Login/Logout

*
*  

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

– Hans Blix
Former IAEA Director-General
Pressroom

Sixth North Korean Nuclear Test Creates New, More Dangerous Phase in Nuclear Crisis

Sections:

Body: 

Statement from Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball

For Immediate Release: September 3, 2017

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

(Washington, DC)—North Korea’s 5.9 to 6.3 magnitude nuclear test explosion September 3 marks a new and more dangerous era in East Asia.

The explosion, which produced a yield likely in excess of 100 kilotons TNT equivalent, strongly suggests that North Korea has indeed successfully tested a compact but high-yield nuclear device that can be launched on intermediate- or intercontinental-range ballistic missiles.

Ryoo Yog-Gyu, a Monotoring director of National Earthquake and Volcano Center, shows seismic waves taking place in North Korea on a screen at the Korea Meteorological Administration center on September 3, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea, Japan and the U.S. detected an artificial earthquake from Kilju in the northern Hamgyong Province of North Korea. The Japanese government has confirmed they believe it was North Korea's sixth nuclear test. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images) Still more tests are likely and necessary for North Korea to confirm the reliability of the system, but after more than two decades of effort, North Korea has a dangerous nuclear strike capability that can hold key targets outside of its region at risk. This capability has been reached since U.S. President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” if Pyongyang continued its nuclear and missile pursuits Aug. 8.

The inability of the international community to slow and reverse North Korea’s nuclear and missile pursuits is the result of missteps and miscalculations by many actors, including the previous two U.S. administrations—George W. Bush and Barack Obama—as well as previous Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean governments. 
 
Unfortunately, since taking office, President Donald Trump and his administration have failed to competently execute their own stated policy of “maximum pressure and engagement” with North Korea. Trump has greatly exacerbated the risks through irresponsible taunts and threats of U.S. military force that only give credibility to the North Korean propaganda line that nuclear weapons are necessary to deter U.S. aggression, and have spurred Kim Jong-un to accelerate his nuclear program.
 
The crisis has now reached a very dangerous phase in which the risk of conflict through miscalculation by either side is unacceptably high. Trump and his advisers need to curb his impulse to threaten military action, which only increases this risk. 
 
A saner and more effective approach is to work with China, Russia, and other UN Security Council members to tighten the sanctions pressure and simultaneously open a new diplomatic channel designed to defuse tensions and to halt and eventually reverse North Korea’s increasingly dangerous nuclear and missile programs.
 
All sides need to immediately work to de-escalate the situation.
  • The United States needs to consult with and reassure our Asian allies, particularly South Korea and Japan, that the United States, and potentially China and Russia, will come to their defense if North Korea commits aggression against them.
  • As the United States engages in joint military exercise with South Korean and Japanese forces, U.S. forces must avoid operations that suggest the Washington is planning or initiating a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, which could trigger miscalculation on the part of Pyongyang.
  • Proposals to reintroduce U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea are counterproductive and would only heighten tensions and increase the risk of a nuclear conflict.
  • The United States must work with the world community to signal that international pressure—though existing UN-mandated sanctions on North Korean activities and trade that can support its illicit nuclear and missile activities—will continue so long as North Korea fails to exercise restraint. Better enforcement of UN sanctions designed to hinder North Korea’s weapons procurement, financing, and key sources of foreign trade and revenue is very important.
  • Sanctions designed to limit North Korea’s oil imports should now be considered. While such measures can help change North Korea’s cost-benefit calculations in a negotiation about the value of their nuclear program, it is naive to think that sanctions alone, or bellicose U.S. threats of nuclear attack, can compel North Korea to change course.
  • The United States must consistently and proactively communicate our interest in negotiations with North Korea aimed at halting further nuclear tests and intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile tests and eventually to verifiably denuclearize the Korean peninsula, even if that goal may no longer be realistically achievable with the Kim regime in power.
  • Washington must also be willing to do more than to simply say it is “open to talks,” but must be willing to take the steps that might help achieve actual results. This should include possible modification of U.S. military exercises and maneuvers in ways that do not diminish deterrence and military readiness, such as replacing command post exercises with seminars that serve the same training purpose, dialing down the strategic messaging of exercises, spreading out field training exercises to smaller levels, and moving exercises away from the demilitarized zone on the border.
  • This latest North Korean nuclear test once again underscores the importance of universalizing the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. 

Unless there is a more serious, more coordinated, and sustained diplomatic strategy to reduce tensions and to halt further nuclear tests and long-range ballistic missile tests in exchange for measures that ease North Korea’s fear of military attack, Pyongyang’s nuclear strike capabilities will increase, with a longer range and less vulnerable to attack, and the risk of a catastrophic war on the Korean peninsula will likely grow.

