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I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them. -

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
Daryl G. Kimball

Looking Ahead to 2020: Arms Control Association Members Call

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Thank you for your support as a member of the Arms Control Association as we move into 2020.

We invite you to join a conversation with staff and board members on our accomplishments and the challenges of 2019 and our plans for the new year.

The new year will mark the 75th year since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) commitment made five decades ago. At some stage of the 2020 U.S. presidential race, candidates will have to address the weakening of foundational arms control and disarmament treaties that have protected us and the rising tensions between major powers.

On these and other developments, we want you to know how we will be ready to respond with authoritative information and sober, fact-based analysis.

SPEAKERS:

  • Daryl G. Kimball, executive director
  • Amb. Bonnie Jenkins, ACA Board of Directors; Founder, Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation

Join or renew your membership today to receive the registration link by email. (If you believe you are a current member but have not received this email, please call Elana Simon at 202-463-8270 ext105.) 

Trump's Aim to Go Big on Nuclear Arms Control Should Begin by Extending New START

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Just Security
News Date: 
December 9, 2019 -05:00

A Last Chance To Save New START

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The American Conservative
News Date: 
December 9, 2019 -05:00

A New Nuclear Deal? Start with New START

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Defense One
News Date: 
December 5, 2019 -05:00

Nuclear False Warnings and the Risk of Catastrophe


December 2019
By Daryl G. Kimball

Forty years ago, on Nov. 9, the U.S. Defense Department detected an imminent nuclear attack against the United States through the early-warning system of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). U.S. bomber and missile forces went on full alert, and the emergency command post, known as the “doomsday plane,” took to the air.

Former Titan II Missile in its silo, Sahuarita, Arizona. Source: The Titan Missile Museum.At 3 a.m., National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski was awakened by a call from his military assistant. He was told that NORAD computers were reporting that 2,200 Soviet missiles had been launched against the United States. According to Brzezinski, just one minute before he planned to call President Jimmy Carter to recommend an immediate U.S. nuclear retaliatory response, word came through that the NORAD message was a false alarm caused by software simulating a Soviet missile attack that was inexplicably transferred into the live warning system at the command’s headquarters.

The 1979 incident was one of the most dangerous false alarms of the nuclear age, but it was not the first or the last. Within months, three more U.S. system malfunctions set off the U.S. early-warning systems.

The Soviet Union also experienced false alarms. On Sept. 26, 1983, a newly installed early-warning system erroneously signaled that the United States had launched a small salvo of missiles toward the Soviet Union. Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, the officer in charge that night, would later report that he defied standard military protocol and refused to pass the alert to Moscow because “when people start a war, they don’t start it with only five missiles.”

On Jan. 25, 1995, a large weather rocket launched off the coast of Norway created the appearance on Russian radars of an initial phase of a U.S. nuclear attack. Russian President Boris Yeltsin reported that the launch prompted him to activate Russia’s mobile nuclear command system.

Although the Cold War standoff that gave rise to massive U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals ended decades ago, the nuclear strategies that could lead to the firing of hundreds of nuclear weapons remain susceptible to false alarms.

Today, each side deploys some 1,400 strategic nuclear warheads on hundreds of sea- and land-based missiles and long-range bombers—far greater than is necessary to deter an attack and more than enough to produce catastrophic devastation. Each side maintains hundreds of warheads that can be fired within minutes of a launch order from the president, and both leaders retain the option to retaliate before they confirm that nuclear weapons have been detonated on their territory. These dangerous launch-under-attack postures perpetuate the risk that false alarms could trigger a massive nuclear exchange.

Complicating matters, Washington and Moscow each reserve the option to employ nuclear weapons first in a crisis or conventional conflict. Each possesses hundreds of so-called tactical nuclear bombs, which produce relatively smaller explosive yields, for use on the battlefield. Both sides regularly conduct drills and exercises involving their respective nuclear forces.

Today, U.S. and Russian leaders have a responsibility to pursue immediate and decisive actions to reduce these grave risks. To start, they should invite all nuclear-armed states to affirm the 1985 pledge made by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Given the risks of escalation, no plausible circumstance could justify legally, morally, or militarily the use of nuclear weapons to deal with a non-nuclear threat. All nuclear-armed states should announce policies that rule out the first use of nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear weapons before nuclear use on their soil has been confirmed.

In fact, the dangerous launch-under-attack policies of the United States and Russia are unnecessary because a large portion of their nuclear forces could withstand even a massive attack. Given the size, accuracy, and diversity of their forces, the remaining nuclear force would be more than sufficient to deliver a devastating blow to any nuclear aggressor.

