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former IAEA Director-General

Press Releases

High-Level Group Calls for Extension of New START Agreement

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U.S., European, and Russian Nuclear Experts & Former Officials Issue Urgent Call for Trump and Putin to Take Steps to Avoid a New Nuclear Arms Race

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U.S., European, and Russian Nuclear Experts & Former Officials Issue Urgent Call for Trump and Putin to Take Steps to Avoid a New Nuclear Arms Race

For Immediate Release: April 18, 2018

Media Contacts: Daryl Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104.

(Washington, Hamburg, Moscow)—With relations between Washington, Moscow, and Europe at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War, a distinguished, high-level group is warning that urgent steps need to be taken to contain nuclear risks and tensions and prevent a new nuclear arms race.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the group notes that: “Existing nuclear arms control agreements are at risk, and both sides are pursuing costly programs to replace and upgrade their Cold War-era strategic nuclear arsenals, each of which exceeds reasonable deterrence requirements. A compliance dispute threatens the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) will expire in 2021 unless extended.”

Among the signatories to the statement are: Des Browne, former Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom, Richard R. Burt, former U.S. negotiator of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty; Tom  Countryman, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association; retired Major General Dvorkin, a chief researcher at the Center for International Security at the Institute of Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations; Gen. Victor Esin, former Chief of Staff and Vice Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces; Volker Rühe, former Minister of Defense, Germany; Strobe Talbott, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State; and Sen. Richard G. Lugar, former Chairman, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The statement was organized by the members of a 21-member German-Russian-U.S. Deep Cuts Commission, which was established in 2013 to develop proposals to overcome obstacles to sensible arms control agreements and further reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles.

Last week at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Robert Soofer announced that the administration will soon “begin a whole-of-government review of the pros and cons of extending the [New START] treaty.”
 
“Without a positive decision to extend New START, and if the INF Treaty comes to an end, there would be no legally-binding limits on the world’s two largest nuclear superpowers for the first time since 1972, and the risk of unconstrained U.S.-Russian nuclear competition would grow,” the statement warns.

“Presidents Trump and Putin … should discuss and pursue—on a priority basis—effective steps to reduce nuclear risks and tensions, and to avoid a renewed nuclear arms race,” they write.

Their recommendations include:

  • Immediate Extension of New START Treaty. This treaty imposes important bounds on the strategic nuclear competition between the two nuclear superpowers. The treaty will by its terms expire February 5, 2021, but can be extended by up to five years by agreement by the two sides. Extending the treaty until February 2026 would preserve its significant security advantages—both the limits and the transparency that is provided by the treaty’s verification measures.
  • Intensified Efforts to Resolve INF Treaty Compliance Questions. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty made a major contribution to European and global security by eliminating all U.S. and Soviet ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Unfortunately, the treaty is now at risk, with the United States and Russia exchanging charges of treaty violations, and the U.S. government stating that it will not allow Russia to gain a military advantage through its violation. Currently, no meetings are scheduled to address the issue. A resolution of the dispute requires high-level leadership from the White House and the Kremlin.
  • Maintaining a Regular Dialogue on Strategic Stability. U.S. and Russian officials held a round of strategic stability talks in September 2017 but they postponed a follow-up round that was to be held earlier this year. They should make that dialogue a continuing and regular part of the U.S.-Russian agenda.
  • Sustained Military-to-Military Dialogue on Key Issues. Over the past five years, the instances of U.S. and NATO military aircraft and warships and Russian military aircraft and warships operating in close proximity to one another have increased dramatically. NATO has deployed ground forces to the Baltic states and Poland, putting them in closer proximity to Russian ground forces. U.S. and Russian forces also operate in close proximity in Syria. The risk of accidents and miscalculations that could escalate to a full-fledged armed conflict is growing.

The full statement is available online in English and in Russian.

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Posted: April 17, 2018

After the Missile Strikes: Toward More Effective Responses to Chemical Weapons Use and an End to the Syrian Conflict

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Statement from Tom Countryman, Chair of the Board,
and Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

For Immediate Release: April 14, 2018 (Updated*)

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, 202-277-3478 (cell); Thomas Countryman, chair of the board, 301-312-3445 (cell)

As the Arms Control Association has long-argued, Syria’s continued use of chemical weapons against its own people, including the April 7 chlorine attack in Douma, is reprehensible, it is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, it is a war crime, and it cannot be tolerated.