NOTE: This post includes a corrected estimate of the explosive yield of the nuclear test explosion.

###

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.

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un Need to Find A Diplomatic Off-Ramp

Sections:

Body: 

Statement from Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball

For Immediate Release: August 8, 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.)—Just six months into the administration of President Donald Trump, the war of words and nuclear threats between the United States and North Korea have escalated, and a peaceful resolution to the escalating crisis is more difficult than ever to achieve.

Both leaders need to immediately work to descalate the situation and direct their diplomats to engage in an adult conversation designed to resolve tensions

On Jan. 1, North Korea’s authoritarian ruler Kim Jong Un vowed to “continue to build up” his country’s nuclear forces “as long as the United States and its vassal forces keep on [sic] nuclear threat and blackmail.” Kim also warned that North Korea was making preparations to flight-test a prototype intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Two days later, Trump could not resist laying down a “red line” on Twitter, saying, “It won’t happen.”

Pyongyang has responded to the U.S. statements and military exercises on North Korea’s doorstep with its own, even more bellicose rhetoric. Following press reports that a U.S. carrier strike group was being sent toward the Korean peninsula, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations warned April 17 that “a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment” and that his country is “ready to react to any mode of war desired by the United States.”

After an intergency review, Trump and his team announced a policy of “maximum pressure and engagement” to try to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions and its ballistic missile program. So far, the approach has been all “pressure” and no “engagement,” with U.S. officials calling for North Korea to agree to take concrete steps to show its commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

In response, North Korea has accelerated its pace of ballistic missile tests, including flight tests of missiles in July with ICBM capabilities. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Aug. 5 the toughest UN Security Council sanctions yet imposed on North Korea. The Korean Central News Agency lashed out Aug. 8, warning that it will mobilize all its resources to take “physical action” in retaliation in response to the UN actions.

Trump, in turn, said Tuesday “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."

Trump’s attempt to play the role of nuclear “madman” is as dangerous, foolish, and counterproductive as North Korea’s frequent hyperbolic threats against the United States.

Trump’s latest statement is a blatant threat of nuclear force that will not compel Kim to shift course. In fact, repeated threats of U.S. military force only give credibility to the North Korean propaganda line that nuclear weapons are necessary to deter U.S. aggression, and it may lead Kim to try to accelerate his nuclear program.

That should not come as a surprise. Since the beginning of the nuclear age, U.S. “atomic diplomacy” has consistently failed to achieve results. The historical record shows that U.S. nuclear threats during the Korean War and later against China and the Soviet Union, as well as Nixon’s “madman” strategy against North Vietnam, failed to bend adversaries to U.S. goals.

With respect to North Korea in particular, the threat of pre-emptive U.S. military action is not credible, in large part because the risks are extremely high. 

North Korea has the capacity to devastate the metropolis of Seoul, with its 10 million inhabitants, by launching a massive artillery barrage and conventionally armed, short-range ballistic missiles. Moreover, if hostilities begin, there is the prospect that North Korea could use some of its remaining nuclear weapons, which could kill millions in South Korea and Japan.

U.S. intelligence sources believe North Korea has already developed a warhead design small enough and light enough for delivery by an ICBM. North Korea's may have a supply of fissile material for up to 25 nuclear weapons, but its fissile production capacity is likely growing and it may be ready to conduct its sixth nuclear test explosion, which would further advance ability to develop a reliable missile-deliverable warhead. 

Trump and his advisers need to curb the impulse to threaten military action, which only increases the risk of catastrophic miscalculation. A saner and more effective approach is to work with China to tighten the sanctions pressure and simultaneously open a new diplomatic channel designed to defuse tensions and to halt and eventually reverse North Korea’s increasingly dangerous nuclear and missile programs.

Better enforcement of UN sanctions designed to hinder North Korea’s weapons procurement, financing, and key sources of foreign trade and revenue is very important. Such measures can help increase the leverage necessary for a diplomatic solution. But it is naive to think that sanctions pressure and bellicose U.S. threats of nuclear attack can force North Korea to change course.

Unless there is a diplomatic strategy to reduce tensions and to halt further nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests in exchange for measures that ease North Korea’s fear of military attack, Pyongyang’s nuclear strike capabilities will increase, with a longer range and less vulnerable to attack, and the risk of a catastrophic war on the Korean peninsula will likely grow.

###

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.