Another key line of defense against nuclear catastrophe is dialogue. Washington and Moscow can and should resume a regular military and political dialogue on strategic stability. Such talks can avoid miscalculation over issues such as the use or nonuse of cyberattacks against nuclear command-and-control systems, missile defense capabilities and doctrine, nuclear launch exercises, and more. Similar talks with China should also be pursued.

Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin also should promptly agree to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) by five years, as allowed by the treaty, and begin talks on a follow-on deal to set lower limits on all types of nuclear weaponry. Without the treaty, which expires in 2021, there would be no legally binding, verifiable limits on the world’s largest nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972; and the likelihood of a dangerous, all-out nuclear arms race would grow.

We were lucky the false alarms of the Cold War did not trigger nuclear war. Because we may not be so lucky in the future, our leaders must act now to take the steps necessary to reduce and eliminate the nuclear danger.

Forty years ago, on Nov. 9, the U.S. Defense Department detected an imminent nuclear attack against the United States through the early-warning system of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

CWC States Update List of Banned Chemicals


After months of wrangling, the 24th conference of states-parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) agreed on Nov. 28 to update the list of Schedule 1 chemicals banned by the treaty to include the advanced nerve agents known as Novichok.

A New Scotland Yard official speaks to the media in 2018 about the investigation into the use of the Novichok nerve agent to attempt to assassinate Sergei Skripal in England in 2018.  (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)Novichok was developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War years before the CWC entered into force in 1997. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that it was used in the attempted assassination of Russian spy-turned-double-agent Sergei Skripal in 2018.

Russia initially objected to a proposal from Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States to add Novichok to the list of banned substances but shifted its position after states accepted its alternative proposal to add other types of chemicals to the Schedule 1 list.

The changes to the Schedule of the Annex on Chemicals will enter into force for all states-parties 180 days after the date of the notification sent by the OPCW director-general.

OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias noted in a statement issued Nov. 28 that “this is the first time in its history” that the annex has been updated.

“This is an important development that demonstrates the adaptability of the [CWC] to changing threats while enhancing the OPCW’s ability to remain vigilant, agile, and fit for purpose,” Arias said.—DARYL G. KIMBALL

CWC States Update List of Banned Chemicals

Demonstration of Russia's New Avangard System to US Specialists was Expected -- Expert

News Source: 
TASS
News Date: 
November 26, 2019 -05:00

Fifty Years Ago, the First Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Began

Fifty years ago, on Nov. 17, 1969, the United States and the Soviet Union launched the first-ever Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in Helsinki, Finland. The chief American negotiator was Gerard Smith, who had been appointed the director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency by then-president Richard Nixon. Smith’s opening message that day: “The limitation of strategic arms is in the mutual interests of our country and the Soviet Union.” Negotiated in the midst of severe tensions, the SALT agreement and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty were the first restrictions on the...

Iran's Latest Step Is a Step in the Wrong Direction

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For Immediate Release: November 5, 2019

Media Contacts: Daryl Kimball, executive director, 202-463-8270 ext 107

(Washington, DC)—Today, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced that the government would begin injecting uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into the centrifuge arrays at its underground Fordow uranium enrichment facility. This action, which serves no legitimate civilian purpose and is the fourth and latest breach of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a step in the wrong direction.

Iran’s leaders may be trying to leverage greater European action for the sanctions relief it was promised through the JCPOA, but this latest breach of the JCPOA limits is a serious mistake and that will further complicate tensions over Iran’s nuclear activities.

We strongly urge Iran to refrain from accumulating low-enriched uranium from the centrifuges at Fordow. If Iran starts accumulating LEU from the process, it will increase proliferation risk over time. However, because the site is under IAEA surveillance, we will know quickly if Tehran takes any steps toward the production of bomb-grade material.

These developments have, of course, been triggered by President Donald Trump's decision last year to withdraw from the JCPOA and to reimpose sanctions against Iran, which is a clear violation of the commitments made by the United States in 2015. Trump’s Iran policy is by all measures failing. The United States' relationship with Iran far less stable and the security situation in the region is far more dangerous than it was at the end of 2016.

Both sides - Iran and the United States - should return to full compliance with the JCPOA or the crisis will worsen significantly in 2020. The best off-ramp for both sides is the plan floated by French President Emmanuel Macron for U.S. sanctions waivers to allow substantial purchases of Iranian oil in exchange by Europe in exchange for Iran returning to full compliance with the JCPOA, to be followed by the initiation of direct talks on issues of mutual concern.

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Iran may be trying to leverage greater European action for the sanctions relief, but its latest actions will further complicate tensions

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