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"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
Press Releases

Trump Proposal Would Weaken Controls on the Export of Dangerous Firearms

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For Immediate Release: Jan. 17, 2020

Media Contact: Jeff Abramson, senior fellow, (202) 463-8270 ext. 112

(WASHINGTON, DC)—Today, the Trump administration released controversial changes that will be published in the Federal Register Jan. 23 to federal rules on how certain firearms and military-style weapons are sold abroad. Under the new rules, nonautomatic and semi-automatic firearms, their ammunition, and certain other weapons currently controlled under the State Department-led U.S. Munitions List (USML) would move to the Commerce Department's Commerce Control List (CCL).

One effect of the rules change would be that Congress would lose its ability to provide oversight on the sales of these weapons to other countries.

In December, after the compromise National Defense Authorization Act removed a provision in the House's version that would have prohibited the changes, Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) put a hold on the implementation of the administration’s revised firearms export rules.

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"The administration's decision to no longer consider semi-automatic assault weapons, select sniper rifles, and their ammunition as weapons of war, but instead as commercial items, is dangerous and misguided. It is in the U.S. national security interest to maintain tighter control over military-style weapons that are too often misused to commit human rights abuses and perpetuate violent conflicts.

The administration’s firearms export rule changes would compound the damage caused by Trump’s rejection last year of the United States’ signature on the 2014 global Arms Trade Treaty, which requires that other states meet arms export control standards that the United States has had in place for many years.

Sadly, President Trump continues to put the profits of gun makers ahead of long-term global security and more responsible U.S. arms transfer policy."

— Jeff Abramson, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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Changes would put profits over national and international security

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European Powers Should Renew Effort to Bring the United States and Iran Back Into Compliance with 2015 Nuclear Deal

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For Immediate Release: Jan. 14, 2020

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

(Washington, D.C.)—France, Germany, and the United Kingdom announced Tuesday that they are triggering the dispute resolution mechanism in the 2015 nuclear deal to respond to Iran’s breaches of key nuclear limits.

We urge the three European governments to redouble their efforts to restore full implementation of the nuclear deal by all parties and to prevent the collapse of this effective nonproliferation agreement.

Triggering the dispute resolution mechanism is the latest consequence of the Trump administration’s reckless Iran policy. Iran’s decision to breach limits on its nuclear program put in place by the deal is an unfortunate but unsurprising response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s irresponsible choice in 2018 to reimpose sanctions on Iran in violation of the agreement and his administration’s aggressive campaign to deny Tehran any benefit of remaining in compliance with the accord.

While Iran’s violations of the accord are serious, they are reversible and they do not suggest, as some have alleged, that Iran is dashing to acquire a nuclear bomb.

It is critical that the remaining parties to the JCPOA use the dispute resolution mechanism to restore rather than undermine confidence in the nuclear deal. The effort spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron to return the United States and Iran to compliance with the accord and commit both sides to negotiations on a range of issues, including a long-term framework to guide Iran’s nuclear program, is a pragmatic and viable option that addresses concerns in both Tehran and Washington.

The dispute resolution mechanism is outlined in the main text of the JCPOA (paragraphs 36-37). Any party to the deal can trigger the dispute resolution mechanism to address an allegation of noncompliance with the accord’s obligations.

By triggering the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism, the three European parties to the nuclear deal increase the risk that UN Security Council sanctions on Iran will be reimposed. Snapping back UN sanctions lifted by the JCPOA would collapse the deal and could lead to an unrestrained Iranian nuclear program subject to far less intrusive monitoring than is required under the nuclear agreement. This would create a new nuclear crisis that undermines international security and further increases the risk of war.

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While Iran’s violations of the accord are serious, they are reversible and they do not suggest, as some have alleged, that Iran is dashing to acquire a nuclear bomb.

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MIT Professor Areg Danagoulian and Colleagues Voted 2019 Arms Control Persons of the Year

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For Immediate Release: Jan. 10, 2020

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

(Washington, D.C.)—Professor Areg Danagoulian and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were selected as the 2019 Arms Control Persons of the Year through an online poll that drew participants from over 100 countries. The annual contest is organized by the independent, nongovernmental Arms Control Association.