It is vitally important that the international community respond in a manner that effectively deters further use of such weapons and reinforces the nearly universal norm against such inhumane and indiscriminate attacks. The erosion of the taboo against chemical weapons use can lead to further, more significant use of these or other mass destruction weapons in the future.

Today’s military strikes by the U.S., UK and France against Syrian regime targets associated with chemical weapons research and production followed efforts to reach agreement at the UN Security Council to investigate and hold perpetrators accountable. They were intended to provide a strong response to the reprehensible actions of the Syrian government and to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capacity.

Military force cannot be the only means of responding to these atrocities, and, so far, it has not been an effective means of deterring the further use of chemical weapons in Syria. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s latest strike in response to Syrian chemical weapons use is not embedded within a broader U.S. strategy to deter further chemical weapons use, protect Syrian civilians caught in the horrible Syrian civil war, and bring a political resolution to the seven-year misery of the people of Syria.

We are deeply concerned that the latest U.S., UK, and French military operation was taken without specific authorization by the U.S. Congress, and with (apparently) little consultation with Congress. The sweeping claim that the President can take military action under only his own authority raises Constitutional questions, and causes concern about the potential for the President to initiate military action in other theaters, including against North Korea in ways that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons.

It is important to note that President Donald Trump's April 13 statement that “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents," creates the potential for further strikes and an expanded U.S. role in Syrian conflict, and the risk of a direct confrontation with Russia. If President Trump intends to continue military action in Syria in response to further chemical weapons use or in retaliation to Russian actions, he must go to Congress to request legal authorization for the use of military force.

Although this military strike, unlike the April 2017 U.S. strike, was executed in cooperation with France and the UK, we remain concerned that it was inconsistent with international law. The UN Charter prohibits “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” This portion of the UN Charter has three exceptions, none of which apply in this case: Syria has not consented to the strikes; the U.N. Security Council has not authorized the strikes; and the United States is not acting in self-defense.

Though U.S. military planners say they took care to design the strikes in Syria so as to avoid casualties among the substantial Russian military presence in Syria, there remains a risk of Russian casualties which could lead to an escalation of hostilities in Syria or elsewhere. Given the combustible rhetoric emanating from both the White House and the Kremlin, such an escalation could lead to direct, unintended and dangerous confrontation between U.S. and Russian forces.

At one point Russia, the United States and other members of the Security Council worked together, particularly in 2013-2014, to approve investigations into chemical weapons use in Syria, to force Syria to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and to remove and eliminate its stockpile of chemical weapons, precursors and production equipment. Under the auspices of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and with the support of more than 20 nations, the 2014 operation successfully removed and destroyed 1300 tons of chemical weapons, significantly reducing options for the regime to use its most advanced chemical weapons, and reducing the risk to Syrian civilians.

After the UN-OPCW removal operation, and to no one’s surprise, Syria has violated its CWC commitments by repeatedly using chlorine and in some cases Sarin. Since 2015, Russia has used its veto to block efforts to block credible investigation of these attacks. As a result, there is no longer a UN mechanism with the independence, technical expertise, and mandate to promptly identify responsibility for these chemical weapons attacks.

We urge:

  • the governments of the United States, the UK, and France, and other responsible states to provide as much detail as possible to demonstrate - beyond challenge - the Syrian government’s responsibility for the latest chemical weapons attacks in Douma and elsewhere in Syria.
  • all states, including Russia and Syria, to fully support the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Fact-Finding Mission, which is now in Syria to investigate and provide their independent assessment of the chemical weapons attacks for the international community.
  • members of the United Nations Security Council must redouble efforts to reconstitute an investigative mechanism that would be empowered to ascribe responsibility for such attacks. If this does not succeed, we strongly encourage the UN secretary-general to activate, under his existing authorities, an independent UN mechanism to attribute responsibility for chemical attacks in Syria. Previous UN Secretaries General have created similar inquiries.
  • A like-minded coalition of states should announce the commitment of resources to assemble a strong case, to be submitted to the International Criminal Court, charging the Syrian leadership with war crimes. Perpetrators of these chemical weapons crimes, and other war crimes committed in the Syrian civil war, can and should be held to account to make clear to the world that the use of chemical weapons and the targeting of civilians with other types of munitions will not be tolerated.

There is no purely military solution to the human tragedy of Syria. Now is the moment for the United States, and all concerned nations, to recommit to a concerted political and diplomatic effort to deter future such abominations, and to refrain from the most dangerous military options.

