Login/Logout

*
*  

"I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb."

– Vincent Intondi
Professor of History, Montgomery College
July 1, 2020
Shannon Bugos

Nuclear Weapons Policy Experts Praise Biden for Transparency on Nuclear Arsenal

Sections:

Body: 

Statement by Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

For Immediate Release: October 6, 2021

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext.107; Shannon Bugos, research associate, (202) 463-8270 ext. 113

The Biden administration’s decision to declassify updated information on the number of nuclear warheads in the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal is a welcome step that reverses an unwise decision by the Trump administration to classify this information. It also puts pressure on other nuclear armed states that maintain excessive secrecy about their arsenals, and highlights the need for further steps to reduce the number, role, and risk of nuclear weapons in the United States and world’s other eight nuclear-armed states.

The October 5 declassification announcement indicates that the total number of “active” and “inactive” warheads is 3,750 as of September 2020. The stockpile figures do not include retired warheads and those awaiting dismantlement. The updated stockpile number is only 72 warheads fewer than the figure announced in September 2017, after which the Trump administration decided as a matter of policy not to provide any further updates on the size of the U.S. stockpile.

Interestingly, the detailed figures released yesterday show, Donald Trump as the first post-Cold War  that for the first time in 25 years, the United States increased the size of the nuclear arsenal between the years 2018 and 2019. As our colleagues at the Federation of Scientists suggest, this may be due to the deployment of the a new, low-yield warhead on the D-5 sub-based strategic ballistic missile by the Trump administration.

In a democratic society, it is essential that the public and our elected leaders have the information necessary to engage in a fact-based discussion of key issues affecting national and international security—nuclear weapons being among the most consequential.

By being more transparent about the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile size, the United States is on much firmer ground to put pressure on other nuclear-armed states, particularly Russia and China to be more responsible nuclear possessors by providing basic information on the number and types of nuclear weapons in their arsenals. This is essential to understanding whether and how they world’s nuclear-armed states are—or are not—meeting their obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and elsewhere 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 ….”

Agreement on enhanced nuclear stockpile transparency is also necessary if there is to be further progress on arms control and disarmament measures between the United States and Russia beyond the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and with China in the future.

The updated U.S. nuclear stockpile figures do, however, underscore several troubling realities:

  • progress toward serious nuclear weapons stockpile reductions have stalled in recent years, and some states, particularly China and Russia, appear to be increasing the size and/or diversity of their arsenals.
  • an arsenal of 3,750 nuclear warheads, including approximately 1,389 strategic deployed warheads on 665 land-based and sea-based missiles and bombers accountable under New START, is more than enough to deliver a devastating nuclear blow to any nuclear-armed adversary. It would take just a few hundred U.S. nuclear weapons to destroy Russian and Chinese military capacity, kill hundreds of millions of innocent people, and produce a planetary climate catastrophe. And according to previous Pentagon assessments, the United States could further reduce its deployed strategic arsenal even further and still deter a nuclear weapons attack by any nuclear-armed adversary against the United States or our treaty allies. 

The Biden administration has pledged to “take steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy” and to seek to “head off costly arms races and re-establish our credibility as a leader in arms control.”

As the administration continue to work on its Nuclear Posture Review, we hope and expect it will take further tangible steps to provide the leadership necessary to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons worldwide.

Description: 

The Biden administration’s decision to declassify information on the number of U.S. nuclear warheads is a welcome step that reverses an unwise decision by the Trump administration.

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

China, Pakistan Press BWC on New Guidelines


October 2021
By Shannon Bugos

China and Pakistan in September encouraged more than 180 countries to adopt a set of guidelines designed to guard against the development and proliferation of biological weapons.

Li Song, Chinese ambassador for disarmament, addresses a special session of the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva on Sept. 8. China and Pakistan encouraged more than 180 countries to adopt new guidelines designed to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons. (Photo by Chinese UN Mission)“Broad acceptance of responsible biological research and development of corresponding codes of conduct will bring out the full potentials and benefits of research in this field and help to prevent its misuse or abuse,” said Li Song, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations and disarmament ambassador, in a Sept. 3 statement.