Dr. Areg Danagoulian and colleagues at MIT developed an innovative new nuclear disarmament verification process using neutron beams.Prof. Danagoulian and his team were nominated for their work developing an innovative new nuclear disarmament verification process using neutron beams. This process addresses the fact that parties to arms control treaties more often destroy delivery systems than warheads (e.g., the U.S. dismantling B-52 bombers for compliance with START). This leaves large stockpiles of surplus nuclear weapons, increasing risks of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Instead, the neutron beam test authenticates the warheads’ isotopic composition without revealing it, enabling a verified dismantlement of nuclear warheads.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association remarked, “This innovation paves the way for more effective arms control agreements, inspections, and enforcement.  Professor Danagoulian’s MIT team has brought the best science to arms control and provided a creative solution that can reduce nuclear threats and enhance security.”

This year, 10 individuals and groups were nominated by the Arms Control Association staff and board of directors. All of the nominees demonstrated extraordinary leadership in advancing effective arms control solutions for the threats posed by mass casualty weapons during the course of 2019. 

This contest is a reminder of the diverse and creative ways that dedicated individuals and organizations from around the globe can contribute to meeting the difficult arms control challenges of today and the coming decades. It is a hopeful way to close out 2019 and begin 2020.


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The runner-up was Afghanistan’s first all-female demining team, nominated for completing landmine work in Bamyan province, the first of Afghanistan's 34 provinces to be declared free of landmines. The women were trained by the Danish Demining Group as part of a United Nations Mine Action Service pilot program working with Afghanistan’s Directorate of Mine Action Coordination (DMAC).

Afghanistan’s first all-female demining team completed landmine work in Bamyan province this year, the first of Afghanistan's 34 provinces to be declared free of landmines.“The courageous efforts of the Afghan demining team exemplifies women’s empowerment and engagement in peace and security and underscores the importance of humanitarian disarmament,” said Kathy Crandall Robinson, Chief Operations Officer of the Arms Control Association.

Online voting was open from Dec. 12, 2019, until Jan. 8, 2020. A list of all of this year's nominees is available at https://armscontrol.org/acpoy/2019

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

 

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Prof. Danagoulian and his team were nominated for their work developing an innovative new nuclear disarmament verification process using neutron beams.

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2019 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year Nominees Announced

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For Immediate Release: December 12, 2019

Media Contacts: Kathy Crandall-Robinson, chief operations director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 101; Tony Fleming, director for communications, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Since 2007, the Arms Control Association has nominated individuals and institutions that have, in the previous 12 months, advanced effective arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament solutions and raised awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons.

In a field that is often focused on threats and challenges, our Arms Control Person(s) of the Year contest aims to highlight the many positive initiatives that help improve international peace and security.

This year's nominees are listed below. All of the nominees have, in their own way, provided leadership to help reduce weapons-related security threats during the past year.

A full list of previous winners is available here.

The ballot and list of 2019 nominees is available at armscontrol.org/acpoy. Voting will take place between December 12, 2019 and January 8, 2020. The results will be announced on January 10, 2020.

The 2019 nominees are:

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

Proposed Change to U.S. Weapons Export Rules Is Bad Policy

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(WASHINGTON, DC)—Media reports indicate that the Trump administration has taken the decision to move forward with rules that could expedite how certain firearms and military-style weapons are sold internationally. Under the new rules, nonautomatic and semi-automatic firearms, their ammunition, and certain other weapons currently controlled under the State Department-led U.S. Munitions List would move to the Commerce Department's Commerce Control List (CCL).

Under the new rules, Congress would lose its ability to provide oversight on these sales. The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act would prohibit the changes, but the NDAA has stalled in Congress. Moving forward would appear to override a hold that Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) put on the changes in February.

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"We need to maintain tight export controls on the types of military-style weapons that are often misused to commit human rights abuses and that perpetuate violent conflicts that hurt vulnerable civilian populations. The Trump administration’s plan to remove military-style weapons from the State Department’s review and Congressional notification processes is bad policy.
        The proposed change in policy makes it easier to sell U.S. weapons abroad and might help the bottom line of a few gun makers, but it threatens to undermine long-term global security and decades of more responsible U.S. arms transfer policy."
     – Jeff Abramson, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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Under new rules from the Trump administration, Congress would lose its ability to provide oversight on how certain firearms and military-style weapons are sold internationally.

