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ACA's journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent.

– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, October 15

Countdown to Adoption Day Iran completed its formal review process of the July 14 nuclear deal yesterday, after parliament voted on a bill to approve the agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the Guardian Council ratified the parliament’s bill. Iran’s parliament, the Majlis, held two votes on the agreement. On Sunday, Oct. 11, they held a preliminary vote on the first reading of the bill, which passed 139-100. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, were present to answer questions from...

North Korea’s Nuclear ICBM?

With the 70 th anniversary of the founding of the Worker’s Party of Korea approaching on Oct. 10, the director of North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) lauded his country’s “shining achievements” in space development in an interview with the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sept. 14 and raised the possibility of another satellite launch in the near future. The unnamed director reported that North Korea is at a “final phase” in the development of a new earth observation satellite, a “peaceful project” pursuant to improving the people of North Korea’s...

Building on the Iran Deal

The historic nuclear nonproliferation agreement struck on July 14 between Iran and six world powers is moving forward.

October 2015

By Daryl G. Kimball

The historic nuclear nonproliferation agreement struck on July 14 between Iran and six world powers is moving forward.

Now the task is to implement the deal and reinforce it. Leading states in and outside the Middle East should build on the deal by jointly exploring additional barriers against further nuclear proliferation in the region and beyond. 

The agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, will severely curtail Iran’s nuclear capabilities for at least 15 years and put in place a multilayered verification and monitoring regime. By blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear bomb, the agreement also helps head off nuclear competition in the unstable Middle East.

The agreement contains innovative but time-limited provisions that go beyond the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and standard International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. These and other measures could be applied indefinitely if pursued on a regional and even global basis by the United States and other leading countries. Among the options are the following:

Expand application of additional protocols. Region-wide adoption of and adherence to additional protocols, which will provide the IAEA with enhanced monitoring and inspection authority in Iran under the agreement, would help to guard against illicit military nuclear activity elsewhere. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria are among the states that have not concluded an additional protocol with the IAEA.

One approach would be to update the law governing U.S. civil nuclear cooperation to require cooperating states to adopt an additional protocol and early-notification procedures. Another would be for the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group to agree not to engage in any civilian nuclear cooperation with a state in the Middle East unless it has taken those steps.

Ban production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium. In the agreement, Iran agreed not to enrich uranium beyond 3.67 percent uranium-235 for a period of at least 15 years. Iran has indicated a willingness to extend that restriction if other countries in the region follow suit. A goal of U.S. policy should be to secure a region-wide commitment to establishing a ceiling of 5 percent U-235 for uranium enrichment.

A related strategy would be to accelerate the phaseout of reactor fuel with an enrichment level greater than 5 percent for any purposes by any country and to provide technical support to convert reactors fueled with highly enriched uranium to low-enriched fuel.

Iran also committed not to separate plutonium from spent fuel in its reactors for at least 15 years. A permanent region-wide ban on reprocessing could also be adopted.

If additional countries chose to pursue enrichment in the Middle East or elsewhere, they should be encouraged to allow the same continuous IAEA monitoring at key nuclear facilities to which Iran is subject under this agreement.

Encourage lifetime fuel-supply and fuel take-back guarantees. To help obviate Iran’s justification for increasing its enrichment capacity beyond the agreement’s limit of 5,060 of its first-generation centrifuges, the IR-1, any country that supplies additional power reactors to Iran could provide fuel supply guarantees for the lifespan of the reactor and agree to take back the spent fuel to deny Iran access to the plutonium in the fuel. Russia already has such an arrangement with Iran. The United States should strongly encourage lifetime fuel-supply arrangements for any country in the region seeking nuclear reactors.

Forgo nuclear weapons-related experiments. In the deal, Iran agreed to a ban on all nuclear weapons-related experiments, even though some ostensibly have civilian applications. By encouraging other states in the region and elsewhere to voluntarily declare or reach a memorandum of understanding with the IAEA that such experiments, if conducted, would constitute a violation of their safeguards agreements, confidence in the NPT would be strengthened.

Encourage region-wide adherence to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Nuclear test explosions enable states to prove new warhead designs, particularly smaller, lighter warheads for delivery on ballistic missiles. The 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) bans all such tests. Currently, three states in the Middle East—Egypt, Iran, and Israel—must ratify the CTBT to facilitate its entry into force. Iran and Israel have signed the treaty, and their current leaders have expressed general support for the treaty.

To reinforce Iran’s commitment to a future without nuclear weapons and increase security in the region, all CTBT states-parties should actively encourage states in the Middle East that have not signed and ratified the CTBT, including Saudi Arabia, to do so and to fully support the CTBT International Monitoring System, as well the development of the on-site inspection capabilities that will be available after the treaty enters into force.

The Iran deal is a major step forward. The United States and other leading governments can strengthen it further by advancing additional nonproliferation initiatives in the years ahead.

BOOK REVIEW: Turning the Page on Pax Atomica

October 2015

Reviewed by Randy Rydell

The War That Must Never Be Fought: Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence
Edited by George P. Shultz and James E. Goodby Hoover Institution Press, 2015, 530 pp.

On June 14, 1946, U.S. representative Bernard Baruch addressed the UN Atomic Energy Commission and launched his country’s ambitious plan for global nuclear disarmament and international ownership of the nuclear fuel cycle.

