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– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
Press Releases

U.S. NGOs Urge Prompt Action to Make Nuclear Disarmament a Global Enterprise

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Statement to 3rd Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna

For Immediate Release: Dec. 9, 2014

Media Contacts: Kingston Reif, Arms Control Association (202-463-8270 x107); Hans Kristensen, Federation of American Scientists (413-695-1089); Sean Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists (202-331-5429); Catherine Thomasson, Physicians for Social Responsibility (503-819-1170);

(Vienna/Washington) Today at an extraordinary international conference in Vienna on The Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, some 800 diplomats and civil society representatives from more than 150 states discussed the implications of the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons testing, production, and use.

In a statement to the conference, the leaders of five major U.S.-based organizations—the Arms Control Association, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Nuclear Information Project of the Federation of American Scientists, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Union of Concerned Scientistsincluding two presenters at the conference, urged prompt action to make disarmament a global enterprise.

Noting that follow-through on the consensus action plan developed at the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference has been “very disappointing,” the leaders said “creative, practical ideas are needed to overcome the obstacles and excuses.”

They urged government leaders and civil society to come together around four major objectives, among others:

1. Examine dangerous doctrines. In 2010, all of the NPT nuclear-weapon states committed to “diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons” and “[d]iscuss policies that could prevent the use of nuclear weapons.”

“Unfortunately,” the NGO statement said, “none of them has undertaken demonstrable, concrete steps to do so.”

Reif and the others said: “At the 2015 NPT Review Conference and elsewhere, the leaders of the world’s nuclear-armed states should be called upon to explain the effects of their nuclear war plans, if these plans were to be carried out, and how they believe the use of hundreds of such weapons would be consistent with humanitarian law and the laws of war as some nuclear-armed states claim.”

“Given the catastrophic consequences of the large-scale use of nuclear weapons against many dozens, if not hundreds of targets, as envisioned in the U.S., Russian, French, Chinese, British, Indian and Pakistani nuclear war plans, it is hard to see how the use of significant numbers of nuclear weapons could be consistent with international humanitarian law or any common sense interpretation of the Law of Armed Conflict,” they wrote.

2. Accelerate U.S.-Russian nuclear cuts and freeze other nuclear-armed nation stockpiles.Further nuclear reductions need not wait for a new U.S.-Russian arms control treaty. As long as both sides continue to reduce force levels below the treaty limits, U.S. and Russian leaders could undertake parallel, verifiable reductions well below New START ceilings,” the five organizations argued. 

“Other countries must get off the disarmament sidelines, particularly China, France, India and Pakistan, which continue to improve their nuclear capabilities. [Their] arsenals,” the statement noted, “are just as dangerous and destabilizing.”

“A unified push for further U.S.-Russian arms cuts combined with a global nuclear weapons freeze by the other nuclear-armed states could create the conditions for multilateral action on disarmament,” they said.

3. Convene Nuclear Disarmament Summits: “In order to provide a forum to follow up on the important discussions held in Oslo, Nayarit, and Vienna,” the NGO leaders said “[n]ow is the time for a group of concerned states to invite the leaders of a representative group of 20 to 30 nuclear and nonnuclear weapon states to a one- or two-day summit on the pursuit of a joint enterprise to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.”

“The high-level meeting—ideally held near the August 6 and 9, 2015 anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—could be an historic, new, and productive starting point for discussions (not simply speeches) on proposals for advancing nuclear disarmament,” they said.

4. Follow through on the CTBT. “The vast majority of the world’s nations recognize that nuclear explosive testing is no longer acceptable, but due to the inaction of a few, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has not formally entered into force. In the interest of global security and out of respect for the victims and survivors of nuclear testing, it is past time to act,” they said.

In their call for action, the leaders of the five organizations cited President Barack Obama’s statement from June 2013 in Berlin: ‘[S]o long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe. Complacency is not in the character of great nations.’”

“In the coming months and years, creative, bold approaches will be needed to overcome old and new obstacles to the long-running effort to eliminate the potential for nuclear catastrophe,” they said.

The organizations' full statement is available online.

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

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In a statement to the conference, the leaders of five major U.S.-based organizations urged prompt action to make disarmament a global enterprise.