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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Trump Administration May Pull Out of Open Skies Treaty; Last U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Treaty Also at Risk

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For Immediate Release: October 27, 2019

Media Contacts: Tony Fleming, director for communications, 202-463-8270 ext. 110; Jessica Sarstedt, 202-802-1835

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Trump administration officials continue to deliberate on the future of the Open Skies Treaty. It was reported earlier this month that the White House is considering a proposal advanced by former National Security Advisor John Bolton to withdraw from the 34-nation agreement, which has been in force since 2002. The Open Skies Treaty allows unarmed information-gathering flights over other parties to the agreement to track and monitor military deployments, including those of Russia.

Open Skies is another critical piece in the overlapping armor of arms control and security agreements negotiated by Republican and Democratic administrations that helped bring an end to the Cold War. These agreements have provided predictability and transparency of our adversaries’ military activities, reduced the nuclear weapons threat, and decreased tensions and the risk of military conflict.

A U.S. exit from Open Skies would add to tensions with Russia, especially after the U.S. exit from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, undermine the security of our European allies, and damage the credibility of U.S. leadership. As The Wall Street Journal and others have reported, the government of Ukraine greatly values the Open Skies Treaty and supports full participation and compliance by all parties.

Not only is the Open Skies Treaty at risk, but Trump has also not decided on whether to extend the only remaining treaty limiting U.S. and Russian nuclear weaponry, the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which is due to expire in February 2021.

Abandoning these agreements would make more likely something Trump says he wants to avoid. Just this week, Trump reminded everyone that his goal is to not seek an arms race and noted the importance of arms control agreements, specifically driving home the need to place a cap on nuclear weapons arsenals.

On Monday, Oct. 21, Trump said in an interview: “We should all get together and work out something—a cap, have a cap. We don't need 10,000 [nuclear] weapons, [we need to] have a cap.”

The United States and Russia, which possess the two largest nuclear arsenals in the world, already have an agreement in force which caps each country’s nuclear weapons: New START. The treaty:

  • Caps each sides’ strategic deployed nuclear warheads at 1,550,
  • Caps deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers assigned to nuclear missions to no more than 700 each, and
  • Caps deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and bombers are limited to no more than 800 each.

By walking away from either one of these agreements, the United States would set back efforts to reduce military and nuclear tensions with Russia and other nuclear armed states.

Instead, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week, we need to sustain, strengthen, and build upon proven multilateral agreements that provide transparency about Russia’s military activities and that verifiably cap U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, including the Open Skies Treaty and New START.

Experts Available for Comment

Amb. Bonnie Jenkins, former Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, Department of State, and member of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association.

Alexandra Bell, Senior Policy Director at the Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation and former Senior Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

Lynn Rusten, Vice President, Global Nuclear Policy Program, Nuclear Threat Initiative, and former senior director for arms control and nonproliferation on the White House National Security Council staff and senior advisor in the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance (AVC), where she led the interagency backstopping process supporting the negotiation and ratification of New START.

Thomas Countryman, former​ ​Acting​ Under Secretary of State ​Arms​ ​Control and ​International Security and ​​Chair of the Board of Directors of the Arm​​s Control Association.

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Background information and experts available on the Open Skies Treaty and New START

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Abandonment of Open Skies Treaty Would Undermine U.S. and European Security

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For Immediate Release: October 9, 2019

Media ContactsKingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, 202-463-8270 ext. 104; Tony Fleming, director for communications, 202-463-8270 ext 110.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—The Trump administration is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from yet another key arms control treaty: the 1992 Open Skies Treaty. If President Trump decides to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty, it would undermine the security of the United States and European allies, including Ukraine, say leading arms control and national security experts.

The Open Skies Treaty entered into force in 2002 and currently has 34 states-parties, including the United States and Russia. The treaty allows for information-sharing that increases transparency about military forces among members, thereby contributing to stability and improving each participating state’s national security.