*This statement was updated at 2pm EDT, April 14

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Posted: April 14, 2018

The Wrong Choice for National Security Advisor

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Press release on the appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor

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For Immediate Release: March 23, 2018

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104

(Washington, D.C.)—The United States already faces an array of complex and dangerous foreign policy challenges that require pragmatic decision and sober diplomatic engagement with American allies and foes alike.

With the choice of John Bolton as his National Security Advisor, President Donald Trump has chosen someone with a record of a hostile attitude toward multilateral security and arms control agreements and effective international institutions designed to advance U.S. national security and international peace and security.

Bolton's extreme views could tilt the malleable Mr. Trump in the wrong direction on critical decisions affecting the future of the Iran nuclear deal, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and the strained U.S. relationship with Russia, among other issues.

Bolton is a nonproliferation hawk, but he has a disturbing and bellicose record of choosing confrontation rather than dialogue, politicizing intelligence to fit his worldview, and aggressively undermining treaties and negotiations designed to reduce weapons-related security threats. 

  • Bolton has long advocated for bombing Iran instead of pursuing negotiations to curb Iran’s nuclear program and he has called on the United States to abrogate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which is working to verifiably block Iran’s pathways to the bomb. 
  • In the early 2000s, Bolton was among those in the George W. Bush administration who opposed further dialogue with North Korea which allowed North Korea to advance its nuclear program and test nuclear weapons. More recently, has argued that the United States should launch a “preventive attack” on North Korea, which would result in a catastrophic war. His approach runs counter to Mr. Trump’s own stated policy of using sanctions pressure and diplomatic engagement, including a summit with Kim Jong-un, to halt and reverse North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
  • Bolton has repeatedly criticized the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, which is one of the few bright spots in the troubled U.S.-Russia relationship and continues to enjoy strong support from the U.S. military. Last year Bolton called the treaty “an execrable deal.”
  • While undersecretary of state for arms control and international security during the George W. Bush administration, Bolton cherry-picked the findings of intelligence community assessments of that country’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities, and was a key player in making the Bush administration’s flawed case for the war in Iraq—a war that Donald Trump has correctly ridiculed as a catastrophic American foreign policy blunder.

If Bolton succeeds in imposing his worldview on Donald Trump’s improvisational and impulsive foreign policy approach, we could be entering in a period of crisis and confrontation.

In particular, if Bolton convinces Trump to unilaterally violate the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May when the U.S. is due to renew sanctions waivers, it would not only open the door to the re-emergence of Iran as a nuclear weapons proliferation risk, but it would undermine President Trump’s very tentative diplomatic opening with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In the next year or so, Trump will need to decide whether or not to engage in talks with Russia about extending the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which is due to expire in 2021. Without the treaty, there would be no verifiable limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972.

We can ill-afford two nuclear proliferation crises, as well as abandoning a key brake on the growing risks of renewed U.S. and Russian nuclear competition and arms racing. 

Congress will need to play a stronger role to guard against further chaos and confusion in U.S. foreign policy, prevent the White House from blundering into unwise and catastrophic military conflicts, and to halt further degradation of the credibility of the United States as a responsible global leader.

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Posted: March 23, 2018

Arms Control Association Welcomes U.S.-North Korea Diplomatic Opening: Now the Hard Work Begins

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For Immediate Release: March 8, 2018

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Thomas Countryman, chair of the board of directors, 301-312-3445

(Washington, D.C.)—The Arms Control Association welcomes the very positive signals and messages being sent by both sides this evening and over the past few days—by President Trump and the North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un—that they are interested in pursuing a diplomatic agreement that puts North Korea on the road to denuclearization and that also presumably will also seek to address North Korea's security concerns.

"South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his national security team deserve tremendous credit for their very skillful diplomacy that has made this breakthrough possible," stated Executive Director Daryl Kimball.

With North Korea's willingness to consider denuclearization if its security is guaranteed, its willingness to suspend nuclear and ballistic missile testing while there are talks with the United States, and Kim Jong Un’s acknowledgement that the regular U.S.-ROK defense exercises are not an obstacle to negotiations, the table is set for a meaningful, sustained dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.

"But now, the hard work begins," noted Kimball. "Though President Trump deserves credit for being so bold as to agree to a summit meeting with North Korea by May, this is a process that will, if it is to succeed, require patience and persistence."

"A summit meeting must be carefully prepared, with expert-level negotiations beginning immediately. Preparations must take the planned North-South summit in April into account. It is too much to expect that a single Trump-Kim summit—no matter how intensively prepared—will bring an immediate and lasting solution to the nuclear issue," he cautioned. "But if the U.S. works closely and intensively with our South Korean allies in its approach to North Korea, a summit offers the potential for starting a serious process that could move us decisively away from the current crisis."