The plan was not without its conditions. Actual disarmament would occur only after other steps had been taken, most notably the imposition of intrusive controls over the nuclear programs of every other country and the establishment of the International Atomic Development Authority. In 1961 the U.S. Department of State’s press release accompanying the McCloy-Zorin joint statement on “general and complete disarmament” referred to the attainment of that goal “in a peaceful world,” suggesting that disarmament would occur at the end of a very long road, essentially with the dawning of world peace.1

A new collection of essays, The War That Must Never Be Fought: Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence, takes a somewhat more practical approach by outlining specific actions needed to achieve and sustain global nuclear disarmament. Although contemporary in focus, the chapters all illustrate the continuity of the primary challenges faced some 70 years ago in this field. Which must come first—peace and security or disarmament? How can sovereign states respond to enforce a nuclear disarmament commitment if it is violated? Does the “inalienable right” to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) puts it, extend to the technologies that produced the Little Boy and Fat Man atomic bombs? Is nonproliferation a precondition for disarmament or vice versa?

Taking Disarmament Seriously

Edited by George P. Shultz and James E. Goodby, this book is an exceptional contribution to the literature on nuclear disarmament and arms control. Yet, it is more than that. It also is a valuable addition to the wider political campaign to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

It achieves these goals by inviting contributions from authors of diverse backgrounds, including the military, academia, private research institutes, and many other fields of public service.

The book begins with chapters by Benoît Pelopidas, Goodby, and Steven Pifer that identify the fallacies of nuclear deterrence, including the myth that nuclear weapons are responsible for keeping the “long peace” during the Cold War. Although many self-described realists denigrate disarmament, Pifer offers a defense of the concept as practical, reasonable, and in the interests of the United States and the world community.

The second part of the book delves into specific challenges to disarmament emanating from four regions: Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. The omission of Latin America and Africa is unfortunate, given their long record of support for global nuclear disarmament and their many regional actions to advance that goal.

With respect to Europe, Isabelle Williams and Steven P. Andreasen explain the situation in NATO. They describe the dualism of NATO’s stubborn reaffirmation of the role of nuclear weapons as the “supreme guarantee” of alliance security and the organization’s recent recognition of the desirability of eliminating such weapons globally. Pavel Podvig offers an enlightened discussion of Russian interests and motives in nuclear arms control and disarmament, and in their jointly written chapter, Katarzyna Kubiak and Oliver Meier draw the reader’s attention to the critically important policy positions taken by Germany and Poland concerning the future of nuclear weapons.

The three chapters on the Middle East appear as a dialectic, with the thesis characterizing Israel as the responsible nuclear-weapon custodian (Shlomo Brom), the antithesis emphasizing the reluctance of Arab states to participate in regional peace talks as long as Israel retains its nuclear arsenal (Karim Haggag), and the synthesis being a proposal for a middle course incorporating regional negotiations on many dimensions relating to peace and to disarmament in particular with many timetables (Peter Jones).

 In the one chapter on South Asia, S. Paul Kapur focuses on prospects for decoupling “deterrence” from nuclear weapons. He outlines how deterrence can persist even if nuclear weapons are excluded from the region.

East Asia justifiably receives significant attention in this book. This includes an informative chapter on China’s nuclear policies by Michael S. Gerson, who draws attention to the “increasingly important—and potentially dangerous—interplay between nuclear and conventional forces in the modern era.” Li Bin’s chapter refreshingly mentions Article VI of the NPT. He explains the lack of progress in U.S.-Chinese nuclear arms control and disarmament as largely due to what he calls the contrasting “security paradigms” of the two countries—that is, their fundamentally different perspectives on defense policy and strategy. Peter Hayes and Chung-in Moon go beyond the familiar, customary assessments that simply describe the tensions between North and South Korea. They offer a concrete fix for such tensions in the form of a broad regional security regime that includes but is not limited to a regional nuclear-weapon-free zone. Nobumasa Akiyama discusses how Japan has sought to reconcile its support for global nuclear disarmament with its embrace of the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Goodby and Pifer wrap things up with a conclusion setting forth various conditions for the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons. Their proposal emphasizes the role of the great powers, in particular Russia and the United States, the countries with the largest nuclear arsenals. Goodby and Pifer emphasize the importance of a multidimensional approach, arguing that conventional arms control and nuclear disarmament goals must be pursued together. The two analysts argue that these goals must be pursued at the highest level of government in summit meetings, supported politically in many international forums, and advanced through a “joint enterprise,” a term used in a series of Wall Street Journal op-eds written by Shultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry, and Sam Nunn, involving a coalition of like-minded states. The authors also offer a draft communiqué and work plan to advance their proposals.

The Joint Enterprise in Practice

An Agni-3 missile moves through New Delhi on January 26, 2009, as part of India’s observance of its Republic Day. The Agni-3 is nuclear capable.  (Photo credit: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)One of the key purposes of this book was to put some flesh on the bones of the joint enterprise proposed in the Wall Street Journal op-eds on nuclear disarmament. The authors deserve credit for taking up this difficult mission and for setting forth some ideas on how to achieve it. The Goodby-Pifer proposal places a strong emphasis on summit meetings between key states with nuclear weapons and their allies. Fair enough; as Pelopides wrote, “engage the expected veto player.”