Li officially introduced “The Tianjin Biosecurity Guidelines for Codes of Conduct for Scientists” during a Sept. 2 meeting of experts convened under the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). China and Pakistan aim to have “all stakeholders” endorse the guidelines during the BWC’s ninth review conference and commit to “voluntarily incorporat[ing] elements from the guidelines in their practices, protocols, and regulations.” The review conference was initially scheduled to begin in November, but was pushed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Chinese side has submitted the guidelines to the BWC review conference for endorsement,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Sept. 6. “The conclusion of the Tianjin Guidelines demonstrates that, in the face of global issues, effective solutions can be found as long as we uphold the spirit of inclusiveness, pragmatism, science, and cooperation.”

Entered into force in 1975, the BWC is a legally binding, multilateral treaty that prohibits the development, stockpiling, acquisition, retention, production, and use of biological and toxin weapons and currently has 183 states-parties.

The Tianjin Guidelines emerged from a consolidated effort that included the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Tianjin University, and the InterAcademy Partnership (a network of 140 national regional, and global science academies, including the National Academy of Sciences) with support from the U.S. State Department and the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The initiative launched in January 2021 and held several meetings during the spring. The partnership formally endorsed the guidelines July 8.

“The ultimate aim is to prevent misuse of bioscience research without hindering beneficial outcomes, in accordance with the articles and norms” of the BWC, according to the introduction to the guidelines.

The State Department said in a Sept. 17 statement to Arms Control Today that it viewed the endorsement of the guidelines by the partnership “as an excellent first step to encouraging scientific institutions from all across the globe to be aware of and to incorporate the elements embodied in the biosecurity guidelines and in the Biological Weapons Convention into their own codes as appropriate.” The department did not comment on China’s official introduction of the guidelines at the BWC meeting.

The 10 guidelines recommend that scientists consider potential biosecurity concerns at all stages of scientific research, strike a balance when disseminating research findings between maximizing benefits and minimizing harm, and actively promote public understanding and interest in biological science and technology, including the potential benefits and risks.

“Scientific institutions, including research, funding, and regulatory bodies, should be aware of the potential for misuse of bioscience research, and ensure that expertise, equipment, and facilities are not used for illegal, harmful, or malicious purposes at any stage of bioscience work,” the guidelines state. “They should establish appropriate mechanisms and processes to monitor, assess, and mitigate potential vulnerabilities and risks in scientific activities and dissemination.”

The move by China and Pakistan to secure an official endorsement of the Tianjin Guidelines by BWC states-parties came one week after the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified summary of the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We judge the virus was not developed as a biological weapon,” said the Aug. 27 report. The intelligence agencies remain divided over the most likely origin of the coronavirus, whether by natural exposure to an infected animal or a laboratory-associated incident.

In April, the State Department’s annual arms control compliance report said that Beijing has “engaged in activities that raise concerns with regard to its obligations” under the BWC. “The United States has compliance concerns with respect to Chinese military medical institutions’ toxin research and development because of the dual-use applications and their potential as a biological threat,” the report concluded. Further information, however, remained classified.

In what could be an important move, the two states urged adoption of guidelines aimed at guarding against the development and proliferation of biological weapons.

New Chinese Missile Silo Fields Discovered


September 2021
By Shannon Bugos and Julia Masterson

China is constructing at least 250 new long-range missile silos at as many as three locations, fueling concerns that it aims to substantially expand its nuclear weapons arsenal. Beijing’s rapid nuclear buildup, recently revealed through open-source intelligence analysis, could significantly impact the Biden administration’s Nuclear Posture Review and arms control and strategic stability talks between the United States and Russia.

Yumen in northwestern China is among three locations where the Beijing government is constructing at least 250 new long-range missile silos. (Image: Planet Labs Inc. / Analysis: MIIS James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies)U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his concern with the “rapid growth” of China’s nuclear arsenal at an Aug. 6 meeting of foreign ministers at the ASEAN Regional Forum. He said this dramatic expansion indicates a sharp deviation from Beijing’s “decades-old nuclear strategy based on minimum deterrence,” according to a readout of the meeting by State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, called the development a “strategic breakout” by China. “The explosive growth and modernization of its nuclear and conventional forces can only be what I describe as breathtaking, and frankly, the word ‘breathtaking’ may not be enough,” he told the Space & Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 12.