Subject Resources:

PRESS RELEASE: Iran Nuclear Deal Still Working Effectively

Sections:

Body: 

Statement from Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy

For Immediate Release: July 13, 2017

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

(Washington, D.C.)—Two years ago on July 14, six world powers and Iran finalized an historic nuclear agreement with Tehran that removed the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon. The nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has proven to be a nonproliferation success. The agreement has significantly restricted Iran’s nuclear activities and imposed an intrusive monitoring and verification regime. The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran no longer looms over the international community.
 
Despite the success of the deal, some policymakers in Washington are recklessly urging the Trump administration to abandon the agreement on the basis of inaccurate claims that Tehran is violating the accord. Six reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency demonstrate that Iran is meeting its commitments and the Trump administration certified in April that Iran is living up to its end of the deal.
 
Before taking unilateral steps that risk the success of the agreement, Washington should carefully consider the consequences. Abandoning an agreement that is verifiably blocking Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons is irresponsible and dangerous. It would further destabilize the region, and could open the door to a nuclear-armed Iran or increase the prospect of a costly war in the Middle East. Additionally, pulling out of a multilateral agreement that benefits international security sends the message to U.S. allies and partners that Washington cannot be trusted to follow through on its commitments.
 
Given the current instability in the Middle East, it is now more vital than ever that Washington continue to support the nuclear deal with Iran and look for options to build on the agreement. Full implementation of the accord benefits U.S. national security and international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
 
Resources and Factsheets:

Description: 

Statement from Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

New Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty Marks a Turning Point

Sections:

Body: 

Statement by Daryl G. Kimball, executive director

For Immediate Release: July 7, 2017

Media ContactsDaryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104; Alicia Sanders-Zakre, research assistant, (202) 463-8270 x113

(United Nations, New York)—Today at United Nations headquarters, more than 130 states concluded negotiations on and adopted a new “legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.”

Photo credit: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear WeaponsThe new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons marks a new phase in the seven-decade-long effort to prevent nuclear war. For the first time since the invention of the 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.

While the treaty itself will not immediately eliminate any nuclear weapons, the treaty can, over time, 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.

The new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons aims to reinforce the key disarmament component (Article VI) of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires its 190+ states parties to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.

Under the new treaty, states may not“test” nuclear weapons or any other nuclear explosive devices. This simply reinforces the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) which prohibits“any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion” and has been signed by 183 states, including the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China.

The new treaty, which was negotiated by a group of some 130 non-nuclear weapon states, 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 thenuclear 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.

In our view, and in the view of many delegations, the final text of the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty should have been stronger. Key areas, particularly Article 3, which outlines the requirements for safeguards against nuclear weapons programs, could have been strengthened and improved.

While the new treaty usefully outlines key objectives for verifying disarmament by nuclear-armed states in the future, the new treaty only obligatesstates parties not possessing nuclear weapons to maintain or bring into force a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA“at a minimum."

Unfortunately, the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons makes no specific reference to the value of more rigorous inspection procedures, known as the Additional Protocol or “AP+” measures, which is a goalthat states parties at this conference have already agreed to pursue in the context of the NPT. The 2000, 2010, and 2015 NPT Review Conference reports all stressed “that comprehensive safeguards and additional protocols should be universally applied once the complete elimination of nuclear weapons has been achieved.”The history of the Iraqi, North Korean, and Iranian nuclear programs shows that the IAEA safeguards regime must and has and will continue to evolve in order to effectively guard against clandestine nuclear weapons programs.

The new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a historic step forward but, clearly, it is not an all-in-one solution to the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. Additional and difficult work lies ahead.

Prohibition treaty supporters, skeptics, and opponents must put aside their disagreements about the new agreement and find new and creative ways to come together to strengthen the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime.

They must focus on advancing new and effective disarmament measures, while pursuing policies that ease the growing tensions between nuclear-armed states and increase the danger of nuclear weapons use.

Such measures include but are not limited to:

  • securing the remaining eight ratifications, including the United States, China, Iran and Israel, needed to bring the CTBT into force;
  • reviving the moribund U.S.-Russian arms control and risk reduction dialogue, including resolving U.S.-Russian treaty compliance disputes and extending the New START agreement beyond 2021;
  • bringing China, India, and Pakistan further into the nuclear risk reduction and disarmament process;
  • avoiding the introduction of new and destabilizing nuclear weapons systems and capabilities;
  • concluding an agreement on legally-binding negative nuclear security assurances for nonnuclear-weapon states;
  • continuing to implement and build upon the agreement between Iran and six world powers that verifiably limits its weapons-relevant nuclear activities; and
  • engaging in pragmatic and sustained diplomacy with North Korea, coupled with smart sanctions, to halt and reverse that country’sdangerous nuclear pursuits.

