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"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
Press Releases

Arms Control Association Hails New START Milestone, Calls for Extending Treaty

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For Immediate Release: February 5, 2018

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

(Washington, D.C.)—Today, the United States and Russia each announced that they have met their obligations under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear forces by today’s implementation deadline.

President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia sign the New START Treaty during a ceremony at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, April 8, 2010. (Photo: White House / Chuck Kennedy / Wikimedia Commons)“New START implementation is a significant accomplishment. Through this treaty, the two sides have improved strategic stability, predictability, and transparency, and verifiably trimmed their still oversized nuclear arsenals,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, which advocated for the treaty’s negotiation a decade ago and for its ratification in 2010.

“The next step is for Presidents Trump and Putin to agree to extend the treaty for another five years–to 2026–to avert the possibility of unconstrained strategic nuclear competition between the world’s two largest nuclear actors,” Kimball said.

“At a time when U.S.-Russian relations remain strained, New START serves an even more important role in reducing nuclear risks,” said Tom Countryman, chairman of the board of directors and former acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

“Continued implementation and compliance with New START, followed by an extension of New START and, if possible, the negotiation of a follow-on agreement, would advance U.S., Russian and international security,” he said.

Signed in 2010, New START requires each country to reduce its strategic nuclear forces to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads, 700 deployed delivery systems, and 800 deployed and nondeployed delivery systems by today’s implementation deadline. New START also includes a comprehensive suite of data exchanges and on-site monitoring and verification provisions to help ensure compliance with these limits.

The United States reached the required limits in August 2017. As of the last data exchange in September 2017, the United States had 1393 deployed strategic warheads, 660 deployed strategic delivery systems, and 800 deployed and nondeployed launchers of ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers.”

In a statement published Monday, the State Department said that Washington and Moscow “will exchange data on their respective strategic nuclear arsenals within the next month, as they have done twice per year over the last seven years in accordance with the Treaty.”

In a separate statement issued by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia announced that as of Monday it deploys 1,444 deployed strategic warheads, 527 deployed strategic delivery systems, and 779 deployed and nondeployed launchers of ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers.

The treaty is one of the few remaining bright spots in the U.S.-Russian relationship, as both sides have abided by its terms. The U.S. military agrees and continues to strongly support the agreement. Gen. John Hyten, who leads U.S. Strategic Command, told Congress in March that he is a “big supporter” of New START. Hyten added that “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.”

New START is set to expire Feb. 5, 2021, and can be extended by up to five years without further approval by the U.S. Senate or Russian Duma if both presidents agree. Russian officials have stated that they are open to discussing a five-year extension. The administration’s Nuclear Posture Review released last week does not take a position on the extension of the treaty.

“Unfortunately, President Trump has been dismissive of New START,” noted Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy.

In a January 2017 phone call, Trump responded negatively to a suggestion from Russian President Vladimir Putin that the two countries work to extend the treaty, according to a Reuters report.

“Failing to extend New START would be an unforced and self-defeating error,” Reif warned.

“If the New START is allowed to lapse with nothing to replace it, there would be no limits on U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces for the first time since 1972. The United States would have fewer tools with which to verify the size and composition of the Russian nuclear stockpile,” he said.

The deterioration of the U.S.-Russian relationship has only increased the value of New START. Other key pillars of the U.S.-Russia arms control architecture, like the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, are in jeopardy. Since 2014, the United States has accused Russia of testing a type of ground-launch cruise missile prohibited by that accord–a charge that Moscow denies. Bilateral discussions on the matter have not yet resolved the dispute.

Despite the benefits of New START to U.S. security, some Congressional critics of the treaty have tried to block its extension. The House-passed version of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act would have prohibited the use of funds to extend New START unless Russia returns to compliance with the INF Treaty.

“This is senseless and counterproductive. By ‘punishing’ Russia’s INF violation in this way, the United States would simply free Russia to expand the number of strategic nuclear weapons pointed at the United States after New START expires in 2021,” Reif says. “Fortunately, the final version of the authorization bill signed by Trump in December did not include the House language,” he added.

“Extending New START would be an easy win for President Trump,” Kimball said. “It would buy five additional years of much-needed stability, predictability, and transparency. It would help head off unconstrained U.S.-Russia nuclear competition. It would help reassure allies unsettled by both Trump and Putin loose rhetoric on nuclear weapons. And it could serve as a springboard for both sides to pursue further parallel, reciprocal reductions in their still bloated strategic nuclear arsenals, which stand at about 1,550 warheads each.”