China has yet to officially respond to the discovery of two new missile silo sites at Yumen and Hami in northwestern China in June and a potential third in Inner Mongolia in July. The Chinese Foreign Ministry told the Associated Press on July 30 that, with respect to reports about the Hami site, it was not aware of the situation.

China’s nuclear stockpile remains small in comparison to those of the United States and Russia and only grew by an estimated 30 warheads, to 350, between 2020 and 2021, according to a June 2021 report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The U.S. Defense Department’s 2020 military power report on China was more conservative, putting China’s nuclear warhead stockpile in the low 200s. (See ACT, October 2020.) Beijing currently has an estimated 20 silos for liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Comparatively, the United States and Russia are believed to have nuclear stockpiles of about 4,000 warheads each.

Republicans in Congress said that the recent revelations confirmed reports during the Trump administration that China was speeding its nuclear buildup and that Beijing’s actions demand an accelerated modernization of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), ranking member on the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, called China’s nuclear buildup “unprecedented” and suggested that China is “deploying nuclear weapons to threaten the United States and our allies.”

China’s nuclear posture has long been one of minimum nuclear deterrence, aimed at maintaining a small but technically sophisticated arsenal capable of a second-strike. Beijing has long asserted that it adheres to a no-first-use policy, meaning that it would only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a first strike.

But the discovery of new missile silos provides some evidence for the claims made during the Trump administration that China aims to substantially expand the size of its nuclear arsenal in the coming years. In May 2019, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr. predicted that, “over the next decade, China is likely to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile in the course of implementing the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal in China’s history.”

In April 2021, Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, Ashley’s successor, shared his assessment that China is well poised to exceed that estimate. “China probably seeks to narrow, match, or in some places exceed U.S. qualitative equivalency with new nuclear warheads and their delivery platforms,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a briefing on the annual worldwide threat assessment.

At the new missile silo fields at Yumen and Hami, which are located roughly 236 miles apart, Beijing has 229 missile silos under construction. Each site features silos placed about two miles apart in a grid-like pattern, spanning an area of about 300 square miles. The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies first identified the construction of an estimated 119 silos at the Yumen site, as reported by The Washington Post on June 30.

On July 26, the Federation of American Scientists announced its discovery of an additional 110 missile silos outside of Hami, on which construction had begun in March 2021. “The silo construction at Yumen and Hami constitutes the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever,” wrote Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen.

A potential third site, at Hanggin Banner, Inner Mongolia, was disclosed in a report on Aug. 12 that revealed construction of a silo field similar to those found at Yumen and Hami. According to Air University’s China Aerospace Studies Institute, a U.S. Air Force education institute that publicized the location, satellite imagery indicates construction of at least 29 new silos, 13 of which have dome shelters.

Experts suggest that China’s DF-41, a solid-fueled ICBM capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads, may be destined for the silos at the new sites. It is uncertain, however, whether Beijing plans to fill every silo with a missile and how many warheads each missile will carry.

“Just because you build the silos doesn’t mean you have to fill them all with missiles,” Vipin Narang, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, told The New York Times on July 26. “They can move them around.”

Employing such a shell-game strategy could be one of China’s motivations for constructing new missile silos. Alternatively, as suggested by Tong Zhao of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, leaders in Beijing may have adjusted their calculus to determine that “a bigger arsenal would make the country’s rivals respect China and exercise more self-restraint when dealing with Beijing.”

Although China once prioritized a sophisticated but small nuclear arsenal, Zhao suggests that recent evidence indicates Beijing “has become more willing to invest in quantity, in addition to its traditional focus on [the] quality” of its nuclear forces.

Caitlin Talmadge, an expert on Chinese nuclear issues at Georgetown University, shared her assessment July 1 on Twitter that “China is working hard to entrench [the United States] in a deeper state of mutual vulnerability” through its nuclear buildup.