The treaty allows aerial imaging through short-notice, unarmed observation flights over each other's entire territory. The flights allow observing parties to identify significant military equipment, such as artillery, fighter aircraft, and armored combat vehicles. Open Skies aircraft can only be equipped with cameras verifiably limited to a resolution below state-of-the-art technology, and the treaty disallows the collection of any other electromagnetic signals. The 34 states-parties have yearly quotas on overflights and must make the collected information available to all treaty parties.

Since entering into force, the United States has conducted almost 200 flights over Russian territory. Russia has carried out more than 70 flights over U.S. territory. U.S. allies continue to value and rely on the Open Skies Treaty for imagery collection.

National security officials, members of Congress, and arms control experts are warning the Trump administration that withdrawal would be "reckless" and would reduce the ability of the United States and European allies to monitor and counter Russian aggression against Ukraine.


QUICK QUOTES

"The Open Skies Treaty provides information about Russian military activities for the U.S. and our allies and provides the Russians with insight on our capabilities. Such transparency reduces uncertainty and the risk of conflict and miscalculations due to worst-case assumptions."
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

"U.S. flights over Ukraine and western Russia have yielded valuable data, easily shared between allies. The flights strengthen ties between the United States and its allies and reassure non-NATO members on Russia’s periphery. Withdrawing from the treaty would be another step in the collapse of U.S. leadership and further alienate U.S. allies and partners."
Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy


RESOURCES


EXPERTS AVAILABLE IN WASHINGTON

To schedule an interview with or appearance by an expert on U.S-Russian arms control agreements, please contact Tony Fleming, director for communications, (202) 463-8270 ext 110.

  • Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, [email protected], (202) 463-8270 ext. 104

  • Amb. Bonnie Jenkins, former Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, Department of State, and member of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association, [email protected], (571) 264-7053

  • Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, [email protected], 202-277-3478
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The treaty provides transparency about Russian military activities for the U.S. and our allies. Withdrawing from the treaty would be another step in the collapse of U.S. leadership and further alienate U.S. allies and partners, note arms control experts.

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Civil Society Leaders Demand the Entry into Force of Nuclear Testing Ban Treaty

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For Immediate Release: Sept. 25, 2019

Media Contacts: Alexandra Bell, senior policy director, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation (202-546-0795, [email protected]); Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, Arms Control Association (202-277-3478, [email protected]); Shannon Bugos, research assistant, Arms Control Association (630-999-0022, [email protected])

(New York)—At a major United Nations conference this week, more than 40 nongovernmental leaders in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, as well as former government officials and diplomats, voiced their demand for the entry into force of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Alexandra Bell, senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, delivered a statement on the CTBT on behalf on nongovermental organizations at the 11th Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT at UN headquarters in New York.

“The CTBT helps to reduce dangerous nuclear competition and creates the necessary conditions for further verifiable steps to reduce the nuclear threat and the role of nuclear weapons,” the statement read. “With a global end to explosive nuclear testing, humanity will move closer to a world without nuclear weapons.”

Currently, there are eight states—China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States—that have yet to ratify the treaty in order for it to formally enter into force. Given those states’ intransigence, the civil society leaders called for “new, creative, and sustained diplomatic initiatives” to “replace vague calls to action.”

In addition, the leaders highlighted the severe human and environmental costs of nuclear testing and recommended that the 184 signatories to the treaty support the CTBT’s International Monitoring System. They also called upon states-parties to work together to address any credible charges of noncompliance and correct erroneous claims by Trump administration officials that there are different interpretations of what activities the treaty prohibits. All of the P5 powers—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France—have publicly affirmed the treaty’s prohibition on all nuclear test explosions, no matter what the yield.

“For the safety and security of future generations and out of respect to the people harmed by nuclear testing, this generation must act,” Bell said, representing the civil society leaders. “It is time to close and lock the door on nuclear testing forever.”

The full text of the statement is below, or click here for the PDF.


Closing the Door on Nuclear Weapons Testing

Civil Society Statement to the 11th Article XIV Conference
on Facilitating Entry into Force of the CTBT
Sept. 25, 2019

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is an essential pillar of the international nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament infrastructure.