Leading Nuclear Policy Experts and Organizations Call on the United States to Participate in International Conference on Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons

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For Immediate Release: October 29, 2014
Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, 202-463-8270 x107

(Washington, D.C.)--A group of more than two dozen leading nuclear policy experts, former U.S. government officials, and peace and security organizations are urging the Barack Obama administration "to authorize U.S. participation in the Dec. 8-9 Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, Austria."

In an October 29 letter to the White House, State Department, and Pentagon, the signatories write that U.S. participation in the Vienna conference "would enhance the United States' credibility and influence at the 2015 NPT Review Conference. U.S. participation would also provide support to key U.S. allies and partners," many of which are also urging the United States to send an official delegation.

The Vienna humanitarian impacts conference, which is the third such meeting since 2013, "is a useful and important venue for raising awareness about the risks of nuclear weapons," the letter signers write, and it "contributes to the oft-repeated U.S. government call for 'extending the nearly 70-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons forever.'"

The United States and the other five original nuclear weapon states--Russia, the U.K., France, and China--have not attended the two previous humanitarian impacts conferences, citing concerns that it could be used as a launching point for negotiations calling for a ban on nuclear weapons or a convention leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

"While some participating states and some nongovernmental organizations support such a ban ... this conference is not a negotiating conference and is not intended to launch such an effort. Even if it were, there is no clear consensus among the participants about the direction of any such process," the signers note in their letter, which was addressed to the president's National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

"Nuclear-armed states may have reasons to argue that not all potential uses of nuclear weapons necessarily would lead to humanitarian disaster, and that nuclear weapons may deter other existential threats," says George Perkovich, Vice-President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and one of the letter's signatories.

"But given that the whole world would be affected if they are wrong, they should be willing to discuss these issues with others," Perkovich says. "Unwillingness to do so suggests an arrogance that can only provoke international contempt and resistance."

A decision on the part of the Obama administration not to attend the Vienna conference, the signatories write, "would be a major lost opportunity and a setback for President Obama's own call for action toward a nuclear weapons free world."
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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 dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

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In an October 29 letter a group of more than two dozen leading nuclear policy experts and former U.S. government official sare urging the United States to participate in the next humanitarian impacts conference.

Experts Urge U.S. to Scale-Back Plans and Reduce High Costs of Nuclear Weapons Modernization Plan

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Experts Urge U.S. to Scale-Back Plans and Reduce High Costs of Unsustainable, Unnecessary Nuclear Weapons Modernization Plan 

For Immediate Release
: Sept. 22, 2014

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association (202-463-8270 x107); Hans Kristensen, Federation of American Scientists (202-454-4695);Stephen Young, Union of Concerned Scientists (202-331-5429); Angela Canterbury, Council for a Livable World, (202-546-0795); Erica Fein, Women's Action for New Directions (202-544-5055 x2605).
(Washington, D.C.) Leaders and experts from seven national nongovernmental organizations are charging that current plans for maintaining and upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next decade and beyond exceed reasonable deterrence requirements as set out by the President in June 2013, are unaffordable, and unless they are significantly adjusted, the nuclear force modernization plan will also deplete resources from higher priority budget needs. 

In a letter to the White House earlier this year, the groups write: "[w]e believe there are more realistic ways to maintain U.S. nuclear forces to meet tomorrow's national security requirements. The President's 2013 guidance allows for a one-third reduction below New START levels, but even if the United States maintains New START warhead levels, it can do so at significantly lower cost."

"Perpetual nuclear modernization is inconsistent with the pledge made 45 years ago by the the United States and the other NPT nuclear-weapons states to pursue nuclear disarmament, and is inconsistent with President Obama's call for the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons," says Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists. "Despite the financial constraints, the United States (and other nuclear-armed states) appear committed to spending hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade on modernizing their nuclear forces," he notes.

In December 2013, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the United States plans to spend at least $355 billion to maintain and rebuild the nuclear arsenal and refurbish the nuclear weapons complex over the next decade, and that costs will continue to climb thereafter. A major part of this cost growth is the plan to rebuild all three legs of the existing nuclear "triad" and their associated warheads, including 12 new ballistic missile submarines, up to 100 new long-range bombers, and possibly new land-based ballistic missiles and a new long-range standoff cruise missile. 

The nuclear weapons plans, the costs, and the politics behind them, are described in a front page story in today's edition of The New York Times.

The nuclear weapons experts say that this U.S. spending plan is excessive, and that the United States can save tens of billions of dollars by reducing the number of new missiles and bombers it plans to buy and still maintain nuclear warhead levels established by the 2010 New START treaty with Russia.

