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– Lisa Beyer
Bloomberg News
August 27, 2018
About ACA

Threat Assessment Briefs

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Threat Assessment Briefs are provided as part of the "Realistic Threat Assessments and Responses Project" led by ACA Senior Fellow Greg Thielmann. Each brief takes an objective look at key security threats, and considers policy responses to those threats.

All Threat Assessment Briefs are in PDF format.

New START Verification: Up to the Challenge
May 17, 2010

The multilayered limits of the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and the elaborate verification measures flowing out of them were born of the difficult negotiations conducted in the waning days of the Soviet Union. The streamlined verification measures in the New START agreement, finalized in April 2010, are an appropriate response to the replacement treaty’s specific limits, which are designed to address post-Cold War realities. Combining proof-tested measures from 15 years of START implementation with new approaches to contemporary challenges, New START verification provisions are well suited to fulfill their core function. These provisions promise to permit the same high confidence in compliance achieved when the original START was in force, but will do so with more focused and up-to-date methods, including innovative verification provisions for monitoring deployed warhead ceilings.

New START Verification: Fitting the Means to the Ends
February 22, 2010

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) promises to lock in significant reductions in U.S. and Russian strategic arsenals by establishing lower ceilings on deployed weapons. The treaty’s verification provisions are means to that end--providing confidence that the sides are complying with those lower limits. Although the goal is to establish the high confidence levels maintained during the 15 years of the original START (1994-2009), the successor agreement will achieve that goal with more focused and up-to-date methods, including innovative verification provisions for deployed warhead ceilings. START’s multilayered limits and the elaborate verification measures flowing out of them were born of the Cold War. New START verification can be streamlined in accordance with the new, simplified limits and in response to post-Cold War realities. In assessing the new treaty, it is critical that verification provisions be judged by how well they fulfill their core function.

(See revised Threat Assessment Brief dated May 17, 2010, incorporating a description of the actual New START verification provisions.)

Dealing With Long-Range Missile Threats: It's All About Russia
November 20, 2009

The nearly 2,000 nuclear warheads on Russian ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles constitute the sole near-term existential threat to the United States. The U.S. response to this threat has been to maintain the nuclear war-fighting posture adopted during the Cold War. Yet, this posture does not lead toward an improvement in U.S. security; it merely reinforces Russia’s incentive to persist in its own anachronistic security calculus. The New START and a transformational post-Cold War Nuclear Posture Review would clear the path for major U.S. and Russian arms reductions, laying the foundation for a rejuvenated effort to halt nuclear nonproliferation and for engaging other nuclear-weapon states in arms control.

Is There Time to Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Weapon?
September 10, 2009

The Obama administration has identified September as a time for reassessing its approach to negotiation with Tehran over Iran's nuclear program. It is imperative that this reassessment be based on a realistic appraisal of Iran's weaponization capabilities and limitations and not fall prey to politically motivated hyperbole. Iran's nuclear program is undeniably bringing that country closer to an ability to construct nuclear weapons-bad news for the region, the United States, and the world. Yet, a nuclear-armed Iran is years, not months, away, which is ample time for negotiating an outcome that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapon state while strengthening the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Preventive Military Action: The Worst Way to Deal With Iran's Nuclear Program
June 18, 2009

Although the possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons is a major concern for Israel and the United States, leaving the "military option" on the table is counterproductive. Preventive military action by either country against Iran's nuclear facilities would only delay, rather than halt, Tehran's nuclear program, and it would cause Iran to retaliate against the United States as well as Israel. The aftermath of such an attack would be disastrous for the U.S.position in the region-particularly for relations with Israel and with Iraq-and its position in the wider world.

Strategic Missile Defense: A Reality Check
May 21, 2009

Strategic Missile Defense offers no real disincentive for rogue regimes such as North Korea or Iran to develop or use ballistic missiles, nor does it offer any protection against the more acute threat of terrorist groups smuggling weapons of mass destruction into the United States. Instead the aggressive pursuit of strategic missile defense makes it more difficult to constrain the potential offensive nuclear threat from Russia and China.