“Beijing has a good ways to go still, but true nuclear stalemate would make it much more challenging for [the United States] to reassure [and] defend allies in the face of Chinese conventional threats,” she concluded.

U.S. defense officials are also watching to see if China will use its civilian nuclear power infrastructure to expand its weapons-grade fissile material stockpile. Richard warned in April that Beijing’s new nuclear power reactors “could change the upper bounds of what China could choose to do if they wanted to in terms of further expansion of their nuclear capabilities.” Nuclear infrastructure intended for civilian use could be maladapted for the production of weapons-grade material.

China’s rapid expansion has prompted questions about how it could affect arms control and strategic stability talks between the United States and Russia. Washington and Moscow kicked off the dialogue in July in Geneva.

The Trump administration pursued efforts in 2020 to bring China into trilateral arms control talks with Russia, but Beijing repeatedly refused. (See ACT, November 2020.) At one point, the Trump administration conditioned an extension of the 2010 U.S.-Russian New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which was set to expire in February 2021, on China’s involvement in a new trilateral arms control agreement. (See ACT, July/August 2020.)

Trump left office with the treaty’s future in doubt, but the Biden administration agreed to extend New START just days before its expiration. Even so, Blinken said on Feb. 3 that Washington will not only seek future arms control covering all Russian nuclear weapons, but also “pursue arms control to reduce the dangers from China’s modern and growing nuclear arsenal.”

On Aug. 10, Price echoed the secretary’s remarks after the silo field revelations, saying that “we encourage Beijing to engage with us on practical measures to reduce the risks of destabilizing arms races and conflict.”

The desire for a dialogue on strategic stability with China is shared by some U.S. military leaders. “A dialogue allows us to communicate our national security or diplomatic objectives, and then to understand Chinese national security diplomatic objectives,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Lutton, commander of the 20th Air Force, which has responsibility for the U.S. ICBM force, on Aug. 10. “I think it is beneficial to work with the Chinese.”

In addition to China’s construction of new missile silos, a July 30 report by National Public Radio revealed satellite images of the construction of a new tunnel and roads at Lop Nur, the former Chinese nuclear test site. The U.S. State Department has previously expressed concern that Beijing may be seeking to increase activities at Lop Nur. (See ACT, May 2021.)

China’s construction of new long-range missile silos is raising concerns.

 

U.S., Russia Expected to Continue Stability Talks


September 2021
By Kingston Reif and Shannon Bugos

The United States and Russia are expected to continue talks in September in an attempt to make progress on nuclear arms control before the last remaining agreement limiting the two countries’ nuclear arsenals expires in less than five years.

Flags representing Russia and the United States. Strategic stability talks between these nuclear powers will substantially determine the future of arms control. (Photo by Vladimir Gerdo\TASS via Getty Images)U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to relaunch a bilateral strategic stability dialogue during their June summit, and delegations representing Washington and Moscow held their first meeting in Geneva on July 28. (See ACT, July/August 2021.)

During the “professional and substantive” talks in Geneva, “the U.S. delegation discussed U.S. policy priorities and the current security environment, national perceptions of threats to strategic stability, prospects for new nuclear arms control, and the format for future strategic stability dialogue sessions,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Biden pronounced himself “hopeful” in brief comments to journalists on July 30 when asked about his views on how the talks went and the prospects for success.

The Russians have not been much more forthcoming. In a statement on July 28, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the two countries held “a comprehensive discussion of the sides’ approaches to maintaining strategic stability, the prospects for arms control, and measures to reduce risks.”

“We have significant differences on key issues,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said after the talks concluded, but “there are also points of convergence, and we intend to capitalize on them.”

Following the dialogue, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on an Aug. 11 call “to support transparency and risk-reduction efforts,” according to a Pentagon statement.

