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"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
Pressroom

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

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

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Markey-Lieu Legislation Underscores Undemocratic, Irresponsible Nature of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Use Protocol

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TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Restrict Trump's Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons

For Immediate Release: January 24, 2017

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

 

The Arms Control Association applauds Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) for reintroducing legislation to highlight the unconstrained and undemocratic ability of the president to initiate the first-use of U.S. nuclear weapons. The Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 would prohibit the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress.

Operation Ivy, the eighth series of American nuclear tests, carried out to  upgrade the U.S. arsenal in response to the Soviet nuclear weapons program. (Photo: Wikipedia)Put simply, the fate of tens of millions depends in large part on the good judgment and stability of a single person. At any moment, there are roughly 800 U.S. nuclear warheads–all of which are far more powerful than the weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945–that can be launched within minutes of an order by the president. The president, and the president alone, has the supreme authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. Congress currently has no say in the matter. Continuing to vest such destructive power in the hands of one person is undemocratic, irresponsible, and increasingly untenable.
 
In an August 2016 HuffPost/YouGov survey, two-thirds of respondents said the United States should use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack or not at all, while just 18 percent think that first-use is sometimes justified. Indeed, it is all but impossible to imagine a scenario where the benefits of the first-use of U.S. nuclear weapons would outweigh the severe costs.
 
The inauguration of President Donald Trump has heightened fears about the sole authority of the commander in chief to use nuclear weapons. Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed deep concern about his erratic behavior and loose talk on nuclear weapons. Now is the time to put responsible checks on the use of nuclear weapons in place. Such a decision is far too important to be left in the hands of one person.
 
Numerous options can be pursued to bring greater democracy and transparency to U.S. nuclear decision-making and reduce the risk of nuclear use. In addition to the proposal in the Markey and Lieu legislation, additional options include:

  • Requiring that a decision to use nuclear weapons be made by more than one person. This could include the president, vice president, secretaries of state and defense, and perhaps one or more designated members of Congress, such as the speaker of the House.
     
  • Eliminating the requirement to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) under attack, which in some scenarios would give the president only minutes to decide whether to launch the missiles before some or all of them are destroyed on the ground. Given that a president would almost certainly not make the most consequential decision a president has ever made in a matter of minutes, retaining a launch under attack posture is unnecessarily risky and eliminating it would increase the time available to consider the possible use of nuclear weapons in retaliation to a nuclear attack against the United States or its allies.
     
  • Provide Congress with more information on U.S. nuclear war plans, including targeting data, attack options, damage expectancy requirements, estimated civilian casualties, and more, which is currently not shared with Members of Congress.
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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.
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Statement by Kingston Reif and Daryl Kimball

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Press Release: U.S., Russia Can And Should Reduce Nuclear Excess, But On Proper Terms

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For Immediate Release: January 18, 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, D.C.) — 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.” 

President Obama at his final news conference, January 18, 2017 (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)“President Obama is right. The United States and Russia have an opportunity and a responsibility to further reduce their excess nuclear weapons stockpiles,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the independent Arms Control Association.

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.

“Trump should choose to build down, not build up,” Kimball said. "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,” Kimball noted.

"About 900 U.S. nuclear weapons can be fired within minutes of a presidential decision to do so, and no Congressional approval is required,” he said.

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.

Last weekend, Mr. Trump told the Times of London that "nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially,” but he suggested that such a deal might be linked to the easing of sanctions against Russia for its annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russia is a party to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, a political understanding that the parties would respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan if they renounced nuclear weapons and joined the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as non-nuclear weapon states.

"Such a linkage would be unwise and impractical,” Kimball said. “The sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. and our European allies should only be eased if Russia changes its behavior vis-a-vis Ukraine,” he said.

“We have recommended for some time that the U.S. and Russian sides should seek further, parallel reductions of one-third or more below the New START limits. This approach would not necessarily require that Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin negotiate a new treaty,” he said.

