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

Pope Condemns Having Nuclear Weapons

December 2017
By Kelsey Davenport in Rome

Pope Francis firmly condemned the possession of nuclear weapons for the first time at a Vatican conference on disarmament, a significant move that extends the Roman Catholic Church’s position on the immorality of nuclear weapons.

The Holy See’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development hosted the conference Nov. 10-11 to discuss the steps toward a world without nuclear weapons. Cardinal Peter Turkson, the head of the dicastery, warned of the “increasing drumbeat of a possible nuclear conflagration” and said that a candid conversation is urgently needed on how to move toward a nuclear weapons-free world.

Pope Francis is greeted by participants at a conference on nuclear disarmament on November 10 at the Vatican.   (Photo credit: L'Osservatore Romano/Vatican)The pope’s comments reflect a notable shift on the issue of possession of nuclear weapons. Although the Roman Catholic Church has consistently advocated for the abolition of nuclear weapons, it has accepted nuclear deterrence on a limited basis. The 1963 papal encyclical “Pacem in Terris” stated that minimum nuclear capability to deter a nuclear attack is acceptable as an interim ethic until disarmament is achieved. Pope John Paul II reiterated this in 1982, noting that nuclear deterrence is morally acceptable as a “step on the way toward a progressive disarmament.”

Under Pope Francis, however, the church began to revisit its position on the morality of deterrence and, in a 2014 study document, said that the “use of nuclear weapons is absolutely prohibited.” At the December 2014 conference in Vienna on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said that “reliance on a strategy of nuclear deterrence has created a less secure world,” and he called for all countries to review whether deterrence actually provides a “stable basis for peace.” (See ACT, January/February 2015.)

Pope Francis’s Nov. 10 statement at the Vatican conference directly addresses the question of possession of nuclear weapons. “If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned,” he said.

Pope Francis also noted both the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use and the “false sense of security” created by nuclear weapons as reasons for condemning possession. This shift was motivated by several additional factors he cited, including the high cost of nuclear weapons and the failure to make progress on disarmament.

Gerard Powers, director of Catholic peacebuilding studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, said that the conference clearly indicated that the “moral imperative of nuclear disarmament” is at the center of the Roman Catholic Church’s agenda for international peace. The Kroc Institute was one of the sponsors of the conference.

Nuclear Ban Treaty

Pope Francis said that nuclear disarmament is an achievable goal. “Progress that is both effective and inclusive can achieve the utopia” of a world free of nuclear weapons, “contrary to the criticism of those who consider idealistic any process of dismantling arsenals,” he said.

Pope Francis on Nuclear Weapons

“[T]he escalation of the arms race continues unabated and the price of modernizing and developing weaponry, not only nuclear weapons, represents a considerable expense for nations. As a result, the real priorities facing our human family, such as the fight against poverty, the promotion of peace, the undertaking of educational, ecological and healthcare projects, and the development of human rights, are relegated to second place.

Nor can we fail to be genuinely concerned by the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects of any employment of nuclear devices. If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned. For they exist in the service of a mentality of fear that affects not only the parties in conflict but the entire human race…. Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security.”

He and many other speakers at the conference called attention to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted in July 2017 by 122 non-nuclear-armed states, and noted its importance in prohibiting nuclear weapons and building the norm against possession. (See ACT, July/August 2017.)

The pope described the express prohibition in the treaty as filling a “significant judicial lacuna,” similar to the manner in which chemical weapons, biological weapons, and landmines are prohibited by international treaty.

The Holy See participated in the treaty negotiations and was the first state to deposit its ratification of the ban. (See ACT, October 2017.) A group of Nobel Laureates participating in the conference, including representatives from the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, issued a statement at the conference that expressed gratitude to the pope for his position and applauded his efforts to promote nuclear disarmament.

Many speakers at the conference called attention to the significance of the ban treaty while noting that additional work is necessary to advance disarmament. Thomas Hajnoczi, who headed Austria’s delegation during the treaty negotiation, said his country will “actively seek dialogue” with nuclear-armed states and non-nuclear-weapon states in order to “broaden the common basis for taking joint further steps” toward a nuclear weapons-free world.

Rose Gottemoeller, deputy secretary-general of NATO, also called for all states to do more to advance toward that goal but in a way that does not “jeopardize international peace and security.” The member countries of the military alliance, which rely on nuclear deterrence provided by the French, UK, and U.S. nuclear arsenals, have rejected the prohibition treaty as dangerous. Other nuclear-armed states, including Russia and China, also do not support the treaty.

Gottemoeller pushed back against criticism that there has been no progress on disarmament. While emphasizing that the current number of U.S. nuclear weapons remains too high and more must be done to reduce the arsenal, she said that the United States and Russia have “reduced reliance on nuclear weapons in our nuclear strategies.”

Nuclear Weapons Costs

The cost of maintaining nuclear weapons and investing in new delivery systems was a key criticism voiced by many conference participants. Pope Francis stated that the high cost of nuclear weapons “represents a considerable expense for nations” at the expense of “real priorities facing the human family.”

The United States, for instance, is embarking on costly upgrades to its nuclear arsenal. When combined with sustainment costs, U.S. nuclear forces will cost more than $1.5 trillion over the next 30 years.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that the church cannot “approve a debilitating arms race” and renewed a 1967 proposal by Pope Paul VI that called for all states to set aside a portion of military budgets for a fund that would serve impoverished people worldwide.

Further, several speakers noted that nuclear modernization programs are sparking a new arms race. Izumi Nakamitsu, UN undersecretary-general for disarmament affairs, warned that the “modernization campaigns in every single nuclear-armed state are provoking a qualitative, if not quantitative, arms race.”

San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy said that nuclear powers are on the “cusp of modernization programs that will dramatically intensify the trajectory toward proliferation and ultimately confrontation” and emphasized that the Roman Catholic Church should speak with “prophetic power and certitude” to the nuclear powers.

 

Pope Francis challenges the concept of nuclear deterrence.

How Will Trump Change Nuclear Weapons Policy?


November 2017
By Jon Wolfsthal

President Donald Trump has made a number of sometimes contradictory comments related to nuclear weapons during his political campaign and since his election.

This 2013 photo shows members of the 91st Missile Wing’s missile maintenance teams at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. performing maintenance tasks at a launch facility for a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).  Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Kristoffer Kaubisch/DVIDSHe said he would be the “last to use” nuclear weapons,1 yet implied first use when he said North Korean threats “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” should it threaten the United States or its allies.2 As a candidate, he described the U.S. nuclear arsenal as being in “very terrible shape,”3 while on August 9, 2017, after six months in office and no changes to U.S. nuclear forces, he tweeted that the nuclear arsenal “is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”

Most recently, Trump denied an NBC News report that he told his national security advisers during a July meeting that he wanted what would amount to a tenfold increase in the number of U.S. nuclear weapons, returning to Cold War levels.4 “I want modernization and I want total rehabilitation” so the current arsenal is “in tip-top shape,”5 he told reporters October 11 at the White House, suggesting he will continue or accelerate the nuclear stockpile management program begun during the previous administration.

All that has created some uncertainty about how U.S. nuclear policies will change with a new administration led by a president who took office without experience in foreign policy or strategic thinking, let alone the complexities of nuclear weapons and deterrence. How his views and the changing strategic environment may alter the direction of U.S. nuclear policy will become clearer when the Department of Defense completes its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), expected late this year or in early 2018.

Posture reviews have been completed by three presidents since 1994 and have proven to be consequential documents. Much of the work and details behind the policies are classified, although it is expected that an unclassified NPR Report will be made public, affecting how the United States, its president, and its nuclear capabilities are seen by allies and adversaries alike. More importantly, the review establishes a guide for decisions that underpin the management, maintenance, and modernization of the nuclear arsenal and influences how Congress views and funds the nuclear forces.