In the weeks ahead of the July meeting, multiple Russian officials called for the dialogue to focus first on conducting “a joint review of each other’s security concerns,” given the differing priorities on strategic stability.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman led the U.S. delegation in a first round of the U.S.-Russia stability talks in Geneva in July with the Russian delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The two sides are expected to meet again this month. (Photo by Vladimir Gerdo\TASS via Getty Images)The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Bonnie Jenkins, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. The U.S. team included officials from the National Security Council and the Defense, Energy, and State departments. Ryabkov led the Russian delegation.

This was the first round of U.S.-Russian strategic stability talks since Biden took office and the two countries extended the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) until 2026. (See ACT, March 2021.) The Trump administration held multiple rounds of the dialogue between September 2017 and August 2020, but failed to agree on extending New START, which was scheduled to expire in February 2021.

A key goal of the dialogue is to “lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures,” according to the joint U.S.-Russian presidential statement from the June 16 summit in Geneva. Biden told reporters afterward that he expected results relatively quickly. “We’ll find out within the next six months to a year whether or not we actually have a strategic dialogue that matters,” he said.

The two countries have agreed to meet again formally in September and to meet informally before then “with the aim of determining topics for expert working groups at the second plenary,” Price said. But so far, no specific dates have been announced.

“This focused approach has been used repeatedly in strategic stability consultations in the past,” commented Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the United States, on July 29. “It has proven to be effective in situations where the parties need to discuss a wide range of issues and not superficially.”

The number of working groups and their topics remain to be decided. Last year, the two countries formed three strategic stability working groups on nuclear warheads and doctrine, verification, and space systems. (See ACT, July/August 2020.)

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters after the dialogue that, in addition to arms control, the two sides touched on issues related to space and the strategic implications of artificial intelligence and cyberspace policy, which suggests possible subject matters for the groups. Rose Gottemoeller, chief U.S. negotiator for New START, told Defense One that some topics could be missile defense, new and emerging technologies such as hypersonic glide vehicles, and the framework for a successor agreement to New START.

As for the different priorities, the Biden administration has expressed a desire to address Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons and new nuclear delivery systems, as well as to bring China into the arms control process.

Beijing repeatedly rejected calls by the Trump administration to join trilateral talks with Washington and Moscow, but expressed a willingness to engage in arms control discussions in other settings, such as a meeting with the five nuclear-weapon states or in a bilateral dialogue.

Russia, meanwhile, wants to focus on developing “a new security equation” that addresses all nuclear and nonnuclear, offensive and defensive weapons that affect strategic stability. That would include U.S. missile defense systems, which Washington has long resisted putting on the table.

The State Department official noted that the Russian delegation brought up U.S. missile defenses during the dialogue and that the U.S. delegation responded by arguing that those defense systems are meant to counter threats from Iran and North Korea rather than Russia.

Moscow has suggested including France and the United Kingdom, as well as China, in arms control discussions. It has also continued to propose a moratorium on the deployment of ground-launched missiles that would have been prohibited under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (See ACT, November 2020.)

Although separate from any formal negotiations on an arms control agreement or arrangement to follow New START, the strategic stability dialogue and its corresponding working groups could help establish the foundation for those formal talks in the future.

New START, signed in 2010, caps the U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals at 1,550 deployed warheads
and 700 deployed delivery vehicles and heavy bombers each. Ryabkov noted on June 25 that the two countries are working on restarting the inspections conducted under the treaty, which have been paused since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but “there are no agreements yet.”

 

Neither side has said much about where the process stands.

Key Arms Control Officials Confirmed


September 2021
By Shannon Bugos and Julia Masterson

The Biden administration made progress over the past two months in filling key arms control and national security posts within several departments.

Bonnie Jenkins, a former Arms Control Association board member with decades of experience as an arms control and nonproliferation expert, is the new undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. She is among the unusually high number of women named to national security positions by President Joe Biden. (Photo by U.S. Mission-Geneva)Bonnie Jenkins was sworn in on July 25 as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. Just three days later, she led the U.S. delegation, alongside Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, in a round of the U.S.-Russian strategic stability dialogue in Geneva.

“I am committed to reduce the risk of nuclear war by effective arms control, limit Russian and [Chinese] nuclear expansion, strengthen biosecurity, and pursue accountability for the use of chemical weapons,” Jenkins posted on Twitter following her swearing-in ceremony.