The five most recent U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, all successfully negotiated agreements with Russia to reduce their nuclear stockpiles.

“As the possessors of over 90 percent of the roughly 15,000 nuclear weapons on the planet, the United States and Russia have a special responsibility to avoid direct conflict and reduce nuclear risks,” Countryman said. “The downward spiral in relations makes these objectives even more urgent. Extending New START—without either side asking for preconditions—would be an important down payment on a safer and more secure world.”

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New START implementation has improved strategic stability, predictability, and transparency, and verifiably trimmed still oversized nuclear arsenals. The next step is to extend the treaty for five years to avert the possibility of unconstrained strategic nuclear competition between the world’s two largest nuclear actors.

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Trump's More Dangerous Nuclear Strategy

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For Immediate Release: February 2, 2018
Media Contact: Tony Fleming, director for communications, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110; Daryl Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104.

(Washington, D.C.)—Today, the Trump administration will formally release its new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). According to a leaked draft of the 64-page document, the administration is seeking to expand the number of scenarios under which the United States might consider the use nuclear weapons—including in response to a major cyberattack—and it proposes the development of new nuclear weapons and capabilities to fill alleged "deterrence gaps."

The draft document also calls for replacing and upgrading all three legs of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which is estimated to cost more than $1.25 trillion over the next 30 years and walks back U.S. treaty commitments to pursue measures to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons and to halt nuclear weapons testing.

The new strategy veers sharply from previous U.S. efforts to narrow the role and reduce the number of nuclear weapons, according to top experts who spoke at Jan. 23 press briefing convened by the nonpartisan Arms Control Association.

The new NPR breaks with past U.S. policy and "aligns with President Trump’s more aggressive and impulsive nuclear notions,” argues Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction with the Arms Control Association.

"Unfortunately, this NPR does not argue for maintaining 'strategic stability' nor does it explain whether, how and why the call for new U.S. nuclear capabilities will reduce the threat of nuclear conflict," concluded Thomas Countryman, former acting Undersecretary of state for arms control, and the chairman of the Arms Control Association board of directors.

The transcript and audio of the press briefing are available on the Arms Control Association's website.

"[T]his Nuclear Posture Review makes no mention of a U.S. vision of a world without nuclear weapons, as the U.S. has previously stated for decades,” noted Joan Rohlfing, president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

"The overall takeaway from this NPR is that we need more weapons and more roles for our nuclear weapons in our national security… [which] really undermines our nonproliferation objectives and it makes us less safe over time," she warned.

The following experts are available for comment:

  • Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association. See his column: “Trump’s More Dangerous Nuclear Strategy”
     
  • Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, Arms Control Association
     
  • Thomas Countryman, former Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Chair of the Board of Directors, Arms Control Association
     
  • Bonnie Jenkins, former Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, Bureau of Intl. Security and Nonproliferation, Department of State
     
  • Laura Kennedy, former and former U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament
     
  • Zia Mian, physicist and Co-Director, Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; co-chair of the International Panel on Fissile Materials.
     
  • Greg Thielmann, former Senior Professional Staffer, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; former Foreign Service Officer; former Senior Fellow at the Arms Control Association
     
  • Andrew Weber, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Belfer Center, Harvard University; former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs. See his op-ed: “Trump Wants New Nukes."

To schedule an interview or appearance by any of the experts, please contact Tony Fleming, director for communications, at [email protected] or (202) 463-8270 ext. 110.

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Independent Experts and Resources Available

Trump Decision to Respect Iran Deal Obligations Averts Self-Made Crisis, for Now.

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Nuclear Agreement is a Nonproliferation Success that Must Not Be Squandered

For Immediate Release: January 12, 2018

Media Contacts: Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 102; Thomas Countryman, chair of the board of directors, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110

(Washington, D.C.)—The Trump administration announced Friday that it will continue to waive sanctions on Iran in accordance with U.S. commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal between the P5+1 countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Iran, known as known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Meeting the U.S. obligation to continue sanctions relief is a common-sense decision that helps ensure that the tough restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency measures will continue to block Iran’s pathways to the bomb for years to come,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy.

"The deal dodged a bullet today, but Trump is setting up the United States to violate it down the road," warned Davenport. "Threatening to withhold future sanctions waivers in an attempt to force unilateral changes to the deal is dangerous, jeopardizes the future of the agreement, and creates a schism between the United States and its allies."

“The vast majority of nonproliferation and security experts agree that the successful implementation of the JCPOA has effectively neutralized the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapons program,” said Thomas Countryman, the chairman of the board of directors of the Arms Control Association and the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation.