Context Matters

One critical element of past nuclear posture reviews and likely this one as well is context. The first, completed under President Bill Clinton, was needed to define the purpose and possible role of nuclear weapons in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse. The resulting “lead but hedge” strategy provided a continuing rationale for nuclear weapons and sought to preserve capabilities against a future Russian threat.

The George W. Bush administration was seized with the challenge of addressing proliferation by countries such as North Korea and Iran and focused on the inability of the United States to hold deep underground targets at risk. This led to the pursuit of new nuclear capabilities, such as the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, that implied use as a battlefield weapon, not just a deterrent against attack on the United States or its allies. When combined with the global war on terrorism and the reliance on using U.S. military forces for regime change, the Bush administration was seen as much more reliant on nuclear weapons than the actual policy record reflects.

2010 Nuclear Posture Review Report: Key Elements

Nuclear Proliferation and Nuclear Terrorism

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) Report prioritized measures to strengthen nonproliferation efforts and to accelerate the securing of nuclear materials worldwide.
“As a critical element of our effort to move toward a world free of nuclear weapons, the United States will lead expanded international efforts to rebuild and strengthen the global nuclear nonproliferation regime—and for the first time, the 2010 NPR places this priority atop the U.S. nuclear agenda,” the report stated.

The Fundamental Role of Nuclear Weapons

The report stated that “the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons, which will continue as long as nuclear weapons exist, is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners.”

In the case of non-nuclear-weapon states, the Obama administration committed to strengthening negative security assurances. That is, the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against such states that are party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and in compliance with nuclear nonproliferation obligations, the report said. The United States will only consider the use of nuclear weapons in “extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.”

The United States will continue to strengthen conventional capabilities and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks. The United States is “not prepared at the present time to adopt a universal policy that the ‘sole purpose’ of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack on the United States and our allies and partners, but will work to establish conditions under which such a policy could be safely adopted,” the report stated.

Strategic Deterrence and Stability

The U.S. nuclear triad will be maintained under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The report states that the treaty does not constrain U.S. missile defenses and allows the United States to pursue conventional global strike systems. All U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles having multiple warheads will be restructured to having a single warhead each to increase stability. The United States will pursue post-New START arms control with Russia that addresses not only strategic weapons, but also nonstrategic and nondeployed nuclear weapons, the report said.

Regional Deterrence and Reassurance of Allies

Nuclear forces will “play an essential role in deterring potential adversaries and reassuring allies and partners around the world,” the report said. The United States will retain the capability to forward-deploy U.S. nuclear weapons on tactical fighter-bombers and heavy bombers. The administration is pursuing a comprehensive approach to broaden regional security architectures, including through missile defenses and improved conventional forces, the report said.

No ‘New’ Nuclear Warheads or Explosive Testing

The United States will modernize its nuclear weapons infrastructure and sustain the science, technology, and engineering base. The United States will not develop new nuclear warheads and will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities, the report said. The United States will not resume nuclear testing and will seek ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

President Barack Obama came into office at a time when the United States was seen internationally as a threat to the global nonproliferation and disarmament regime it had helped over decades to create and support. The previous administration’s false weapons of mass destruction (WMD) justification for the invasion of Iraq, Bush’s pursuit of the earth-penetrating warhead and a series of new “reliable replacement warheads” and that adminstration’s broader pursuit of regime change as a nonproliferation tool had reduced the credibility of the United States as a nonproliferation leader and a responsible nuclear-weapon state. This perception was part of the context for Obama’s NPR. He and his national security team saw restoring U.S. leadership of the global nonproliferation and disarmament effort as critical to addressing two dominant threats: nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.

Historians will establish whether this emphasis was well placed, but there is no question about the motivation of the Obama team. The president’s Prague speech in 2009 set the frame that was filled in by the NPR Report, released in 2010.6 The speech sought to balance the U.S. recommitment to eventually achieving the peace and security of a “world without nuclear weapons”—a U.S. goal dating back to the creation of such weapons—with the need to maintain at present a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal for the security of the United States and that of its treaty allies.

Furthermore, it directly recognized that the objectives of nonproliferation and preventing nuclear terrorism need to influence how the United States manages its nuclear arsenal. First and foremost in the minds of decision-makers was the pressing nuclear challenge of Iran, and the U.S. recommitment to disarmament was key to convincing states to apply the pressure on Iran needed to negotiate a nuclear agreement and avert a new war in the Middle East.

The Trump administration is now developing its nuclear policy and must wrestle with new challenges. Because of the president’s statements and unorthodox behavior, the context for this administration is already negative and likely to get worse. Bombastic and inflammatory statements by Trump toward North Korea and his decision not to certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, cement a public view that the administration is willing to take greater risks than its predecessors with nuclear weapons and potential nuclear conflicts.

Thus, the Trump NPR is being produced in an environment where the president is seen as less responsible and cautious with nuclear threats than any president since Ronald Reagan in his first term.

Key NPR Questions

Key to any posture review is a set of questions from which answers help to justify a set of programs, either new or carried over from past work. Central to any review are two key and interrelated questions: Why does the United States need nuclear weapons, and under what circumstances would the president consider using them to protect U.S. interests?

The answers have been remarkably similar from president to president, and it is reasonable to anticipate that the Trump NPR will come out in a similar place. As the Obama NPR Report states, “The fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons, which will continue as long as nuclear weapons exist, is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners.”7 It goes on to state that the “United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.”

It would be a remarkable break with long-standing U.S. policy were the Trump vision for the possible use of nuclear weapons to diverge from this concept, but the ways in which a president pursues these goals can and has been quite different. The Trump team likely will seek more robust language to bolster the perceived willingness of the United States to use nuclear weapons. The president seems less concerned about how such statements may undermine U.S. nonproliferation policies and global standing and thus likely to put more weight on the need for stronger statements justifying the potential use of nuclear weapons and their continued development and possession.

The review is expected to move away from the Obama administration’s approach in a number of ways but to retain some continuity as well. Although it is impossible at this point to predict the precise tone or language, some issues are expected to emerge.

New Nuclear Weapons

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the National Security Council before a meeting at the Pentagon on July 20. Trump subsequently denied an NBC News report that, during the meeting, he said he wanted to return U.S. nuclear forces to Cold War-era numbers.  (Photo credit: Sgt. Amber Smith/DVIDS)U.S. nuclear weapons were designed in the 1970s and built in the 1980s and 1990s. Almost all are undergoing or will soon undergo what are known as life extension programs (LEPs). Congress has provided funding for these programs, and initial Trump budgets have shown strong support for these as well. Some of these LEPs involve minor updates and refurbishment, and some are complete renovations of existing weapons inside old containers. All result in weapons that are safe and reliable and can be expected to remain so for many decades.

Yet, there are growing concerns among some in the policy and technical communities that the age of U.S. weapons impose an excessive cost and has strategic implications. The worry is that, as these weapons age, Russia or some other adversary may see them as less reliable and that perception will make U.S. defense commitments to allies more difficult to fulfill. If this is the case, producing new weapons would provide a greater deterrent effect vis-á-vis Russia and others and be more reassuring to allies.

There is no evidence to back up this argument, but it also cannot be disproven. Since the United States conducted its last underground nuclear test explosion in 1992, the U.S. national laboratories have certified that their science-based stewardship programs have been able to ensure that U.S. nuclear weapons remain safe, secure, and effective. At the same time, the laboratories responsible for designing and maintaining nuclear weapons have struggled to attract and retain the necessary experts, often competing with Silicon Valley, and have argued that enabling scientists to design new weapons or at least conduct new weapons research would be helpful to maintaining a range of nuclear capacities.