Nuclear weapons pose a global threat that demands global cooperation. Now is the time for stronger and smarter leadership from Washington, Moscow, and Beijing, as well as more active support from the world’s non-nuclear weapon states.

###

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.

Description: 

For the first time since the invention of the 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.

Perry, Markey Urge Talks with North Korea to Halt and Reverse Its Dangerous Nuclear and Missile Programs

Sections:

Body: 

For Immediate Release: June 29, 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.)—On the eve of a critical meeting between recently elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump here in Washington, two leading figures outlined a pragmatic strategy for coordinated to U.S.-South Korean efforts to address the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, beginning with direct talks aimed at constraining, rolling, back and ultimately reversing North Korea’s programs.

In a teleconference call with reporters convened by the Arms Control Association, Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who is the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, along with former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry described their recommended approach. (The audio of the teleconference is available online. A transcript of the speakers' opening remarks is below.) 

"President Moon's visit is an historic opportunity for the Trump administration to restart direct negotiations aimed at addressing the nuclear and missile threat from North Korea. The Trump administration should adopt a strategy of active and direct diplomatic engagement with North Korea, backed by rigorous sanction enforcement by China and a robust military deterrence posture in cooperation with our regional partners, especially South Korea." Senator Markey said.

Earlier Thursday President Moon met with senior Congressional leaders including Senator Markey. Last week, a bipartisan group of Senators issues a resolution welcoming President Moon and endorsing a diplomatic approach to achieving a nuclear-weapons-free Korean peninsula and working together for the enforcement of existing sanctions on North Korea.

Perry reiterated several points that he made in a June 28 open letter to President Donald Trump along with a distinguished group including Amb. Robert L. Gallucci, former director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Sigfried Hecker, former Sen. Richard G. Lugar, former Gov. Bill Richardson, and former Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan, George P. Shultz.

"Experts with decades of military, political, and technical involvement with North Korean issues, strongly urge the start of discussions with North Korea in the near future. This is the only realistic option to reduce dangers resulting from the current high state of tensions and prevent North Korea’s ongoing development and potential use of nuclear weapons."

"This diplomatic effort should begin with informal talks—with no preconditions—to explore options for more formal negotiations," Perry and his colleagues recommend.

"There is no guarantee diplomacy will work. But there are no good military options, and a North Korean response to a U.S. attack could devastate South Korea and Japan. Tightening sanctions can be useful in increasing pressure on North Korea, but sanctions alone will not solve the problem," Perry cautioned.

"Time is not on our side. Diplomacy should at the top of the list of options on the table," Perry said.

"The June 29-30 summit between Trump and Moon is an opportunity for both presidents to recalibrate and coordinate their approaches toward North Korea," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, which hosted the teleconference call.

"A strategy of coercive diplomacy, focused on freezing further nuclear and missile tests, and then ultimately rolling back Pyongyang’s illicit programs, offers the best prospect for success," Kimball said.


TRANSCRIPT OF OPENING REMARKS

Former Secretary of Defence William Perry
[Start 2:30 on the audio, as delivered]

The primary goal of North Korea is extending the Kim dynasty. They have shrewdly done this for many decades (the regime is not crazy as some people think). They are the last Stalinist regime standing and that demonstrates I think, in the view of what has happened to all of the other Stalinist regimes, they have played their cards very shrewdly.

They do have a modest nuclear arsenal and they’re making many more, they have a large arsenal of medium-range ballistic missiles and are developing an ICBM. My judgment is that they will not use their nuclear weapon in the first strike because they know it will mean death to the leaders and great devastation to the country.

Their nuclear weapons therefore are useful but only if they do not use them.

Therefore, I do not recommend a preemptive strike. The cost of the strike, the downside of the strike is much greater than any value, any benefit that it would give. Beyond that, I argue that the preemptive strike cannot possibly take out all of their nuclear weapons. Therefore if we make it to preemptive strike, they are going to end up with nuclear weapons, which will be very, very dangerous. They will respond militarily to a preemptive strike and the response will be very, very damaging to South Korea, not only from the nuclear possibility from them using their remaining nuclear weapons, but also because of the very large number of conventional artillery they have within range of Seoul.

Finally, and most importantly, I believe that there may now be a window opened for diplomacy. China, which has not participated with us as constructively, now fully recognizes the possibility of a military conflict which would be very detrimental to their own interests. They also recognize the possibility of Japan and/or South Korea going nuclear, which would be very detrimental to their own interests. In addition to that, North Korea may now believe that a preemptive strike is credible, which will I think focus their attention on negotiation. That is, I believe that North Korea is now open to a reasonable diplomatic approach.