A popular alternative these days is to build a coalition of like-minded states to advocate a nuclear weapons ban, an approach actively being advanced by many nongovernmental groups. Yet, the great weakness of global nuclear disarmament proposals that involve “coalitions of the willing” minus the nuclear-weapon states is in their inability to establish an irrefutable link between the actions of those coalitions and the necessary achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world. It is difficult to achieve the norm of global nuclear disarmament without the participation of states possessing such weapons. A universal norm, after all, implies universal application.

Aside from the predictable difficulties of engaging the nuclear-weapon states, proponents of this book’s approach will also need a strategy to ensure that the proposed summits will remain focused on nuclear disarmament and not get sidetracked by endless discussions on nonproliferation and nuclear security issues. Most non-nuclear-weapon states oppose the idea that the commitment in the NPT to undertake negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament is conditional at all. They are not interested in discussing progress toward disarmament; they want to see progress in disarmament.

These states certainly oppose expanding nonproliferation commitments in the face of what they see as the failure to fulfill the disarmament side of the NPT bargain. While the nuclear-weapon states and their allies are demanding numerous preconditions for fulfilling their disarmament commitments, the non-nuclear-weapon states have not responded in kind by attaching provisos to their own nonproliferation commitments. The longer that disarmament is deferred, however, the more likely it is that this game of “conditions” will be played in the nonproliferation field. The book’s proposed joint enterprise can most successfully address such challenges by remaining a global enterprise with an equitable balance of obligations among all states.

Therefore, it seems that the road to nuclear disarmament will have to involve some players other than the nuclear-weapon states and their allies. In particular, non-nuclear-weapon states and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have important roles to play, as do national legislatures. How they can all fit within the summit proposal offered in this book is unclear.

A protester against NATO nuclear weapons takes part in a demonstration on September 4, 2014, at the alliance’s summit meeting in Newport, Wales. (Photo credit: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)Non-Nuclear Deterrence

As for the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, its frailties are exceptionally well documented in this book by many authors. Yet, the book’s subtitle, Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence, unintentionally diverts attention from another important challenge facing nuclear disarmament, namely, the dilemmas of non-nuclear deterrence.

As the Clinton White House put it in 2000, “Because of [U.S.] conventional military dominance, adversaries are likely to use asymmetric means, such as WMD [weapons of mass destruction], information operations or terrorism.”2 Earlier, Secretary of Defense William Cohen similarly stated that “a paradox of the new strategic environment is that American military superiority actually increases the threat of nuclear, biological, and chemical attack against us by creating incentives for adversaries to challenge us asymmetrically.”3

As these comments suggest, the unconstrained production and improvement of conventional arms can serve as a driver for the proliferation of nuclear and other nonconventional weapons. Thus, the notion that the United States can comfortably rely on expanded and more-capable conventional forces for purposes of deterrence in a nuclear-weapon-free world does not seem to take into account all the possible international responses to this dominant U.S. capability. It is by no means clear that these responses would be fully compatible with global nuclear disarmament.

Beyond Deterrence Alone

In short, deterrence by conventional arms is not necessarily the enabler for global nuclear disarmament that some might wish. More likely, realists in the foreign and defense policy communities will recognize that the global elimination of nonconventional weapons must be accompanied by the regulation and limitation of conventional arms as well as the reduction of military spending.

Furthermore, the realists will have to concede that great progress is needed in establishing mechanisms to advance some fundamental goals of the UN Charter, especially the peaceful resolution of disputes and the ban on threats or use of force. These mechanisms logically would include greater reliance of states on such measures as mediation, adjudication, fact finding, and the “good offices” of globally recognized resources such as the office of the UN secretary-general and regional organizations for international peace and security. Yet, are these institutions prepared to perform that role? This is a work in progress at best, totally dependent on the political will of states to use such resources.

Ironically, WMD disarmament, conventional arms control, the peaceful resolution of disputes, reductions in military expenditures, and strengthening the norm against threats and use of force together comprise the goal of “general and complete disarmament under effective international control,” which is already recognized by all UN member states as their “ultimate goal.”4 Many authors in this volume reach for some form of a “big picture,” but none recalls this particular goal—hence the reader sees Podvig’s “new security framework,” Goodby’s “new global commons,” Brom’s “comprehensive cooperative security regime,” Haggag’s “comprehensive arms control framework,” and Jones’s “inclusive regional security system in the Middle East.” It is not clear what these alternatives offer that are not already intrinsic to the concept of general and complete disarmament, which has been recognized by the General Assembly and enshrined in a dozen multilateral treaties, including the NPT. The key recommendations in this book with respect to nuclear disarmament and, to the extent they are addressed, conventional arms control are fully consistent with general and complete disarmament. What is missing is some recognition of the global support that already exists for this ultimate goal.

Old Challenges, New Openings

Pessimists and optimists will find material in this book to support their views on disarmament. Pessimists will be informed that there is no hope that India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, or NATO will give up its nuclear weapons anytime soon. Reading between the lines, they could also deduce that the absence of nuclear disarmament agencies in the nuclear-weapon states, coupled with the lack of national disarmament legislation, regulations, policies, timetables, and plans, provides some rather compelling grounds to be skeptical about the whole global nuclear disarmament project. To his credit, Gerson addressed this specific challenge in his chapter on China, but the point is valid throughout the nuclear-armed world. Disarmament simply has not been “internalized” in the nuclear-weapon states; until it is, the goal will be all that more elusive.