Budget limits on future defense spending will force budget trade-offs among various Pentagon programs, the letter notes. The defense budget still needs to be cut by $115 billion from 2016-2019 to meet sequester targets, or about $29 billion per year on average.

These realities have led the White House to launch a National Security Council-led, interagency review of the multibillion-dollar plans to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This review will inform the administration's fiscal year 2016 budget request to Congress, Ned Price of the National Security Council said in an Aug. 22 e-mail toArms Control Today.

"We believe the current nuclear spending plan is unsustainable and will deplete resources from higher priorities," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "In its review, the Obama administration needs to make significant changes to existing nuclear force modernization plans that trim back, and in some cases, forgo unnecessary programs, such as a new nuclear-armed cruise missile, and save taxpayer dollars," he said.

The nongovernmental leaders say the United States can maintain planned warhead levels with fewer delivery vehicles. New START allows both sides to field up to 1,550 warheads on 700 long-range delivery vehicles. But the United States could also meet the warhead limit by fielding only about 600 delivery vehicles, saving tens of billions of dollars.

For example, the Navy plans to deploy about 1,000 warheads at sea under New START.  But the United States does not need 12 new submarines to field 1,000 warheads; eight submarines would be enough the groups note in their letter. By reducing the fleet of submarines to eight, the United States would save $16 billion over the next decade, according to the CBO.

The Air Force wants to develop a new nuclear-armed cruise missile, "but it is not clear why it needs both a penetrating bomber and a standoff missile to meet the deterrence requirements of the United States and our allies," said Kimball of the Arms Control Association. 

Earlier this year, Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee and the House and Senate Appropriations defense subcommittees cut the administration's request for the new cruise missile.

In its June 17 report accompanying the bill, the Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee said it is "reluctant to provide funding for a new cruise missile warhead when the Air Force cannot identify sufficient funding in its budget planning documents to design and procure a cruise missile to deliver a refurbished warhead."

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is also pursuing an overly ambitious and costly strategy for warhead refurbishment argue the organizations. The current plan, dubbed "3+2", envisions spending $60 billion to refurbish the arsenal and to use nuclear components that have not previously been tested together, raising reliability concerns.

"The NNSA should instead pursue a simpler refurbishment strategy, avoid risky schemes, and retire warhead types where possible," said Lisbeth Gronlund, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Cuts in the size and not just the cost of U.S. and Russian stockpiles are also in order, the organizations argue. Last year, President Obama and the Pentagon announced that the U.S. could cut the size of the deployed strategic stockpile by up to one-third. Both sides should work in parallel to reduce force levels below the New START limits.

"Such an initiative would also allow both sides to reduce the extraordinary costs of force maintenance and modernization and could help induce other nuclear-armed states to exercise greater restraint," said Erica Fein, nuclear weapons policy director for Women's Action for New Directions.

"The New York Times did an excellent job of covering our nation's unsustainable, nonsensical nuclear weapons policy. However, there is more to the story," said Angela Canterbury, executive director for Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. "The current plan is geared towards building more nuclear weapons that we don't need and can't afford. We need to scrap it and the nuclear weapons we don't need. We need to put into place a far more affordable plan to meet the President's goals to make us safer."

The organizations' letter to the White House is available online.
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The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.
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Experts from seven national nongovernmental organizations are charging that current plans for maintaining and upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next decade and beyond exceed reasonable deterrence requirements.

As Arms Trade Treaty PrepCom Nears, Experts Analyze Arms Trade and Recommend Action in Arms Control Today

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For Immediate Release July 7, 2010

Media Contacts Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director, Arms Control Association (202-463-8270 ext. 109)

(Washington, D.C.) Next week, representative from more than 100 countries will gather at the United Nations in New York City for preparatory committee meetings on a legally binding international arms trade treaty (ATT). In a special section “Getting a Handle on the Arms Trade” in the July/August edition of Arms Control Today, experts analyze the difficulty of monitoring transfers of conventional weapons and provide recommendations for creating a strong international instrument.

Daniel Mack, policy and advocacy coordinator for arms control at the Brazilian nongovernmental organization Instituto Sou da Paz and a leader within the international community pressing for a robust ATT, analyzes the current international debate in “The Arms Trade Treaty PrepCom: Prepared and Committed?” Detailing the key points of contention in the years that have led up to the July 12-23 PrepCom, Mack calls for states to be ambitious. He says, “The worst case scenario would be to move slowly and ultimately accommodate all views…  into a lowest-common-denominator or toothless instrument that could be ratified by all governments but would make none of their citizens safer.

