Assessing Progress on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament: 2016-2019 Report Card

Submitted by Kelsey Davenport on Tue, 07/09/2019 - 13:19

This report is the fourth in a series that assesses the extent to which 11 key states are fulfilling, promoting, or undermining 10 standards identified as critical elements of the nonproliferation and disarmament regime during the period between 2016 and June 2019.

Collectively, states fared worse on the majority of criteria when compared with the prior edition, which covered the 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 in their security doctrines.

These findings raise concerns that the risk of nuclear use is increasing and that critical nonproliferation and disarmament norms are eroding.

Some findings covering in more detail in the full report:

  • All of the states that possess nuclear weapons failed to make progress in reducing their nuclear arsenals over the course of this report, including Russia and the United States.
  • Several states—China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea—expanded their arsenals over the period assessed in this report.
  • Of the 11 states assessed in this report, the overall grades for the United States and Russia dropped the most, and both states expanded the circumstances under which they would use nuclear weapons.
  • Several states, including India and Pakistan, have taken actions that led to increased alert levels for their nuclear forces. Several of the nuclear-weapon states also earned lower grades for opposing UN resolutions calling for lower alert levels.
  • States failed to strengthen negative security assurances during the timeframe of this report.
  • Until June 2019, Iran continued to abide by the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), despite the U.S. decision to withdraw from the agreement and reimpose sanctions on Tehran in May 2018.
  • France and the United Kingdom each earned the highest overall grades in this report card.
  • North Korea continues to fare the worst of the eleven states for the fourth consecutive report card, though it did nominally improve on certain criteria.
  • There were few changes from the 2016 report in the grades on banning nuclear testing, with one notable exception being the U.S. grade.
  • The grades for all eleven states in the category of ending fissile material production for nuclear weapons remained unchanged from the prior three versions of this report.
  • With only three exceptions, the majority of states measured continue to adhere to strong nuclear security practices and measures to prevent the illicit trafficking of nuclear or missile-related materials.