Catalysts for change, however, should not be underestimated. The determination of NGOs and non-nuclear-weapon states to advance the cause of nuclear disarmament remains strong and is expanding. The rapid growth of the “humanitarian approach” to disarmament is a good case in point, as the vast majority of UN member states have now adopted a joint position in opposition to nuclear weapons on humanitarian grounds, a subject already of three major international conferences with more no doubt to come. Although national leadership from within the nuclear-weapon states is indispensable, the willingness of such leaders to launch disarmament initiatives will certainly be shaped by the wider political climate—a climate that includes public opinion and pressure from the diplomatic community. The more persistent and diverse these forces become, the greater will be the incentive for leaders to adopt a more constructive approach to disarmament. Pressure can shape summits.

Material for a Sequel

Without using the term “pax atomica,” this book dissects the doctrine of nuclear deterrence and exposes it for the anachronistic fantasy that it is in the 21st century. It is less strong in identifying the dilemmas of non-nuclear deterrence in a world without nuclear weapons. It does not take very seriously the role of civil society in advancing the global nuclear disarmament agenda and says very little about the international campaign now underway to advance a humanitarian approach to disarmament.

Yet, none of these are critical shortcomings in this excellent book. They are instead guiding lights for a sequel to build on this solid foundation pulled together by Shultz and Goodby, who continue to demonstrate through their actions and principled leadership that nuclear disarmament not only can work better than any alternative response to nuclear weapons threats, but also is the right thing to do.

ENDNOTES

1.  Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State, “Freedom From War: The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World,” pub. no. 7277, September 1961. The McCloy-Zorin joint statement of September 20, 1961, outlined a U.S.-Soviet agreement on eight principles to serve as a basis for future negotiations on general and complete disarmament. Its authors were diplomats John McCloy of the United States and Valerian Zorin of the Soviet Union. See “McCloy-Zorin Accords,” n.d., http://www.nucleardarkness.org/solutions/mccloyzorinaccordstext/.

2.  Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “A National Security Strategy for a New Century,” January 5, 2000, http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/nss/nss2000.htm.

3.  U.S. Department of Defense, “Proliferation: Threat and Response,” November 1997, http://www.dod.mil/pubs/prolif97/message.html (emphasis in original).

4.  UN General Assembly, “Resolutions and Decisions Adopted by the General Assembly During Its Tenth Special Session, 23 May-30 June 1978,” Supp. No. 4 (A/S-10/4), September 1978, http://www.un.org/disarmament/HomePage/SSOD/A-S-10-4.pdf.


Randy Rydell is an executive adviser to the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation (Mayors for Peace) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association. He served from 1998 to 2014 as senior political affairs officer in the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and was a nonproliferation aide to Senator John Glenn (D-Ohio) from 1987 to 1998. He was report director and senior counselor to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, headed by Hans Blix, from 2005 to 2006, when he was also senior fellow at the Arms Control Association. 

Congress Fails to Block Iran Deal

Congress failed to pass a resolution that would have blocked U.S. implementation of a nuclear agreement that the United States and its negotiating partners reached with Iran in July.

October 2015

By Kelsey Davenport

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on September 10 following an unsuccessful effort by Senate opponents of a nuclear deal with Iran to end debate and hold a vote on a resolution disapproving the deal. (Photo credit: Saul Loeb/ AFP/Getty Images)Congress last month failed to pass a resolution of disapproval that would have prevented President Barack Obama from implementing a nuclear agreement that the United States and its negotiating partners reached with Iran in July.

Under legislation enacted in May, Congress had 60 days to review the agreement reached between Iran and the six countries known collectively as the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). During that period, which ended Sept. 17, Congress could have passed a resolution of approval, passed a resolution of disapproval, or taken no action. (See ACT, June 2015.)

A resolution of disapproval passed by the Senate and House of Representatives with enough support to override a presidential veto would have prevented the administration from lifting certain sanctions on Iran as required by the July 14 nuclear deal. If Congress passed a resolution of approval or took no action, implementation of the deal would move forward.

The House took up a resolution of approval, which failed to pass in a vote of 269-162 on Sept. 11. Twenty-five Democrats voted with the Republicans against the resolution.

A resolution of disapproval was introduced in the Senate, but the Sept. 10 vote to end debate and move to vote on the resolution fell short of the 60 required votes. Four Democrats— Ben Cardin (Md.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) joined the 54 Republican senators voting in favor of ending debate. Two independents, Angus King (Maine) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.), joined the remaining 40 Democrats voting against ending debate. Similar votes to end debate and move to vote on the resolution of disapproval also failed on Sept. 15 and 17.

Shortly after the Sept. 10 vote, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that the Senate has spoken with a “clarion voice and declared the historic agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon will stand.”

Obama said in a Sept. 10 statement that the vote is a “victory for diplomacy, for American national security, and for the safety and security of the world.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), however, said on Sept. 10 that opponents would use “every tool at our disposal to stop, slow, and delay this agreement” because it is a “bad deal with decades-long consequences” for U.S. security.

