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"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
June 1, 2018
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BRIEFING: "Trump’s Effort to Sabotage New START and the Risk of an All-Out Arms Race"

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Friday, October 9, 2020
9:00 – 10:15am Eastern time
via Zoom webinar

In four months, the last treaty limiting the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals is due to expire. If the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) lapses with nothing to replace it, there would be no legally-binding limits on the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972.

However, the treaty permits an extension “for a period of no more than five years” so long as both the U.S. and Russian presidents agree to it.


 

Russia has offered to extend New START by five years without any preconditions, but the Trump administration has conditioned extension on Russian support for changes to the New START verification system and acceptance of a new framework that limits all types of nuclear warheads and that can involve China in the future.

Russia has rejected the U.S. offer, which it calls “absolutely unrealistic.” In response, Trump officials say they will “raise the price” for New START extension after November. Unless President Trump adjusts course, or Joe Biden is elected in November, there is a high risk that New START will disappear.

Our speakers, Senator Chris Van Hollen, and the panelists explained the value of New START, evaluated the Trump administration’s approach, and outlined pathways for extending the treaty, pursuing negotiations on deeper nuclear reductions, and guarding against an unconstrained arms race if New START is allowed to expire.

Speaker

  • Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), co-sponsor of the "Richard G. Lugar and Ellen O. Tauscher Act to Maintain Limits on Russian Nuclear Forces" Act

Panelists

  • Alexandra Bell, senior policy director, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
  • Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, Arms Control Association
  • Kingston Reif, moderator, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, Arms Control Association

A question and answer session followed both the speaker’s remarks and the panel. This event was open to the press and is on the record.

Description: 

Briefing with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Alexandra Bell, and Daryl G. Kimball on the value of New START, the Trump administration’s approach, and guarding against an unconstrained arms race if New START is allowed to expire.

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WEBINAR: "The Future of the Iran Nuclear Deal and the NPT"

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Thursday, October 1, 2020
11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time
via Zoom webinar 

The Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has led Iran to retaliate by exceeding key nuclear limits set by the deal. The U.S. strategy has hobbled but not unraveled the agreement and increased tensions with Iran and the international community. Unless Washington and Teheran return to compliance, however, the deal could collapse entirely creating a serious new nuclear crisis in the region.

In this edition of the “Critical NPT Issues” webinar series sponsored by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the Arms Control Association, our panelists reviewed the benefits of the JCPOA, the current status of noncompliance, pathways to repair the situation, and the potential effects on the global nonproliferation system and the upcoming 10th Review Conference of Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Panelists:

  • Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, Arms Control Association;
  • Ellie Gerenmyah, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program and Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations; and
  • Emad Kiyaei, Director, Middle East Treaty Organization (METO)

Our next webinar in the Critical NPT Issues series will address steps to fulfill Article VI of the NPT. We encourage you to sign up to receive invitations to future webinars and other updates from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the Arms Control Association.

RESOURCES

For more information on the JCPOA, subscribe to the P4+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert from the Arms Control Association, which provides periodic news and analysis on the negotiations and implementation of the nuclear deal. 

If you want to follow discussions on nuclear weapons during the 2020 session of the UNGA First Committee, subscribe to the First Committee Monitor, a publication of WILPF’s disarmament programme Reaching Critical Will, or visit their resource page for more information.

 

Description: 

In this edition of our “Critical NPT Issues” webinar series, we will review the benefits of the JCPOA, the current status of noncompliance, pathways to repair the situation, and the potential effects on the upcoming NPT Review Conference.

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WEBINAR: 75 Years After the Trinity Explosion: The Taboo Against Nuclear Testing and the Legacy of Past Nuclear Tests

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Thursday, September 3, 2020
9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Eastern

Co-sponsored by the Center for Policy Research at the University at Albany, SUNY, with the support of the Embassy of Kazakhstan to the United States

 

Over the 75-year history of the nuclear age, nuclear weapons have been used only twice in war, with deadly results. But the world’s nuclear armed states have also carried out more than 2,000 nuclear tests, which fueled the arms race and inflicted widespread health and environmental damage.

Since the conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996, nuclear testing has been considered taboo. However, the effects of past nuclear tests linger, and the door to the resumption of nuclear testing remains ajar.

On the occasion of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests (Aug. 29), we invite you to a special virtual briefing on "The Taboo Against Nuclear Testing and the Legacy of Past Nuclear Tests.” 

Panelists discussed current threats to the global test ban, strategies to resolve accusations of cheating, how states can reinforce the test ban at the upcoming review conference on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), how nuclear testing by the Soviet Union and the United States has affected downwind populations, and what can be done to assist people adversely affected by those tests.