“However, any further U.S.-Russian nuclear weapons reductions will most likely need to consider other issues of concern for both Moscow and Washington,” Kimball said. "These include: compliance with the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a new understanding about the scope of U.S. and Russian missile defense systems, and concerns about advanced conventional weapons."

“A renewal of the U.S.-Russian strategic dialogue is in the interests of both countries. Further progress in reducing the risk and number of nuclear weapons is possible and necessary and would very much follow in the tradition of past U.S. presidential administrations,” Kimball said.

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“The sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. and our European allies should only be eased if Russia changes its behavior vis-a-vis Ukraine,” Kimball said.

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The Government of the Marshall Islands and former Foreign Minister Tony de Brum Voted "2016 Arms Control Persons of the Year"

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For Immediate Release: January 9, 2017

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

(Washington, D.C.)—The Republic of the Marshall Islands and its former Foreign Minister Tony de Brum, garnered the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the "2016 Arms Control Person of the Year." Over 1,850 individuals from 63 countries participated in the selection.
 
The Marshall Islands and Ambassador de Brum were nominated for pursuing a formal legal case against the world's nuclear-armed states for failing to meet their obligations under the NPT. Ten individuals and groups were nominated by the staff of the Arms Control Association for their leadership in advancing effective arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament solutions or for raising awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons during the past year.
 
The government of the Marshall Islands and Ambassador de Brum were nominated for pursuing a formal legal case in the International Court of Justice in The Hague against the world's nuclear-armed states for their failure to initiate nuclear disarmament negotiations in violation of Article VI of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law.
 
"The nomination of the Marshall Islands and Ambassador de Brum and the many votes they received reflects the concern and frustration expressed by many non-nuclear weapon states about the unacceptable consequences of nuclear weapons use, the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, and the growing risks of renewed global nuclear competition" noted Kingston Reif, director of disarmament and threat reduction at the Arms Control Association.
 
In October, the 16-member court issued their rulings which upheld the arguments of the nuclear states that the Court lacked jurisdiction in two 9-7 votes in the cases of India and Pakistan and in an 8-8 vote in the case of the UK.
 
The people of the Marshall Islands were subjected to 67 U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests explosions from 1946 to 1958. India, Pakistan, and the UK were the only states to participate in the lawsuits because the others do not recognize the court’s compulsory jurisdiction to mediate disputes between states.
 
Despite the court decisions, representatives of the Marshall Islands said the cases brought the frustratingly slow pace of disarmament negotiations to the world’s attention.
 
“The Marshall Islands’ bringing of these cases in and of itself is significant because it squarely challenged the nine nuclear states to comply with the legal obligation to pursue and conclude negotiations on nuclear disarmament,” John Burroughs, a member of the Marshall Islands’ legal team and the executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, told Arms Control Today in a phone interview Oct. 12. 
 
The runner-up in the vote for the 2016 Arms Control Persons of the Year were the foreign ministers of Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa. They had jointly secured adoption of UN Security Council resolution L.41 “to convene in 2017 a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”
 
The second runner up was former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry for his continuing efforts to raise attention to the risk of renewed nuclear weapons competition and calling for restraint. Secretary Perry had launched in 2016 a new online course on nuclear weapons and authored a new book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink.
 
Online voting was open from December 8, 2016 until January 5, 2017. A list of all 2016 nominees is available at https://armscontrol.org/acpoy/2016
 
Previous winners of the "Arms Control Person of the Year" include: Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, (2015); Austria's Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Ambassador Alexander Kmentt (2014), Executive-Secretary of the CTBTO Lassina Zerbo (2013)Gen. James Cartwright (2012); reporter and activist Kathi Lynn Austin (2011), Kazakhstan's Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Umarov and Thomas D'Agostino, U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator (2010);Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) (2009), Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his ministry's Director-General for Security Policy and the High North Steffen Kongstad (2008), and U.S. Congressmen Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) and David Hobson (R-Ohio) (2007).

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

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The winner of the 2016 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year

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Vote for the 2016 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year!