The CTBT has successfully established a global norm against nuclear test explosions of any yield. With North Korea’s 2018 decision to unilaterally halt nuclear testing, now, for the first time in 74 years, no country is actively engaged in explosive nuclear weapons testing.

By halting all nuclear weapon test explosions—no matter what the yield—the CTBT and the de facto global nuclear test moratorium create an important barrier against the development of new and more advanced nuclear warhead designs.

The CTBT helps to reduce dangerous nuclear competition and creates the necessary conditions for further verifiable steps to reduce the nuclear threat and the role of nuclear weapons. With a global end to explosive nuclear testing, humanity will move closer to a world without nuclear weapons.

Signatory states, working with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna, maintain and operate the 300+ station International Monitoring System. That system provides detection capabilities significantly more sensitive than originally envisioned.

The continuous flow of data from the IMS stations to the International Data Centre at CTBTO headquarters helps to detect and deter clandestine nuclear test explosions anywhere in the world, in any environment. This was amply demonstrated by the IMS’ data collected on the six nuclear tests by North Korea, which showed that the IMS is more technologically capable than envisaged in 1996 when the CTBT was finalized.

The Human and Environmental Effects

The CTBT and the de facto global nuclear testing moratoria have also prevented further health and environmental injury from nuclear testing.

We can never forget that since 1945, there have been 2,056 nuclear weapons tests by at least eight countries. The United States conducted 1,030 of those tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and underground, while the Soviet Union carried out 715 nuclear test detonations.

Not only did these nuclear test explosions fuel the development and spread of new and more deadly types of nuclear weapons, but also hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions more have suffered—and continue to suffer—from illnesses directly related to the radioactive fallout from nuclear detonations in the United States, islands in the Pacific, in Australia, China, Algeria, across Russia, in Kazakhstan, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and elsewhere.

In Kazakhstan, where the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test 70 years ago, there were more than 450 nuclear test detonations, including 116 in the atmosphere. Large areas of the Semipalatinsk Test Site remain contaminated 30 years after a grassroots movement forced the end of nuclear testing at the site in 1989. Now, in their fourth generation, people living in that vicinity still suffer from poor health, such as cancers, major birth defects, and blood diseases. Many other areas will also remain unusable until and unless the radioactive contamination can be remediated. The government of Kazakhstan estimates that some 1.5 million people were harmed by the Soviet-era nuclear tests.

In the Marshall Islands, where the United States detonated massive aboveground nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s, several atolls are still heavily contaminated, indigenous populations have been displaced, and some buried radioactive waste could soon leak into the ocean. A 1990 National Cancer Institute study concluded that fallout from nuclear blasts at the Nevada Test Site may have caused 10,000 to 75,000 thyroid cancers. There were few, if any, Americans in the contiguous 48 states at the time who were not exposed to some level of fallout.

Closing the Door on Nuclear Testing

Today, the CTBT has 184 state signatories and near universal support. The IMS and the International Data Center are continuously collecting and analyzing data to help detect and deter clandestine nuclear tests. The officials gathered here, and the governments they represent, cannot and must not lose, or forsake, the progress that has been made.

Many of today’s statements of support for the treaty were laudable, but they are not enough. They certainly will not hasten the treaty’s entry into force.

New, creative, and sustained diplomatic initiatives must replace vague calls to action. Global leaders who know that a return to explosive nuclear testing is not in the security interest of any nation on this planet must work in concert with the esteemed co-chairs of the Article XIV process to meet the challenges facing the CTBT regime.

As representatives of Civil Society, we offer the following recommendations:

1. Initiate and Sustain Energetic Diplomacy Focused on the Eight Hold-Out States.

It has been more than a quarter century since the CTBT was opened for signature. New and more creative approaches are needed to overcome the intransigence of the eight remaining Annex 2 “hold-out” states that must ratify the treaty to achieve its formal entry into force.

These states—China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States—have deprived the international community, and themselves, of the full security benefits of the treaty and its extensive verification system.