These arguments have been around for a long time, ever since the end of the Cold War. Under Obama, because there was not a need to pursue the development of new weapons to ensure the nuclear deterrent, technical interest in some quarters to design and develop new weapons was not seen as a priority. Unbound by such considerations, as evidenced by Trump’s statements that if there is to be an arms race, let there be an arms race,8 the new NPR may authorize the laboratories to undertake design work on new weapons, possibly even for new missions.

Smaller Nuclear Weapons

For U.S. deterrent and nuclear reassurance statements to be credible, allies and potential adversaries must believe that the United States is prepared to use its nuclear weapons to deny an adversary the objective it seeks or to raise the costs of achieving that objective to the point where it is unappealing.

Some experts and analysts, including some now in the Trump administration, have maintained that because most but not all U.S. nuclear warheads are quite large by nuclear standards—some 10 to 20 times the size of the weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—they are too large for any threatened use to be credible. Under that argument, an adversary could convince itself that the United States will be self-deterred from using nuclear weapons because of the collateral damage to civilians and the environment.

If that is seen as a problem, the solution proposed by some is U.S. development of smaller, more usable nuclear weapons.9 Options include development of a new tactical nuclear weapon or modifications to existing strategic weapons that would produce a much smaller detonation than they were originally designed to produce. The prospect that Trump would support the development of such weapons is uncertain, but may be included at least as an aspiration in the NPR.

To be clear, there is no evidence from direct engagement with U.S. allies or countries such as Russia or China that proves or even strongly indicates that the size of U.S. nuclear weapons is seen as undermining U.S. deterrence or reassurance commitments. For the most part, this is a debate inside the U.S. nuclear security and military community that worries that a president might be self-deterred from using nuclear weapons for fear of collateral damage or other legal or moral considerations. It remains to be seen if the Trump NPR will seek such weapons, perhaps using such justification. It is not evident that there is a self-deterrent problem with the U.S. nuclear arsenal that requires a nuclear solution along these lines. Moreover, any such move is likely to replay the alarm during the 2000s that the president is eager to have and possibly employ nuclear weapons, a perception that would weaken strategic stability and undermine U.S. nonproliferation efforts.

Nuclear Modernization

All indications are that modernizing U.S. nuclear forces remains the Pentagon’s top priority for the NPR. The United States is in early stages of research and development of replacements for its current nuclear arsenal. Most of the delivery systems—land-based missiles, ballistic missile submarines, and long-range aircraft—are nearing the end of their lifecycles.

Under Obama, it was decided that the United States would pursue replacements for all three legs of the nuclear triad while investing resources to ensure that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and its laboratories, which maintain and monitor U.S. nuclear weapons, have what they need to keep U.S. weapons safe, secure, and effective. As these programs took shape, it became clear that the cost associated with a full-scale modernization of all three legs at the same time was a fiscal challenge, and a debate began about how to cover the costs along with the other demands associated with conventional military modernization.

Clearly, the costs associated with the nuclear modernization program are skyrocketing. An original outside estimate that the programs might cost $1 trillion over 30 years now appears to significantly underestimate the costs. The true costs could be 50 to 100 percent higher once all associated cost increases and programs are included. There is no way these programs will be sustainable if buying them means the U.S. military cannot also afford new fighter aircraft, surface ships, and advanced conventional capabilities needed to support broad U.S. defense requirements.

Thus, one issue the NPR needs to address is the intersection of policy requirements and budget resources. It would be the height of irresponsibility for the administration to call for continuing or expanding nuclear programs without explaining how these costs will be covered. Many options to adjust the pace and composition of future nuclear forces exist and need to be evaluated. These include delaying some programs, such as the new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent designed to replace the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, while possibly eliminating others. One prime candidate for elimination is the nuclear long-range standoff cruise missile.10 The NPR likely will not end or slow down these programs. In fact, it is possible the NPR will seek to accelerate their development. Yet, it will be critical that the NPR and Defense Department explain the costs of these programs and how they will be funded in a constrained budget environment.

Negative Security Assurances and Sole Purpose

The Obama administration took as a starting point in its review the concept that the United States should continue its tradition of only assigning to nuclear weapons the minimum roles necessary to ensure U.S. security and that of allies. The more that the role of nuclear weapons is reduced, the more credible U.S. strategy becomes and the greater the ability to achieve good security and nonproliferation outcomes.

Second Lt. Chris Davis, 321st Missile Squadron deputy missile combat crew commander, and 1st Lt. Paul Lee, 321st Missile Squadron missile combat crew commander, simulate key turns of the Minuteman III weapon system during a Simulated Electronic Launch-Minuteman test inside the launch control center at a missile alert facility in  the 90th Missile Wing's missile complex in Nebraska, April 11, 2017.  (Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano/DVIDS)Past administrations considered nuclear weapons suitable for all manner of security and military threats from terrorism to cyberspace. Obama and his national security team, however, narrowed the scope. To do so, the Obama team put real money, effort, and priority behind enhancing the non-nuclear options for dealing with military requirements. The NPR Report states, “The United States will continue to strengthen conventional capabilities and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks, with the objective of making deterrence of nuclear attack on the United States or our allies and partners the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons.”11

They took the view that to have and retain political and moral leadership in the effort to confront Iran’s nuclear program, it was important to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons to the lowest level consistent with national security requirements. This was not seen as a favor to any other country or constituency, but rather to ensure that the United States was acting consistently with a desire to reduce the risks of nuclear use and to support the global nonproliferation and disarmament system.

These policies focus on two groups of states: those with nuclear weapons and those without nuclear weapons. For those countries with nuclear weapons, the NPR Report stopped short of declaring deterrence as the “sole purpose,” as arms control and disarmament advocates sought.

[T]here remains a narrow range of contingencies in which U.S. nuclear weapons may still play a role in deterring a conventional or [chemical or biological weapons] attack against the United States or its allies and partners. The United States is therefore not prepared at the present time to adopt a universal policy that deterring nuclear attack is the sole purpose of nuclear weapons, but will work to establish conditions under which such a policy could be safely adopted.12

Trump has not tipped his hand about when and against whom he might consider using nuclear weapons, although he has threatened North Korea with either a U.S. first-strike or nuclear retaliation if it strikes the United States, its territories (Guam), South Korea, or Japan. He also said during the campaign that he would not rule anything out, including the first use of nuclear weapons in Europe and elsewhere.13

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Energy Secretary Steven Chu hold a news briefing on the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review at the Pentagon April 6, 2010.  (Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)To be sure, many of these issues are influenced by Russia’s stated willingness to use nuclear weapons to escalate its way out of a failing conventional conflict. Russian defense strategists have discussed scenarios in which Moscow launches early, limited first use of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe to offset NATO’s conventional weapons superiority and force NATO to back off to avoid the even greater destruction of a full nuclear war.14

U.S. General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee in March that “our adversaries started to articulate a doctrine of escalation to deescalate, and we have to account for in our nuclear doctrine what that means…as we look at an adversary that expresses in their rhetoric a willingness to use nuclear weapons.”15 Selva is one of the key officials involved in shaping the NPR.

For states that do not possess nuclear weapons and are in full compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations, the Obama NPR was very clear. There are no military requirements for the United States to threaten the use of nuclear weapons against any state that does not have nuclear weapons, and threats to do so are arguably less than credible. The NPR Report set out parameters for providing negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states that are party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations.