Diplomatic success will contrast with anything we tried in the past: will need new carrots and new sticks than approaches in the past. China has the sticks, and we together with South Korea and Japan have the carrots. So I think we can put together a very attractive approach today compared with the previous attempts.

China, however, in my judgment will not offer those sticks on their own; they will not participate in the diplomatic approach simply on their own. It’s not enough to say to China, “you solve the problem.” We must be able to partner with China and I think if we do that and we do that with quiet diplomacy, we can get China to participate in a meaningful, diplomatic approach.

If we had a diplomatic approach, and if it succeeded, it would have to be in two phases. The first phase being a freeze, which would be valuable in and of itself because it avoids the possibility of North Korea going from the bomb they now have to a hydrogen bomb and it also prevents them from getting an ICBM. A freeze, if successful, would not only would be valuable in and of itself, but it would be a platform for a second phase, which would be the roll back… of their nuclear program. So that’s what I’m recommending.  

SENATOR ED MARKEY:
[Start 12:45 on the audio, as prepared]

I was deeply disturbed yesterday afternoon when General H.R. McMaster announced that President Donald Trump has asked for new military options to stop North Korea’s nuclear program.

There is no military solution in North Korea. A second Korean War would be an incomparable tragedy, jeopardizing the lives of hundreds of thousands, even millions of people, and possibly could escalate into a nuclear war.

In March of this year, I sent a letter to President Trump, urging him to take a bold new approach to address the threat from North Korea’s growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. I called on him to adopt a strategy of active and direct diplomatic engagement with North Korea, backed by rigorous sanctions enforcement by China and a robust military deterrence posture in cooperation with our regional partners.

Last year alone, North Korea tested two nuclear devices and carried out numerous ballistic missile tests. It is now accelerating efforts to develop a missile capable of striking the territory of the United States with a nuclear warhead.

These growing capabilities represent a grave threat to the security of the American people, and to our allies and partners in the region.

Existing policy to address this threat has not succeeded. Sanctions and deterrence, while essential, have failed — on their own — to induce the Kim regime to constrain its nuclear and missile ambitions.

Without a direct diplomatic track by the United States, North Korea is likely to continue exploiting divisions in the international community to steadily advance its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.

Only a comprehensive strategy of diplomacy — one that brings together economic pressure, military deterrence, and active negotiations — stands a chance of achieving a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

When Secretary Tillerson told the United Nations Security Council in April that the United States is open to negotiating toward a nuclear free Korean Peninsula, and the Trump adminisration announced its strategy of, quote, “maximum pressure and engagement” I was hopeful that level heads had prevailed.

But General McMaster’s remarks could indicate that the President has veered back onto a dangerous war path. And President Moon’s visit could not come at a more critical time.

President Moon’s visit is an historic opportunity for the Trump administration to restart negotiations aimed at addressing the nuclear and missile threat from North Korea.

President Moon made direct engagement with North Korea a core part of his electoral platform, and a recent survey showed that more than three-fourths of South Koreans want a resumption of dialogue with the North.

China has also wanted the United States to launch direct talks with North Korea for many years, so direct diplomacy could make it easier to get China to enforce sanctions and pressure North Korea to negotiate seriously on denuclearization.

If the Trump administration is serious about its strategy of pressure and engagement, it must strengthen existing sanctions and bolster deterrence. But it must also reach out to North Korea to begin talks aimed at constraining, rolling back, and ultimately eliminating its nuclear and missile programs.

Without diplomacy, however, pressure is unlikely to succeed. I reiterate my call for Donald Trump to stop what looks like a rush to catastrophic war and to get serious about implementing the strategy his administration announced – to pressure North Korea into engagement and negotiate denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Description: 

In a conference call with reporters, Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and former Secretary of Defense William Perry shared their interest in having the U.S. and South Korea pursue talks with North Korea on halting and reversing its dangerous nuclear and missile programs.

Country Resources:

Analysis: Sanctions Bill Poses Risk for Iran Deal

Sections:

Body: 

For Immediate Release: March 28, 2017

Media Contact: Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 102.

(Washington, D.C.)—Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and 13 other Senators introduced a new Iran sanctions bill that would, if enacted, jeopardize the success of the July 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Although the legislation (S. 722) focuses on areas not explicitly covered by the nuclear deal, such as Iran’s ballistic missile activity and support for terrorism, sections of the legislation risk undermining U.S. commitments in the agreement.