Welcome:

  • His Excellency Erzhan Kazykhanov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States

Speakers:

Moderator:

  • Togzhan Kassenova, senior fellow with the Project on International Security, Commerce, and Economic Statecraft at the Center for Policy Research at the University at Albany, SUNY

Following comments from the speakers, there was be a question and answer session.

Description: 

This discussion with Ambassador Erzhan Kazykhanov and an expert panel, we discuss the 75-year history of nuclear tests, current threats to the global test ban, how states can address threats to the global test ban and reinforce it at the upcoming NPT review conference, and what can be done to assist populations adversely affected by nuclear tests.

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the NTP

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The pivotal 10th Review Conference for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) has been rescheduled and will likely begin in January 2021. By that time, enough states may have ratified the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) to trigger its entry into force. Currently, only six more states must ratify to do so.

In this edition of the “Critical NPT Issues” webinar series sponsored by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the Arms Control Association, our panelists will analyze the legal relationship between the TPNW and the NPT, including how the TPNW contributes to NPT Article VI disarmament objectives and the status of efforts to bring the TPNW into force. A question and answer session will follow the speakers' presentations.

The pivotal 10th Review Conference for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) has been rescheduled and will likely begin in January 2021. By that time, enough states may have ratified the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) to trigger its entry into force. Currently, only six more states must ratify to do so.

In this edition of the “Critical NPT Issues” webinar series sponsored by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the Arms Control Association, our panelists will analyze the legal relationship between the TPNW and the NPT, including how the TPNW contributes to NPT Article VI disarmament objectives and the status of efforts to bring the TPNW into force. A question and answer session will follow the speakers' presentations.

Panelists:

  • George-Wilhelm Gallhofer, Head of Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation / Executive Secretary of the Hague Code of Conduct at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs
  • Anna Ikeda, Program Associate, Disarmament Peace and Security Program, Soka Gakkai International, Office for UN Affairs
  • Moderated by Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
Description: 

In this second in a series, panelists analyze the legal relationship between the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and the NPT, including how the TPNW contributes to NPT Article VI disarmament objectives and the status of efforts to bring the TPNW into force.

Reality Check: The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

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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.

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Video Short: The United States and Nuclear Testing

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I am Daryl Kimball. I am executive director of the Arms Control Association.

Is the United States considering resuming nuclear weapons tests?

Yes, some very senior White House officials have actually proposed resuming nuclear weapons testing which would break the 28-year-long U.S. moratorium on such behavior.

It was on May 22nd that the Washington Post reported that senior Trump officials discussed whether to set off a nuclear test explosion, a demonstration nuclear test, to try to put pressure on Russia and on China. One senior official said that such a test could prove useful from a negotiating standpoint as the Trump administration tries to engage China in talks and to change Russia's position on certain nuclear issues. The idea was opposed by a number of other senior officials but the Post reports that the idea is still under active consideration.

How will new U.S. nuclear tests affect global security?

Let's be clear: the resumption of U.S. nuclear weapons testing would not advance the cause of arms control; it would be an invitation for other nuclear-armed countries to follow suit. A resumption of U.S. nuclear testing would lead the Russians, the Chinese, the Indians, perhaps the North Koreans to resume nuclear testing. It would allow them to proof-test new and more dangerous types of nuclear weapons. It would be the starting gun for an unprecedented global nuclear arms race that would hurt U.S. and international security for years and years to come.

Can the President really do that, and how quickly?

Yes, he can and relatively quickly. The National Nuclear Security Administration is currently poised to conduct a simple nuclear test within six to ten months if so ordered by the president. Such a test would not be designed to fix some technical problem with an existing U.S. nuclear warhead nor would it be to proof-test a new nuclear warhead design. It would be a simple demonstration test with little instrumentation. It would be conducted underground at the former Nevada Test Site just outside of Las Vegas. But Congress can act to deny funding for tests and to prevent the president from doing so.

Haven’t we ended nuclear testing permanently?

The United States ended nuclear test explosions in 1992 and led the way in the negotiation of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which today has 184 states signing the treaty. Even though the treaty is in existence, the door to nuclear testing is still open. The United States and China are among the eight states that have not yet ratified the treaty and they must do so to bring the treaty into force to make sure that the monitoring and verification and inspections regime is as strong as possible.

To learn more, visit ArmsControl.org/Factsheets for what you should know about the history of nuclear testing and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Description: 

Executive director Daryl Kimball describes recent discussions by senior Trump administration officials to resume U.S. nuclear weapons testing and the effect such would have on global security and arms control.

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Video Short: U.S. Policy Toward Iran and the Nuclear Deal

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My name is Kelsey Davenport and I am the director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association.

Why did the Trump administration withdraw the United States from the 2016 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran?