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Each year since 2007, the Arms Control Association has nominated individuals and institutions engaged in advancing effective arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament solutions and/or raised awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons.

This year’s nominees has, each in their own way, provided leadership to help reduce weapons-related security threats.

We invite you to cast your vote (one per person) for the 2016 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year. Online voting will be open from December 8, 2016 until January 5, 2017. The results will be announced January 9, 2017.

The 2016 nominees are:

  • Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) for calling attention to the negative security and humanitarian impact of U.S.-supplied weapons and ammunition in the ongoing Saudi military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. In September, the Senators forced a high-profile debate and vote on an amendment, which was voted down, that would have blocked the latest, $1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
  • Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry for his continuing efforts to raise attention to the risk of renewed nuclear weapons competition and calling for restraint. He launched a new online course on nuclear weapons, and through numerous public appearances, op-eds, and in his book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, Perry has warned that “… far from continuing the nuclear disarmament that has been underway for the last two decades, we are starting a new nuclear arms race” with Russia. Perry has been outspoken in his call for phasing-out U.S. nuclear-armed, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and has urged President Obama to put in motion other nuclear risk reduction steps in his final months in office.
  • Diplomats from the U.S. and New Zealand Missions to the United Nations for leading the Security Council to adopt Resolution 2310 and reinforce the global norm agains nuclear testing on Sept. 23, the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the treaty. Among other elements, the resolution recognizes that any nuclear test explosion would violate the object and the purpose of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), calls for prompt action toward the entry into force of the treaty, and a report in 2017 from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization on the status of assessed contributions and any additional support provided by State Signatories for the completion of the Treaty’s verification and monitoring regime.
  • Ahmet Üzümcü, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen of Denmark for coordinating and leading a multicountry operation to remove prohibited chemical weapons materials from the Libyan port of Misrata to Bremen, Germany for destruction. The operation removed last remnants of Libya’s chemical weapons program, removing the threat that the precursor chemicals could be captured and weaponized by a militia or terrorist group. A Danish ship collected the chemicals; the United Kingdom provided a military escort ship; Finland, Italy, and the United States provided additional support.

  • The foreign ministers of Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa for successfully advancing Resolution L.41 at the UN First Committee “to convene in 2017 a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” The resolution was adopted on Oct. 27 by a margin of 123-38, with 16 abstentions. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Brazil’s permanent representative to the UN, said: “Such a treaty is not an end in itself nor a panacea to cure an otherwise ailing regime. It will be thoroughly compatible with the [nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty and the wider nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Further efforts needed to attain the complete elimination of nuclear arsenals can be pursued either within a framework laid out by the prohibition treaty … or in parallel to it.”
  • Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier for his 2016 initiative to re-launch conventional arms control in Europe "as a tried and tested means of risk-reduction, transparency, and confidence building between Russia and the West." The proposal has won the support of 14 European foreign ministers who issued a joint statement in November pledging their support “... for an in-depth and inclusive debate on the future of conventional arms control in Europe through an exploratory, structured dialogue. A central forum for such a dialogue is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe."
  • Author Eric Schlosser and Director Robert Kenner for the 2016 film documentary Command and Control, which tells the riveting story of nuclear weapons accidents and near-misses that are documented in Schosser's book of the same title. The film provides a new and accessible vehicle to alert the public about the ongoing dangers posed by nuclear weapons.
  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, for achieving a revised peace agreement with the FARC guerillas on Nov. 12. After the original accord was narrowly defeated in a national plebiscite in October, Santos renegotiated the pact and secured concessions from the the FARC that opponents had sought. If approved by the legislature, the accord will set into motion the disarmament of the largest irregular army in the Americas, bring an end to more than half a century of civil war, and contribute to control of the illicit trade in small arms. For more information, see: http://colombiapeace.org/.

