Good News: Key House Votes Provide Needed Check and Balance On Nuclear Policy

Last month, after lengthy deliberations and debate, the House of Representatives voted on its version of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill incorporates a number of provisions, supported by the Arms Control Association, that would place a much-needed check on the Trump administration’s unnecessary, unsustainable, and unsafe nuclear weapons plans.

The House version of the defense authorization bill:

  • prohibits the deployment of a new and more usable low-yield warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles as proposed in the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review;
  • expresses support for extending the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty for another five years, and requires reports on the implications of allowing the treaty to expire in 2021 with nothing to replace it. The Arms Control Association devoted special effort to win support for this provision, including by organizing a letter to the Hill signed by former U.S. officials and arms control negotiators, former Secretary of State George Shultz, and more than two dozen former generals and admirals who recognize the security value of the treaty.
  • zeroes-out the Trump administration’s $100 million funding proposal to develop land-based, intermediate-range missiles banned by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The margin of victory for this prohibition, however, was just one vote;
  • reduces funding to build a new fleet of new land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and reduces proposed funding to expand the capacity of the United States to produce plutonium pits for nuclear warheads.

Just as importantly, the bill includes a prohibition on funding for any use of military force in or against Iran unless Congress has declared war or in the event of a national emergency created by an Iranian attack upon the United States.

By passing the legislation, the House greatly increases its leverage to retain these and many other important provisions in upcoming conference negotiations with the Republican-controlled Senate.

Our work on these and other initiatives is hardly over. With the support of our members, we’ll continue to press Congress to provide a much-needed check on U.S. policy and to help pave the way for sensible strategies to reduce weapons-related security threats.

Thank you for your support and engagement!

Daryl G. Kimball,

Executive Director

A Critical Evaluation of the Trump Administration's Nuclear Weapons Policy

Join the Arms Control Association in Washington this Monday, July 29 for a briefing titled, “A Critical Evaluation of the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Weapons Policies,” to discuss the Trump administration’s nuclear strategy with leading analysts, former government officials and military leaders.

The panel will assess the Trump administration’s policies on nuclear weapons spending, U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control, and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and nuclear diplomacy with North Korea—and offer recommendations for a more responsible and effective approach.

Countryman: Don’t Commit “Foreign Policy Malpractice” on New START

Yesterday, Arms Control Association board chair Thomas Countryman testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment, speaking on “Russia, China, Arms Control, and the Value of New START.”

The Trump administration has delayed any action on extension of New START and has proposed instead negotiating an expanding of New START to include China as a party, and to set new limits on nonstrategic (tactical) nuclear weapons, which are not covered by the New START agreement.

“Pursuing talks with other nuclear-armed states and trying to limit all types of nuclear weapons is an admirable objective, which I support in principle,” Countryman said before the subcommittee.

“Such a negotiation would be complex and time-consuming. There is no realistic chance a new agreement along these lines could be finalized before New START expires. It would be national security malpractice to discard New START in the hopes of negotiating a more comprehensive, ambitious nuclear arms control agreement with Russia and China to say nothing about getting it ratified and into force.”

Countryman’s full remarks and video of his testimony are available on our website at

Farewells and Welcomes: Shervin Taheran, Shannon Bugos & Julia Masterson

This summer we said our goodbyes to a key member of our policy staff who is moving on to the next phase in her career, and we welcome two new research analysts to our research and policy team.

Shervin Taheran has been an invaluable member of the staff for nearly five years. Shervin joined the Association in 2014 as a program associate, where she helped manage member engagement, organized the annual membership conference and the Arms Control Association’s congressional staff briefing series with The Lugar Center.

Shervin became a research assistant in 2018, contributing research, analysis, and reporting on nuclear disarmament, U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control, the defense budget, and threat reduction policy. She also provided information and analysis for our Project for the CTBT and she was a key leader of the CTBTO Youth Group, a growing international network of young scholars dedicated to advancing knowledge about nuclear testing and the test ban.

Shervin will be beginning law studies at Georgetown University and a nuclear security fellowship on Capitol Hill in the fall.

Shannon Bugos began as the Association’s new research assistant in July and will be focusing on U.S.-Russian arms control, defense budget, and missile defense policy. Shannon joins us from her prior role as the communications and writing manager at Truman Center for National Policy and Truman National Security Project, assisting members and senior staff in media outreach and message development. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor’s in Peace Studies, English, and Business Economics.

The Arms Control Association is looking forward to welcoming Julia Masterson on staff in September as our second research assistant after she completes her master’s degree in nonproliferation and international security from King’s College London.

