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“Right after I graduated, I interned with the Arms Control Association. It was terrific.”

– George Stephanopolous
ABC News
January 1, 2005
Tony Fleming

Can Biden ‘Build Back Better’ on Arms Control?

President-elect Joe Biden possesses a strong personal commitment to effective nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament that dates back to his early days in the Senate. In 1979, during the height of the Cold War, then-Sen. Biden spoke at the Arms Control Association Annual Dinner about “ The Necessity of Nuclear Arms Control ,” noting that “pursuing arms control is not a luxury or a sign of weakness, but an international responsibility and a national necessity.” He wrote a feature article for Arms Control Today in 1986 titled “ The Five Myths of Reagan Arms Control ,”...

Annual Meeting Table with Zoom Links

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12:30 p.m.

Welcome

Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director
Thomas Countryman, Chair of the Board

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12:40 p.m.

Opening Keynote

"Restoring U.S. Leadership on Nuclear Weapons Risk Reduction"
Senator Jeff Merkley, (D-Oregon)

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1:00 p.m.

Panel

"Diversifying and Strengthening the Disarmament Movement,"
with Amb. Bonnie Jenkins (WCAPS), Cecili Thompson Williams, (Beyond the Bomb) Vincent Intondi (Montgomery College), and Daryl Kimball (ACA), moderated by Lilly Adams (ACA Board).

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1:50 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

  • "The Future of the U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Control Regime," with Rose Gottemoeller moderated by Shannon Bugos
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  • "Repairing the Broken U.S. Policy on Iran," with Kelsey Davenport
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  • Strengthening the NPT and the 10th Review Conference: a conversation with Amb. Gustavo Zlauvinen," moderated by Daryl Kimball
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2:15 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

  • Re-evaluating U.S. Nuclear Weapons Modernization Plan” with Kingston Reif, moderated by Aaron Mehta with Defense News
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  • "After New START: Engaging Other Nuclear-Armed States in the Disarmament Enterprise" with Tom Countryman, ACA Board Chair, and Prof. Heather Williams with Kings College, moderated by Julia Masterson
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  • The Impact of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons” with Amb. Elaine Whyte Gómez, moderated by Zia Mian, Princeton University Program on Science and Global Security and Arms Control Association Board
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2:40 p.m.

Remarks

Seven Ways You Can Be Part of the Solution
Kathy Crandall Robinson, Chief Operations Officer

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2:50 p.m.

Closing Keynote

Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General, UN Office of Disarmament Affairs

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3:10 p.m.

Closing Remarks

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, (D-NY)

Thomas Countryman, Chair of the Board

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Author:

Restoring Leadership on Arms Control

Wow. We did not expect 2020 to go the way it did. It has been a tragic, challenging, and stressful year. Now, as we look towards 2021, we have a chance to turn the page in some important areas. The election of Joe Biden creates the potential for significant progress on arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament. But meaningful and durable changes will not come easily. And the next U.S. administration and other world leaders will need to move quickly to make decisions on a range of issues. These decisions and outcomes—and the efforts we make to influence them—will shape the international...

A Hopeful New Step

Last Saturday, Oct. 24, Honduras became the 50th state to ratify the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which will trigger the treaty’s entry into force ninety days later, on January 22. Coming at a time when nuclear weapons risks are rising, the TPNW marks a new hopeful phase in the long-running struggle to prevent nuclear war and eliminate nuclear weapons. For the first time since the invention of the atomic bomb, nuclear weapons development, production, possession, use, the threat of use, and stationing of another country’s nuclear weapons on a state party's national...

Resources for Journalists

After November, There Is Work to Be Done

Donald Trump came into the presidency without a clear plan for reducing the nuclear danger. In one breath, he would threaten to “win” a new nuclear arms race; in the next, he would declare hope for arms control deals to constrain adversaries. Under Trump, no new nuclear deals have been struck and key agreements to reduce nuclear dangers have been abandoned or, like New START, are in jeopardy. The U.S. nuclear weapons budget is growing. New, more “usable” types of nuclear warheads have been deployed and there has been talk of resuming nuclear weapons test explosions. Worse yet, U.S. arms sales...

The Next 75 Years

The U.S. atomic bomb attack on the people of Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, and the second attack on the city of Nagasaki at 11:02 a.m. on August 9 killed and wounded hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting men, women, and children in a horrible blast of fire and radiation, followed by deadly fallout. “We are badly off course in efforts to honor the plea of the hibakusha—the survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings—and end the nuclear threat." Kazumi Matsui Mayor of Hiroshima The atomic bomb survivors—the hibakusha —have served as the conscience of the global disarmament movement. Their...

