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"...the Arms Control Association [does] so much to keep the focus on the issues so important to everyone here, to hold our leaders accountable to inspire creative thinking and to press for change. So we are grateful for your leadership and for the unyielding dedication to global nuclear security."
– Lord Des Browne
Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
Arms Control NOW

Fukushima One Year Later

By Daryl G. Kimball Today, the people of Japan and people the world over pause to remember the nearly 20,000 people killed and unaccounted for as a result of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. An aerial view of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power, two weeks after the tsunami struck Japan. Japan is also still reeling from the man-made nuclear reactor meltdown calamity at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi complex, which will exact an enormous human, environmental, and economic price for decades to come. And, of course, we are still learning about the causes of Fukushima disaster, how a...

Signs of Progress on North Korean Nuclear Problem

North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex (AP). By Daryl G. Kimball Today, the U.S. State Department announced that the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) has agreed to implement a moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions, long-range missile launches and other nuclear activities, including enrichment at its Yongbyon nuclear complex and to allow U.N. nuclear watchdog inspectors in to ensure compliance. The State Department also said that the United States had agreed to finalize details of a proposed food aid package and to take other steps to improve bilateral ties. According to the...

February 2012 IAEA Report on Iran: An Initial Review

The Natanz enrichment complex. (UPDATED at 7:50pm EST) By Peter Crail and Daryl G. Kimball The latest quarterly IAEA report on Iran is now in circulation and provides an updated summary of Iran's nuclear activities and capabilities. The Feb. 24 report suggests that Iran is continuing to make steady progress expanding its enrichment capabilities, but it does not identify any breakthroughs. It also confirms initial impressions that Iran's announcements last week on a series of "nuclear advances" were hyped. Here is our brief summary of key takeaways: Fordow Repurposed Again The agency notes...

Iran Responds to P5+1 Offer for New Talks

Image Source: The Guardian By Peter Crail Iran's formal response to the P5+1 expressing a willingness to discuss its nuclear program helps pave the way for the first such meeting in over a year. The two sides should now work to begin sustained negotiations aimed at ensuring that Iran meets its nonproliferation obligations. Another P5+1 round with Iran is a good start, but by itself will not likely produce a long-term deal that resolves the key issues. Resolving the nuclear issue will require sufficient pressure and inducements to convince Iran's current and future leaders they stand to gain...

Possible North Korean Nuke Test Shows Power of CTBT Monitoring System

By Tom Z. Collina A new study in the March 2012 issue of Science & Global Security suggests that North Korea carried out a small nuclear explosive test in May 2010. If true, this would be the third nuclear test by North Korea and its first that was not announced. CTBTO radionuclide monitoring station, Okinawa, Japan The study argues that because there was no seismic reading to indicate a nuclear explosion at that time, the explosive yield of any such event would have been less than 50 tons (or .05 kilotons). The fact that a test this small could have been detected at all is a promising...

U.S. Intelligence Assessment of Iran's Nuclear Program: Essentials Remain the Same

By Greg Thielmann DNI James Clapper Testifies at Jan. 31 Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing The United States' intelligence community's judgments on Iran's nuclear program have not fundamentally changed from those revealed in its controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate. In presenting the intelligence community's annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" to the Senate Committee on Intelligence on January 31, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper used language identical to that used in recent years on a number of critical points: We continue to assess Iran is keeping open...

Pentagon Budget Delays Significant Decisions on Trimming Excessive, Expensive Cold War Nuclear Forces

HMS Vanguard launches US-supplied Trident II D5 SLBM off Florida in October 2005. (Image Source: FAS.org.) By Daryl G. Kimball (Note: this post was updated on Jan. 27) Today, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued a whitepaper outlining the budgetary implications of the Obama administration's new defense strategic guidance and Congressionally-mandated deficit reduction measures, including the effect on some U.S. nuclear weapons strategic delivery systems. The Jan. 5 strategic guidance review correctly states that: "It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller...

Negotiating with Iran: "Buy Low, Sell High"

By Greg Thielmann U.S. policy-makers grappling with the Iranian nuclear challenge require the same psychological insight required for success in playing the stock market. The advice, "buy low, sell high," may be obvious, but it is difficult to apply in practice, because investors' emotions lead them in exactly the opposite direction. When stock prices are rising, one feels good and wants to hold on to stocks in order to maximize the higher returns; when the prices are falling, one feels like selling before any more value is lost. The trick is not to be too greedy or too desperate and let the...

Don't neglect the Biological Weapons Convention

Paul van den IJssel of the Netherlands, president of the 2011 BWC Review Conference, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (Image Source: U.S. Mission to Geneva) By Oliver Meier The December 2011 review conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) demonstrated the danger of the bioweapons ban drifting into irrelevance. Standstill was the motto of the meeting. Only incremental improvements on some procedural issues were achieved. Between now and the next review conference in 2016, it is going to be near to impossible to take decisions that will strengthen the treaty...

The New U.S. Defense Strategy: Toward A Smaller, Less Costly Nuclear Force

By Daryl G. Kimball and Tom Z. Collina This morning, President Obama and Defense Secretary Panetta unveiled their new defense strategy that is designed to yield some $450 billion plus in budget savings that must be achieved over the next decade. Their presentations did not detail specific programs that will be cut or trimmed, but instead they outlined a general vision that will guide the administration's defense budget decisions. Panetta said that the plan will maintain a "safe and effective nuclear deterrent," but did not explain how many nuclear weapons will be required for deterrence or...

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