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"I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them."

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
Kingston Reif

Trump, Clinton and Our Nuclear Wake-Up Call

This op-ed originally appeared in CNN. Kingston Reif is the Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @KingstonAReif . The opinions expressed in this commentary are his. (CNN) The possibility of Donald Trump winning the presidential election this November has renewed media and public interest in one of the most important responsibilities of the president: commanding America's massive nuclear arsenal and averting nuclear war. Yet what has been lost in the angst that Mr. Trump might soon have the authority to launch...

Nuke fears grow over Trump

News Date: 
August 6, 2016 -04:00

No, Nuclear Modernization Doesn’t Cost Less Than You Think

Modernization proponents argue that the costs will only impose a small financial burden relative to the overall military budget. Are they right?

Worth Deferring: A Sino-Japanese Plutonium Production Race | ACA-FPI Forum

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This forum, cohosted by the Arms Control Association and the Foreign Policy Initiative, addressed the emerging, “peaceful” nuclear rivalry between China, Japan and South Korea.

Japan has accumulated approximately 11 metric tons of separated plutonium—enough to make roughly 2,500 nuclear bombs—and plans to open a nuclear spent fuel reprocessing plant at Rokkasho in 2018 to strip enough plutonium from spent reactor fuel for an additional 1,500 nuclear warheads annually. China’s new five-year plan includes a proposal to import a reprocessing plant from France with the same capacity. South Korea, meanwhile, insists that it should have the same right to separate plutonium as Japan.

Speakers included :

  • Gordon Oehler, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Nonproliferation Center
  • Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Mark Holt, specialist in energy policy at the Congressional Research Service
  • Christopher Griffin, executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative
  • Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association

Description: 

This forum, cohosted by the Arms Control Association and the Foreign Policy Initiative, addressed the emerging, “peaceful” nuclear rivalry between China, Japan and South Korea.

Country Resources:

Obama Weighs Nuclear Options

July/August 2016

By Kingston Reif

As his time in office winds down, President Barack Obama is reviewing a number of proposals to advance the nuclear weapons risk agenda he first outlined in an April 2009 address in Prague, a senior White House official said on June 6.

“[O]ur work is not done on this issue,” said Benjamin Rhodes, assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, at the Arms Control Association’s annual meeting in Washington.

According to Rhodes, the different categories of options under consideration include further reductions in the U.S. stockpile of nondeployed, or reserve, nuclear warheads; “additional steps” to lessen the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. policy and reduce the risk of inadvertent nuclear use; reaffirming “the international norm against” nuclear explosive testing; and putting “more nuclear material under appropriate monitoring.” 

In addition, Rhodes said the president would continue to evaluate current plans to ramp up spending in the coming years to maintain and modernize U.S. nuclear weapons and also decide whether to “leave the next administration” with recommendations on how to “move forward.” (See ACT, May 2016.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate and House armed services committees in March that he “expects the total cost of nuclear modernization to be in the range of $350-450 billion.” 

“Our administration has already made plain our concerns about how the modern-ization budget will force difficult trade-offs in the coming decades,” Rhodes said. 

He added that the modernization plans were “developed” early in the administration’s first term “when we...anticipated a different budgetary picture going forward, particularly with respect to our defense budget.” 

Congress in 2011 passed the Budget Control Act, which mandated reductions in projected spending in the Defense and Energy departments through the end of the decade. 

Rhodes did not specify a timeline for when the president would make a decision on whether to pursue any of the options under consideration and, if so, when he would announce such a decision.

Rhodes noted that the president would continue to speak publicly about nuclear weapons issues, as he did during his visit to Hiroshima on May 27. (See ACT, June 2016.)

Obama delivered his first major foreign policy address as president on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation in Prague on April 5, 2009. The speech outlined his vision for strengthening global efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and moving forward on practical, immediate steps “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

In highlighting what the administration has accomplished since the speech, Rhodes touted “substantial progress in securing vulnerable nuclear materials around the world” as a result of the nuclear security summit process, measures to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. policy, the negotiation and U.S. Senate approval of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), and the July 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. 

Rhodes acknowledged “other areas...where more work needs to be done.” 

He said the administration has failed to stop “the advance of North Korea’s nuclear program,” achieve further nuclear weapons reductions beyond New START, and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

President Barack Obama is reviewing a number of proposals to advance the nuclear weapons risk agenda he outlined in an April 2009 address in Prague. 

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