[T]he United States affirms that any state eligible for the assurance that uses [chemical or biological weapons] against the United States or its allies and partners would face the prospect of a devastating conventional military response—and that any individuals responsible for the attack, whether national leaders or military commanders, would be held fully accountable. Given the catastrophic potential of biological weapons and the rapid pace of bio-technology development, the United States reserves the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and U.S. capacities to counter that threat.

In the case of countries not covered by this assurance—states that possess nuclear weapons and states not in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations—there remains a narrow range of contingencies in which U.S. nuclear weapons may still play a role in deterring a conventional or [chemical or biological weapons] attack against the United States or its allies and partners.16

Outlook

Having worked to build and maintain the taboo on nuclear use for 70-plus years, the United States has every reason to seek its maintenance. The NPR Report language in this context will be critical, as will be the underlying policy choices. It remains unclear, however, how the NPR will balance traditional U.S. restraint when it comes to nuclear policies and the president’s own thinking and his strong desire to distinguish himself from Obama’s policies on all issues.

In the end, Trump will have to determine, drawing on input from his cabinet and national security team, any changes in nuclear weapons policy and how to frame those decisions in communicating to audiences at home and abroad. Some issues are ripe for support from both the left and the right in Congress, such as modernizing existing nuclear forces and ensuring the national laboratories have the skills and resources needed to monitor and keep the weapons safe, secure, and reliable.

Others, including pursuit of new nuclear weapons or broadening the conditions under which the president might use nuclear weapons, threatens to make nuclear policy yet another partisan battleground to the detriment of U.S. security policy and nonproliferation aspirations.

 

ENDNOTES

1 “Campaign Flashback: Trump’s 2016 Nuclear Weapons Stance,” NBC News, October 6, 2017, https://www.nbcnews.com/video/campaign-flashback-trump-s-2016-nuclear-weapons-stance-1064516163692.

2 Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Remarks by President Trump Before a Briefing on the Opioid Crisis,” August 8, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/08/08/remarks-president-trump-briefing-opioid-crisis.

3 David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman, “Transcript: Donald Trump on NATO, Turkey’s Coup Attempt and the World,” The New York Times, July 21, 2016.

4 Peter Baker and Cecilia Kang, “Trump Threatens NBC Over Nuclear Weapons Report,” The New York Times, October 11, 2017.

5 Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada Before Bilateral Meeting,” October 11, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/10/11/remarks-president-trump-and-prime-minister-trudeau-canada-bilateral.

6 Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Remarks by President Barack Obama in Prague As Delivered,” April 5, 2009, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-barack-obama-prague-delivered.

7 U.S. Department of Defense, “Nuclear Posture Review Report,” April 2010, https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/defenseReviews/NPR/2010_Nuclear_Posture_Review_Report.pdf (hereinafter NPR Report).

8 “President-Elect Trump Calls for Nuclear Arms Race, Stunning Experts,” NBC News, December 23, 2016, https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/president-elect-trump-calls-for-nuclear-arms-race-stunning-experts-840644675837.

9 Bryan Bender, “Trump Review Leans Toward Proposing Mini-Nuke,” Politico, September 9, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/09/trump-reviews-mini-nuke-242513.

10 Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who has described himself as undecided about the long-range standoff weapons system, said a decision “will come out of” the NPR. See Kingston Reif, “Air Force Nuclear Programs Advance,” Arms Control Today, October 2017, https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2017-10/news/air-force-nuclear-programs-advance.

11 NPR Report, p. ix.

12 Ibid., p. viii.

13 “Donald Trump Won’t Take Nuclear Weapons Off the Table,” Hardball With Chris Matthews, March 30, 2016, http://www.msnbc.com/hardball/watch/donald-trump-won-t-take-nukes-off-the-table-655471171934.

14 Anya Loukianova Fink, “The Evolving Russian Concept of Strategic Deterrence: Risks and Responses,” Arms Control Today, July/August 2017, https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2017-07/features/evolving-russian-concept-strategic-deterrence-risks-responses.

15 Rebecca Kheel, “Pentagon Starts Review of Nuclear Posture Ordered by Trump,” The Hill, April 17, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/defense/329137-pentagon-official-starts-nuclear-posture-review.

16 NPR Report, p. 16.


Jon Wolfsthal served as a special assistant to the president and senior director for arms control and nonproliferation at the National Security Council in the Obama administration from 2014 to 2017. He is now senior adviser to Global Zero and director of the Nuclear Crisis Group. He is also a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Policy will become clearer when the Defense Department completes its Nuclear Posture Review by early 2018.

Trump Sets U.S. Up to Violate Iran Deal


November 2017
By Kelsey Davenport

President Donald Trump directed his administration to work with Congress to address “serious flaws” in the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, but with Tehran and Washington’s negotiating partners rejecting renegotiations, his approach is unlikely to yield results and risks resulting in the United States violating the agreement.

Outlining his Iran policy in an Oct. 13 speech, Trump said he would terminate the accord if Congress and the U.S. negotiating partners in the P5+1 group—China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom—fail to address areas of concern, such as the expiration of certain nuclear constraints and Iran’s ballistic missile development.

President Donald Trump speaks October 13 at the White House about his decision to deny quarterly certification of the Iran nuclear deal. (Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)Trump also said he was withholding a quarterly certification to Congress tied to the nuclear deal on the grounds that sanctions relief provided to Iran was not proportionate to the restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program. That was an expected step after Trump said in July that he was unlikely to issue the certification. (See ACT, September 2017.)

The certification is a U.S. legal requirement comprised of several determinations. In addition to the determination on sanctions proportionality, the certification includes determinations related to Iran’s compliance with the deal and the national security value of the accord. In the weeks leading up to the certification deadline, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noted that Iran was meeting its obligations; and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the deal is in the U.S. national security interest, indicators that key advisers in Trump’s cabinet opposed his decision to withhold certification.

Withholding certification does not violate the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Trump said that the United States intends to remain party to the agreement for now, while he looks to Congress and U.S. allies to "address the deal's many serious flaws."

Despite Trump’s threats to terminate the accord if changes are not made, Washington’s negotiating partners and Iran rejected renegotiating elements of the deal. Shortly after Trump’s Oct. 13 announcement, Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief and head of the P5+1, said that the deal is working, the EU will continue to implement it, and it is “not up to a single country to terminate it.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is under pressure from regime hardliners, said Iran “will not be the first to withdraw from the deal but, if its rights and interests in the deal are not respected, it will stop implementing all its commitments and will resume its peaceful nuclear program without any restrictions.”

Washington’s actions prove that the United States is “not a reliable negotiating partner,” he said, a statement that could have ramifications for any future talks with Iran, as well as for U.S. efforts to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement Oct. 13 expressing “concern about the possible implications” of Trump’s decision to withhold certification and encouraging him and Congress to consider “the implications to the security of the U.S. and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPOA, such as re-imposing sanctions on Iran lifted under the agreement.”

Withholding certification allows Congress to introduce legislation within 60 days to reimpose sanctions waived under the deal using an expedited legislative process, but it appears unlikely that Congress will pursue this route, which would clearly violate the agreement.

The current approach espoused by several Senate Republicans would seek to address Trump’s concerns about ballistic missiles and limits that expire under the deal and refrain from reimposing sanctions. Still, if enacted as described, this approach would violate the terms of the accord by seeking to pressure Iran, under threat of sanctions, to abide by limits for a longer duration than required under the deal.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) released a factsheet Oct. 13 summarizing his legislative approach, titled “Fixing the Iran Deal,” which outlines that U.S. sanctions waived under the deal will be reimposed automatically if Iran takes certain steps, including activities that are permitted under the nuclear deal or will be permitted in the out years of the agreement.