The full article is available online at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_07-08/mack

In another article, titled “The International Arms Trade: Difficult to Define, Measure, and Control,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s arms transfer program director Paul Holtom and researcher Mark Bromley note that the international arms trade continues to thrive despite the recent economic downturn. In explaining the challenges of defining and estimating the arms trade, Holtom and Bromley find that while the list of major arms suppliers  remains consistent since the height of the Cold War, the list of top importers is considerably different. They note, “If an ATT can be concluded, the next challenge will be to ensure that states have the capacity to control arms transfers (exports, imports, transit, transshipment, brokering, and other activities covered by transfer controls).”

The full article is available online at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_07-08/holtom-bromley

Additional ATT resources are available online from the Arms Control Association at http://www.armscontrol.org/subject/116/date

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As Arms Trade Treaty PrepCom Nears, Experts Analyze Arms Trade and Recommend Action in Arms Control Today 

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Arms Control Association Announces New Research Director, Tom Collina

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For Immediate Release: June 8, 2009
Press Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x 107

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the Arms Control Association announced that Tom Collina will join the staff as its Research Director beginning July 1.

Tom Z. Collina has over 20 years of Washington D.C. experience in arms control and global security issues. He has held senior leadership positions such as Executive Director of the 2020 Vision Education Fund, Director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Executive Director of the Institute for Science and International Security and Senior Research Analyst at the Federation of American Scientists.
Collina portrait
Tom's past research and policy advocacy has focused on advancing efforts to strengthen the nonproliferation regime and reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism, including the indefinite extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, negotiation of a the zero-yield Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and reductions in U.S.-Russian strategic arsenals.

He has published over 50 articles in major magazines and journals and has appeared frequently in the national media, including The New York Times, CNN, and NPR. Tom has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and briefed congressional staff on numerous occasions. Tom has a degree in International Relations from Cornell University and serves on the Boards of Directors of the Scoville Peace Fellowship and the Janelia Foundation.

Collina will concentrate on nuclear weapons policy, nuclear arms control, missile defense and missile nonproliferation, and nuclear testing policy issues and contribute to the ACA's monthly journal, Arms Control Today.

"We very pleased Tom Collina will be with ACA to augment our already strong research and policy team at this time, when so many important arms control opportunities and decisions are before U.S. and global decision-makers," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution on Denying Terrorists WMD

Wade Boese


The UN Security Council April 28 unanimously adopted a resolution calling on states to take steps to deny and punish terrorists seeking weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. Despite its seemingly unobjectionable purpose, however, the U.S.-initiated resolution required several months of debate and revisions before winning approval.

In its final form, the legally binding resolution demands that all states adopt and enforce “appropriate, effective” laws and measures, such as export and border controls, to prevent nonstate actors from acquiring biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons, as well as missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles designed to deliver such arms. What constitutes “appropriate” and “effective” is not specified, however, and is left up to each state to determine “in accordance with their national procedures.”

Each state is also ordered to impose controls and safeguards on related materials that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The resolution further encourages states to work together to block any terrorist attempts to build, buy, steal, or trade dangerous weapons. Although China succeeded in removing the word “interdiction” from the resolution, the concept remains in a more ambiguous phrase calling on states to “take cooperative action to prevent illicit trafficking.” Beijing’s concerns stemmed from its wariness toward the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, which is a loose coalition of 14 countries committed to intercepting threatening arms shipments at sea, in the air, and on land.

The measure also urges states to provide assistance to those without sufficient expertise or resources to implement the resolution.

James Cunningham, deputy U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, said April 28 that the resolution aims to check terrorists “seeking to exploit weak export control laws and security measures in a variety of countries.”

A U.S. official interviewed April 29 by Arms Control Today further explained that the purpose behind the resolution is to provide governments with the authority and leverage to do “everything within their jurisdiction to stop proliferators.”

Within six months, governments are supposed to submit a report on their intentions or completed actions under the resolution to a special committee charged with reporting on its implementation. Answering to the Security Council, the committee will operate for two years.