"The near-term goal," explained Kimball, "should be to maintain a long-term freeze on North Korean nuclear and missile testing and to discuss measures that can further reduce tensions on the peninsula, and agree on a balanced framework for sustained, direct, high-level negotiations on issues of mutual concern, including steps toward the longer-term goals of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the peace regime."

An Arms Control Association fact sheet details previous presidents' efforts in using a combination of pressure and incentives to curb North Korea's nuclear capabilities. "One important difference between the efforts of Bill Clinton in 1993-1994, George W. Bush in 2005-2006, Barack Obama in 2012, and the situation in 2018 is that North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities are much more substantial and dangerous today, their bargaining power is greater, and the cost of failure is higher," noted Kimball.

"Diplomacy will not guarantee success, but it offers the best chance for curbing the North Korean nuclear threat," he said.

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Posted: March 8, 2018

Arms Control Association Hails South Korea-North Korea Breakthrough

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Urges U.S. Government to Agree to Talks Without Conditions on Issues of Mutual Concern

For Immediate Release: March 6, 2018

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 102

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) shaking hands with South Korean chief delegator Chung Eui-yong (R), who travelled as envoys of the South's President Moon Jae-in, during their meeting in Pyongyang. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)(WASHINGTON D.C.)—In response to today's announcement from South Korea that North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, said his country is willing to begin negotiations with the United States on abandoning its nuclear weapons and that it would suspend all nuclear and missile tests while it is engaged in such talks, Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the U.S.-based Arms Control Association made the following comments:

"The results of the talks between senior South Korean officials and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang this week are an important breakthrough that the United States and the international community should welcome.

The preparations for an inter-Korean summit, the establishment of a hotline between South Korean and North Korean leaders, North Korea’s apparent willingness to consider denuclearization if its security is guaranteed, and willingness to suspend testing if there are talks with the United States, are all positive developments that strengthen the prospects for peace and security in the region.

The table is set for a meaningful, sustained dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang. It is important that the United States government seize upon—and that Congress support—this important diplomatic opening that has been forged by our close South Korean allies and agree to engage in talks with North Korea at a very senior level without preconditions. It is in the U.S. national security interest to reciprocate with actions and statements that reduce tensions, including being prepared to modify planned U.S.-Republic of Korea military exercises.

The near-term goal should be to maintain a long-term freeze on North Korean nuclear and missile testing and to reduce tensions on the peninsula and begin sustained negotiations on issues of mutual concern, including steps toward the longer-term goals of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the peace regime.

Diplomacy will not guarantee success, but it offers the best chance for curbing the North Korean nuclear threat."

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Posted: March 6, 2018

Former Officials, Experts Urge Congress to Support More Robust and Effective U.S. Diplomatic Engagement with North Korea to Head Off Crisis

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A group of former government officials, former members of Congress, nongovernmental organization leaders, and nonproliferation experts are calling on members of Congress to publicly express their support for a more effective U.S. diplomatic strategy with North Korea.

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For Immediate Release: March 6, 2018

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 102

(Washington, D.C.)—In a letter sent to all House and Senate offices Monday, a group of former government officials, former members of Congress, nongovernmental organization leaders, and nonproliferation experts called on members of Congress to publicly express their support for a more effective U.S. diplomatic strategy with North Korea in a March 5 letter.

“Missing, so far, from the U.S. strategy has been an effective and consistent strategy for diplomatic engagement with North Korea to halt and reverse its dangerous nuclear and missile pursuits,” the letter states. “Unless there is a breakthrough in the coming weeks, the action-reaction cycle between President Trump and Kim Jong Un will likely resume soon after the conclusion of the PyeongChang Olympic Games.”

The letter calls on members of Congress to publicly support more robust efforts by President Trump to engage in negotiations with North Korea in order to reduce tensions and achieve a diplomatic agreement to halt and eventually reverse North Korea’s nuclear and missile program.

The letter is endorsed by several former ambassadors, former members of Congress, including Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), leading nonproliferation and security experts, and civil society leaders.

The letter highlights two bills, H.R. 4837/S. 2016, which clarify that only Congress can authorize U.S. military action in North Korea and calls for the administration to “avoid actions that could contribute to a breakdown in talks, and continue to search for confidence-building measures that are conducive to dialogue” and S.2047, which would withhold funding from military action in North Korea “absent an imminent threat to the United States without express congressional authorization.”