Julia’s research and reporting will focus on nuclear and missile non-proliferation and chemical weapons and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Julia previously interned with the National Security Archive, where she helped chronicle the diplomatic proceedings culminating in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. She later held research and administrative roles at the National Defense University Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction where she focused on strategic stability by way of bilateral and multilateral treaties.

New ACA Report Finds Compliance with Nonproliferation & Disarmament Norms Is Eroding

The Arms Control Association released the fourth iteration of its Nonproliferation and Disarmament Report Card Series, which evaluates the performance of 11 states across 10 key nonproliferation and disarmament standards.

The report found that states fared worse on the majority of criteria when compared with the prior edition covering 2013-2016 period. While there have been some modest gains on safeguards, there has been significant backsliding on the standards related to arms control and risk reduction. All states with nuclear weapons are taking steps to invest in new delivery systems and several are expanding the role of nuclear weapons are taking steps to invest in new delivery systems and several are expanding the role of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines.

The report’s findings suggest that risk of nuclear use is increasing and document why and how critical nonproliferation and disarmament norms are eroding. Read the full report on our website.

Remembering Janne E. Nolan (1951-2019)

The Arms Control Association family is deeply saddened by the death of a long-time board member and leading nuclear arms control expert, Janne E. Nolan. Janne passed June 26 in Washington due to complications of brain cancer. She was 67 years old.

Janne leaves behind a powerful legacy in the nuclear arms control and international security field as an analyst, public servant, and educator. She joined the Arms Control Association board of directors in 1994, served as the chair of the Nuclear Security Working Group, and was a faculty member at the Elliot School of International Affairs at the George Washington University.

Throughout her long-career career, she held several senior positions in the government and private sector, including as foreign policy director at the Century Foundation of New York, senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, professor of International Affairs and deputy director of the Ridgway Center at the University of Pittsburgh, and director and research professor at Georgetown University.

Janne’s public service included positions such as a foreign affairs officer in the Department of State, senior representative to the Senate Armed Services Committee for Senator Gary Hart (D-Colo.), and as an appointed member of the National Defense Panel, the Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board and the State Department's Accountability Review Board investigating terrorist attacks against U.S. embassies in East Africa.

She authored nine books, including Tyranny of Consensus: Discourse and Dissent in American National Security Policy. She also published numerous articles in publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Scientific American, The New York Times, The New Republic, the National Interest and The Washington Post.

The board and staff of the Arms Control Association mourn Janne’s death and we’re grateful for her many contributions to the field, her wise counsel as a board member, and her inspiration and mentorship as an educator. Look for more on Janne’s life and legacy in the September issue of Arms Control Today.

In Case You Missed It...

  • Executive Director Daryl Kimball explained why New START extension is crucial in a CNN report: "This would be the first time since 1972 that the US and Russia, previously the Soviet Union, would not have limits on their arsenals,” July 20.
  • Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, commented on how the not-so-secret “secret" location of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe was accidentally included in a report from NATO parliament, in The Washington Post, July 16.
  • Michael Klare, board member and senior fellow, pointed out “the missing three-letter word in the Iran crisis—"oil"— in TomDispatch, July 11.
  • Daryl Kimball was quoted on the need for new policy solutions for the emerging weapons technologies and to sustain the New START agreement in an editorial titled “Donald Trump risks undoing decades of nuclear arms control“ in The Economist, July 11.
  • Daryl appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal to explain how the international community can salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal amidst escalating tensions, July 8.
  • Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, wrote a detailed explainer on the impact of Iran’s latest actions to exceed key limits of the 2015 Iran deal in a U.S. Institute for Peace Iran Primer, July 8.
  • In an interview with The Washington Post, Daryl provided insight into the impact of Iran’s breaches of JCPOA limits, July 3.

On Our Calendar

July 25 Chairman Thomas Countryman testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about Russia, China, and New START
July 29 The Arms Control Association will host “A Critical Evaluation of the Trump Administration's Nuclear Weapons Policies,” at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
July 29-Aug. 9 Meeting of experts of the Biological Weapons Convention, Geneva, Switzerland
July 29 - September 13 Third session of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, Switzerland
August 2 United States to formally withdraw from the INF Treaty
August 6 & 9 The 74th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, which killed more than 225,000 people and injured and sickened many more in subsequent decades
August 29 70th anniversary of the first Soviet nuclear weapon test explosion, an above-ground detonation in Kazakhstan