In each month's issue of Arms Control Today, executive director Daryl Kimball provides an editorial perspective on a critical arms control issue. These monthly “Focus” editorials are available for reprint on a non-exclusive basis with permission from the Arms Control Association and link to the original publication online.
Some habits, even dangerous ones, are hard to break. The Cold War is long over, but there are nearly 200
The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was established 35 years ago to reinforce the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) by establishing guidelines for nuclear supply. These voluntary guidelines were designed to prevent the transfer of the most sensitive nuclear technologies and block nuclear commerce with states that do not abide by basic nonproliferation standards. (Continue)
Iran's renewed interest in an arrangement that would move 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey as part of a nuclear fuel exchange brokered by the leaders of Brazil and Turkey has been dubbed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as a “transparent ploy” designed to head off a new round of UN Security Council sanctions. That may be true, but the United States should still seriously pursue the deal as a means to help resolve the impasse over Tehran’s nuclear program. (Continue)
Once again the nuclear nonproliferation system is facing a crisis of confidence. New measures to update and strengthen the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) are needed. The May 2010 treaty review conference provides an important opportunity for the pact’s 189 members to adopt a balanced action plan to improve nuclear safeguards, guard against treaty withdrawal, accelerate progress on disarmament, and address regional proliferation challenges. (Continue)
U.S. and Russian negotiators, with a push from Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, have concluded the most important strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty in nearly two decades. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which will be signed in Prague April 8, puts Washington and Moscow back on the path of verifiable reductions of their still-bloated Cold War nuclear arsenals and renewed cooperation on other vital nuclear security priorities.
The treaty would limit each side to no more than 700 deployed strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and 1,550 deployed strategic warheads, which is 30 percent below the existing warhead limit. Just as importantly, New START would replace the 1991 START verification regime, which expired last December, with a more effective and up-to-date system to monitor compliance for the 10-year life of the new pact. (Continue)
Nearly 50 years ago, the United States introduced so-called tactical nuclear weapons into NATO forces in Europe to deter and, if necessary, use against a Soviet land attack. Not long after, the Soviet Union followed suit.
The U.S.-Soviet military rivalry is now over. Yet, both countries cling to the remnants of their massive tactical nuclear arsenals. An estimated150-250 U.S. nuclear gravity bombs remain at six bases in five NATO countries: Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Russia is estimated to possess about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons in various states of readiness. (Continue)
President Barack Obama’s campaign to confront global nuclear weapons threats started with a bang. In April in Prague, Obama reiterated the U.S. commitment to “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” beginning with renewed U.S. leadership to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons and permanently outlaw nuclear testing. (Continue)
After eight rounds of talks over nine months, U.S. and Russian negotiators are expected to complete work this month on a new strategic nuclear arms reduction deal that would replace the highly successful 1991 START, which expires Dec. 5.
Lower, verifiable limits on still-bloated
Twenty years ago this month, the Berlin Wall came down, hastening the end of the Cold War. Less than three years later, Moscow and Washington agreed to halt nuclear testing. In 1996, after more than 2,000 nuclear test explosions, the world’s nations concluded the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in order to prevent proliferation and help end the nuclear arms race. (Continue)
Global problems require global solutions, along with effective leadership and cooperation. For years, as leading players have failed to agree on how to bolster the beleaguered nonproliferation system, the threats posed by nuclear weapons have become more complex and difficult to solve. (Continue)
As the administration of President Barack Obama works to complete the congressionally mandated Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) by early 2010, it is clear to most that yesterday’s nuclear doctrines are no longer appropriate for today’s realities.
In an April address in Prague, Obama made clear that he wants “to put an end to Cold War thinking” and pledged that “we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the same.” (Continue)
Ten years ago this month, tens of thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers faced off in a confrontation over the disputed Kashmir region. If not for intensive U.S.-led crisis diplomacy, that standoff and another in 2002 could have led to war between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
Since then, Indian and Pakistani nuclear and missile stockpiles have grown even larger, and the underlying conditions for conflict still persist. Indian military planners foolishly believe they can engage in and win a limited conventional conflict without triggering a nuclear exchange even though the Pakistani army's strategy relies on nuclear weapons to offset India's overwhelming conventional superiority. (Continue)
North Korea's second and the world's 2,052nd nuclear weapon test explosion represents yet another low in the long-running multilateral diplomatic effort to freeze and verifiably dismantle Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities. Pyongyang's test blast is also a stark reminder of the need to finally bring about a permanent, global test ban.
Coming just two years after North Korea agreed to refreeze its plutonium separation operations and disable some of its key nuclear facilities in accordance with the 2005 Six-Party denuclearization agreement, North Korea's estimated 2-4 kiloton test blast, missile launches, and renewal of plutonium separation are reckless and exasperating. (Continue)
In his stirring April 5 speech in Prague, President Barack Obama outlined his vision for strengthening global efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and moving forward on practical, immediate steps "to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." Appropriately, his short list of such steps includes re-establishing U.S. leadership on the achievement of a global, verifiable ban on nuclear weapons testing. Obama pledged to "immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [CTBT]."
Indeed, the CTBT remains an essential part of a commonsense strategy to reduce nuclear dangers. By banning the bang, the CTBT constrains the ability of nuclear-armed states to perfect new and more sophisticated warheads. For instance, without additional testing, China cannot perfect the technology to arm its missiles with multiple warheads. (Continue)
The Cold War ended nearly two decades ago, but U.S. and Russian leaders have missed opportunities to implement agreements that would have achieved deeper, irreversible cuts in their nuclear and missile stockpiles. As a result, their nuclear weapons doctrines and capabilities remain largely unchanged, and mutual suspicions linger.
Beginning with their inaugural meeting April 1, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev have the opportunity to reset the U.S.-Russian relationship with the negotiation of a new and far-reaching nuclear arms reduction treaty before the year’s end. If a new treaty is not concluded and the 1991 START is allowed to expire as scheduled on Dec. 5, there will effectively be no limits on the two country’s still bloated nuclear stockpiles. (Continue)