“It would have been foolish for President Trump to disrupt a successful nonproliferation agreement that blocks the emergence of a significant new nuclear threat in a tension-filled region and contributes to strengthening the global nonproliferation regime,” Countryman argued.

“Trump continues to disparage the deal and is pressuring Congress to “fix” what it sees as flaws in the agreement,” noted Davenport. “In the weeks ahead, the administration and the Congress must refrain from imposing new sanctions that violate the JCPOA or seek to unilaterally alter the nuclear restrictions on Iran.”

“For example, legislative efforts by the U.S. Congress that automatically reimpose sanctions if Iran does not indefinitely abide by core nuclear restrictions that the JCPOA phases out over time would violate the accord and are strongly opposed by Washington’s negotiating partners,” she said.

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Nuclear Agreement is a Nonproliferation Success that Must Not Be Squandered

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Core Group of Negotiators for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Voted "2017 Arms Control Persons of the Year"

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For Immediate Release: January 9, 2018

Media Contact: Tony Fleming, director for communications, 202-463-8270 ext. 110

(Washington, D.C.)—Diplomats from the disarmament delegations of Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa, and Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica received the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the"2017 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year” in recognition of their efforts to secure the historic 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

More than 2,500 individuals from over 90 countries voted in the contest, the highest number of votes from the widest range of countries in the 10-year history of the contest.

Nine individuals and groups were nominated by the staff and board of the Arms Control Association for their leadership in advancing effective arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament solutions or for raising awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons during the course of 2017.

The diplomats leading the disarmament delegations from Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa were part of the “core group” of states who, along with the president of the negotiating conference, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica, played a central role in the multilateral talks on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The negotiations were brought to a successful conclusion in July and the treaty was opened for signature in September.

“In a year marked by rising tensions between the world’s nuclear-armed states, the negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons stands out as a historic achievement,” noted Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

"The strong affirmative vote for the disarmament teams from Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa, and Ambassador Whyte Gómez, reflects their pivotal role in the negotiation of the treaty and the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons,” Kimball said.

The runners-up in the vote for the 2017 Arms Control Persons of the Year were Toby Walsh of the University of New South Wales and a group of more than 137 founders and directors of over 100 robotics and artificial intelligence companies. They were nominated for their influential open letter warning of the dangers posed by uncontrolled development of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS). Their efforts have helped push government delegations at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva to consider options for regulating this new class of potentially destabilizing weapons.

The second runner-up was Pope Francis for his declaration that the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral completing the Catholic Church’s shift away from conditional acceptance of nuclear deterrence, and for his call for a more inclusive and effective process to advance disarmament. Pope Francis and the Vatican convened a major international conference Nov. 10-11 to discuss the steps toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Online voting was open from Dec. 8, 2017 until Jan. 5, 2018. A list of all of this year's nominees is available at https://armscontrol.org/acpoy/2017

Previous winners of the "Arms Control Person of the Year" are:

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PRESS RELEASE: Strengthening Checks on Presidential Nuclear Launch Authority

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New Analysis Published in Arms Control Today

For Immediate Release: January 4, 2018

Media Contacts: Brett Adams, Princeton University, 516-841-1105; Daryl G. Kimball, publisher, Arms Control Today, 202-463-8270 x107.

(Washington, DC)—Bipartisan concerns about President Donald Trump’s temperament, loose talk about nuclear weapons, and bellicose rhetoric toward North Korea have prompted renewed interest in and questioning of U.S. nuclear launch protocol, which gives the president the sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons, hundreds of which are available for prompt launch.

Last November, for the first time in over 40 years, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the subject of nuclear weapons launch authority.

In a new article published in the forthcoming journal Arms Control Today, Bruce Blair, a member of the Princeton University research faculty, cofounder of the organization Global Zero, and a former Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile launch officer, provides an authoritative summary of current U.S. nuclear launch protocol and its dangerous liabilities. The article includes new information about the process, including who is involved and how a nuclear use order would be executed.

Blair also offers several possible reforms to the current protocol to provide the president with more warning and decision time and reduce the risks of faulty decision making.

The article comes after Trump reacted to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s annual new year’s day address by tweeting: “Will someone from his [Kim Jong-Un’s] depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but that it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works.”

In the article, titled “Strengthening Checks on Presidential Nuclear Launch Authority,” Blair writes that “[m]ajor changes are needed to constrain a president who would seek to initiate the first use of nuclear weapons without apparent cause and to prevent him or her from being pushed into making nuclear retaliatory decisions in haste.”