A Senate staffer familiar with the congressional debate over the Iran deal said on Sept. 18 that the Senate is likely to consider legislation that reaffirms and strengthens U.S. military support for partners in the region, especially Israel, and puts additional limits on Iran.

Some of the proposed ideas for legislation could “contradict or stretch the meaning of restrictions” in the nuclear deal, he said. Such provisions could pose a problem for implementation of the agreement because they might condition sanctions relief on Iran taking steps beyond its commitments under the agreement, he added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Sept. 15 that if Democrats are determined to make a vote on a resolution disapproving the deal impossible, then “at the very least, we should be able to provide some protection to Israel.”

Cardin said he also is working on legislation that would affect implementation of the nuclear deal. In a Sept. 4 op-ed in The Washington Post explaining his reasons for opposing the agreement, Cardin said he would introduce legislation that would include a security package for Israel, require reporting by the administration on how Iran is using funds from sanctions relief under the agreement, and require expedited consideration of additional sanctions if Iran commits an act of terrorism against the United States.

Other than the United States, Iran is the only country involved in the talks that has an internal review process that it must follow before beginning to implement the deal. Iran’s lead negotiator, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, took questions on Sept. 13 from the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, which will eventually vote on the deal. Reactions from members were mixed.

Iran and the P5+1 are to begin taking steps to implement the provisions of the deal after it is formally adopted. (See ACT, September 2015.) “Adoption Day” will be Oct. 18 unless Iran and the P5+1 decide by mutual consent to move the date.

Progress on Weaponization Issues

Yukiya Amano (right), director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Tero Varjoranta, head of the agency’s Department of Safeguards, hold a press briefing on September 21 at IAEA headquarters in Vienna to discuss their recent visit to Iran. (Photo credit: Dean Calma/IAEA)Adoption Day is also contingent on Iranian compliance with the investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into Tehran’s past activities allegedly related to developing a nuclear weapon.

In a July 14 document, Iran and the IAEA laid out a schedule for completing the agency’s investigation. Implementation of that agreement is proceeding on schedule, according to a Sept. 9 press release from the IAEA.

According to the release, Iran turned over documents about its past activities and provided explanations by the Aug. 15 deadline for the activities that had prompted the agency’s concerns. The IAEA had until Sept. 15 to ask follow-up questions based on the evidence turned over by Iran.

In the Sept. 9 release, the agency said it had submitted its additional questions to Iran and was expecting a response from Tehran by Oct. 15. The IAEA aims to complete its report by Dec. 15.

As part of the agency’s agreement with Iran, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano traveled to Iran on Sept. 20 to discuss resolution of the investigation into weaponization activities and verification of the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the P5+1.

During the trip, Amano visited the Parchin military base, where Iran allegedly conducted experiments with explosives relevant to detonation of a nuclear warhead. Amano said in a Sept. 21 statement that he and Deputy Director-General Tero Varjoranta, who heads the Department of Safeguards, visited the site the previous day and entered a building at the site previously observed by satellites and of concern to the agency. Amano said there were “indications of recent renovation work” and that IAEA experts will analyze the information gathered.

Varjoranta reported in a separate Sept. 21 statement that environmental samples taken as part of the agency’s investigation were in Vienna for testing.

The sampling process has been the subject of controversy over the past several months. Although the document outlining the process is confidential, the agency has confirmed that Iran will be involved in the sampling process but under agency surveillance. Critics of the deal characterize the arrangement as allowing Iran to inspect itself, but the agency maintains that the process is technically sound and in line with established IAEA procedures.

Varjoranta said the sampling is conducted under “redundant continuous surveillance” and that more than 40 different member states have participated in “certain verification activities” in “certain circumstances.” The agency is “very cautious to ensure that all these activities never compromise the work” of the IAEA, Varjoranta said.

China Urges New Talks With North Korea

China called for the resumption of nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang based on a 2005 agreement to denuclearize North Korea.

October 2015

By Kelsey Davenport

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, shown in a September 22 photo, gave a September 19 speech in which he called for resumption of nuclear negotiations with North Korea by China and four other countries. (Photo credit: Matt Mills McKnight-Pool/Getty Images)On the 10th anniversary of North Korea’s commitment to give up its nuclear weapons, China last month called for the resumption of nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang based on a 2005 multilateral agreement.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a Sept. 19 speech that although much has changed since 2005, if the agreement’s “common understandings can be gradually implemented, not only can we achieve the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but also open up new prospects for peace and development of Northeast Asia.” China chaired the talks that led to the 2005 agreement.

The talks, which also included Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, led to a joint statement on Sept. 19, 2005, that included a commitment by North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons. In return, the five other countries were to work to strengthen economic ties with Pyongyang and explore security cooperation in Northeast Asia.

Wang’s speech in Beijing to a group of experts and officials from countries involved in the talks came about a week after North Korea’s announcement that a reactor it had used in the past to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons is fully operational again. North Korea is believed to have enough plutonium for six to eight nuclear weapons and may have produced highly enriched uranium for additional warheads.

In carrying out the 2005 agreement, North Korea disabled the reactor it used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons in 2007 and destroyed the reactor’s cooling tower in 2008. But before the 2005 agreement was fully implemented, North Korea withdrew from the process.