The 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Iran resolved a decadeslong crisis over that country's nuclear program by putting in place intrusive monitoring and stringently limiting Iran's nuclear activities. Despite international inspectors and the U.S. intelligence community assessing that Tehran was complying with that deal, President Trump repeatedly referred to the agreement as a failure and in May of 2018 withdrew the United States from the agreement and we imposed US sanctions on Iran. The Trump administration has subsequently pursued a maximum pressure campaign against Tehran designed to push Iran to negotiate not only on its nuclear program but restrictions on its ballistic missile activities and activities in the region.

How have Iran and the other parties to the agreement responded to Trump's actions?

Unsurprisingly, there were many parties to the deal, and Iran opposed the U.S. withdrawal and reimposition of sanctions. Now, for the first year after Trump embarked on this pressure campaign, Iran continued to abide by the deal and worked with the Europeans, Russia, and China to try and reconstitute some sanctions relief envisioned by the agreement. However, after a failure to develop any meaningful trade within that year, Iran began to take steps in May of 2019 to violate the deal. Now, these steps have been incremental, they are quickly reversible, and they don't constitute an immediate proliferation risk. It's clear that what Iran is trying to do is pressure the remaining parties to the deal to deliver on sanctions relief so that the deal delivers some benefits to Iran.

How can the United States and Iran step back from confrontation and prevent a new proliferation crisis?

The Trump administration's current maximum pressure campaign toward Iran increases the risk that the JCPOA will collapse and that a conflict will ignite in the region. A much more effective approach for the United States would be to return to compliance with the JCPOA alongside Iran and for both sides to agree to engage in negotiations that address areas of mutual concern. This could include a longer-term framework to guide Iran's nuclear program and addressing areas like Iran's ballistic missile activities and Iran's activities in the region. In return, the U.S. is going to have to put something on the table that's attractive to Iran—likely more effective sanctions relief. But if the United States takes this approach, it could meet U.S. security needs and prevent a new nuclear crisis from igniting in the Middle East, a crisis that the United States and the international community can ill-afford at this time.

For more information about the status of the nuclear deal with Iran and updates on other important arms control issues, visit armscontrol.org/getthelatest for our updated news and analysis.

Description: 

Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, discusses the aftermath of the Trump administration withdrawing the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 multilateral agreement that placed limits on Iran's nuclear program.

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Video Short: New START at 10 Years

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My name is Kingston Reif and I am the director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association.

What is New START and why is its extension important?

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, which was signed a decade ago this week, limits the size of the still enormous U.S. and Russian deployed strategic nuclear arsenals and provides for an extensive monitoring and verification regime to ensure compliance with the treaty. The use of but a fraction of the still enormous U.S. and Russian arsenals would result in a catastrophe the likes of which humanity has never seen.

New START is excited to expire in less than a year, in February 2021, unless the U.S. and Russian presidents agreed to extend the treaty by up to five years. If New START expires with nothing to replace it, there would be no limits on the size of the U.S. and Russian arsenals for the first time in half a century. The risk of unconstrained nuclear competition and even more fraught bilateral relations would grow. As a global pandemic ravages the nation and the world, we can ill afford to lose the only remaining limits on the world's two largest nuclear arsenals, which would open the door to an arms race.

Can we negotiate a "trilateral" agreement with Russia and China as the Trump administration is pursuing?

The administration's pursuit of a more comprehensive arms control agreement that includes additional nuclear-armed states is a worthwhile and praiseworthy objective. However, such an effort would be unprecedented, extremely complex to negotiate, and time-consuming, and almost certainly cannot be achieved before New START expires in less than a year, all of which reinforces the case for extending New START which will buy an additional five years with which to pursue a more ambitious agreement.

What can concerned citizens do to support New START's extension?

The future of New START hangs in the balance it is important that members of Congress hear from their constituents about the importance of extending New START. You can take action by going to our website ArmsControl.org/TakeAction and encourage your member of Congress to support existing bipartisan legislation in the Senate and the House calling on the President to extend New START.

Thanks for your support. Stay healthy and stay safe

Description: 

In the first of a new video short series, Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, describes why it is particularly important now to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia before it expires in February 2021 and how you can help.

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Seeking Truth: Kazakhstan's Fight Against Nuclear Testing

In this inspiring TED talk, Togzhan Kassenova reminds us of Kazakhstan's history as a Soviet Union nuclear test site. She tells the story of the fight of the Kazakh people to stop nuclear tests on their land.

2017 CTBTO Science & Technology Conference: Select Videos

Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization Dr. Lassina Zerbo (beginning at 1 hour and 10 minutes) provided closing remarks at the conclusion of the 2017 Science and Technology Conference in Vienna at the Hofburg Palace. He focused on the need for science alongside politics, for engagement between disciplines, and for involvement of youth to raise awareness of the treaty. Other key videos from the 5 day conference are noted below: Closing speech by Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Dr. Lassina Zerbo, June 30, 2017. (20 minutes) Keynote...

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