President George W. Bush first called for a resolution criminalizing proliferation in a Sept. 23, 2003, address to the UN General Assembly. (See ACT, October 2003.) It took the U.S. government nearly three months to draft its original proposal, another three months to convince the other four permanent members of the Security Council—China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom—to back it, and one last month to win the support of the rest of the 15-member Security Council.

“The negotiation process was not easy,” Germany’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Gunter Pleuger said after the Security Council’s action. Germany held the council’s presidency in April, and U.S. officials wanted to get the resolution passed before the top position rotated in May to Pakistan, the member that expressed the greatest unease with the resolution.

Along with many other states, Germany voiced one of the central criticisms of the initial resolution: its lack of any reference to disarmament. Berlin and other capitals argued that nonproliferation and disarmament go hand in hand and that the surest way of preventing terrorists from getting weapons of mass destruction was for all states to eliminate such arms from their own arsenals.

The resolution now mentions disarmament in its preamble, partially satisfying Germany and other like-minded states. “We would have preferred, however, to see it highlighted in the operative section as well,” Pleuger stated.

Another primary concern of many states was the perception that the U.S. draft resolution initially authorized the use of sanctions and force.

The United Kingdom, the measure’s other leading champion, argued otherwise. “The resolution is not about coercion or enforcement,” assured Adam Thomson, who is the United Kingdom’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, in an April 22 debate on the resolution.

Pleuger attempted to clarify any lingering doubts following the Security Council’s approval. “The resolution does not foresee any unilateral enforcement measures,” he said, adding that any attempt to punish states for not living up to the resolution would require another Security Council decision.

The U.S. official interviewed April 29, however, dismissed the notion that the resolution lacked teeth. Noting that the council adopted the resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which recognizes punitive actions to preserve peace and security, the official stated, “[I]t’s the toughest mandate that the [United Nations] can give.”

Some states expressed concern that the resolution might be used to supplant existing arms control treaties and infringe on their treaty rights, such as the right to possess nuclear materials and facilities for peaceful purposes under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The resolution states, however, that “none of the obligations set forth in this resolution shall be interpreted so as to conflict with or alter the rights and obligations” of states-parties to the NPT or other arms control accords.

Pakistan feared the resolution might be used to pressure it to give up its nuclear arsenal. An early draft of the resolution mentioned the “importance” of all states to “adopt and fully implement” existing arms control agreements. Pakistan is not a member of the NPT, which does not recognize the possession of nuclear weapons by Pakistan, India, or Israel. To mollify Pakistan, the resolution’s exhortation was modified to apply only to current treaty states-parties.

Another amendment made to the resolution to satisfy Pakistan was a clarification that the resolution applies only to the future. Islamabad was clearly motivated by the desire to insulate itself against any attempt by other governments to punish or pressure it to take additional actions related to the exposure earlier this year of a massive international nuclear smuggling ring headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb program. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Pakistani Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram indicated April 28 that Pakistan considered the matter closed and that the resolution would not obligate Pakistan to cooperate with any government that felt differently or compel Pakistan to provide greater transparency of its weapons programs. “Pakistan will not accept any demand for access, much less inspections, of our nuclear and strategic assets, materials and facilities,” Akram said.

 

 

 

 

The UN Security Council April 28 unanimously adopted a resolution calling on states to take steps to deny and punish terrorists seeking weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery...

U.S., Russia Still SORTing Out Nuclear Reductions

Wade Boese


Nearly two years after concluding a treaty to reduce the size of their deployed strategic nuclear forces by roughly two-thirds, neither the United States nor Russia have finalized plans on how to accomplish that task.

U.S. and Russian government officials met April 8-9 in Geneva to officially update each other for the first time on their implementation of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed May 24, 2002. Also known as the Moscow Treaty, the agreement commits the United States and Russia to operationally deploy fewer than 2,200 strategic nuclear warheads apiece by Dec. 31, 2012.

Washington currently deploys nearly 6,000 strategic nuclear warheads, and Moscow fields almost 5,000. These tallies do not account for stored strategic warheads or less powerful weapons known as tactical nuclear warheads that are not covered by SORT. The entire U.S. nuclear arsenal totals roughly 10,000 warheads, while Russia’s is estimated to be nearly double that.

SORT does not spell out how the United States and Russia should reduce their deployed nuclear forces, leaving each to proceed as it sees fit. In fact, the treaty leaves quite a bit of latitude: Warheads removed from deployment under SORT do not have to be destroyed but only stored separately from the missiles, bombers, and submarines used to deliver them. As Secretary of State Colin Powell explained to senators in July 2002 testimony, “The treaty will allow you to have as many warheads as you want.”