Reality Check: The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

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(July 2020)

Seventy-five years ago on July 16 1945, the nuclear age began with the world's first nuclear weapons test explosion in the New Mexico desert. In this annotated video essay from the Arms Control Association, we describe the events that transpired three weeks later with the atomic attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A more detailed review of the geopolitical, environmental, and humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, the rise of a global disarmament movement, and the work of the hibakusha (survivors of the nuclear attacks) is available in our special July/August 2020 issue of Arms Control Today, available at ArmsControl.org/75years.


TRANSCRIPT:

On July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert, the United States detonated the world’s first nuclear weapons test explosion.

Three weeks later, U.S. bombers carried out surprise atomic bomb attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

At 8:15 in the morning on August 6, the uranium-based atomic bomb "Little Boy" was used on Hiroshima, home of approximately 320,000 people.

The blast packed a destructive force equivalent to about 15 kilotons of TNT.

In minutes, half of the city ... vanished.

The explosion produced a supersonic shock wave followed by extreme winds that remained above hurricane force over three kilometers from ground zero.

A secondary and equally devastating reverse wind followed, flattening and severely damaging homes and buildings several kilometers further away.

The intense heat of the Hiroshima bomb reached several million degrees Celsius and scorched flesh and other flammable materials over three kilometers away.

Flash burns from the primary heatwave caused most of the deaths at Hiroshima.

Three days later, U.S. leaders ordered “Fat Man,” a plutonium-based bomb with an explosive yield of 21 kilotons, dropped on Nagasaki, home to over 260,000 people.

The attack occurred two days earlier than planned, 10 hours after the Soviets entered the war against Japan, and as Japanese leaders were contemplating surrender.

Intense firestorms ravaged each city for hours after each attack. They leveled neighborhoods only partially damaged by the blast itself, killing more victims trapped under fallen debris.

Black rain laden with radioactive soot and dust contaminated areas far away from ground zero.

By the end of 1945, the blast, heat, and radiation of the nuclear attacks had killed an estimated 74,000 in Nagasaki and 140,000 in Hiroshima.

Many of those who survived the nuclear attacks would die from radiation-induced illnesses for years to come.

Historians now largely agree that the United States did not need to drop the bombs to avoid an invasion of Japan and bring an end to World War II.

Though aware of alternatives, President Harry Truman authorized use of the bombs in part to further the U.S. government’s postwar geostrategic aims.

Survivors of the nuclear attacks, known as hibakusha, and their descendants formed the nucleus of the Japanese and global nuclear disarmament movements.

The remaining hibakusha and organizations around the globe continue to work for a nuclear weapons-free world “so that succeeding generations of people will not see hell on earth ever again.”

Today, nine states still possess more than 13,000 nuclear weapons.

The risk of nuclear war is still with us.

To reduce this danger, we must freeze and reverse the arms race and, ultimately, eliminate nuclear weapons.

For more information:
ArmsControl.org/75years

Written by Daryl G. Kimball
Edited and Produced by Tony Fleming

Photos Credits:
Atomic Heritage Foundation ・ Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
UN/Nagasaki International Cultural Hall ・ UN/Yosuke Yamahata
Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images ・ Joyce Naltchayan/AFP via Getty Images
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images ・ Junko Kimura/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images ・ Peter Parks/Getty Images

Description: 

Seventy-five years ago, the nuclear age began with the world's first nuclear weapons test explosion in the New Mexico desert. In this annotated "silent film"-style video essay from the Arms Control Association, we learn about the events that transpired three weeks later with the atomic attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Country Resources:

Forward, Not Back

Our nation and the world face a daunting array of challenges: a global pandemic; deepening economic hardship and inequity; a lack of cooperation and growing tensions between the world’s major powers; and ongoing deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police that underscore the systemic racism that continues to plague our society. Surely, this is not the time to continue to abandon effective nuclear arms control agreements, like the Open Skies Treaty, and ignite a new arms race with Russia and China—let alone to begin testing nuclear weapons again. Yet that is what senior officials at the...

Nevertheless, We’re Persisting …

Since I wrote to you in April, the human toll of the global coronavirus pandemic has grown and the public health forecast about the crisis remains murky. The pandemic is not only affecting our daily lives, but also accelerating several worrying trends in international and security affairs. We continue to witness the decline of U.S. leadership, which is often necessary to forge international cooperation on an array of global threats, including weapons-related dangers, that don’t respect national borders. With your support, the staff and the board of directors continue working hard to bring...

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