For instance, the factsheet says that U.S. sanctions waived under the deal will snap back automatically if Iran’s nuclear weapons “breakout” time, commonly defined as the time it would take Iran to amass enough weapons-grade fissile material for one bomb, drops to less than one year.

For the first 10 years of the nuclear deal, the combination of limits on Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity and stockpile of enriched uranium holds Iran to a 12-month breakout time. By year 15, however, certain limits expire; and Iran could choose to expand its uranium-enrichment capacity, at which point breakout would likely drop below 12 months.

Despite the deal permitting Iran to expand uranium enrichment, U.S. sanctions would be automatically reimposed at that point, which many experts contend violates the agreement. Corker’s factsheet, however, argues that approach is “ridding the JCPOA of sunset provisions as they apply to U.S. sanctions.”

Trump did not specifically mention Corker’s initiative in his speech, but said he supported congressional efforts to “make all restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity permanent under U.S. law” and “prevent Iran from developing” an intercontinental ballistic missile.

It seems unlikely that Democrats would support any approach that violates the deal. In the Senate, any such effort to bring legislation altering the terms of the nuclear deal up for a vote would require 60 votes; and key Senate Democrats, including several who opposed the deal in 2015, signaled they do not support abrogating the deal.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, opposed the deal in 2015, but denounced Trump’s decision to withholding certification as “reckless” and “without factual or material evidence” to warrant such a move.

Cardin said that “we will not buy into the false premise that it is Congress’ role to legislate solutions to problems of [Trump’s] own making” and that it is “up to Congress to show the world that there is bipartisan support for the United States to uphold its commitments, including the JCPOA.”

An official from a European country that participated in the negotiations told Arms Control Today on Oct. 23 that the “deal is done” and that “any efforts to unilaterally change its terms” jeopardizes the agreement.

He said Mogherini was very clear at the United Nations in September that there is “no interest in or need to renegotiate or reopen the accord.” Concerns outside of the deal, such as ballistic missiles, can be addressed separately from implementation of the agreement, he added.

May, Macron, and Merkel made a similar statement in their Oct. 13 letter, saying that they “stand ready to take further appropriate measures to address” issues such as ballistic missile development “at the same time as we work to preserve the JCPOA.”

Corker’s factsheet does not explicitly mention ballistic missiles, but in interviews following Trump’s speech, he has said his approach may reimpose sanctions automatically in response to certain ballistic missile activities conducted by Iran.

The nuclear deal does not prohibit Iran from developing ballistic missiles, but the UN Security Council resolution endorsing the deal “called upon” Iran to refrain from testing ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons and regulates Iran’s purchases of materials and technology relevant to developing ballistic missiles.

The United States, as permitted by the accord, continues to sanction individuals and entities involved with Iran’s ballistic missile activities.—KELSEY DAVENPORT

Next steps fall to Congress, as key allies appeal for U.S. to stick with the nuclear accord.

Arms Control Association Applauds 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Winner ICAN

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Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons a Turning Point
Statement from Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball

For Immediate Release: October 6, 2017

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(WASHINGTON, DC)—We are pleased and excited that the Nobel Committee has awarded the 2017 Peace Prize to our colleagues at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Their work in raising awareness about the catastrophic impacts of nuclear weapons and their years-long campaign for the negotiation of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has helped to reset the terms of the seven-decade-long struggle to prevent nuclear war and eliminate nuclear weapons in important and helpful ways.

At a time when nuclear dangers and tensions are rising, ICAN’s call to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons is the appropriate rejoinder to those governments and leaders who continue to promote the role and potential use of these mass terror weapons in the 21st century.

At a result of the TPNW, for the first time since the invention of the atomic bomb, nuclear weapons development, production, possession, use, threat of use, and stationing of another country’s nuclear weapons on a states party's national territory are all expressly prohibited in a global treaty. The treaty also requires states to provide assistance to those affected by nuclear weapons use and testing. Over time, the TPNW will further delegitimize nuclear weapons and strengthen the legal and political norm against their use. Steps aimed at reducing the risk of catastrophic nuclear weapons use are necessary and should be welcomed.

ICAN was a catalyst for the new treaty, which was negotiated by a group of over 130 non-nuclear weapon states and is an expression of the deep concern about the enormous risks posed by nuclear weapons and the growing frustration with the failure of the nuclear-armed states to fulfill their nuclear disarmament commitments. The initiative underscores the need for the nuclear weapons states’ to meet their existing legal obligations to end the nuclear arms race and pursue disarmament and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.

Others involved in the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons initiative, including the winners of the 2014 and 2015 Arms Control Persons of the Year Award, Amb. Alexander Kmentt of Austria and hibakusha survivor and anti-nuclear activist Setsuko Thurlow, and their colleagues in government and civil society also deserve tremendous credit.

Serious work lies ahead. We will continue to partner with our friends in the ICAN network and with other nongovernmental leaders to inform and influence public and policy maker action on effective measures to reduce and eliminate the dangers posed by nuclear weapons.

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Listen to our European Partners: Sustain the Nuclear Deal with Iran

Before taking action to undermine or violate the nuclear deal with Iran, President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress would be wise to heed the words of Washington’s European partners in the deal, namely that the agreement is working and renegotiation is futile. Ambassador David O’Sullivan of the European Union, Ambassador Peter Wittig of Germany, Ambassador Gerard Araud of France, and Ambassador Kim Darroch of the United Kingdom, joined forces to deliver these messages at the Atlantic Council Sept. 25 , just three weeks ahead of the Oct. 15 deadline for Trump to issue or withhold a...

Grasping at Straws

The Trump Administration and its supporters outside of the U.S. government are laboring mightily to convince the international community that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a bad deal for the United States. Unfortunately for them, Iranian compliance keeps getting in the way. We can see this in the way in which senior U.S. government officials speak to issues of Iranian compliance. During press availability on the margins of the UN General Assembly, Secretary of State Tillerson was careful to note that Iran is in “ technical ” compliance with the JCPOA, but argued that this...

Urgent Need to De-escalate Tensions Between Washington and Pyongyang

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Statement from Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball

For Immediate Release: September 22, 2017

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

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—The escalating crisis over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests has now reached an extremely dangerous level. The risk of conflict through miscalculation by either side is unacceptably high.

Mr.Ri Yong Ho, Foreign Ministrer of the Democratic People's Republic of KoreaWe are alarmed and strongly condemn the unecessary and provocative threat of massive retaliation against Pyongyang by President Donald Trump in his UN address on Sept. 19, and we condemn in the strongest possible terms the suggestion by the Foreign Minister of the DPRK on Sept. 22 that his government may conduct a nuclear test explosion in or over the Pacific Ocean in reaction to Mr. Trump’s remarks.

Such a nuclear test would be a threat not just to the United States, but would be a global security and health threat to the entire international community, which has prohibited all nuclear test explosions through the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. A nuclear test explosion over the Pacific could trigger events that escalate even further beyond the control of Washington and Pyongyang.

We strongly appeal to key leaders in the region, particularly the United States and North Korea, to immediately take steps ease tensions and refrain from making any further threats of nuclear or missile tests or military action of any kind. Each side must chose their words very carefully and seek open direct channel of communication to avoid miscommunication and miscalculation. The current path being pursued by both sides leads to catastrophe.

We call on the UN Secretary-General to convene a series of emergency, closed-door meetings with senior leaders from the members of Six-Party-Talks to intiate a serious dialogue designed to lower tensions and address issues of mutual concern.

