"[Arms Control Today is] Absolutely essential reading for the upcoming Congressional budget debate on the 2018 #NPR and its specific recommendations ... well-informed, insightful, balanced, and filled with common sense."

– Frank Klotz
former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
March 7, 2018
Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.)

Karen Yourish
Political Career
Democratic nominee for U.S. House of Representatives, 1972; Massachusetts lieutenant governor, 1983-85; U.S. Senate, 1985-present

Yale University, B.A., 1966; Boston College, J.D., 1976

Military Service
U.S. Navy, 1966-1969


Foreign Policy Advisers
Exclusive advisers: Rand Beers, Richard Morningstar, William Perry

Campaign Website





A veteran—and outspoken opponent—of the Vietnam War, John Kerry has made foreign policy both a high priority during his 18-year Senate career and a centerpiece of his campaign for the Democratic nomination. He has been a member of the Foreign Relations Committee since entering the Senate in 1985 and points to the normalization of U.S. relations with Vietnam as one of the high points of his congressional service.

The senator fought for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, stating that failure to do so “will seriously undercut our ability to continue our critical leadership role in the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.” As further evidence that he is “an outspoken proponent of arms control and nonproliferation measures in the Senate,” Kerry cites his decision to introduce an amendment during the March 2003 debate over the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty to require the United States to declare its confidence in monitoring Russian nuclear weapons deployments. “Despite its stated goal of reducing the number of U.S. and Russian deployed strategic nuclear warheads, the Moscow Treaty is missing the essential components of a strong, enforceable, and meaningful agreement,” Kerry wrote in an op-ed that appeared in the Boston Globe March 5. The proposal was voted down 50-45.

As president, Kerry says he would move quickly to shore up U.S. alliances abroad and develop a multifaceted approach that leverages international cooperation against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). According to the candidate: “It is time…for the most determined, all-out effort ever initiated to secure the world’s nuclear materials and [WMD].” Kerry would appoint a presidential coordinator to direct a “top-line effort” to secure nuclear weapons and materials worldwide and claims that, within four years, his administration will have “entirely” removed chemical, biological, and nuclear materials from the world’s most vulnerable sites. Toward that end, Kerry calls for a “new international protocol” to track and account for existing nuclear weapons and to deter the development of chemical and biological arsenals. He would also increase funding for comprehensive threat reduction programs in order to place all excess U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons in secure, jointly monitored storage sites.

Kerry vows that his administration would be “committed to revitalizing the arms control process” and said efforts to research a new generation of nuclear weapons “could set off a dangerous new nuclear arms race.” He opposes plans approved in the fiscal year 2004 energy and water appropriations bill to fund research on high-yield nuclear weapons designed to destroy deeply buried targets and on low-yield nuclear weapons intended to limit collateral damage on underground targets. According to Kerry, researching and possible developing these weapons “will make America less secure by setting back our country’s long-standing efforts to lead an international nonproliferation regime.”

The Massachusetts senator accuses the Bush administration of ignoring the nuclear threat from North Korea because it was too preoccupied with launching a war with Iraq. Like the other Democratic candidates, Kerry supports negotiations with North Korea that would include providing Pyongyang with strong incentives to end its nuclear weapons program verifiably. He advocates direct negotiations addressing a broad range of issues, including conventional force deployments; North Korea’s alleged drug running and human rights record and dire humanitarian conditions; and Pyongyang’s security concerns. He supports engaging Iran’s current regime “in areas of mutual interest” as long as the country adheres to its nonproliferation obligations but also wants to help bolster the country’s burgeoning reform movement.

Kerry favors developing “an effective defense” against ballistic missiles, arguing that, “if there is a real potential of a rogue nation firing missiles at any city in the United States, responsible leadership requires that we make our best, most thoughtful efforts to defend against this threat.” However, he opposes the administration’s plan to proceed with early deployment of a national missile defense system, as well as Bush’s 2001 decision to abrogate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.