“No single reform suffices,” writes Blair. “A combination of reforms is needed to reduce the risk.”

The reforms proposed by Blair include altering the current prompt-launch posture, adding more people to the chain of command, greater congressional involvement, and re-evaluating the legality of nuclear war plans.

Blair’s article will appear in the January/February 2018 issue of Arms Control Today.

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New Analysis Published in Arms Control Today

Nine Nominees In the Running for the 2017 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year

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For Immediate Release: December 21, 2017

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Tony Fleming, director for communications, (202) 463-8270 ext. 114

(Washington, DC) -- Nine U.S. and international leaders and groups have been nominated this year for efforts in 2017 on nonproliferation and disarmament or for raising public awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons.

Nominees for the Arms Control Person(s) of the Year are made by the staff and board of the nonpartisan Arms Control Association, which has recognized such efforts annually since 2007.

This year nominees include:

  • EU High Representative Federica Mogherini for her campaign to resist attempts to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal;
     
  • Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica and delegations of Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa for successfully negotiating the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;
     
  • Ambassabor Joseph Yun, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy on North Korea, for efforts to establish a sustained diplomatic dialogue with North Korea;
     
  • Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) for introducing H.R. 4415, a bill that would make it the policy of the United States not to use nuclear weapons first;
     
  • Pope Francis for his declaration that the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral, completing the Catholic Church’s shift away from conditional acceptance of nuclear deterrence;
     
  • Members of UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and partners in Iraq for the removal of more than 269,000 mines, IEDs, and other explosive hazards from locations formerly under ISIS control;
     
  • Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) for calling attention to the impact of U.S.-supplied weapons in the ongoing conflict in Yemen;
     
  • Edmond Mulet, head of the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism, for overseeing the investigations to determine the responsible actors for Syrian chemical weapons attacks; and
     
  • Toby Walsh of the University of New South Wales and a group of more than 137 founders and directors of over 100 robotics and artificial intelligence companies for their open letter on the on the dangers posed by uncontrolled development of lethal autonomous weapon systems.

"Each of this year’s nominees have, in their own way, provided leadership to help reduce weapons-related security threats," noted Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

The winner will be selected by the public through online voting on the Association's website (https://www.armscontrol.org/acpoy) from December 8, 2017 until January 5, 2018. Nominees and their supporters are invited and encouraged to "campaign" for the award. Many have already started doing so via their social media profiles, using the hashtag #ACPOY17 to draw attention to their nomination. 

Previous winners of the "Arms Control Person of the Year" include: Tony de Brum and the government of the Marshall Islands (2016); Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2015); Austria's Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Ambassador Alexander Kmentt (2014), Executive-Secretary of the CTBTO Lassina Zerbo (2013); Gen. James Cartwright (2012); reporter and activist Kathi Lynn Austin (2011), Kazakhstan's Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Umarov and Thomas D'Agostino, U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator (2010);Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) (2009), Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his ministry's Director-General for Security Policy and the High North Steffen Kongstad (2008), and U.S. Congressmen Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) and David Hobson (R-Ohio) (2007).

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Nine U.S. and international leaders and groups have been nominated this year for efforts in 2017 on nonproliferation and disarmament or for raising public awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons.

U.S. and Russia Should Avoid Escalation and Commit to Resolve Lingering INF Treaty Dispute

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Statement by Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed 30 years ago today, eliminated an entire class of destabilizing U.S. and Soviet nuclear-armed weapons and helped end the Cold War. Although the INF Treaty is clearly in the security interests of the United States, Europe, and Russia, the treaty is in jeopardy.

Soviet inspectors and their American escorts stand among U.S. Pershing II missiles destroyed in accordance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in a photo taken January 14, 1989. (Photo credit: MSGT Jose Lopez Jr./U.S. Defense Department)

According the U.S. government, Russia has violated the INF Treaty by testing and subsequently deploying a small number of ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with a range between 500 and 5,500 km. Russia denies that it has violated the treaty and has instead raised its own concerns about U.S. compliance with the agreement. This is a serious matter.

Both sides say they support the INF Treaty, but they have not been able to resolve the compliance dispute through the Special Verification Commission (SVC), a technical forum designed to resolve compliance concerns. The U.S. side has requested a second meeting of the SVC on December 12-14 to address the matter once again. This is an important opportunity that both sides must use to bring forward additional details about their concerns, as well as discuss concrete and practical solutions, rather than only exchange complaints and vague allegations.