  • The government of Marshall Islands and its former Foreign Minister Tony de Brum for pursuing a formal legal case in the International Court of Justice in The Hague against the world's nuclear-armed states for their failure to initiate nuclear disarmament negotiations in violation of Article VI of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law. The people of the Marshall Islands were subjected to 67 U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests explosions from 1946 to 1958. India, Pakistan, and the UK were the only states to participate in the lawsuits because the others do not recognize the court’s compulsory jurisdiction to mediate disputes between states. In October, the 16-member court issued their rulings, which upheld the arguments of the nuclear states in two 9-7 votes in the cases of India and Pakistan and in an 8-8 vote in the case of the UK. See: https://www.armscontrol.org/ACT/2016_11/News/Marshall-Islands-Lose-Nuclear-Cases.

  • Investigators from the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) who determined after a 15 month investigation that Syrian government forces were responsible for using chlorine gas in attacks on villages in 2015 and in 2014. The JIM also found the Islamic State group responsible for the use of sulfur mustard in one specific attack in August 2015. The use of chlorine gas, a choking agent, and sulfur mustard are prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Damascus acceded to the CWC in 2013, giving up its major stocks of chemical weapons and precursors in a U.S.-Russian-brokered deal to avoid threatened U.S. airstrikes against the regime headed by Bashar al-Assad. In response to the JIM findings, the OPCW’s 41 member Executive Council voted to “hold accountable” every actor involved in the attacks and demanded that the Syrian government comply with further inspections of Syrian military sites that were involved in launching the attacks. See: “UN Extends Syria CW Investigation,” Arms Control Today,December 2016.

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

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Each year since 2007, the Arms Control Association has nominated individuals and institutions engaged in advancing effective arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament solutions.

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Mapping Nuclear Security and Nonproliferation Efforts

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New Online Resource Maps Efforts to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and Curb the Spread of Nuclear Weapons

For Immediate Release: December 6, 2016

Media Contacts: Tony Fleming, director of communications, 202-463-8270 ext. 110

(Washington, DC)—The Arms Control Association today launched a new online resource in mapping and tracking the objectives and key activities of five major nuclear nonproliferation regimes.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Initiatives Mapping Project aims to inform and update nuclear policy experts, scholars, students, and the general public, on the role that overlapping multilateral initiatives play in bolstering the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) by securing weapons-usable materials, regulating the spread of dual-use nuclear ballistic missile technologies, and blocking the illicit transfer of weapons-related items.

The Arms Control Association is launching a New Online Resource Maps Efforts to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and Curb the Spread of Nuclear WeaponsProject information and resources are available online at NuclearNonProMap.org
 
The five initiatives examined in this project include

  • the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism,
  • the Missile Technology Control Regime,
  • the Nuclear Suppliers Group,
  • the Proliferation Security Initiative, and
  • the G7 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

"Each of these initiatives plays a critical role in reinforcing governments' efforts under the NPT, which entered into force in 1970, to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism, prevent the rise of new nuclear-armed actors, and strengthening the global nuclear security architecture," noted Kelsey Davenport, director of non-proliferation policy, who developed the site. 

In addition to displaying the geographic scope and providing a brief background of each initiative, this project provides general recommendations that could improve the effectiveness of each in the years ahead. These recommendations are based on open source information about the work of each initiative.

The project also presents options for collaboration amongst these voluntary groups to amplify impacts and results. These recommendations are meant to spur creative thinking about how these voluntary initiatives can adapt and evolve to better address future threats and challenges.
 
By consolidating references and recommendations, the project serves as a resource to better understand the role that voluntary intergovernmental initiatives play in bolstering nonproliferation and nuclear security efforts. The project was made possible by the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation.

The site will be updated periodically to reflect the changing membership and priorities of each initiative, developments related to the challenges they address, as well as additional recommendations for strengthening multilateral efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and combat nuclear terrorism.

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

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This new resource aims to inform policymakers, scholars, and the general public on the role that overlapping multilateral initiatives play in nonproliferation efforts.