US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun (L) talks with South Korea's representative to the six-party talks, Kim Hong-Kyun (R), during their meeting at the foreign ministry in Seoul on March 22, 2017. The meeting came as a new North Korean missile test failed on March 22, according to the South's defence ministry, two weeks after Pyongyang launched four rockets in what it called a drill for an attack on US bases in Japan. (Photo: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)It is past time for a direct dialogue, without preconditions, that sets a new course — toward a negotiated or brokered agreement that addresses the concerns of the international community and the security concerns of the DPRK. Such a course begins with an immediate halt to further nuclear test explosions and intermediate- or long-range ballistic missile tests and any military exercises that could be interpreted to be practice runs for an attack.

As President John F. Kennedy said following the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis: “Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to the choice of either a humiliating defeat or a nuclear war.”

Now is the time to back away from edge of a conflict that could escalate to the nuclear level all too quickly.


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The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons At A Glance

September 2017

Contacts: Daryl Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Alicia Sanders-Zakre, (202) 463-8270 ext. 113

Updated: September 2017

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which was negotiated by more than 130 states, is a good faith effort to meet their responsibility as signatories of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to pursue effective measures on disarmament. The prohibition treaty further reinforces the commitments of these states against the use, threat of use, development, production, manufacture, acquisition, possession, stockpiling, transfer, stationing, or installation of nuclear weapons. It reinforces states' commitments to the NPT and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Although the prohibition treaty by itself will not eliminate any nuclear weapons, the treaty can help to further delegitimize nuclear weapons and strengthen the legal and political norm against their use.

The Treaty

Preamble

The treaty has a 24-paragraph preamble acknowledging the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use and the value of existing international disarmament agreements including the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and nuclear-weapon-free-zone agreements, as well as the “right” of states-parties to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Prohibitions (Article 1)

States-parties are prohibited to use, threaten to use, develop, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, stockpile, transfer, station, or install nuclear weapons or assist with any prohibited activities.

Declarations (Article 2)

A state-party must declare, when joining the treaty, whether it has eliminated a previous nuclear weapons program, currently has nuclear weapons, or holds another country's nuclear weapons on its territory. If a state has another country’s nuclear weapons on its territory when it signs the treaty, it must remove them. If it has its own nuclear weapons, it must eliminate them.

Safeguards (Article 3)

Non-nuclear-weapon states are required to have, at a minimum, a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “without prejudice” to any future additional agreements.

Nuclear-weapon states accession (Article 4)

There are two ways for a nuclear-weapon state to accede to the treaty and eliminate its nuclear weapons: it can join the treaty and then destroy its nuclear weapons or destroy its nuclear weapons and then join the treaty. States that “destroy and join” must cooperate with a “competent international authority” designated by the treaty to verify dismantlement. States that “join and destroy” must immediately remove nuclear weapons from operational status and submit a time-bound plan for their destruction within 60 days of joining the treaty.

The treaty does not specify which “competent international authority” would be suited to verify irreversible disarmament of a nuclear-armed state that decides to join the treaty, but the treaty allows for an appropriate authority to be designated at a later date. The treaty requires any current or former nuclear-weapon state that seeks to join the prohibition treaty to conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA to verify that nuclear materials are not diverted from peaceful to weapons purposes.

Positive obligations (Articles 6 and 7)

The treaty obligates states-parties to provide victim assistance and environmental remediation to those affected by nuclear weapon use and testing.

Meetings of states-parties, signature, ratification and entry into force (Articles 8, 13, 14, and 15)

Biennial meetings of states-parties will address implementation and other measures. Review conferences will be held every six years. The treaty, open for signature on September 20th, 2017, enters into force 90 days after the 50th state ratifies it.

Background

The initiative to negotiate a "legally binding instrument" to prohibit nuclear weapons is the result of a years-long process that grew out of a renewed recognition of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use, the rising risk of accidental or intentional nuclear use, and a growing sense of frustration that key nuclear disarmament commitments made by the nuclear-weapon states were not being fulfilled.

The 2010 NPT Review Conference unanimously "expresse[d] its deep concern at the continued risk for humanity represented by the possibility that these weapons could be used and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of nuclear weapons."

These concerns motivated a group of states, including Norway, Mexico, and Austria to organize a series of three conferences in 2013 and 2014 on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapon use.

Following the conclusion of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, these and other states agreed to set up an open ended working group in 2016 on advancing multilateral disarmament negotiations. The working group led to the formulation of a resolution in the UN General Assembly to start negotiations in 2017 on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. The resolution passed the UN General Assembly First Committee by a vote of 123-38 with 16 abstentions in November 2016 and was subsequently adopted by the General Assembly as a whole.

Costa Rica’s UN Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez (left), president of the UN conference to negotiate a nuclear-weapons ban treaty, chairs a meeting of the conference March 30. Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

The first negotiating session was held at the UN in New York on March 27-31 with some 130 governments, and dozens of civil society organizations, participating. The president of the negotiations, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez, compiled states' expressed opinions from the first round of negotiations into a draft convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons issued on May 22 in Geneva. The second and final round of negotiations took place on June 15-July 7 in New York, with participants adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by a vote of 122-1-1. The Netherlands voted against adoption, and Singapore abstained.

Reactions From the Nuclear-Armed States

Nuclear-weapon states and many NATO members have opposed the initiative from the beginning. Although the United States and the United Kingdom participated in the 2014 Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, leaders from Washington and the other nuclear-weapon states boycotted the working group sessions and the 2017 treaty negotiations.

These states contend that the treaty will distract attention from other disarmament and nonproliferation initiatives, such as negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty or ratifying the CTBT. They have expressed concern that the nuclear prohibition treaty could undermine the NPT and the extensive safeguard provisions included therein by giving states the option to "forum shop," or choose between the two treaties.

Arguments for the Treaty From Proponent States

Supporters of the nuclear prohibition treaty argue that it will close a "legal gap" that exists regarding nuclear weapons, which are not expressly outlawed by the NPT even though their use would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict. They argue that the prohibition treaty initiative reinforces the NPT and its Article VI requirement for nuclear disarmament and that it can reduce the salience of nuclear weapons and help prompt more urgent action to reduce nuclear risk and promote disarmament.

Timeline

2010
May 3-28: The final document of the 2010 Review Conference for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) acknowledges the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use. 

2013
March 4-5: The first conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use takes place in Oslo, Norway. 

2014
February 13-14: The second conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use takes place in Nayarit, Mexico.  
December 8-9: The final conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use takes place in Vienna, Austria.  
December 9: 127 states endorse the Humanitarian Pledge, calling on all NPT states parties to renew their commitment to Article VI of the NPT and to take interim steps to reduce the risk of nuclear use.

2015
October 29: The UN General Assembly First Committee votes 135-12 with 33 abstentions on a resolution to create an Open Ended Working Group to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. 

2016
February 22-26: The first working group to advance multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations meets in Geneva, Switzerland. 
May 2-4 and 9-13: The second working group to advance multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations meets in Geneva, Switzerland.  
August 16-19: The third working group to advance multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations meets in Geneva, Switzerland, approving a final report by a vote of 68-22 with 13 abstentions.  
October 27: The First Committee adopts a resolution to begin negotiations in 2017 on a nuclear prohibition treaty in 2017 on a nuclear prohibition treaty by a vote of 123-38 with 16 abstentions.  
December 23: The General Assembly approves the resolution to begin negotiations on a nuclear prohibition treaty adopted by the First Committee by a vote of 113-35 and 13 abstentions.

2017
March 27-31: The first round of negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons takes place at the United Nations in New York.  
May 22: President Elayne Whyte Gómez presents the first draft text of the treaty at the United Nations in Geneva.
June 15-July 7: The second round of negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons takes place at the United Nations in New York. 
July 7: The treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons is adopted by a vote of 122-1-1. The Netherlands voted against the treaty, and Singapore abstained.
September 20: The TPNW opens for signature in New York. Fifty states signed the treaty and three additional states both signed and ratified it by the day's end.

