nuclear restraint. The conference must recognize that the world’s other nuclear-armed states must do their part to advance disarmament. All NPT states-parties should call on these other nuclear-armed states to freeze the overall size of their stockpiles as long as the United States and Russia continue to reduce their nuclear arsenals. 

This would help create the conditions for a series of high-level summits and serious negotiations on multilateral, verifiable nuclear disarmament involving leading nuclear-armed and non-nuclear-weapon states.

Reduce the risk of nuclear war. In 2010, all of the NPT nuclear-weapon states committed to “diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons” and “[d]iscuss policies that could prevent the use of nuclear weapons.” Few have taken steps to do so. 

To reduce the risk of inadvertent nuclear weapons use, the presidents of Russia and the United States should, as retired Gens. James Cartwright and Vladimir Dvorkin have recommended, “decide in tandem to eliminate the launch-on-warning concept from their nuclear strategies.” This would not undermine strategic stability because both countries have nuclear forces designed to withstand an initial first strike. The NPT nuclear-weapon states should be required to make and report on specific changes to their nuclear weapons employment doctrines that reduce the risk of nuclear war. 

The nuclear status quo in unsustainable, but, at the same time, there are no shortcuts to strengthening the NPT and global security. The United States, Russia, and other NPT parties must recognize that it is time to pursue new and more-effective disarmament strategies involving all of the world’s nuclear-armed states.

Since the inception of the NPT, the United States and Russia —the world’s first nuclear-weapon states and possessors of the largest and most deadly nuclear arsenals—have been central to the success or failure of the treaty.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Decision to Give Congress a Veto on the Iran Deal

Earlier today, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) negotiated compromise language that makes very minimal adjustments to the earlier version of Corker's bill, S. 615, "The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.” The revised bill was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will go to the floor of the Senate and eventually the House in the coming weeks. We have expressed deep concerns about the legislation for several weeks. The proposal is still very troublesome and unnecessary in a number of respects—even though it has, through the meat grinder of...

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