The full text of the letter and the list of signatories are below.

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Support Effective U.S. Diplomatic Engagement with North Korea

March 5, 2018

Dear Member of Congress / Senator:

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, its gross violations of human rights, and the risk of miscalculation that could lead to a catastrophic war pose serious, difficult, and urgent international security challenges.

We are writing to urge you, as a member of Congress, to express your support for a more effective U.S. diplomatic approach that improves the chances for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and that reduces the risks of a conflict with North Korea.

To date, the Trump administration’s policy of “maximum pressure and engagement,” presidential threats of “fire and fury,” and demonstrations of U.S. military capabilities, have failed to bring North Korea’s leaders to the negotiating table, let alone convince them to trade away any aspect of their nuclear weapons program. With additional missile tests, Kim Jong-un could soon have a reliable nuclear retaliatory capability, not just against our South Korean and Japanese allies, but against the continental United States.

International support for the more effective implementation of sanctions on North Korea is an important tool, but this is a means, not an end. The so-called “preventive” military strike option, which has been actively considered inside the Trump administration, is not a viable solution as it could trigger a catastrophic conflict with millions of casualties.

Missing, so far, from the U.S. strategy has been an effective and consistent strategy for diplomatic engagement with North Korea to halt and reverse its dangerous nuclear and missile pursuits.

The dialogue between senior leaders from North and South Korea that began early this year creates an important opportunity and may have helped dissuade North Korea from conducting ballistic missile flight tests since its Nov. 29, 2017, Hwasong-15 test. During a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence on Feb. 8, the Republic of Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said he would “work hard to use the opportunity of North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics to bring North Korea to the table for talks for denuclearization and peace.”

The current U.S. position, as expressed in recent comments by Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Tillerson, is that the United States is open to “talks” with North Korea but sustained negotiations will require that North Korea commit to denuclearization steps, including a missile and testing freeze. For their part, North Korean leaders insist that the United States should postpone major U.S.-RoK military exercises and end what it calls the United States’ “hostile policy” toward their regime.

Since this position was first communicated to the North Koreans late last fall, North Korea had not responded positively. But on Feb. 25 South Korea’s presidential Blue House reported that: “The North Korean delegation said that North Korea is willing to have talks with the U.S. and the North agrees that inter-Korean relations and North Korea-U. S. relations should advance together.”

Clearly, more will need to be done to create the conditions for a productive, sustained dialogue that defuses the North Korean nuclear crisis. Ideally, North Korea should agree—through private assurances or a public announcement—that it will refrain from nuclear and ballistic missile testing and the Republic of Korea and the United States should agree to modify their planned military exercises in such a way as not to engage in actions that might be interpreted by Pyongyang as a preparation for a preventive military strike on North Korea.

Unless there is a breakthrough in the coming weeks, the action-reaction cycle between President Trump and Kim Jong Un will likely resume soon after the conclusion of the PyeongChang Olympic Games.

To improve the prospects for a diplomatic solution and to avert a conflict, we urge you to publicly express your support for more robust and realistic efforts by the President, in coordination with U.S. allies and partners, to engage in negotiations with North Korea designed to:

  • reduce tensions and improve communication in ways that reduce the chance of miscalculation; and
  • achieve a diplomatic agreement designed to halt and eventually reverse North Korea’s nuclear and missile pursuits, toward a denuclearization and a permanent peace regime on the Korean peninsula.

One way to do so is to cosponsor H.R. 4837/S. 2016, which clarifies that only Congress can authorize U.S.-initiated military action against North Korea and urges the Trump Administration to “avoid actions that could contribute to a breakdown in talks, and continue to search for confidence-building measures that are conducive to dialogue.” Another way to do so is to support S. 2047, which would prohibit funds from “being used for kinetic military operations in North Korea absent an imminent threat to the United States without express congressional authorization.”

We urge you to voice your support for a more robust and realistic diplomatic strategy that improves U.S. efforts to defend allies in the region, prevents proliferation, and halts and eventually reverses Pyongyang’s dangerous nuclear and missile programs.