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Vote to Begin Treaty Negotiations to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons a Step Forward

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Statement from Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball

For Immediate Release: October 27, 2016

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 105; and Zia Mian, member of the board of directors & co-director of the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, and co-author of Unmaking the Bomb, 609-258-5468.

(Washington, D.C.)—Today, members of the United Nations' disarmament and international security committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution to launch formal negotiations in 2017 on a “legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” 

Acting on recommendations of its First Committee in December 2012, the General Assembly adopted 58 texts related to disarmament. (Photo: UN/Paulo FilgueirasSponsored by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa, the resolution (A/C.1/71/L.41) was approved by a vote of 123 to 38 with 16 abstentions. The United States and other nuclear-armed states voted against the resolution. The proposal will be considered and likely approved by the General Assembly in the coming weeks.

The resolution follows three international conferences in 2013 and 2014 to consider the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use and discussions by an open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament in 2016.

The following is a statement from Executive Director Daryl Kimball, on the initiative:

“Today’s vote marks a new phase in the decades-long struggle to eliminate the threats posed by nuclear weapons. In order to attain a world free of nuclear weapons, it will be necessary, at some point, to establish a legally-binding norm to prohibit such weapons. As such, the pursuit of a treaty banning the development, production, possession and use of nuclear weapons is a key step along the way.

Although the world’s nuclear-armed states will likely boycott the negotiations on a nuclear weapons ban, this unprecedented new process could help to further delegitimize nuclear weapons and strengthen the legal and political norm against their use—a worthy goal.

The strong support for negotiations on a ban treaty needs to be understood as a logical international response to the growing risks and catastrophic consequences of a conflict between nuclear-armed states, the accelerating global technological nuclear arms race, and underwhelming pace of progress by the world’s nine nuclear-armed states on nuclear disarmament in recent years.

The coming ban treaty negotiations are not a substitute for necessary, progressive steps on nuclear disarmament, but they do have the potential to strengthen the taboo against the further development and use of nuclear weapons. In the coming months and years, the non-nuclear-weapon states and nuclear-armed states—particularly the United States, Russia, China, India and Pakistan—can and should do more to overcome old obstacles and animosities to advance disarmament and nuclear risk reduction measures, which are essential if we are to avoid nuclear conflict.”

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Statement by Arms Control Association's Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball, on the adoption of a resolution by the United Nation's First Committee to begin treaty negotiations on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

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UNSC Reinforces Taboo Against Nuclear Testing, Increases Pressure on CTBT Hold-Outs to Ratify

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For Immediate Release: September 23, 2016

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

(United Nations, New York)—Today, the Washington-based Arms Control Association commended action by the UN Security Council to bolster international support for the global norm against nuclear weapons testing and the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which opened for signature 20 years ago this week.

Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking on support for the UNSC resolution reaffirming the global norm against nuclear testing (Photo: UN WebTV)“This first-ever, CTBT-specific Security Council resolution (2310) is a very important reaffirmation of the global taboo against nuclear weapon test explosions and strong call for ratification by the remaining eight Annex 2 hold-out states,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

“This Security Council resolution also underscores the immense value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's International Monitoring System, which effectively detects and deters clandestine nuclear testing even before entry into force,” Kimball said.

The test ban resolution also recognizes the important September 15 statement from the permanent five members of the council reaffirming their legal commitment as CTBT signatories not to take any action that would “defeat the object or purpose of the treaty,” which is to halt “any nuclear weapon test explosion and any other nuclear test explosion.”

"With this language, the resolution reaffirm the view of the international community that all 183 CTBT signatories have a legal obligation not to conduct nuclear test explosions. This is not a new obligation, nor is it a substitute for the ratifications necessary for CTBT entry into force, but it is a strong and timely reaffirmation of the global taboo against nuclear testing,” Kimball explained.

The initiative has been under discussion in diplomatic circles for several months and was formally advanced by the Obama administration in coordination with other council members, including the current president of the council, New Zealand.