To Curtail the Iranian Nuclear Threat, Change Tehran's Threat Perceptions
April 14, 2009

Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology, and possibly nuclear weapons, stems from its complicated threat environment and the historical grievances it harbors concerning the United States. Tehran now faces large numbers of U.S. troops in its neighbors to the west and east with few regional allies. The most productive path for averting nuclear weapons development in Iran is for Washington to seek to alter Iran’s threat perceptions.

 

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Why We Don't Need To Resume Nuclear Testing: A Reply to Senator Jon Kyl

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In a Nov. 3 "Proliferation Analysis" published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball responds to Sen. Jon Kyl's October 20 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Kimball's essay is available here.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Remarks at CTBT Article XIV Conference

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AS PREPARED

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON REMARKS AT CTBT ARTICLE XIV CONFERENCE
NEW YORK, NY
SEPTEMBER 24, 2009

Thank you for your warm welcome. I am delighted to be here on behalf of the United States. It has been a long time since our government was represented at this conference. We are glad to be back.

Earlier today, President Obama chaired a special session of the Security Council to adopt a resolution outlining comprehensive steps to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime. This is part of a deliberative, ongoing effort by the Obama Administration to enhance our common security while moving us closer to the vision the President outlined in Prague: a world without nuclear weapons.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is an integral part of our non-proliferation and arms control agenda, and we will work in the months ahead both to seek the advice and consent of the United States Senate to ratify the treaty, and to secure ratification by others so that the treaty can enter into force.
We believe that the CTBT contributes to our global non-proliferation and disarmament strategy as well as the President’s long-range vision. It does so without jeopardizing the safety, security, or credibility of our nuclear arsenal. By pursuing these goals and supporting the CTBT, we are working in the interest of all nations committed to non-proliferation and to reducing the threat of nuclear attack.

The Obama Administration has already begun the work necessary to support U.S. ratification of the Treaty. We know this task will not be quick or easy. But as long as we are confronted with the prospect of nuclear testing by others, we will face the potential threat of newer, more powerful, and more sophisticated weapons that could cause damage beyond our imagination. A test ban treaty that has entered into force will permit the United States and others to challenge states engaged in suspicious testing activities —including the option of calling on-site inspections to be sure that no testing occurs on land, underground, underwater, or in space. CTBT ratification would also encourage the international community to move forward with other essential nonproliferation steps.

To put it plainly, we support this treaty because it strengthens the prospect of a peaceful, stable, and secure world and would enhance the security of the American people.

As we work with the Senate to ratify the CTBT, we will encourage other countries to play their part—including the eight remaining Annex 2 countries. Those who haven’t signed should sign. Those, like us, who haven’t ratified, should ratify. And the 149 countries that have already progressed to ratification can use this opportunity to continue preparations for CTBT implementation.

Even in these times of strained budgets, we are prepared to pay our share of the Preparatory Commission budget so that the global verification regime will be fully operational when the CTBT enters into force.

More than eighty percent of the monitoring stations that will constitute the International Monitoring System have already been installed and we urge all host countries to ensure that the data from these installations are reported to the International Data Center. In the coming months, we will look for new ways to support the monitoring system —including upgrades to the system and other verification capabilities of the CTBT—with the help of all nations, including those who have yet to ratify.

President Obama and I applaud Indonesian Foreign Minister Wirajuda[wee-rah-HOO-da]’s recent pledge that his country will move forward with ratification once we have done so. We look forward to similar statements from the remaining Annex 2 nations, while recognizing that today’s Article XIV Conference provides an opportunity for all of us to pledge our support for the Treaty, reaffirm our commitment to the verification regime, and demonstrate the importance of this treaty to reducing the threat and role of nuclear weapons.

It will take our collective effort to develop a comprehensive, diplomatic strategy that lays the groundwork for eventual entry into force.

I am pleased that Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher will hold consultations with her many counterparts at this conference to discuss diplomatic efforts to move the process forward.

Mr. Chairman, after a ten year absence from this conference, America stands ready to renew its leadership role in the non-proliferation regime. As President Obama said yesterday, we have a shared responsibility for a global response to global challenges. We come to this conference with an optimistic spirit that all parties can make a contribution towards a world without nuclear weapons. That is the promise of the CTBT, and it is why we are rededicating ourselves to this effort.
Thank you.

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Thank you for your warm welcome. I am delighted to be here on behalf of the United States. It has been a long time since our government was represented at this conference. We are glad to be back. (Continue)

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