Sincerely,

Alexandra Bell, Senior Policy Director, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

Dr. Rachel Bronson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists*

Thomas Countryman, Former Acting Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, U.S. Department of State and Chair of the Board of Directors, Arms Control Association

Toby Dalton, Co-Director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*

Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, Arms Control Association

Michael Fuchs, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress and Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Dr. Lisbeth Gronlund, Co-Director and Senior Scientist, Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists

Morton H. Halperin, Senior Advisor, Open Society Foundations

Frank Jannuzi, Former East Asia Policy Director, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Amb. Bonnie Jenkins, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution* and Chair and Founder, Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation*

Amb. Laura E. Kennedy (Ret.), Former U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, U.S. Department of State

Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

David Krieger, President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Jessica Lee, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Council of Korean Americans

Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, Adjunct Professor, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey*

Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Ret.), Former Chair, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director, Policy and Political Affairs, Peace Action

Stephen Miles, Director, Win Without War

Amb. Thomas R. Pickering (Ret.), Former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper, Senior Research Scholar, Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School

Joel Rubin, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of State

David Santoro, Director and Senior Fellow for Nuclear Policy, Pacific Forum, Center for Strategic and International Studies*

John F. Tierney, Former U.S. Representative, 6th District MA and Executive Director, Council for a Livable World

Cassandra Varanka, Nuclear Weapons Policy Coordinator, Women’s Action for New Directions

Dr. Paul F. Walker, International Director, Environmental Security and Sustainability, Green Cross International

Anthony Wier, Legislative Secretary for Nuclear Disarmament and Pentagon Spending, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Dr. David Wright, Co-Director, Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists

Sam Yoon, Executive Director, Council of Korean Americans

Philip W. Yun, Former Senior Advisor for East Asia, U.S. Department of State and Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer, Ploughshares Fund

*Institution listed for identification purposes only

 

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Posted: March 5, 2018

Arms Control Association Hails New START Milestone, Calls for Extending Treaty

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New START implementation has improved strategic stability, predictability, and transparency, and verifiably trimmed still oversized nuclear arsenals. The next step is to extend the treaty for five years to avert the possibility of unconstrained strategic nuclear competition between the world’s two largest nuclear actors.

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For Immediate Release: February 5, 2018

Media Contacts: Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, D.C.)—Today, the United States and Russia each announced that they have met their obligations under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear forces by today’s implementation deadline.

President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia sign the New START Treaty during a ceremony at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, April 8, 2010. (Photo: White House / Chuck Kennedy / Wikimedia Commons)“New START implementation is a significant accomplishment. Through this treaty, the two sides have improved strategic stability, predictability, and transparency, and verifiably trimmed their still oversized nuclear arsenals,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, which advocated for the treaty’s negotiation a decade ago and for its ratification in 2010.

“The next step is for Presidents Trump and Putin to agree to extend the treaty for another five years–to 2026–to avert the possibility of unconstrained strategic nuclear competition between the world’s two largest nuclear actors,” Kimball said.

“At a time when U.S.-Russian relations remain strained, New START serves an even more important role in reducing nuclear risks,” said Tom Countryman, chairman of the board of directors and former acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

“Continued implementation and compliance with New START, followed by an extension of New START and, if possible, the negotiation of a follow-on agreement, would advance U.S., Russian and international security,” he said.

Signed in 2010, New START requires each country to reduce its strategic nuclear forces to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads, 700 deployed delivery systems, and 800 deployed and nondeployed delivery systems by today’s implementation deadline. New START also includes a comprehensive suite of data exchanges and on-site monitoring and verification provisions to help ensure compliance with these limits.

The United States reached the required limits in August 2017. As of the last data exchange in September 2017, the United States had 1393 deployed strategic warheads, 660 deployed strategic delivery systems, and 800 deployed and nondeployed launchers of ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers.”

In a statement published Monday, the State Department said that Washington and Moscow “will exchange data on their respective strategic nuclear arsenals within the next month, as they have done twice per year over the last seven years in accordance with the Treaty.”

In a separate statement issued by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia announced that as of Monday it deploys 1,444 deployed strategic warheads, 527 deployed strategic delivery systems, and 779 deployed and nondeployed launchers of ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers.

The treaty is one of the few remaining bright spots in the U.S.-Russian relationship, as both sides have abided by its terms. The U.S. military agrees and continues to strongly support the agreement. Gen. John Hyten, who leads U.S. Strategic Command, told Congress in March that he is a “big supporter” of New START. Hyten added that “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.”

New START is set to expire Feb. 5, 2021, and can be extended by up to five years without further approval by the U.S. Senate or Russian Duma if both presidents agree. Russian officials have stated that they are open to discussing a five-year extension. The administration’s Nuclear Posture Review released last week does not take a position on the extension of the treaty.

“Unfortunately, President Trump has been dismissive of New START,” noted Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy.

In a January 2017 phone call, Trump responded negatively to a suggestion from Russian President Vladimir Putin that the two countries work to extend the treaty, according to a Reuters report.