If this bill becomes law, it could threaten the ongoing implementation of the nuclear deal, which is successfully blocking Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons. Specifically:

Section 4

This section of the proposed legislation would violate the spirit of the U.S. commitment not to take actions that impede Iran’s access to sanctions relief. It imposes mandatory sanctions on entities whose activity “poses a risk of materially contributing” to Iran’s ballistic missile program. This language is overly broad and imprecise, making it difficult for any company considering business with an Iranian entity to ascertain if that entity is involved in activities that could pose a risk of contributing to Tehran’s ballistic missile development. This provision would likely prevent third party companies and banks from doing business with Iran by generating unnecessary risks. Creating this obstacle runs contrary to paragraph 26 of the nuclear deal, which says that: “United States will make best efforts in good faith to sustain this JCPOA and to prevent interference with the realization of the full benefit by Iran of the sanctions lifting specified in Annex II.”  This language also risks alienating U.S. partners in the agreement–France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and China–and sanctioning entities in these states for engaging in legitimate business permitted by the nuclear deal.

Section 8

This section could prevent the United States from fulfilling its commitments to remove individuals and entities from the sanctions designated list on Transition Day, which will occur in 2023 at the latest. According to the text of the nuclear deal, on Transition Day, Washington will delist a set group of individuals and entities, including some designated for ballistic missile activity under Executive Order 13382. The bill will prevent the president from delisting individuals unless a certification is issued that the individual or entity has not engaged in activities related to Iran’s ballistic missile program in the prior three months. Continued engagement in illicit ballistic missile activity by these listed entities is undesirable, but there are no conditions for delisting these entities under the deal. If the president cannot fulfill U.S. obligations to delist individuals and entities, the United States would be in violation of the nuclear agreement.

Iran’s support for terrorist groups is destabilizing and its continued testing of ballistic missiles runs contrary to the spirit of UN Security Resolution 2231, but risking the success of the 2015 agreement, which is blocking Iran’s pathways to the nuclear weapons, is irresponsible and dangerous. For more than a year, Tehran’s nuclear activities have remained restricted and heavily monitored and, according to the most recent report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran is continuing to abide by its commitments under the nuclear agreement.

Before rushing to support this legislation or future bills on Iran, members of Congress should carefully and fully consider the impact on the Iran nuclear deal and the consequences of undermining the accord.

Without the continued and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran’s nuclear program would be subject to less monitoring and far fewer restraints, posing a proliferation risk and threatening international security. Additional sanctions as proposed in S. 722 risk the future of the deal and are unnecessary and unwarranted at this time. 

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

Start of Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Talks A Historic Step Forward

Sections:

Body: 

Statement from Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

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

(Washington, D.C.)—Today at the United Nations in New York, multilateral negotiations on a new “legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading toward their total elimination” will commence.

A view of the UN General Assembly Hall as Taous Feroukhi of Algeria (on screen), president of the 2015 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference, closed the session May 22, 2015. The month-long conference concluded without a consensus on a final document that would have established specific steps to speed nuclear disarmament, advance nonproliferation efforts, and work toward a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. [Photo credit: Eskinder Debebe/UN]The talks, which may conclude by the end of the year, are not an all-in-one solution to address today’s growing array of nuclear weapons-related dangers. But a new nuclear weapons prohibition treaty could be a useful and timely contribution to the seven-decade long struggle to reduce the threats posed by the Bomb.

Although the world’s nuclear-armed states are boycotting the negotiations, this unprecedented new process could help to further delegitimize nuclear weapons and strengthen the legal and political norm against their use. This is a worthy goal that is consistent with the goal of a world without nuclear weapons and the requirement established by Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires all states to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”

Contrary to some skeptics’ beliefs, this process is not a distraction from other disarmament work, nor will it undermine the NPT. In fact, the strong support for negotiations on a ban treaty is a logical and constructive international response to the failure of key nuclear-armed states to fulfill key commitments made at the 2010 NPT Review Conference to further reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons.

Rather than get in the way of progress by lobbying against the negotiations, we call on U.S. President Trump and his administration to respect efforts by the world’s non-nuclear weapons majority to prohibit nuclear weapons and to reaffirm the United States' commitment to meet its NPT obligations and to continue to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

With only four weeks to negotiate the new treaty this year, the process will not be easy. To be effective, the new treaty will need to:

  • Specify which activities related to nuclear weapons possession, nuclear sharing planning, development, production, and testing are prohibited.
  • Be consistent with existing treaties that prohibit or limit certain nuclear weapons-related activities, including the NPT.
  • Provide for pathways by which states that now possess nuclear weapons, or are part of alliances with nuclear-armed states, can support the new nuclear weapons prohibition treaty before they become a full-fledged member of new instrument.

The negotiators should seek a formula that is meaningful but also draws the widest possible support from states participating in the negotiation.

Achieving and maintaining a world without nuclear weapons requires bold and sustained action. The coming ban treaty negotiations are not an all-in-one solution, but do represent an important and new contribution.