Since the so-called six-party talks fell apart in 2009, North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and restarted a heavy-water reactor that produces weapons-grade plutonium. (See ACT, October 2013.)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sept. 16, shortly after Pyongyang’s announcement about the reactor, that if North Korea does not refrain from “irresponsible provocations that aggravate regional concerns,” it will face “severe consequences.”

In his speech, Wang called on all the countries that were part of the six-party talks to “build up consensus” and create the necessary conditions for the resumption of the negotiations. Specifically, he said the parties should reaffirm the principles of the 2005 joint statement, jointly explore ways to “address security concerns of relevant parties” on the Korean peninsula, and refrain from attempts to disrupt the stability of Northeast Asia.

Meanwhile, North Korea announced in mid-September that it may launch a satellite into orbit on Oct. 10 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that the director of North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration said that it was pushing toward the “final phase” in the development of a “new earth observation satellite” in honor of the anniversary.

North Korea successfully launched a satellite on its Unha-3 launch vehicle for the first time in December 2012 after a failed attempt in April of that year. (See ACT, January/February 2013.) Most experts say if North Korea launched another satellite, it would likely use the Unha-3, as Pyongyang has not publicly displayed another model.

Because of their applicability to ballistic missile development, North Korean satellite launches are prohibited under UN Security Council resolutions.

The Sohae Satellite Launching Station, the site of the 2012 launches, received upgrades last year that would allow it to accommodate rockets even larger than the Unha-3. (See ACT, November 2014.) But satellite imagery from last month did not give any indication that the North Koreans were preparing for a launch, according to an imagery analysis by Jack Liu and Joseph Bermudez.

In a Sept. 15 article for 38 North, an online publication of the U.S.–Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Liu and Bermudez concluded that, in the five weeks between the time the images were taken and Oct. 10, there was “possibly sufficient time for the North to prepare for a launch if Pyongyang follows past practices and procedures.” The two analysts said this would be possible only if North Korea already had begun to prepare the satellite launch vehicle at the launch pad. Concealment measures make it difficult to observe if this process has begun, Liu and Bermudez said.

They wrote that if North Korea follows “past practice,” increased activity at the site, including filling up the buildings that hold propellant for the launch, would be expected. Satellites would likely be able to detect such activity.

Pope Calls for Nuclear Weapons Ban

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

October 2015

By Daryl G. Kimball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Pope and Nuclear Disarmament: Background Resources Available

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During his trip to the United States, Pope Francis may continue to call for the United States to take further steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

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For Immediate Release: September 22, 2015

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, 202-463-8270 ext. 107; Kelsey Davenport, director of nonproliferation policy, 202-463-8270 ext. 102; Timothy Farnsworth, communications director, 202-463-8270 ext. 110.

(Washington, D.C.)—Under the papacy of Francis, the Catholic Church is renewing and reinvigorating its call for nuclear disarmament. In a pivotal statement at the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in December 2014, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, the Vatican’s UN ambassador in Geneva, said the “reliance on a strategy of nuclear deterrence has created a less secure world,” and called for all countries to review deterrence as a “stable basis for peace.”

At the 59th meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency Conference last week, the Vatican said that “nuclear deterrence can hardly be the basis for peaceful coexistence among peoples and states in the 21st century.” The statement, issued by Vatican Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher also called for a "real efforts toward facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT [Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty]" and endorsed the July 14 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers saying it ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

During his trip to the United States he will address Congress on Sept. 24 and the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 25. Pope Francis may continue to call for the United States to take further steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

For more information on the Catholic Church’s views on nuclear weapons, see the following resources.

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

Responsible Steps to Build on the Nonproliferation Value of the JCPOA

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By blocking Iran’s nuclear weapons pathways, the JCPOA should reduce the incentive of other states in the region to pursue their own nuclear fuel-making programs. 

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Volume 7, Issue 12, September 21, 2015

On Sept. 17, the 60-day period for congressional review of the nuclear agreement that the United States and its international negotiating partners reached with Iran came to an end without Congress passing legislation preventing President Barack Obama from implementing the deal.

The agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), promises to severely curtail Iran’s nuclear program and stop it well short of nuclear weapons for a generation or more. The deal puts in place an unprecedented, multilayered verification and monitoring regime, and includes provisions to help ensure compliance with the restrictions established by the agreement.

If successfully implemented, the JCPOA will be a net plus for nonproliferation and will enhance U.S. and regional security. Implementation of the JCPOA reinforces the rules, norms, and procedures that make up the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

By blocking Iran’s nuclear weapons pathways, the JCPOA should reduce the incentive of other states in the region to pursue their own nuclear fuel-making programs. The JCPOA also provides an opportunity to strengthen nonproliferation in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, reports indicate that some members of Congress are contemplating counterproductive legislative proposals that would re-interpret the terms of the JCPOA and make additional demands of Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that could complicate or even undermine implementation.

A more productive approach would be to provide the IAEA with the financial support necessary to carry out its additional monitoring and verification responsibilities, and to work with the Executive Branch to augment the JCPOA by pursuing policies designed to strengthen the barriers against further nuclear and missile proliferation in the region and around the world. 

As Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) put it in a September 17 speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington: “If the United States leads these changes over the next five years, then in 15 years Iran will leave one set of restraints – the JCPOA—and enter another – the parameters of a world with…a bolstered NPT [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty].”