Still, the treaty does oblige the two sides to hold biannual meetings of a Bilateral Implementation Commission (BIC) to discuss their reduction activities.

George Look, a Department of State official who represents the United States in talks with Russia on START, headed the U.S. delegation to the first BIC meeting. Andrey Maslov, deputy director of the department for security and disarmament in Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led Russia’s delegation.

A Bush administration official told Arms Control Today on April 15 that the meeting “got off on a good foot” and involved an exchange of “future [reduction] plans to the extent they exist.” The official explained that both governments have “broad outlines” and some near-term benchmarks for lowering their deployed forces, but that exact schedules and specific force plans remain unsettled.

The official described Russian reduction plans and future force structure for 2012 as “less certain” than those of the United States.

Washington intends to cut its deployed forces to between 3,500 and 4,000 strategic warheads by 2007. To reach that interim goal, the Pentagon plans to complete deactivating all 50 10-warhead MX ICBMs (see sidebar) and finish converting four of its 18 Trident submarines from carrying nuclear-armed ballistic missiles to conventional armaments.

U.S. reduction plans beyond this stage are not fixed because the Bush administration has been rethinking how the future U.S. nuclear stockpile—deployed and stored—should be comprised.

As a result, the administration has not sent Congress a stockpile memorandum detailing its nuclear force structure plans, which previous administrations had generally provided on an annual basis.

According to a congressional source, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld finally signed a stockpile plan recommendation for the president on April 19, but its contents remain unknown. The Department of Energy had approved the plan months earlier. The lag between the two departments’ approvals reportedly stemmed from their differences over how large the stored or reserve stockpile should be.

Two years ago, the Pentagon indicated it planned to store up to 2,400 nuclear warheads in a state of readiness, enabling them to be returned to service within weeks, months, or at most three years after being removed from deployment. (See ACT, March 2002.) This so-called responsive force would constitute only part of the U.S. nuclear warhead reserve. It is unclear to what extent this proposal made it into the recently recommended stockpile plan.

How many warheads to keep in storage and what their state of readiness should be are just part of the administration’s deliberations. It is also exploring new types of warheads out of concern that the existing U.S. arsenal is not tailored to deterring terrorists and rogue regimes.

Reflecting this current of thought, a task force of the Defense Science Board, an independent advisory body to the secretary of defense, issued a February 2004 report describing the U.S. nuclear stockpile as “aging” and “of declining relevance.” As a remedy, the report called for a shift toward warheads with lower explosive yields and more penetration capabilities to increase in potential adversaries’ minds the possibility that the United States might use nuclear weapons. Research into such new capabilities is currently underway.

The Defense Science Board report stated, “It is American policy to keep the nuclear threshold high and to pursue non-nuclear attack options wherever possible.” Still, the report added, “future presidents should have strategic strike choices between massive conventional strikes and today’s relative large, high-fallout weapons delivered primarily by ballistic missiles.”

 

 

 

 

Nearly two years after concluding a treaty to reduce the size of their deployed strategic nuclear forces by roughly two-thirds, neither the United States nor Russia have finalized plans on how to accomplish that task.

Searching For Ways to Roll Back Nuclear Proliferation

An interview with State Department Policy Planning Director Mitchell Reiss

Miles A. Pomper

Nearly a decade ago, Mitchell Reiss wrote an acclaimed book, Bridled Ambition, which sought to explain why some countries had chosen to abandon their nuclear weapons programs.

“Just as all cancers are not terminal, nuclear status is not immutable,” Reiss wrote. “With the proper treatment (and a dose of good luck), a serious illness can go into remission. Sometimes it can even be reversed.”

Now a top aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Reiss is trying to turn some of his academic prescriptions, which included “dollar diplomacy,” U.S. leadership, and preservation of the global nonproliferation regime, into diplomatic reality.

Reiss was named the Department of State’s director of policy planning in August, putting him in charge of its in-house think tank. The appointment came just as Powell and other administration officials were grappling with both short- and long-term challenges to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT, which has been endorsed by all but a handful of nations, seeks to block the further spread of nuclear weapons and encourage their elimination.