Additional Resources:
 
1) A Both/And Approach: Next Steps on Disarmament and the Role of the Ban Treaty, Remarks by Daryl G. Kimball, at the “Global and Regional Nuclear Orders in a Moment of Geopolitical Uncertainty" Roundtable, March 16, 2017

2) Preparations Made for Ban Talks, by Alicia Sanders-Zakre, Arms Control Today, March 2017.

3) Controversial Nuclear Ban Talks to Begin, by Kingston Reif, Arms Control Today, December 2016

###

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.

Description: 

Press Statement on the Start of Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Talks

Subject Resources:

No Winners in a Nuclear Arms Race, Mr. Trump

Sections:

Body: 

(Washington, DC) -- In an interview with Reuters published today, President Donald Trump said he wants to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal to ensure it is at the "top of the pack," saying the United States has fallen behind in its nuclear weapons capacity and he said he thinks the 2010 New START agreement is “one-sided.”

Mr. Trump’s comments suggest, once again, that he is ill-informed about nuclear weapons and has a poor understanding of the unique dangers of nuclear weapons.

The history of the Cold War shows us that no one comes out on “top of the pack” of an arms race and nuclear brinksmanship. President Trump needs to work with Russia's President Putin to build down, not build up their excessive nuclear arsenals and stop stirring up nuclear tensions. 

New START Data Exchange Number for Deployed Warheads and Deployed Delivery Vehicles (February 2017)In reality, New START has advanced U.S. and global interests by lowering and capping the two nation’s excessive strategic deployed nuclear arsenals, both of which remained poised on "launch-under-attack" alert status, meaning that thousands of nuclear weapons could be launched by the U.S. and Russian leaders within minutes of a presidential order.

Discarding New START would irresponsibly free Russia of any limits on its strategic nuclear arsenal and would terminate the inspections that provide the United States with significant additional transparency about Russian strategic nuclear forces.

A wide-range of U.S. national security leaders from, including Mr. Trump’s own Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, support New START. 

With up to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons allowed under New START and no limits on the tactical nuclear weapons possessed by each side, Russia and the United States have far more weapons than is necessary to deter nuclear attack by the other or by any other nuclear-armed country. Neither the United States nor Russia comes out of the treaty “ahead” or “behind.” 

Currently, Russia deploys 1,796 strategic warheads, the United States 1,367, but the United States deploys 681 strategic delivery vehicles (ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers) to Russia’s 508, giving the United States a substantially greater warhead upload potential. 

Both countries will be required to meet the New START limits by February 2018. The agreement expires in 2021 but the two leaders could extend the treaty for another five years and take parallel, reciprocal steps to achieve further nuclear reductions.

In 2013, President Barack Obama, with input from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other elements of the national security establishment, determined that the United States can reduce its nuclear force by another one-third below New START levels and still meet U.S. deterrence requirements.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Stockpile, 1962-2017Further nuclear reductions would reduce the price—estimated at $400 billion over 10 years by the Congressional Budget Office—to replace the U.S. arsenal at current levels. Expanding the U.S. arsenal with new or additional nuclear weapons would cost billions more.

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

In his final news conference as president, Barack Obama noted that if incoming President Donald Trump can restart the stalled U.S.-Russian dialogue on further nuclear risk reduction measures in a serious way, “… there remains a lot of room for both countries to reduce our nuclear stockpiles.” 

Mr. Trump must get smart and avoid reckless statements or actions that upend decades of successful efforts to reduce bloated nuclear arsenals and renew dangerous U.S. and Russian nuclear competition.  

Description: 

Our response to comments by President Trump on New START

Country Resources:

Russia Must Immediately Resolve INF Treaty Noncompliance Issue

Sections:

Body: 

For Immediate Release: February 14, 2017

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 105

(Washington, DC)—The New York Times report based on U.S. government sources that Russia has allegedly deployed an operational unit of ground launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) that violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is extremely troubling and requires the immediate attention of senior policymakers in Moscow and Washington.

According to the report, Russia has not only tested noncompliant systems but has apparently deployed INF Treaty noncompliant missiles, a breach of a key cornerstone of the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control architecture that helped to halt and reverse the Cold War-era nuclear arms race and remove a significant threat to Europe.

General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan signing the INF Treaty in Washington, DC, December 8, 1987 (Photo:Wikimedia)The INF Treaty required the United States and the then-Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

We call on Russia to immediately decommission the noncompliant missiles systems and return to compliance with the INF Treaty.

We also urge President Donald Trump and administration officials to reiterate U.S. support for the agreement and convene another meeting of the treaty's Special Verification Commission (SVC) to address and resolve the compliance issues.