The Trump administration announced today that it is committed to the INF Treaty and to bringing Russia back into compliance, which is helpful. What is not helpful is its proposal to recommit to the treaty by taking steps that would put the United States on the path to violating it. The administration announced that it is pursuing a tit-for-tat response: the development of new, INF non-compliant conventional missile.

As long as Russia remains in noncompliance with the treaty, the United States should make clear it clear that Russia will not be allowed to gain a military advantage from its violation.

But a symmetric response won’t make the United States or Europe any safer and will only make the problem worse. Earlier this year, the Republican-led Congress opened the door to this escalation of the problem by authorizing a program of record for such a weapons system.

The INF Treaty does not prohibit research or development, but going down this road sets the stage for Washington to violate the agreement at some point and it takes the focus off of Russia’s INF violation. Rather than persuading Russia to return to compliance, this action is more likely to give Moscow an excuse to continue on its current course.

New ground-launched intermediate-range missiles are not needed to defend NATO or Northeast Asian allies. U.S. forces are already stocked with formidable air- and sea-launched missiles that can cover the same targets. Furthermore, a new U.S. INF missile would take years to develop and cost billions of dollars that would drain funding from other military programs.

Most importantly, NATO does not support a new missile, and no country has offered to host it. It is thus a missile to nowhere. If the Trump administration tries to force the alliance to accept a new, potentially nuclear missile it would divide the alliance.

Instead, both sides must recommit to resolve this issue and use the existing treaty compliance resolution mechanism, the SVC, to evaluate competing technical claims and ultimately to remove from deployment any INF systems in Russia that do not comply with the treaty.

In addition to working to preserve and strengthen the existing bilateral arms control architecture, including the INF Treaty, the U.S. and Russia should begin to discuss the future of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which can and should be extended for another five years. These agreements constrain Russia's nuclear forces and provide stability, predictability and transparency. They have only increased in value as the U.S.-Russia relationship has deteriorated.

 

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Statement by Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball

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New CBO Report Warns of Skyrocketing Costs of U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

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Experts Call for Shift to More Cost-Effective Alternatives

For Immediate Release: October 31, 2017

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

(Washington, D.C.) – A new study published by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Tuesday highlights the skyrocketing cost of the current plan to sustain and upgrade U.S. nuclear forces and outlines several pragmatic options to maintain a credible, formidable deterrent at less cost.

The USS Wyoming, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia in 2014. The Navy is planning to replace the Ohio-class submarines, but the cost of the replacement is prompting a debate in Washington. (U.S. Navy)CBO estimates that sustaining and upgrading U.S. nuclear forces will cost taxpayers $1.24 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars between fiscal years 2017 and 2046. When the effects of inflation are included, we project that the 30-year cost will exceed $1.5 trillion. These figures are significantly higher than the previously reported estimates of roughly $1 trillion.   

“The stark reality underlined by CBO is that unless the U.S. government finds a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the nuclear weapons spending plan inherited by the Trump administration will pose a crushing affordability problem,” said Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association.

The CBO study comes amid reports that the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which is slated for completion by the end of the year, could propose new types of nuclear weapons and increase their role in U.S. policy.

“If the forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review by the administration does not scale-back current nuclear weapons spending plans – or worse, accelerates or expands upon them – expenditures on nuclear weapons will endanger other high priority national security programs,” Reif noted.

The CBO report evaluates roughly a dozen alternatives to the current plans to manage and reduce the mammoth price tag. For example, according to CBO, roughly 15 percent, or nearly $200 billion, of the projected cost of nuclear forces over the next three decades could be saved by trimming back the existing program of record while still maintaining a triad of delivery systems. Additional savings could be found by shifting from a triad to a nuclear dyad. 

“The report blows apart the false choice repeatedly posited by Pentagon officials between the costly ‘all of the above’ plan to maintain and upgrade the nuclear force and doing nothing. There are cost-cutting alternatives that would still maintain a U.S. nuclear force capable of obliterating any potential nuclear adversary,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

“The trillion and a half dollar triad is not just unaffordable, it is unnecessary. The United States continues to retain more nuclear weapons, delivery systems, and supporting infrastructure than it needs to deter or respond to a nuclear attack,” Kimball added.

Over the past several years, the Arms Control Association has repeatedly raised concerns about the need and affordability of the current spending plans, argued that these plans pose a threat to other military priorities, and suggested more cost-effective alternatives.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

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A new study published by CBO highlights the skyrocketing cost to sustain and upgrade U.S. nuclear forces and outlines several options to maintain a credible deterrent at less cost.

