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Press Releases

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

PRESS RELEASE: Strengthening Checks on Presidential Nuclear Launch Authority

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New Analysis Published in Arms Control Today

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New Analysis Published in Arms Control Today

For Immediate Release: January 4, 2018

Media Contacts: Brett Adams, Princeton University, 516-841-1105; Daryl G. Kimball, publisher, Arms Control Today, 202-463-8270 x107.

(Washington, DC)—Bipartisan concerns about President Donald Trump’s temperament, loose talk about nuclear weapons, and bellicose rhetoric toward North Korea have prompted renewed interest in and questioning of U.S. nuclear launch protocol, which gives the president the sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons, hundreds of which are available for prompt launch.

Last November, for the first time in over 40 years, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the subject of nuclear weapons launch authority.

In a new article published in the forthcoming journal Arms Control Today, Bruce Blair, a member of the Princeton University research faculty, cofounder of the organization Global Zero, and a former Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile launch officer, provides an authoritative summary of current U.S. nuclear launch protocol and its dangerous liabilities. The article includes new information about the process, including who is involved and how a nuclear use order would be executed.

Blair also offers several possible reforms to the current protocol to provide the president with more warning and decision time and reduce the risks of faulty decision making.

The article comes after Trump reacted to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s annual new year’s day address by tweeting: “Will someone from his [Kim Jong-Un’s] depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but that it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works.”

In the article, titled “Strengthening Checks on Presidential Nuclear Launch Authority,” Blair writes that “[m]ajor changes are needed to constrain a president who would seek to initiate the first use of nuclear weapons without apparent cause and to prevent him or her from being pushed into making nuclear retaliatory decisions in haste.”

“No single reform suffices,” writes Blair. “A combination of reforms is needed to reduce the risk.”

The reforms proposed by Blair include altering the current prompt-launch posture, adding more people to the chain of command, greater congressional involvement, and re-evaluating the legality of nuclear war plans.

Blair’s article will appear in the January/February 2018 issue of Arms Control Today.

Posted: January 4, 2018

Nine Nominees In the Running for the 2017 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year

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Nine U.S. and international leaders and groups have been nominated this year for efforts in 2017 on nonproliferation and disarmament or for raising public awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons.

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For Immediate Release: December 21, 2017

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Tony Fleming, director for communications, (202) 463-8270 ext. 114

(Washington, DC) -- Nine U.S. and international leaders and groups have been nominated this year for efforts in 2017 on nonproliferation and disarmament or for raising public awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons.

Nominees for the Arms Control Person(s) of the Year are made by the staff and board of the nonpartisan Arms Control Association, which has recognized such efforts annually since 2007.

This year nominees include:

  • EU High Representative Federica Mogherini for her campaign to resist attempts to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal;
     
  • Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica and delegations of Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa for successfully negotiating the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;
     
  • Ambassabor Joseph Yun, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy on North Korea, for efforts to establish a sustained diplomatic dialogue with North Korea;
     
  • Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) for introducing H.R. 4415, a bill that would make it the policy of the United States not to use nuclear weapons first;
     
  • 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;
     
  • Members of UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and partners in Iraq for the removal of more than 269,000 mines, IEDs, and other explosive hazards from locations formerly under ISIS control;
     
  • Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) for calling attention to the impact of U.S.-supplied weapons in the ongoing conflict in Yemen;
     
  • Edmond Mulet, head of the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism, for overseeing the investigations to determine the responsible actors for Syrian chemical weapons attacks; and
     
  • 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 for their open letter on the on the dangers posed by uncontrolled development of lethal autonomous weapon systems.

"Each of this year’s nominees have, in their own way, provided leadership to help reduce weapons-related security threats," noted Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

The winner will be selected by the public through online voting on the Association's website (https://www.armscontrol.org/acpoy) from December 8, 2017 until January 5, 2018. Nominees and their supporters are invited and encouraged to "campaign" for the award. Many have already started doing so via their social media profiles, using the hashtag #ACPOY17 to draw attention to their nomination. 