The last of the United States’ 1,052 nuclear tests was in September 1992. President Bill Clinton was the first to sign the CTBT on September 24, 1996. Over the past two decades, 183 states have signed and 166 have ratified the treaty, and the CTBT has established a strong international norm against nuclear testing.

Only North Korea has conducted nuclear test explosions in this century.

However, the CTBT has not yet entered into force because eight key states—China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the United States, also known as the Annex 2 states—have failed to ratify.

“To finally close the door on nuclear testing and bring the CTBT into force, the United States must provide stronger leadership by reconsidering and ratifying the treaty,” Kimball said.

“Much has changed since the Senate last examined the CTBT in 1999 and rejected the treaty after a brief and highly partisan debate that centered on questions about the then-unproven stockpile stewardship program and the then-unfinished global test ban monitoring system,” noted Kimball, who has campaigned for the CTBT for more than a quarter-century.

“Today the global monitoring system can detect any militarily significant test explosion, and U.S. programs have proven effective in maintaining its nuclear arsenal without nuclear test explosions,” Kimball said. “The United States has no need to resume nuclear explosive testing and we must do everything we can to strongly discourage other states from resuming nuclear testing, which would create new nuclear dangers that threaten international peace and security,” he said.

“Before the Senate takes another vote, however, there should be an intensive educational and outreach effort to ensure that all senators carefully examine the most current information on the CTBT, get answers to their questions, and do not base their views on outdated information and misconceptions about nuclear testing or the test ban treaty,” Kimball cautioned. "But the process of reconsideration should begin—and soon—with the new president and Senate."

“Other hold-out states have good reason to act now on the CTBT,” Kimball added. “India and Pakistan, which are observing unilateral testing moratoria and want to be considered ‘responsible nuclear-armed states,’ would improve their standing and security by signing and ratifying the CTBT," he noted.

"Israel, which has signed and supports the treaty, and Iran, which has signed the CTBT, would both advance their security interests through ratification. Ratification by Iran and Egypt could further the goal of a Middle East nuclear-weapons-free zone," Kimball elaborated. "China has signed but not ratified the CTBT, though by doing so, Beijing’s leaders could put further pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear testing, and spur Washington to finally reconsider and ratify the treaty,” he argued.

“We cannot afford to wait another 20 years for the CTBT to enter into force. Until it does, it is in every country’s interest to strengthen the taboo against nuclear testing and to fully support the work of the CTBT Organization in Vienna. This new Security Council resolution is an important and timely step in the right direction,” Kimball said.

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Statement by Arms Control Association's Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball, on the adoption of a UNSC resolution reaffirming the global nuclear test ban.

Terry Atlas, Veteran Journalist, Joins Arms Control Association as New Editor-in-Chief

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For Immediate Release: August 8, 2016

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Terry Atlas, editor, Arms Control Today, (202) 463-8270 ext. 108

(Washington, D.C.)—The Arms Control Association today announced the appointment of veteran Washington journalist Terry Atlas as editor of Arms Control Today (ACT), the association’s respected monthly publication.

Atlas, who starts this month, has extensive experience as a reporter and editor covering U.S. foreign policy and national security issues, including arms control negotiations from the Reykjavik summit to the recent Iran nuclear accord.

“I am very pleased that Terry will bring his experience and skills to Arms Control Today, which is widely considered a top publication in its field, and will contribute in other ways as part of the senior staff,” said Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball. “I look forward to seeing ACT continue its role as a vital forum for analysis of weapons-related security issues as it has been since it began in 1974. With the introduction of our new mobile app, the content is now more readily available to anyone interested in arms control topics.”

The Arms Control Association, founded in 1971, is a national nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to prompting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies. Arms Control Today serves as an authoritative source of news and analysis and as a forum for original ideas in the field of arms control and nonproliferation.

Most recently, Atlas was an editor and senior writer on the national security team at Bloomberg News in Washington, and he traveled with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during the Iran nuclear negotiations. Previously, he was foreign editor at U.S. News and World Report, where he directed and edited the newsweekly’s coverage of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as well as other international developments. Subsequently as managing editor at U.S. News, he was responsible for news content and was involved with the publication’s print-to-digital transition.