The Senate confirmed Jenkins on July 21 by a vote of 52–48. Biden nominated her for the post in March. (See ACT, April 2021.)

Jenkins, a former board member of the Arms Control Association and former coordinator for threat reduction programs at the State Department under President Barack Obama, will oversee bilateral talks with Russia on strategic stability and nuclear arms control, as well as guide U.S. strategy for the upcoming 10th review conference for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

In addition, Biden nominated Mallory Stewart on July 2 to become assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, a position that reports to Jenkins. Stewart currently serves as a special assistant to the president and senior director for arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation on the National Security Council. She previously served as deputy assistant secretary of state for emerging security challenges and defense policy during Obama’s second term.

Stewart’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has yet to be scheduled.

Also among the Obama administration alumni tapped to join the Biden team is Laura Holgate, who was nominated July 27 to be the U.S. representative to the Vienna office of the United Nations and to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Holgate previously served as U.S. ambassador to the IAEA from July 2016 until January 2017.

At the Pentagon, Biden nominated Sasha Baker as deputy undersecretary of defense for policy and Deborah Rosenblum as assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense. Baker is now the White House’s senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council and served as deputy chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ash Carter during the Obama administration. She was nominated Aug. 10, and her confirmation hearing has yet to be scheduled.

Rosenblum, an executive vice president at the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a nongovernmental organization, previously held multiple senior positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Following her nomination April 27, she was confirmed by a voice vote of the Senate on July 29, and Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Aug. 10 that the department recently welcomed her to its ranks.

With a bipartisan vote of 79–16, the Senate confirmed Jill Hruby on July 22 as undersecretary of energy for nuclear security and administrator at the NNSA, a semiautonomous agency at the Energy Department. Biden nominated Hruby, a former director of Sandia National Laboratories, in April.

Hruby will “lead our efforts to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent and protect our national security,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm following Hruby’s confirmation. “She is a brilliant leader, a model public servant, and an inspiration to engineers and rising stars everywhere.”

Frank Rose was sworn in Aug. 2 as NNSA principal deputy administrator. Rose, nominated in April, previously served in Obama’s State Department as assistant secretary for arms control, verification, and compliance and deputy assistant secretary for space and defense policy.

Biden also announced on Aug. 4 his nomination of Corey Hinderstein as deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation at the Energy Department. She previously served as senior coordinator for nuclear security and nonproliferation policy affairs in that office and currently is the NTI vice president of international fuel-cycle strategies.

“If confirmed, she would lead our nonproliferation work and help keep our nation and our world safe from nuclear threats,” Granholm said about Hinderstein’s nomination.

 

Bonnie Jenkins, the new undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, is among the officials recently confirmed by the Senate.

Members Discuss Open Skies Treaty After Russia Withdraws


September 2021
By Kingston Reif and Shannon Bugos

The remaining members of the 1992 Open Skies Treaty are moving forward with determining how the treaty will function after Russia withdraws in December 2021, a year after the United States also pulled out.

Royal Canadian Air Force members prepare their CC-130J aircraft for an Open Skies Treaty training flight in 2018. Now that the United States and Russia have withdrawn from the treaty, Canada and Hungary, the treaty depositaries, convened a video conference in July to chart the way forward. (Photo by John Hillier/U.S. Air National Guard/DVIDS)Canada and Hungary, the treaty depositaries, convened the states-parties for a videoconference on July 20 to discuss Russia’s announcement in June that it will withdraw from the accord Dec. 18. (See ACT, July/August 2021.) The conference brought together 183 representatives from the 33 states-parties, according to a statement by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The representatives discussed “the overall impact on operational functionality of the Treaty, the impact on the allocation of observation quotas and on financial arrangements within the Treaty, and other potential effects on the Treaty,” the OSCE statement said. “The discussion was extensive with 28 States Parties to the Treaty offering a broad range of views on several key topics pertaining to the effect of the decision by the Russian Federation to withdraw from the Treaty,” the statement added.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in his address to the conference that the U.S. withdrawal in 2020 destroyed “the balance of interests, rights, and obligations of the participants” in the treaty. He reiterated that the states-parties’ refusal to provide written guarantees that they will neither share data collected under the treaty with the United States nor prohibit overflights of U.S. bases in Europe informed Moscow’s decision to leave the accord. (See ACT, December 2020.)