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Thomas Countryman Elected as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Arms Control Association

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Formerly served as Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control
and International Security

For Immediate Release: October 20, 2017

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Tony Fleming, director for communications, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110

(Washington, DC)—The Arms Control Association Board of Directors announced Friday that Thomas Countryman, former Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, has been elected to serve as the chair of the organization's board of directors. The Arms Control Association has been a leading voice in the field of nonproliferation, arms control and disarmament since it was established in 1971. 

Countryman served for 35 years as a member of the Foreign Service until January 2017, achieving the rank of minister-counselor, and served as acting undersecretary for arms control and international security, a position to which he was appointed Oct. 9, 2016. He simultaneously served as assistant secretary for international security and nonproliferation, a position he had held since September 2011. As acting undersecretary, he advised the Secretary of State on arms control, nonproliferation, disarmament and political-military affairs.

Countryman was elected to join the board of the Arms Control Association in June 2017. Since leaving government and joining the Association’s board, he has spoken on the Association’s concerns in interviews in The Guardian, Voice of America, CNN, and NBC News and has written for The Washington Post and other publications.

"In arms control, as in other fields of public policy,  the role of NGOs is to be an incubator of new policy ideas," Countryman noted. “My commitment to work for a more secure world for our citizens and our descendants led me to join the Board of the Directors of the Arms Control Association and I am honored by the Board’s confidence in electing me as chair.”

“As tensions between nuclear-armed states are increasing, key disarmament pillars are at risk, and public anxiety about the risk of nuclear conflict is growing,"  said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Association since 2001, "we are fortunate to have a proven leader with a depth and breadth of experience serving as our board chair.”

Countryman immediately succeeds as chair Dr. John Steinbruner, a leading international security affairs and arms control scholar, who served from 2000 until his death in 2015. Previous chairs of the Association's board of directors include William C. Foster, former director of the U.S. Arms Control Disarmament Agency, Gerard Smith, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Policy and Planning and lead negotiator of the SALT agreements, and Stanley R. Resor, former Secretary of the Army and lead negotiator on talks with the Soviet Union on conventional arms.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

Trump’s Stance on Iran Nuclear Deal Risks Proliferation Crisis

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Arms Control Experts Say Efforts to Pressure Iran to Renegotiate Terms of 2015 Agreement Are Irresponsible and Dangerous

For Immediate Release: October 13, 2017

Media Contacts: Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy (202) 463-8270 ext. 102; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107. 

(Washington, D.C.)—Experts from the Washington-based Arms Control Association denounced President Donald Trump’s decision Friday to withhold a certification to Congress tied to the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“The President’s gambit is irresponsible and dangerous. Any attempt by the White House or Congress to unilaterally change the terms of the highly-successful nuclear deal with Iran risks setting Washington on a course to violate the deal.” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

Trump signaled that he will withhold certification because he believes the sanctions relief granted to Iran is not proportional to the restrictions Iran is abiding by under the agreement. He further said he would push for Congress to pass legislation requiring sanctions to snap back into place if Iran does not meet additional limits that are not currently mandated in the JCPOA.

“It is critical that Congress refrain from any actions that would effectively seek to renegotiate the terms of the JCPOA. Any steps seeking to dictate an extension of the JCPOA restrictions or add additional requirements through U.S. legislation will create a major schism with U.S. allies and could push Iran to resume troublesome nuclear activities restricted under the deal,” Kimball said.

“Trump’s plan to unilaterally extend the limits of the current deal by holding Iran hostage to the threat of reimposing U.S. sanctions is a fantasy that jeopardizes an agreement that is verifiably blocking Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy.

“Trump’s pressure-centric approach only risks undercutting Iranian incentives to remain in compliance with the accord and isolating the United States from its negotiating partners, all of whom reject reopening the agreement. With the looming threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program, the United States cannot afford to manufacture a second nuclear crisis,” she added.

"If the Trump administration is truly concerned about the future of Iran’s nuclear program, Washington should meet its obligations under the deal, vigorously enforce the accord, and seek global support to build on the innovative nonproliferation elements of the agreement.” Davenport said.

“Trump’s reckless actions have consequences beyond threatening the nuclear deal with Iran. He risks triggering a spiral of proliferation and destabilizing nuclear competition in the region, and beyond,” Kimball added.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

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Arms Control Experts Say Efforts to Pressure Iran to Renegotiate Terms of 2015 Agreement Are Irresponsible and Dangerous

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