Previous winners of the "Arms Control Person of the Year" include: Tony de Brum and the government of the Marshall Islands (2016); Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2015); Austria's Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Ambassador Alexander Kmentt (2014), Executive-Secretary of the CTBTO Lassina Zerbo (2013); Gen. James Cartwright (2012); reporter and activist Kathi Lynn Austin (2011), Kazakhstan's Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Umarov and Thomas D'Agostino, U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator (2010);Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) (2009), Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his ministry's Director-General for Security Policy and the High North Steffen Kongstad (2008), and U.S. Congressmen Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) and David Hobson (R-Ohio) (2007).

Posted: December 21, 2017

U.S. and Russia Should Avoid Escalation and Commit to Resolve Lingering INF Treaty Dispute

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Statement by Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball

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Statement by Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed 30 years ago today, eliminated an entire class of destabilizing U.S. and Soviet nuclear-armed weapons and helped end the Cold War. Although the INF Treaty is clearly in the security interests of the United States, Europe, and Russia, the treaty is in jeopardy.

Soviet inspectors and their American escorts stand among U.S. Pershing II missiles destroyed in accordance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in a photo taken January 14, 1989. (Photo credit: MSGT Jose Lopez Jr./U.S. Defense Department)

According the U.S. government, Russia has violated the INF Treaty by testing and subsequently deploying a small number of ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with a range between 500 and 5,500 km. Russia denies that it has violated the treaty and has instead raised its own concerns about U.S. compliance with the agreement. This is a serious matter.

Both sides say they support the INF Treaty, but they have not been able to resolve the compliance dispute through the Special Verification Commission (SVC), a technical forum designed to resolve compliance concerns. The U.S. side has requested a second meeting of the SVC on December 12-14 to address the matter once again. This is an important opportunity that both sides must use to bring forward additional details about their concerns, as well as discuss concrete and practical solutions, rather than only exchange complaints and vague allegations.

The Trump administration announced today that it is committed to the INF Treaty and to bringing Russia back into compliance, which is helpful. What is not helpful is its proposal to recommit to the treaty by taking steps that would put the United States on the path to violating it. The administration announced that it is pursuing a tit-for-tat response: the development of new, INF non-compliant conventional missile.

As long as Russia remains in noncompliance with the treaty, the United States should make clear it clear that Russia will not be allowed to gain a military advantage from its violation.

But a symmetric response won’t make the United States or Europe any safer and will only make the problem worse. Earlier this year, the Republican-led Congress opened the door to this escalation of the problem by authorizing a program of record for such a weapons system.

The INF Treaty does not prohibit research or development, but going down this road sets the stage for Washington to violate the agreement at some point and it takes the focus off of Russia’s INF violation. Rather than persuading Russia to return to compliance, this action is more likely to give Moscow an excuse to continue on its current course.

New ground-launched intermediate-range missiles are not needed to defend NATO or Northeast Asian allies. U.S. forces are already stocked with formidable air- and sea-launched missiles that can cover the same targets. Furthermore, a new U.S. INF missile would take years to develop and cost billions of dollars that would drain funding from other military programs.

Most importantly, NATO does not support a new missile, and no country has offered to host it. It is thus a missile to nowhere. If the Trump administration tries to force the alliance to accept a new, potentially nuclear missile it would divide the alliance.

Instead, both sides must recommit to resolve this issue and use the existing treaty compliance resolution mechanism, the SVC, to evaluate competing technical claims and ultimately to remove from deployment any INF systems in Russia that do not comply with the treaty.

In addition to working to preserve and strengthen the existing bilateral arms control architecture, including the INF Treaty, the U.S. and Russia should begin to discuss the future of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which can and should be extended for another five years. These agreements constrain Russia's nuclear forces and provide stability, predictability and transparency. They have only increased in value as the U.S.-Russia relationship has deteriorated.

 

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Posted: December 8, 2017

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