Four of these eight states—China, Egypt, Iran, and the United States—are parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which will mark its 50th anniversary in 2020. Next year will also mark the 25th anniversary of the indefinite extension of the NPT and of the adoption of Decision 2 at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference that, inter alia, committed NPT states-parties to conclude the CTBT no later than 1996. Thus, it is incumbent on these four states, in particular, to ratify the CTBT in time for the 2020 NPT Review Conference.

Concrete action on ratification of the CTBT by the remaining hold-out states would strengthen international and regional security, advance the goals and objectives outlined by Article VI of the NPT, and advance the national security interests of the eight states listed in Annex 2 that must still ratify to trigger the treaty’s entry into force.

While ratifications by individual hold-out states might stimulate other hold-out states to follow suit, there is no reason for any state to make its ratification dependent upon another state’s ratification, as the treaty becomes binding for all only when all hold-out states have ratified.

  • India and Pakistan: Since their destabilizing tit-for-tat nuclear detonations in 1998, India and Pakistan have refused to reconsider the CTBT even though neither country has expressed an interest in, nor technical justification for, renewing nuclear testing. UN Security Council resolution 1172 paragraph 13 “urges India and Pakistan...to become Parties to the...Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty without delay and without conditions.” India and Pakistan could advance the cause of nuclear disarmament and substantially ease regional tensions by converting their unilateral test moratoria into legally binding commitments through the CTBT.
     
  • The Middle East: Ratification of the CTBT by Israel, Egypt, and Iran—all of which must ratify to trigger CTBT entry into force—and Saudi Arabia would reduce nuclear weapon-related security concerns in the region. It would also help create the conditions necessary to achieve their common, stated goal of a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East.
     
  • China and the United States: China’s leaders and officials have consistently expressed their support for the CTBT, but they have failed to follow through with ratification. Chinese leadership is important and overdue.

    U.S. leadership is also essential but has been woefully lacking. The United States no longer has a technical or military need for a nuclear explosive testing option, and it is clearly in U.S. national security interests to prevent other states from testing, which would create new nuclear tensions and enable advances in other states’ nuclear weapons arsenals. Further, it is difficult to envision U.S. citizens in any state quietly accepting the resumption of nuclear explosive testing in their backyard.
     
  • North Korea: After six nuclear test explosions, Chairman Kim Jong Un announced a unilateral nuclear test moratorium in the spring of 2018. This represents a very welcome shift in policy. However, the closure of North Korea’s test site has still not been verified, and North Korea has not made a legally-binding commitment to halt nuclear test explosions by signing and ratifying the CTBT. All CTBT signatory states should underscore, in multilateral and bilateral fora and in meetings with the government in Pyongyang, that signature and ratification of the treaty would represent a significant step toward denuclearization and help create the conditions for peace and normalization of relations.

If the states-parties at this conference are serious about securing entry into force, they will need to devote more significant and higher-level diplomatic pressure in the capitals of the other CTBT hold-out states to move them to sign and/or ratify the treaty.

2. Expand Support for the CTBT Verification and Monitoring System.

All signatories should comprehensively support the effective operation of the CTBT’s International Monitoring System, including by fully meeting their assessed obligations and by helping to maintain and operate the IMS stations located on their territory.

All member states have a responsibility to sustain these operations and ensure the uninterrupted flow of IMS data. Withholding the flow of IMS data prior to the CTBT’s entry into force, for whatever reason—whether to send a political message or try to hide information relevant to the protection of public health and safety following a nuclear incident—is irresponsible.

3. Address Charges of Noncompliance and Varying Interpretations of Article I.

States-parties must address charges made by one signatory state against another and help these two signatories arrive at some common-sense solutions. In prepared remarks delivered at the Hudson Institute on May 29, the Director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, Jr., charged that “Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the ‘zero-yield’ standard outlined in the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.”

The State Department’s August 2019 Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements Report repeats these charges against Russia and accuses China of activities that “raise questions regarding its adherence to the ‘zero-yield’ nuclear weapons testing moratorium.”

On June 12, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, “We are acting in full and absolute accordance with the treaty ratified by Moscow and in full accordance with our unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests.”