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

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More Than 80 Nuclear Nonproliferation Experts Reaffirm Support for the Iran Nuclear Deal

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Urge the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress to continue to fulfill Washington’s commitments under the multilateral accord.

For Immediate Release: Sept. 13, 2017

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, 202-463-8270 ext. 107; Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, 202-463-8270 x102.

(Washington, D.C.)—More than 80 of the world's leading nuclear nonproliferation specialists issued a joint statement Wednesday on why the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between six world powers and Iran “has proven to be an effective and verifiable arrangement that is a net plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.”

Centrifuges enriching uranium (illustrative photo: US Department of Energy/Wikimedia Commons)“Since the nuclear deal was implemented in January 2016, the JCPOA has dramatically reduced the risk posed by Iran’s nuclear program and mandated unprecedented monitoring and transparency measures that make it very likely that any possible future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly,” the statement notes.

The statement is endorsed by former U.S. nuclear negotiators, former senior U.S. nonproliferation and intelligence officials, a former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a former member of the UN Panel of Experts on Iran, and leading nuclear specialists from the United States and around the globe.

“We firmly support vigorous efforts to monitor and enforce compliance with the JCPOA,” the experts say, “ but we are concerned by statements from the Trump administration that it may be seeking to create a false pretext for accusing Iran of noncooperation or noncompliance with the agreement in order to trigger the reimposition of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.”

Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the administration must certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is fully implementing the nuclear deal. Failure to issue the certification would open the door for Congress, under expedited procedures, to introduce legislation to reimpose nuclear sanctions that were lifted in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program that block its pathways to a bomb. The next certification deadline arrives in mid-October.

“Abandoning the deal without clear evidence of an unresolved material breach by Iran that is corroborated by the other EU3+3 partners runs the risk that Tehran would resume some of its nuclear activities,” they warn.

Thus far, reporting from the U.S. intelligence community, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the other parties to the agreement make it clear that Iran is meeting its many JCPOA commitments. These include long-term, verifiable restrictions on Iran's sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities, many of which will last for 10 years, some for 15 years, some for 25 years, with enhanced IAEA monitoring under Iran's additional protocol agreement with the IAEA and modified code 3.1 safeguards provisions lasting indefinitely.

“[U]nilateral action by the United States, especially on the basis of unsupported contentions of Iranian cheating, would isolate the United States. In doing so, the United States would discourage Iran and others—including Washington’s EU3+3 partners—from supporting any U.S. proposal for negotiations on a new agreement while simultaneously damaging the agreement in place,” the experts say.

The statement concludes: “we urge the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress to continue to fulfill Washington’s commitments under the accord and to refrain from actions that undermine U.S. obligations in the agreement.”

“Given that we are already struggling to contain the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis, it would be extremely unwise for the president to initiate steps that could unravel the highly successful 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which could create a second major nonproliferation crisis,” said Kelsey Davenport, nonproliferation policy director for the Arms Control Association, which organized the statement.

The full text of the statement is below and available in a PDF version.


Statement from Nuclear Nonproliferation Specialists on the Iran Nuclear Deal

September 2017

More than two years after the conclusion of negotiations on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by the United States, its international negotiating partners (EU, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom), and Iran, the agreement has proven to be an effective and verifiable arrangement that is a net plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.

The JCPOA is also considered an important success of multilateral diplomacy, the full implementation of which is critical to international peace and security.

Since the nuclear deal was implemented in January 2016, the JCPOA has dramatically reduced the risk posed by Iran’s nuclear program and mandated unprecedented monitoring and transparency measures that make it very likely that any possible future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly. By blocking Iran’s potential pathways to nuclear weapons, the JCPOA has also decreased the likelihood of destabilizing nuclear competition in the region.

To meet its JCPOA obligations, Iran dismantled more than 13,000 centrifuges, placed them in monitored storage, and shipped out more than 11 tons of low-enriched uranium. Since implementation day, Iran has met its commitments to enrich uranium only up to 3.67 percent uranium-235, retain no more than the equivalent of 300 kilograms of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent in its stockpile, and enrich using only 5,060 first generation, IR-1 centrifuges.

Taken together these restrictions ensure that Iran’s capability to produce enough bomb-grade uranium sufficient for one weapon would be approximately 12 months for a decade or more. This conclusion was underscored by Daniel Coats, Donald Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, who stated in the May 2017 Worldwide Threat Assessment, that the JCPOA has “enhanced the transparency of Iran’s nuclear activities” and “extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon from a few months to about a year.” Prior to commencing negotiations with Iran in 2013, that timeline would have been 2-3 months.

The JCPOA has effectively eliminated Iran’s ability to produce and separate plutonium for a nuclear weapon for at least 15 years. Iran removed the vessel that would hold the core of the Arak reactor, filled it with cement, and is working with the EU3+3 on new core reactor design in which plutonium production would be reduced ten-fold. Iran also committed not to research how to reprocess spent fuel, much less engage in it, which would delay even more significantly Iran’s ability to ever extract plutonium from any nuclear fuel it possesses. Additionally, Iran agreed to ship its spent fuel out of the country for 15 years.

Since implementation day in January 2016, Iran’s compliance with its obligations has been effectively verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) through an intrusive, multilayered monitoring regime that spans Iran’s nuclear supply chain. The JCPOA mandates continuous surveillance of key activities, such as uranium mining and centrifuge production, and application of Iran’s Additional Protocol, which gives inspectors additional information about, and access to, Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran’s enrichment levels are also monitored in real time.

Taken together, these rigorous limits and transparency measures will make it very likely that any future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly, providing the opportunity to intervene decisively to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The JCPOA has proven flexible and responsive to implementation problems that emerge. When Iran’s supply of heavy water twice marginally exceeded the limit set by the JCPOA, the IAEA noted the excess and Iran promptly rectified the situation, which never posed a proliferation risk. While exceeding the limit by any amount is unhelpful, the way it and other definitional disagreements have been promptly rectified demonstrates the effectiveness of mechanisms established by the deal to resolve technical concerns. As of August, no international organization or national government has made any allegations of Iranian violations.

We firmly support vigorous efforts to monitor and enforce compliance with the JCPOA, but we are concerned by statements from the Trump administration that it may be seeking to create a false pretext for accusing Iran of noncooperation or noncompliance with the agreement in order to trigger the re-imposition of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.

Abandoning the deal without clear evidence of an unresolved material breach by Iran that is corroborated by the other EU3+3 partners runs the risk that Tehran would resume some of its nuclear activities, such as enriching uranium to higher levels or increasing the number of operating centrifuges. These steps would decrease the time it would take for Iran to obtain enough nuclear material for a warhead.

Furthermore, unilateral action by the United States, especially on the basis of unsupported contentions of Iranian cheating, would isolate the United States. In doing so, the United States would discourage Iran and others—including Washington’s EU3+3 partners—from supporting any U.S. proposal for negotiations on a new agreement while simultaneously damaging the agreement in place. Such an approach would also impede the United States’ ability to seek future nonproliferation agreements, both with Iran and in the broader international community.

As long as Iran continues to fully implement the JCPOA, the nuclear deal advances the security interests of the United States, its EU3+3 partners, states in the region, and the entire international community. Abandoning the deal would also increase the likelihood of wider conflict in the Middle East and could trigger a destabilizing nuclear competition in region.

We strongly urge all parties to the JCPOA to meet their respective obligations under the terms of the agreement and to refrain from actions and statements that undermine its continued and effective implementation.

Furthermore, we urge the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress to continue to fulfill Washington’s commitments under the accord and to refrain from actions that undermine U.S. obligations in the agreement.