Atlas has reported from more than 100 countries, including from Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, and he covered many arms control negotiations as the Chicago Tribune’s chief diplomatic correspondent before joining U.S. News & World Report. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, who is a Fairfax Public Schools teacher. He succeeds Daniel Horner, who has edited ACT since 2009, and nonresident senior fellow Jeff Abramson, who has been interim editor.

Atlas's email address is [email protected].

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

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The Arms Control Association today announced the appointment of veteran Washington journalist Terry Atlas as editor of Arms Control Today (ACT), the association’s respected monthly publication.

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Reinforcing the Taboo on Nuclear Testing is in the United States' National Security Interests

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For Immediate Release: August 4, 2016

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

(Washington, D.C.)—In response to a column written by Josh Rogin in The Washington Post, Arms Control Association Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball issued the following comments:

President Obama addresses the Security Council on nuclear non-proliferation and resolution 1887 (2009), expressing the Security Council's resolve to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons. (Photo credit: UN)We applaud President Obama’s consideration of a politically-binding UN Security Council resolution this fall that would reinforce the global norm against nuclear weapon test explosions and strongly dispute the allegation made by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that such an effort would "cede the Senate’s constitutional role” on advice and consent of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
 
It is our understanding that the initiative being pursued by the administration would, as other UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions have already done several times before, exhort those states that have not yet ratified the CTBT to do so and call upon all states to refrain from further nuclear testing and to support ongoing efforts to maintain the monitoring system established to detect and deter clandestine nuclear testing.

With President Bill Clinton’s signature of the CTBT in 1996, the United States ended the practice of nuclear testing and today all but one state—North Korea—respects the de facto moratorium on nuclear testing. 
 
More than two decades after the last U.S. nuclear test in 1992, the United States' nuclear weapons labs are in a better position to maintain the reliability of the U.S. arsenal than during the era of nuclear weapons test explosions.
 
Clearly, in order for the United States to ratify the CTBT and the treaty to enter into force, the U.S. Senate would have to reconsider the treaty and provide its advice and consent to ratification. 
 
In the meantime, it is clearly in the interests of the United States to seek ways to reinforce the de facto global nuclear testing moratorium and make it more difficult for states, including Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Iran, from conducting nuclear test explosions.
 
We would hope that Sen. Corker and other members of Congress would not attempt to sabotage efforts to increase the political barriers against nuclear testing by other states and to reinforce the existing, but fragile, legal norm against testing that already exists.
 
As President Bill Clinton said upon his signature of the CTBT in September 1996: “The signature of the world’s declared nuclear powers… along with the vast majority of its other nations will immediately create an international norm against nuclear testing, even before the treaty enters into force.”

The most effective way to verifiably end nuclear testing is to bring the treaty into force. To succeed, U.S. leadership is essential.

Bringing the CTBT back to the Senate for another vote requires a lengthy, intensive educational and outreach campaign to present the new information, answer detailed questions, and dispel old myths and misconceptions.

It was through such a process that the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) was approved in 2010. Unfortunately, in recent years, the Senate has shown it is not prepared for a serious discussion of the CTBT. 

The Obama administration has made it clear in congressional hearings, including on December 1, 2015 and July 14, 2016, that it is not pursuing "a prohibition of nuclear testing through a U.N. Security Council resolution.” 

The initiative that the administration is seeking, while not legally binding, would have tremendous political value in reinforcing the global norm against testing and reduce the risk that other nations might use nuclear testing to improve or develop nuclear weapons capabilities that threaten U.S. and global security.

Finally, any efforts by Congress to withhold the U.S. contribution for the global test monitoring system could undermine long-term U.S. security by eroding our ability to detect and deter clandestine nuclear test explosions by countries such as Russia and Iran.

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In response to a report in The Washington Post, Arms Control Association Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball made the following comments.

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