Any violation of the CTBT by Russia, which has signed and ratified the agreement, or any other signatory, would be a serious matter. But thus far, the Trump Administration has not presented any credible information to back up their allegations. As recently as December 2015, it was the view of the U.S. government that the only state in recent years that had tested nuclear weapons in a way that produced a nuclear yield was North Korea. This begs the question of what, if anything, has changed since then that would support a different conclusion.

The most effective way, of course, to enforce compliance is to bring the CTBT into force, which would allow for intrusive, short-notice, on-site inspections to detect and deter any possible cheating.

In response to the recent U.S. allegations, CTBT states parties should encourage the U.S. government, if it believes it has credible evidence that Russia is violating its CTBT commitments, to negotiate arrangements for mutual confidence-building visits, involving technical experts, to the respective U.S. and Russian test sites to address any compliance concerns.

States-parties at this conference should agree to develop and advance a multilateral plan for resolving charges of noncompliance based on the treaty’s provisions for confidence-building measures.

In addition, CTBT states parties should correct the DIA director’s erroneous assertion that there are different national interpretations of what activities the CTBT prohibits. According to a 2011 U.S. State Department Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance fact sheet, “Key P-5 Public Statements on CTBT Scope,” the United States, Russia, China, and all of the other NPT nuclear-weapon states have publicly affirmed that the treaty’s Article I prohibition on “any nuclear weapons test explosion, or any other nuclear explosion” bans all nuclear test explosions, no matter what the yield.

The final conference document of this, the 11th Article XIV Conference, should reaffirm that CTBT states parties agree that the CTBT’s prohibition on nuclear weapon test explosion bans nuclear explosions of any yield.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the challenges facing the CTBT are serious and, in the eyes of some, perhaps even insurmountable. As representatives of Civil Society, we would like to make it clear that this is not the time or place for pessimism or defeatism. This is not the time or place for the faint of heart. Sliding back towards nuclear testing means sliding back into a nuclear arms race. That is dangerous and unacceptable.

It is the duty of the assembled delegations to complete what was started a generation ago. For the safety and security of future generations and out of respect to the people harmed by nuclear testing, this generation must act. It is time to close and lock the door on nuclear testing forever.

Endorsed by:

Nobuyasu Abe, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs

Alimzhan Akhmetov, Director, Center for International Security and Policy

Alexandra Bell, Senior Policy Director, Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation

Hans Blix, Former Foreign Minister of Sweden, Director General Emeritus of the IAEA

Des Browne, Former UK Secretary of State for Defence

Susan F. Burk, Former Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Jeff Carter, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Michael Christ, Executive Director, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

Lisa Clark and Reiner Braun, Co-Presidents, International Peace Bureau (Nobel Peace Laureate 1910)

Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, Secretary-General of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

Thomas Countryman, Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation

Ambassador Sérgio Duarte, President of Pugwash and Former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and President of the 2005 NPT Review Conference

Marc Finaud, Head of Arms Proliferation, Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP)

Dr. Trevor Findlay, former Chair, UN Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters

Lisbeth Gronlund, Co-Director, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

John Hallam, People for Nuclear Disarmament (Sydney NSW), Co-Convenor of the Abolition 2000 Working Group on Nuclear Risk Reduction, Human Survival Project

Rebecca Irby, Founder and Executive Director, PEAC Institute

Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director, Project Ploughshares

Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Founder and Executive Director, Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation

Derek Johnson, Executive Director, Global Zero

Dr. Rebecca Johnson, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy

Dr. Togzhan Kassenova, Senior Fellow, Center for Policy Research, University at Albany, State University of New York

Ambassador (ret) Laura Kennedy, former U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association*

The Honorable Mike Kopetski, Former Member of the U.S. Congress

Michael Krepon, Co-Founder of the Stimson Center

David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Arailym Kubayeva, Project Coordinator, Friedenswerkstatt Mutlangen e.V.

Jenifer Mackby, Senior Fellow, Federation of American Scientists

Kazumi Matsui, President of Mayors for Peace, Mayor of Hiroshima

Götz Neuneck, Pugwash Germany and Federation of German Scientists

William J. Perry, The William J. Perry Project, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense

William C. Potter, Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor of Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Ambassador Jaap Ramaker, Chairman of the 1996 CTBT Negotiations in Geneva, Former Special Representatives of Ratifying States to Promote the CTBT (2004-2009)

Tariq Rauf, Former Head of Verification and Security Policy, Office of the Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency

Susi Snyder, Don’t Bank on the Bomb Coordinator, PAX

Aaron Tovish, Executive Director of Zona Libre

Dianne Valentin, Founder & CEO, The Black Heritage Museum & Cultural Center, Inc.