“Failing to extend New START would be an unforced and self-defeating error,” Reif warned.

“If the New START is allowed to lapse with nothing to replace it, there would be no limits on U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces for the first time since 1972. The United States would have fewer tools with which to verify the size and composition of the Russian nuclear stockpile,” he said.

The deterioration of the U.S.-Russian relationship has only increased the value of New START. Other key pillars of the U.S.-Russia arms control architecture, like the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, are in jeopardy. Since 2014, the United States has accused Russia of testing a type of ground-launch cruise missile prohibited by that accord–a charge that Moscow denies. Bilateral discussions on the matter have not yet resolved the dispute.

Despite the benefits of New START to U.S. security, some Congressional critics of the treaty have tried to block its extension. The House-passed version of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act would have prohibited the use of funds to extend New START unless Russia returns to compliance with the INF Treaty.

“This is senseless and counterproductive. By ‘punishing’ Russia’s INF violation in this way, the United States would simply free Russia to expand the number of strategic nuclear weapons pointed at the United States after New START expires in 2021,” Reif says. “Fortunately, the final version of the authorization bill signed by Trump in December did not include the House language,” he added.

“Extending New START would be an easy win for President Trump,” Kimball said. “It would buy five additional years of much-needed stability, predictability, and transparency. It would help head off unconstrained U.S.-Russia nuclear competition. It would help reassure allies unsettled by both Trump and Putin loose rhetoric on nuclear weapons. And it could serve as a springboard for both sides to pursue further parallel, reciprocal reductions in their still bloated strategic nuclear arsenals, which stand at about 1,550 warheads each.”

The five most recent U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, all successfully negotiated agreements with Russia to reduce their nuclear stockpiles.

“As the possessors of over 90 percent of the roughly 15,000 nuclear weapons on the planet, the United States and Russia have a special responsibility to avoid direct conflict and reduce nuclear risks,” Countryman said. “The downward spiral in relations makes these objectives even more urgent. Extending New START—without either side asking for preconditions—would be an important down payment on a safer and more secure world.”

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Posted: February 5, 2018

Trump's More Dangerous Nuclear Strategy

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Independent Experts and Resources Available

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For Immediate Release: February 2, 2018
Media Contact: Tony Fleming, director for communications, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110; Daryl Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104.

(Washington, D.C.)—Today, the Trump administration will formally release its new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). According to a leaked draft of the 64-page document, the administration is seeking to expand the number of scenarios under which the United States might consider the use nuclear weapons—including in response to a major cyberattack—and it proposes the development of new nuclear weapons and capabilities to fill alleged "deterrence gaps."

The draft document also calls for replacing and upgrading all three legs of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which is estimated to cost more than $1.25 trillion over the next 30 years and walks back U.S. treaty commitments to pursue measures to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons and to halt nuclear weapons testing.

The new strategy veers sharply from previous U.S. efforts to narrow the role and reduce the number of nuclear weapons, according to top experts who spoke at Jan. 23 press briefing convened by the nonpartisan Arms Control Association.

The new NPR breaks with past U.S. policy and "aligns with President Trump’s more aggressive and impulsive nuclear notions,” argues Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction with the Arms Control Association.

"Unfortunately, this NPR does not argue for maintaining 'strategic stability' nor does it explain whether, how and why the call for new U.S. nuclear capabilities will reduce the threat of nuclear conflict," concluded Thomas Countryman, former acting Undersecretary of state for arms control, and the chairman of the Arms Control Association board of directors.

The transcript and audio of the press briefing are available on the Arms Control Association's website.

"[T]his Nuclear Posture Review makes no mention of a U.S. vision of a world without nuclear weapons, as the U.S. has previously stated for decades,” noted Joan Rohlfing, president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

"The overall takeaway from this NPR is that we need more weapons and more roles for our nuclear weapons in our national security… [which] really undermines our nonproliferation objectives and it makes us less safe over time," she warned.

The following experts are available for comment:

  • Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association. See his column: “Trump’s More Dangerous Nuclear Strategy”
     
  • Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, Arms Control Association
     
  • Thomas Countryman, former Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Chair of the Board of Directors, Arms Control Association
     
  • Bonnie Jenkins, former Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, Bureau of Intl. Security and Nonproliferation, Department of State
     
  • Laura Kennedy, former and former U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament
     
  • Zia Mian, physicist and Co-Director, Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; co-chair of the International Panel on Fissile Materials.
     