The JCPOA contains several innovative provisions that go beyond the requirements of the NPT and standard IAEA safeguards. These measures could be applied for a longer period of time in Iran if pursued on a regional basis, and there are additional nonproliferation commitments that would bolster the JCPOA in the years ahead.

Several of these measures could help address concerns about Iran’s potential nuclear capabilities in the post-year 15 period of the agreement when many of the restrictions on uranium-enrichment capacity expire.

Below is set of illustrative potential strategies and policy solutions that would build upon the Iran nuclear deal and further reinforce proliferation barriers vis-à-vis Iran, as well as other states in the greater Middle East.

Increase IAEA Resources and Capacity. The administration and Congress must work together to provide the IAEA with the additional financial resources (approximately $10-15 million per year) it will need to carry out its additional inspection and safeguards responsibilities vis-à-vis Iran under the JCPOA.

Legislation that hampers the IAEA’s ability to carry out its work, or requires the president to compromise the confidentiality of the IAEA investigations in Iran, not only risks the success of the JCPOA, but could also erode confidence in the IAEA globally. Requiring the president to disclose to Congress information about the IAEA’s confidential methods risks the independence of the agency.

Expand Application of the Additional Protocol. The additional protocol is a voluntary measure that Iran has agreed to implement and ratify under the terms of the JCPOA. In addition, the JCPOA sets a time limit regarding Iran's response to and cooperation with an IAEA request for access to a site or facility of concern.

U.S. policy should be focused on region-wide adoption of and adherence to IAEA additional protocols. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria are among the states that have not concluded an additional protocol agreement with the IAEA.

One approach to expand the application of the additional protocol would be to update Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, which sets the terms for U.S. civil nuclear cooperation agreements with other countries to prevent the misuse of civilian nuclear technology and assistance. Currently Section 123 of the act does not require that a cooperating state have an additional protocol in place with the IAEA. Some members of Congress have introduced legislation to update Section 123 and could pursue a new effort, which would likely win bipartisan support. 

Another strategy would be for the United States and other like-minded members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to agree not to engage in any civilian nuclear cooperation with a state in the Middle East region unless it has agreed to implement and ratify an additional protocol and adopt modified Code 3.1 notification requirements relating to its IAEA safeguards agreement.

Presently, the NSG only has a voluntary policy (adopted in 2011) not to transfer the technology and equipment (enrichment and reprocessing technology) needed to produce weapons-usable nuclear material to new states, especially those states in regions of proliferation concern.

Build a Region-Wide HEU and Plutonium Production Ban. A key goal of the United States and other nuclear technology suppliers should be to strongly discourage any additional states in the region from acquiring uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing technology and to ensure that those that do have such technologies only produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) commensurate with their “practical needs.”

In the JCPOA, Iran agreed not to enrich uranium beyond 3.67% U-235 for a period of at least 15 years. Iran has indicated a willingness to extend that restriction beyond 15 years, if other countries in the region abide by a similar restriction. A goal of U.S. policy should be to extend Iran’s commitment indefinitely by pursing a region-wide commitment to limiting uranium enrichment to less than 5% U-235.

Iran also committed not to separate plutonium from spent fuel in its reactors for 15 years and has stated that it has no intention to do so at any point in the future. A similar region-wide ban on reprocessing and norm in support of shipping out spent fuel should also be encouraged.

Currently Iran and Israel are the only states in the region with uranium-enrichment technology and Israel is the only country in the region to have produced weapons-grade plutonium. Given that Israel has a strategic advantage having already produced plutonium for it undeclared weapons program and because its Dimona production reactor is near the end of its lifespan, Israel might also be encouraged to voluntarily adopt a region-wide policy banning the production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and weapons-grade plutonium.

A related strategy would be to accelerate work to phase out the use of reactor fuel greater than 5% U-235 for any purposes by any country in the region and to provide international technical support to convert all reactors to LEU fuel. Six countries in the Middle East currently have research reactors, with a total of seven reactors fueled by uranium enriched to 20% or higher. This region-wide phase-out strategy would be consistent with ongoing U.S. efforts to phase out the use of HEU for civilian nuclear research and naval propulsion reactors worldwide. 

If additional countries choose to pursue enrichment in the Middle East region or elsewhere, they should also be subjected to the same continuous IAEA monitoring at key nuclear facilities that Iran is subject to under the JCPOA. Requiring more stringent monitoring and transparency should be included the region-wide limitation on enrichment to reactor-grade levels.

Encourage Lifetime Fuel Supply and Fuel Take-Back Guarantees. Another related longer-term strategy should be to ensure that Iran has the absolute minimum “practical need” for low-enriched uranium production. Iran currently has one operating light-water reactor for electricity production and has a preliminary agreement with Russia for several more. Russia supplies the Bushehr-1 reactor with fuel and will take back spent fuel from the reactor. The current supply contract for Bushehr-1 can be extended beyond 2021—and even further if necessary. According to preliminary Iran-Russian plans, any future Russian-built units at the site will be supplied by Russia for the lifetime of the reactors and all spent fuel will be returned to Russia.

Under the terms of the JCPOA, Iran will domestically fuel the Arak reactor, once the reactor is modified and Iran is able to produce fuel assemblies for the reactor. Iran’s enrichment capacity under the first 10 years of the deal—5,060 IR-1 centrifuges—is more than enough to provide fuel for the reactor on an annual basis.