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

Andrei Zagorski, Head of the Department of Disarmament and Conflict Resolution at the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, and Member of the trilateral Deep Cuts Commission

*Statement coordinated by the Arms Control Association

Description: 

Forty nongovernmental leaders in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, as well as former government officials and diplomats, voiced their demand for the entry into force of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) at the 11th Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT.

Iran Takes Another Step Away from Compliance with the JCPOA, Experts Available

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For Immediate Release: September 5, 2019

Media ContactsKingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, 202-463-8270 ext. 104; Thomas Countryman, board chair, 301-312-3445; Daryl Kimball, executive director, 202-277-3478

Iran is poised to take a third step away from compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in retaliation to the U.S. withdrawal from the deal in May 2018 and phased re-imposition of sanctions.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sept. 4 ordered the atomic energy organization of Iran “to immediately start whatever is needed in the field of research and development, and abandon all the commitments that were in place regarding research and development.” He referred to “expansions in the field of research and development, centrifuges, different types of new centrifuges, and whatever we need for enrichment.”

The atomic energy organization is scheduled to detail the specific steps that will be taken on Saturday, Sept. 7.

Iran earlier this summer announced that it would renege on its commitments to increase the low-enriched uranium stockpile above the 300-kilogram limit of 3.67 percent enriched uranium and enrich uranium above the 3.67 percent level.

Iran’s latest step away from the deal comes after the U.S. government apparently rejected a proposal by French President Emmanuel Macron to extend Iran a $15 billion line of credit guaranteed by future Iranian oil sales in return for Iran’s return to compliance with the JCPOA and a return to negotiations on regional security and the future of Iran’s nuclear program.

Brian Hook, the State Department coordinator on Iran, told reporters on Sept. 4 that “We can't make it any more clear that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure and we are not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers.”

QUICK QUOTES

“The most responsible path forward is for Iran to exercise restraint and for all parties to return to full compliance with the JCPOA and agree to open follow-on negotiations to address issues of mutual concern.” – Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy

“It would be a self-defeating and counterproductive mistake for the Trump administration to reject the plan proposed by President Macron to salvage the JCPOA, retain the strong limits on Iran’s nuclear program, and create the opportunity for further dialogue. The administration’s rejection of this proposal is further confirmation that it is not serious about diplomacy with Iran.” – Thomas Countryman, former undersecretary of state for arms control and international security and chair of the ACA board of directors

“While Iran’s decision to breach a third JCPOA nuclear limit does not pose a near-term proliferation risk, it is worrisome and could be followed by more serious steps if the United States continues to reject reasonable offers for dialogue and for easing tensions. Iran has indicated that it is willing to return to compliance with the JCPOA but is seeking leverage to counter the U.S. maximum pressure campaign, which has systematically denied Iran the sanctions relief it was promised as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.” – Daryl G. Kimball, executive director 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

EXPERTS AVAILABLE IN WASHINGTON

  • Kingston Reif, ​Director for ​D​​​​isarmamen​​t and ​T​h​​reat ​R​e​​d​​uction​ ​Policy​, ​[email protected], 202-463-8270 ext. 104
  • Thomas Countryman, former​ ​Acting​ ​U​nder ​S​ecret​​ary of ​​S​tate for​ ​Arms​ ​Control and ​International ​S​ecur​​ity, and ​​Chair of the Board for the Arm​​s Control Association, [email protected], 301-312-3445
  • Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, [email protected], 202-277-3478

Or contact Tony Fleming, director for communications, 202-463-8270 ext. 110 / 202-213-6856 (mobile) to schedule an interview.

Description: 

While Iran’s decision to breach a third JCPOA nuclear limit does not pose a near-term proliferation risk, it is worrisome and could be followed by more serious steps if the United States continues to reject reasonable offers for dialogue and for easing tensions.

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