The SVC was convened in November 2016 at the request of the United States for the purpose of addressing U.S. charges that Russia had conducted several tests of the INF Treaty prohibited system.

We also call upon the administration to seek new ways to provide further details about the nature of the Russian violation, particularly to U.S. allies threatened by the missiles. The inability to share more information has made it easier for Russia to deny a violation exists and harder for U.S. allies and other countries to put additional pressure on Russia.

Retaliating to Russia's violation by withdrawing from the INF Treaty, or stopping U.S. implementation of the successful 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), would be counterproductive and self-defeating.

A wide-range of U.S. national security leaders, as well as U.S. military officials, continue to assess that New START remains squarely in the U.S. national interest and that terminating or withdrawing from the agreement would undermine U.S. security.

Without continued U.S. support for existing nuclear arms control agreements and other types of cooperative nonproliferation engagement, Russian forces would be unconstrained. Not only would the United States have little leverage or basis to constrain Russian forces other than military and economic measures, it would not have verification measures in place to assess what Russia is doing.

The United States should pursue firm but measured steps to reaffirm its commitment to the defense of those allies that would be the potential targets of these new INF Treaty noncompliant missiles.

But it would not be militarily useful for the United States to deploy new offense missiles in Europe or seek to accelerate or expand U.S. ballistic missile defense capabilities in Europe, which would not increase the security of our allies and would only give the Russians a cynical excuse to withdraw from the treaty.

RESOURCES:
1) The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at a Glance (February 2017)
2) U.S., Russia Discuss INF Disputes (Arms Control Today, December 2016)

Description: 

Press Release: Russia Must Immediately Resolve INF Treaty Noncompliance Issue

Country Resources:

Trump Ill-Informed About Value of U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty

Sections:

Body: 

(Washington, DC)—According to an exclusive Reuters story published this afternoon, President Donald Trump denounced the landmark 2010 New START agreement in his first telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reuters also reported that when Putin raised the option of extending New START, Mr. Trump had to ask his aides what the treaty was.

Signing of Russian-US Treaty on Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. With US President Barack Obama, April 2010. (Photo: Office of the President of Russia)The 2010 New START agreement has advanced U.S. and global interests by lowering and capping the two nation’s excessive strategic deployed nuclear arsenals, both of which remained poised on launch-under-attack alert status, meaning that thousands of nuclear weapons could be launched by the U.S. and Russian leaders within minutes of the go order.

The most important responsibility of any American president is to reduce nuclear dangers and to avoid nuclear catastrophe. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump appears to be clueless about the value of this key nuclear risk reduction treaty and the unique dangers of nuclear weapons.

A wide-range of U.S. national security leaders, as well as U.S. military officials, continue to assess that New START remains squarely in the U.S. national interest and that terminating or withdrawing from the agreement would undermine U.S. security. Ending New START would irresponsibly free Russia of any limits on its strategic nuclear arsenal and terminate the inspections that provide us with significant additional transparency about Russian strategic nuclear forces.

It has been longstanding U.S. policy to seek to further reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons in U.S. policy. The five most recent U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, negotiated agreements with Russia to reduce their nuclear stockpiles. During his confirmation hearing last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed his support for New START and continued engagement with Russia and other nuclear-armed countries on seeking further verifiable reductions of nuclear weapons stockpiles.

Trump and his team must get smart about New START and the unique dangers of nuclear weapons. Before the end of his term in office, Trump will need to decide whether to invite Russia to extend New START for another five years and/or negotiate a new arms reduction treaty.

The United States and Russia should work together to build down, not build up. With up to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons allowed under the 2010 New START agreement and no limits on the tactical nuclear weapons possessed by each side, Russia and the United States have far more weapons than is necessary to deter nuclear attack by the other or by another nuclear-armed country.

Further nuclear reductions would also save both countries tens of billions of dollars in their ongoing programs to replace their current arsenals and would strengthen global nonproliferation and nuclear risk reduction efforts.

In 2013, President Barack Obama, with input from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other elements of the national security establishment, determined that the United States can reduce its nuclear force by another one-third below New START levels and still meet deterrence requirements.

As President Obama said in his last news conference Jan. 18 “… there remains a lot of room for both countries to reduce our nuclear stockpiles.”

RESOURCES:

  1. U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START (February 2017)
  2. Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START (October 2016)
  3. New Report Calls for Russia and the West to Move Back from the Brink (June 2016) 
  4. New START at a Glance (August 2012)
Description: 

In his first call with President Putin, Trump denounced the 2010 New START agreement despite not being aware of what the treaty was.

Country Resources:

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Pressroom