  • Greg Thielmann, former Senior Professional Staffer, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; former Foreign Service Officer; former Senior Fellow at the Arms Control Association
     
  • Andrew Weber, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Belfer Center, Harvard University; former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs. See his op-ed: “Trump Wants New Nukes."

To schedule an interview or appearance by any of the experts, please contact Tony Fleming, director for communications, at [email protected] or (202) 463-8270 ext. 110.

Posted: February 2, 2018

Trump Decision to Respect Iran Deal Obligations Averts Self-Made Crisis, for Now.

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Nuclear Agreement is a Nonproliferation Success that Must Not Be Squandered

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Nuclear Agreement is a Nonproliferation Success that Must Not Be Squandered

For Immediate Release: January 12, 2018

Media Contacts: Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 102; Thomas Countryman, chair of the board of directors, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110

(Washington, D.C.)—The Trump administration announced Friday that it will continue to waive sanctions on Iran in accordance with U.S. commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal between the P5+1 countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Iran, known as known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Meeting the U.S. obligation to continue sanctions relief is a common-sense decision that helps ensure that the tough restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency measures will continue to block Iran’s pathways to the bomb for years to come,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy.

"The deal dodged a bullet today, but Trump is setting up the United States to violate it down the road," warned Davenport. "Threatening to withhold future sanctions waivers in an attempt to force unilateral changes to the deal is dangerous, jeopardizes the future of the agreement, and creates a schism between the United States and its allies."

“The vast majority of nonproliferation and security experts agree that the successful implementation of the JCPOA has effectively neutralized the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapons program,” said Thomas Countryman, the chairman of the board of directors of the Arms Control Association and the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation.

“It would have been foolish for President Trump to disrupt a successful nonproliferation agreement that blocks the emergence of a significant new nuclear threat in a tension-filled region and contributes to strengthening the global nonproliferation regime,” Countryman argued.

“Trump continues to disparage the deal and is pressuring Congress to “fix” what it sees as flaws in the agreement,” noted Davenport. “In the weeks ahead, the administration and the Congress must refrain from imposing new sanctions that violate the JCPOA or seek to unilaterally alter the nuclear restrictions on Iran.”

“For example, legislative efforts by the U.S. Congress that automatically reimpose sanctions if Iran does not indefinitely abide by core nuclear restrictions that the JCPOA phases out over time would violate the accord and are strongly opposed by Washington’s negotiating partners,” she said.

Posted: January 12, 2018

Core Group of Negotiators for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Voted "2017 Arms Control Persons of the Year"

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For Immediate Release: January 9, 2018

Media Contact: Tony Fleming, director for communications, 202-463-8270 ext. 110

(Washington, D.C.)—Diplomats from the disarmament delegations of Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa, and Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica received the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the"2017 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year” in recognition of their efforts to secure the historic 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

More than 2,500 individuals from over 90 countries voted in the contest, the highest number of votes from the widest range of countries in the 10-year history of the contest.

Nine individuals and groups were nominated by the staff and board of the Arms Control Association for their leadership in advancing effective arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament solutions or for raising awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons during the course of 2017.

The diplomats leading the disarmament delegations from Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa were part of the “core group” of states who, along with the president of the negotiating conference, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica, played a central role in the multilateral talks on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The negotiations were brought to a successful conclusion in July and the treaty was opened for signature in September.

“In a year marked by rising tensions between the world’s nuclear-armed states, the negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons stands out as a historic achievement,” noted Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

"The strong affirmative vote for the disarmament teams from Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa, and Ambassador Whyte Gómez, reflects their pivotal role in the negotiation of the treaty and the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons,” Kimball said.

The runners-up in the vote for the 2017 Arms Control Persons of the Year were Toby Walsh of the University of New South Wales and a group of more than 137 founders and directors of over 100 robotics and artificial intelligence companies. They were nominated for their influential open letter warning of the dangers posed by uncontrolled development of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS). Their efforts have helped push government delegations at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva to consider options for regulating this new class of potentially destabilizing weapons.

The second runner-up was Pope Francis for his declaration that the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral completing the Catholic Church’s shift away from conditional acceptance of nuclear deterrence, and for his call for a more inclusive and effective process to advance disarmament. Pope Francis and the Vatican convened a major international conference Nov. 10-11 to discuss the steps toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Online voting was open from Dec. 8, 2017 until Jan. 5, 2018. A list of all of this year's nominees is available at https://armscontrol.org/acpoy/2017

Previous winners of the "Arms Control Person of the Year" are:

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Posted: January 9, 2018

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