Sincerely,

Amb. Nobuyasu Abe, Commissioner of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission,* former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs and former Director-General for Arms Control and Science Affairs of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

James Acton, Co-Director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*

Amb. Sergey Batsanov, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, and former Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Conference on Disarmament (1989-1993)

Amb. Brooke D. Anderson, former Chief of Staff and Counselor for the National Security Council

Alexandra Bell, Senior Policy, Director Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

Bruce Blair, Research Scholar, Princeton University; U.S. Secretary of State's International Security Advisory Board Member (2011-17)

Barry M. Blechman, Co-Founder, Stimson Center*

Hans Blix, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Hon. Avis Bohlen, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control

Des Browne, Lord Browne of Ladyton, former Secretary of State for Defense of the UK, Chair of the European Leadership Network (ELN) and Vice Chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)

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

Susan F. Burk, former Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation and former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State

John Carlson, Counselor, Nuclear Threat Initiative, former Director General, Australian Safeguards and Nonproliferation Office, Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office

Joseph Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Fund

Avner Cohen, Ph.D., Professor and Senior Fellow, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Tom Collina, Director of Policy, Ploughshares Fund

Thomas Countryman, former Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation

Philip E. Coyle, III, former Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, Arms Control Association

Amb. Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs

Professor Shen Dingli, Associate Dean at the Institute of International Studies and Director of the Program on Arms Control and Regional Security Studies at Fudan University

Amb. Sergio Duarte, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs

Robert J. Einhorn, former U.S Department of State Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control (2009-2013)

Dina Esfandiary, MacArthur Fellow, Centre for Science and Security Studies, Department of War Studies, Kings College London

Marc Finaud, Arms Proliferation Cluster Leader, Geneva Centre for Security Policy

Trevor Findlay, Senior Research Fellow, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne

Jon Finer, former U.S. State Department Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning

Ellie Geranmayeh, Senior Policy Fellow, Middle East & Africa Programme, European Council on Foreign Relations

Alexander Glaser, Associate Professor, Co-Director, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University

Ilan Goldberg, Director of Middle East Security Program, Center for a New American Security, former Iran Team Chief, Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense

Lisbeth Gronlund, Co-Director, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

Morton H. Halperin, former Director of Policy Planning Staff, U.S Department of State

Amb. Laura S. H. Holgate, former U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency

Amb. Bonnie Jenkins, Joint Fellow, Brookings Institution* and University of Pennsylvania Perry World House,* and former Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs at the U.S. Department of State

Colin H. Kahl, former Deputy Assistant to President Obama and National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden

Mary Kaszynski, Deputy Director of Policy, Ploughshares Fund

Togzhan Kassenova, Fellow, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*

Catherine Kelleher, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

R. Scott Kemp, Assistant Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT, former science advisor to the U.S. Department of State's Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control

Amb. (ret.) Laura E. Kennedy, former U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva

Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Michael Krepon, Co-Founder, Stimson Center

Ulrich Kühn, Nonresident Scholar, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Ellen Laipson, President Emeritus, Stimson Center and former Vice Chair, National Intelligence Council

Jeffrey Lewis, Adjunct Professor, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey*

Rebecca Lissner, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations*

Jan M. Lodal, former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense

Robert Malley, former Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North African and Gulf Region

Jessica Matthews, former Director, National Security Council Office of Global Issues

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

Brian McKeon, former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, U.S. Department of Defense

Oliver Meier, Deputy Head, International Security Division, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)*

Zia Mian, Co-Director, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University

Nicholas Miller, Assistant Professor, Dartmouth College

Adam Mount, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress*

Richard Nephew, Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University, former Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy at the U.S. Department of State, and Director for Iran on the National Security Staff

Götz Neuneck, Professor of Physics and Acting Co-Director of the Institute of Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH) *

George Perkovich, Ken Olivier And Angela Nomellini Chair, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*

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

Amb. (ret.) Steven Pifer, Nonresident Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution*

Paul R. Pillar, former U.S. National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia

Valerie Plame, former CIA covert operations officer

Joshua Pollack, Senior Research Associate, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey*

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

Edward Price, Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to President Obama

Professor Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, Secretary General of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, and Professor of Mathematical Physics, Universita' degli Studi di Milano

Tariq Rauf, former Head of Verification and Security Policy Coordination, Office reporting to the Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency

Laura Rockwood, Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Nickolas Roth, Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center, Harvard University

Dr. Randy Rydell, former Senior Political Affairs Officer (retired), UN Office for Disarmament Affairs

Andrew K. Semmel, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear Nonproliferation (2003-2007), U.S. Department of State

Thomas E. Shea, Ph.D., Senior Adjunct Fellow, Federation of American Scientists, former International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards official, and former Sector Head of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Programs, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Jacqueline Shire, former Member of UN Panel of Experts (Iran) established under Security Council Resolution 1929 (2010)

Leonard Spector, Executive Director, Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies,* and former Assistant Deputy Administrator for Arms Control and Nonproliferation at the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration

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

Ariane M. Tabatabai, Director of Curriculum, Security Studies Program, Georgetown University

Greg Thielmann, former Director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. Department of State

John Tierney, Executive Director, Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, former Member of Congress (1997-2015)

Dr. Ali Vaez, Senior Iran Analyst, International Crisis Group

Frank N. von Hippel, former Assistant Director for National Security, White House Office of Science and Global Security

David Wade, Chief of Staff to U.S. Department of State (2013-2015)

Dr. James Walsh, Senior Research Associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program

Anthony Wier, Legislative Secretary for Nuclear Disarmament and Pentagon Spending, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Jon Wolfsthal, former Special Assistant to the President for National Security and Senior Director for Nonproliferation and Arms Control at the National Security Council

David Wright, Co-Director, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

*institution listed for identification purposes only

Description: 

Experts urge the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress to continue to fulfill Washington’s commitments under the multilateral accord.

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ACA-YPFP NextGen Voices: The Untold Story in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Saga

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What: Short Film "Marshalling Peace" and
NextGen Discussion

When Tuesday, August 29
7:00-8:30pm

Where1619 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20036 

On August 29 - the International Day Against Nuclear Testing - ​NextGen filmmaker Autumn Bordner joins Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) and the Arms Control Association for a​n exclusive​ showing of Marshalling Peace​. Autumn traveled to the Marshall Islands to research the lingering effects of U.S. nuclear testing conducted there during the Cold War. Her short film documents the tiny nation's legal battle against nuclear weapons​-holding superpowers​, and the​ devastating effects of the U.S. nuclear testing program on the Marshallese people.

Autumn and the Association's Executive Director Daryl Kimball will facilitate a discussion on the future of nuclear weapons threats and the ways NextGen leaders can shape today's and tomorrow's nuclear policies. YPFP's Danielle Preskitt (a former Association intern) will moderate.

The Panelists:

Autumn Bordner is a rising second year at Stanford Law School. Prior to matriculating at Stanford, Autumn worked as an environmental consultant at ICF, and as a fellow with the K1 Project, Center for Nuclear Studies, a research institute that she co-founded as an undergraduate at Columbia University. Autumn is also a member of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Youth Group. In this capacity, she is working to advance the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Daryl G. Kimball became the Executive Director of the Arms Control Association in September 2001. The Arms Control Association is a private, non-profit membership organization dedicated to public education and support of effective arms control measures pertaining to nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional weapons. Find his complete bio here.

                                                                 

Description: 

ACA and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) are hosting an event featuring a​n exclusive​ showing of Marshalling Peace and a discussion on the future of nuclear weapons threats and the ways NextGen leaders can shape today's and tomorrow's nuclear policies.

Country Resources:

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