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ACA’s journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent.

– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Arms Control NOW

The Notorious Mr. Bout

Referred to as the “Merchant of Death,” Viktor Bout provided weapons to some of the world’s deadliest conflicts for more than 20 years. Used by governments large and small, rebel groups, and other undesirable actors, Bout’s name is synonymous with the shadowy world of international arms brokers. Though Bout came to represent the dark underpinnings of the global arms trade, a recent documentary provides a somewhat more intimate view of his global enterprise. Based primarily upon footage from Bout’s home video collection, The Notorious Mr. Bout gives viewers a glimpse of the man, husband,...

A Fourth North Korean Nuclear Test: What It Means; What Must Be Done

(Updated January 19, 2016 to reflect the revised magnitude estimate.) North Korea claims it has conducted a fourth nuclear weapons test explosion and early readings from seismic stations in the region strongly suggest a relatively low-yield underground nuclear test was conducted. According to the Vienna-based Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) , the “initial location estimate” of the seismic activity shows that the event took place in the area of North Korea’s nuclear test site, Punggye-ri, which is located in the northeast of the country. The test has been universally...

How Should Washington Respond to Iran’s Ballistic Missile Tests?

Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests, while extremely unhelpful, should not come as a surprise. And although the missile tests violate UN Security Council Resolution 1929, they are not a violation of the soon-to-be-implemented nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran. There should be consequences for violations of Security Council resolutions. However, U.S. policymakers should put the risks posed by the missile tests in perspective and pursue effective actions that address the violation, but do not undermine progress toward reducing Iran’s nuclear potential. Despite the passage of UN...

IAEA Closes Iran’s Nuclear Past, Not its Future

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Governors voted unanimously Dec. 15 to close the agency’s investigation into Iran’s past weaponization work. The Board also took the important step of instructing the IAEA to rigorously pursue any concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities that might arise in the future. The Board’s decision to close Iran’s file was hardly a surprise. The Dec. 2 report from IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano determining that Iran pursued a nuclear weapons program prior to 2003, and conducted periodic activities leading up until 2009, largely fit with...

Show but Don’t Tell: Selective Nuclear Narratives in North Korea

For a propaganda state reliant on a state-sanctioned image to indoctrinate its people and promote a certain reputation globally, a successful missile test is an event to be photographed and celebrated in the state-run news. Today, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced that his state has developed a hydrogen bomb, a new claim that has elicited skepticism from experts. This decree, like its many other public pronouncements and demonstrations of military equipment, does not necessarily reflect North Korea’s true current capability. Pyongyang meticulously crafts its own nuclear narrative...

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, December 4

The IAEA PMD Report Is Out The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its long-awaited report on Iran’s past activities in twelve areas related to nuclear weapons development, the so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program. The Dec. 2 report assessed that Iran conducted a coordinated “range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device” prior to the end of 2003 and some of the activities continued between 2003-2009. According to the assessment the “activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the...

Iran Dismantling Centrifuges, IAEA Reports

According to the Nov. 18 International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) quarterly report , Iran has dismantled 4,530 centrifuges since the July 14 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was adopted last month. Action by Iran to fulfill its commitments under the agreement is a positive sign. Completing the dismantlement of 1/3 of the ~13,500 centrifuges that must be removed under the terms of the deal is tangible evidence that the agreement is working to stringently restrict Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA also reported that it began preparatory activities to implement the increased monitoring and...

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, November 18

And the Dismantlement Begins Iran has begun dismantling centrifuges at its Natanz facility to meet the terms set by the July 14 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, according to comments from Ali Akbar Salehi , head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, on Nov. 15. The centrifuges being removed are inactive and not being used to enrich uranium, Salehi said. Iran has about 15,750 first generation centrifuges at its Natanz plant, of which about 9,500 are enriching uranium. Under the July 14 deal between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States),...

Strengthening the Proliferation Security Initiative Can Bolster the Iran Deal

In April 2007, a shipment of sodium perchlorate bound for Iran was detoured to an Asian port and then returned to the country of origin. Six months earlier, in November 2006, a shipment of chromium-nickel steel plates were interdicted en route to Iran and returned to the supplier country. Both materials can be used for the development of ballistic missiles and were shipped to Iran in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions . These two cases epitomize the achievements of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) , which has been instrumental in identifying and interrupting numerous...

Putting the Horse Before the Cart: Resuming Talks with North Korea

International relations with North Korea have been marked by provocations, off-and-on diplomatic engagement, and the threat of military conflict for decades. The threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs came back into the spotlight this fall with talk from North Korea that it would soon conduct a fourth satellite launch, which has not been delivered upon to date, the highly anticipated military parade in honor of the Korean Workers’ Party 70 th anniversary, and reports that Pyongyang is making preparations for a fourth nuclear test explosion. It is Pyongyang itself that...

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