To help negate Iran’s justification for increasing its domestic enrichment capacity beyond the 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges established through the JCPOA for 13 years, any country that enters into a contract with Iran to supply additional power reactors could provide fuel supply guarantees for the lifespan of the reactor, and arrangements to take back the spent fuel so as to deny Iran access to the separated plutonium in the spent fuel.

The United States should also encourage lifetime supply arrangements for any country in the region seeking nuclear reactors.

This approach, combined with a region-wide LEU limitation, would be more likely to dissuade Iran from increasing its uranium-enrichment capacity and/or enrichment levels after years 13-15 of the JCPOA than any “sense of Congress” demand from U.S. legislators that Iran should not be allowed to adjust its uranium-enrichment capacity after years 13-15 of the JCPOA because U.S. legislators do not believe Iran has an “inherent right” to enrich uranium.

Secure Region-wide Agreement to Forego Experiments That May Be Used for Designing Nuclear Weapons. In Annex I, Section T of the JCPOA, Iran agreed to a ban on all such experiments even though some ostensibly have civilian applications. By encouraging other states in the region and elsewhere to voluntarily declare and/or reach a Memorandum of Understanding with the IAEA that such experiments, if conducted, would constitute a violation of their safeguards agreements, confidence in the NPT would be strengthened.

Region-Wide Adherence to the CTBT. A principal element of U.S. nonproliferation policy has been to prevent nuclear testing by any state, particularly because nuclear test explosions enable emerging nuclear weapon states to proof test a warhead design and build smaller, lighter warheads for delivery on ballistic missiles. The United States has not conducted a nuclear test explosion since September 1992 and is a signatory to the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). All of the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and European Union states have ratified the CTBT, except for the United States and China.

Currently, there are three states in the Middle East—Egypt, Iran and Israel—that must ratify the CTBT to facilitate its entry into force.

Senior Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who signed the CTBT in 1996, have recently expressed their support for the treaty.

In 1999, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, then Iran’s deputy foreign minister, spoke in support of the CTBT and endorsed a UN conference statement calling for cooperation aimed at bringing the treaty into effect.

In a Sept. 12 interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, the head of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, which is based in Vienna, said if Iran doesn’t ratify the CTBT, “it will leave room for the doubt that people have put in this deal and the good intentions of Iran.”

To reinforce Iran’s commitment to a non-nuclear weapons future and increase security and stability in the region, the United States and our allies should also actively encourage all states in the Middle East region that have not signed/ratified the CTBT (including Saudi Arabia) to do so and to fully support the CTBT’s international monitoring system, as well the development of its on-site inspection capabilities that will be available after the treaty enters into force.

Reinforce Legal Obligations In the Event of NPT Withdrawal. If a state decides to leave the NPT and pursue nuclear weapons, there should be tough penalties. One approach is to establish that even if a state decides to exercise its right under the “supreme national interest” clause of the NPT that state remains obligated not to use any of the nuclear material or technology under safeguards, or that has been supplied by other states, for weapons purposes. There have been numerous proposals along these lines that have not been adopted in the context of the NPT or mandated by the UN Security Council.

Regional Ballistic Missile Restraint Measures. Iran has perhaps the largest short- and medium-range ballistic missile arsenal in the region, but there are other states with similar capabilities and ambitions. It should be an objective of U.S. policy to develop a region-wide moratorium on research, development, and flight-testing of medium-range and long-range ballistic missiles or cruise missiles, particularly those capable of lifting WMD payloads. The United States should also work with its partners in the Missile Technology Control Regime to strengthen and reinforce the norms against transferring technologies for missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

Conclusion
Through the years, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have put forward important ideas to strengthen the global nuclear nonproliferation system, some of which have substantially contributed to U.S. national policy.

In 1978, Congress came together to strengthen the standards for U.S. civil nuclear cooperation as first established under the 1954 Atomic Energy Act.

In 1991, Senators Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) put forward the “Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act of 1991,” which authorized $400 million to create U.S.-led programs assist the countries of the former Soviet Union secure and eliminate nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and other weapons. This effort became known as the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, which has successfully liquidated thousands of Cold War-era Soviet weapons.

Another example was S. 1977, “The Nuclear Weapons Threat Reduction Act” of 2007, introduced by then Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). It became the blueprint for much of the Obama administration’s first-term nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament policies.

Given the ongoing proliferation threat posed by North Korea, the increasing nuclear arsenals in Indian and Pakistan, and the need to further strengthen proliferation barriers in the Middle East region, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should consider how they can work together with President Obama and his successor to bolster U.S. and global nuclear weapons risk reduction strategies.

—KELSEY DAVENPORT, DARYL G. KIMBALL, and KINGSTON REIF

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

Country Resources:

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, September 17

Congressional Review Period Ends The U.S. Congress failed to pass a resolution of disapproval that would block the Obama administration’s ability to implement its commitments under the July 14 nuclear deal with Iran. The sixty-day period for congressional review expired today, Sept, 17, and without the passage of resolution of disapproval, the Obama administration will be able to waive sanctions as required under the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA.) A vote earlier today to end debate and move to vote on a resolution of disapproval failed to pass the 60 vote...

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