Ryabkov also rejected the call made by NATO in its June communiqué for Russia to return to full compliance with the treaty and emphasized that Moscow will not change course. “The train has left,” he said during his closing remarks. “If you were really interested in Russia remaining in the [Open Skies Treaty], you would have acted differently.”

The deputy foreign minister concluded with a warning that if the treaty “is further terminated, the entire blame for such an outcome will also fall on the United States and its allies.”

Other states-parties at the conference, such as France and the United Kingdom, expressed their disappointment with Russia’s withdrawal decision and their intention to remain fully committed to the treaty. Susanne Baumann, German commissioner for disarmament and arms control, said that Russia’s withdrawal places “significant strain” on the treaty and that “a new approach to conventional arms control is much needed.”

Katarina Kertysova, a policy fellow at the European Leadership Network, in a July article encouraged the remaining states-parties to keep the treaty alive because there is “ongoing value in overflying Ukraine, Georgia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” as well as in conducting extraordinary observation flights, as occurred in Ukraine in 2014. Kertysova also suggested possible ways in which the treaty could be reimagined and expanded, such as by verifying international arms control agreements and extending the geographical scope of the treaty outside of the Euro-Atlantic region.

Meanwhile, Alexander Graef, a researcher at the Institute for Peace, Research, and Security Policy in Hamburg, emphasized on July 20 that “[n]o amount of national technical means can replace the value of [military-to-military] contacts” provided through the treaty’s implementation.

Entering into force in 2002, the Open Skies Treaty permits each state-party to conduct short-notice, unarmed observation flights over the others’ entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities. The Biden administration informed Moscow in May that it would not seek to rejoin the accord after the Trump administration withdrew Washington from the treaty in November 2020. (See ACT, June 2021.)

The remaining members of the 1992 Open Skies Treaty are trying to figure out how the treaty will function once Russia withdraws in December.

U.S. Hypersonic Glide Vehicle Test Fails Again


September 2021

The U.S. Air Force’s air-launched hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, known as the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), failed another flight booster test in July after a failure three months earlier.

Air Force crew prepare for a test of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 2020. The hypersonic weapon travels at five times the speed of sound. (Photo by U.S. Air Force)The rocket motor for the ARRW test missile did not ignite after the missile “cleanly separated” from a B-52 bomber and “successfully demonstrated the full release sequence” during the July 28 test over Point Mugu Sea Range near southern California, the Air Force said in a July 29 statement. During a booster test in April, the test missile failed to complete the launch sequence. (See ACT, May 2021.)

“Developing first-of-its-kind missiles is difficult business, and this is why we test,” said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, the Air Force’s program executive officer for weapons, after the test.

The Air Force has said that the ARRW system is designed to provide the ability to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets and will expand the capabilities of precision-strike weapons systems by enabling rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets. The service’s fiscal year 2022 budget request included $238 million for continued research and development and $161 million for initial procurement of the hypersonic system. (See ACT, July/August 2021.)

The Air Force plans to begin deploying the ARRW system in 2022, but that date may be pushed back. Collins told reporters on Aug. 4 that figuring out what went wrong with the test “may impact our ability to meet our next test window as we go forward.” The hypersonic system must successfully complete booster and all-up-round test flights before a contract is awarded to manufacturer Lockheed Martin so production can begin.

The July booster test followed the first detonation of an ARRW warhead earlier in the month, which the Air Force dubbed as successful in a July 7 statement. The missile will be armed with what is known as a fragmentation warhead, according to a July 16 Aviation Week report, which would limit the ARRW system to destroying soft targets.—SHANNON BUGOS

U.S. Hypersonic Glide Vehicle Test Fails Again

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Shannon Bugos