On Reiss’s “to do” list has been seeking a way to end North Korea’s nuclear program and similar suspected efforts by Iran. He is also looking at longer-term proliferation problems, from technological changes that could make it increasingly difficult to uncover covert weapons programs to a growing market for civilian nuclear reactors in Asia.

In an April 9 interview with Arms Control Today, Reiss offered his views on all of these subjects. Shunning diplomatic boilerplate for verbal jousting, he demonstrated that he has not abandoned his academic roots altogether. He cracked jokes, battled over ideas, and eagerly poked holes in what he viewed as false preconceptions about the Bush administration’s approach to arms control concerns.

“Part of what I want to do in this interview is just start conversations,” Reiss told ACT.

Drawing an analogy to manufacturing and distribution techniques that were pioneered commercially by Japanese manufacturers and are now used worldwide, Reiss said he is concerned that nuclear proliferators could soon follow suit. Such “just-in-time” proliferation he said, would mean that materials for nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons materials would no longer be stockpiled but only brought together when they need to be used.

“The concept works beautifully in the private sector, and there’s no reason why it can’t work for the bad guys,” Reiss said. “But this will create enormous challenges for the [International Atomic Energy Agency], for the Nuclear Suppliers Group [an export control clearinghouse for most of the major countries with civilian nuclear industries], for all the countries of the world, in order to prevent continued nuclear proliferation.”

In particular, Reiss said this strategy might pose particular problems for on-site inspections—a key tool of international nonproliferation regimes.

“I think on-site inspections certainly are important—essential in some cases,” Reiss said. ”Still, there is a concern that you can inspect a place one day and there will be nothing there, and you come back the next week and everything will be there.”

One of Reiss’s few public speeches since assuming his new post tackled the subject of ending North Korea’s nuclear program (See ACT, April 2004.) In his 1995 book, he pointed to a 1994 agreement that the Clinton Administration made to freeze Pyongyang’s proliferation program as an arms control success story, although he warned that it might well unravel.

Today, he contends that the kind of limited agreement struck by the previous administration is no longer useful, arguing that, like Libya, Pyongyang has to make a “strategic determination” to disarm. “I don’t know [if] North Korea will follow Libya’s lead,” Reiss acknowledged, but said that Tripoli’s recent disarmament does provide an appropriate model.

“[North Korean leader] Kim Jong Il faces a choice,” Reiss said. “He can continue to depend on the kindness of strangers, overseeing a devastated economy with an isolated population, or he can join the 21st century. He also has the historic opportunity to do what his father never did, which is to create a stable, peaceful relationship with all his neighbors.”

In making this argument, Reiss draws on his academic research. Officials in the nine countries he surveyed, he said in his book, witnessed the demise of the Soviet Union and “realized that nuclear arsenals and their boundless expansion were unnecessary, even counterproductive, to larger economic and political objectives.”

Reiss also dismissed criticism that the Bush administration’s preference for a multilateral format had needlessly delayed a resolution of the nearly two-year-old crisis. Instead, he said that the six-party talks had succeeded in forging a “united front” among the five other participants in the talks—the United States, South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan—leaving Pyongyang little diplomatic wiggle room.

“There’s utility in forcing them to be a little bit franker, a little bit more open and honest, than they were when they could play one off the other,” Reiss said, adding, “I think they realize that the other five countries are lined up against them because all five are opposed to North Korea having nuclear weapons.”

For a complete transcript of the interview click here

 

 



 

 

 

 

Nearly a decade ago, Mitchell Reiss wrote an acclaimed book, Bridled Ambition, which sought to explain why some countries had chosen to abandon their nuclear weapons programs...

Law of the Sea Convention Marooned in Senate

Wade Boese


A handful of Republican senators are warning that U.S. accession to the UN Law of the Sea Convention might undermine a U.S.-led initiative to intercept dangerous weapons as well as U.S. sovereignty. Their opposition has helped hold up Senate consideration of the treaty, despite Bush administration and Pentagon support.

With 145 states-parties, the Law of the Sea Convention sets maritime rights and rules for the world’s oceans. The United States warmed to the treaty in 1994 after it was amended to address U.S. concerns about its deep seabed mining provisions that had blocked U.S. signature of the convention when it was first negotiated in 1982.

Despite White House and Pentagon blessings, the treaty has not since been ratified by the United States, in part because of vehement opposition from Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who had been the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until he retired last year. Helms opposed the treaty for a number of reasons, including his long-standing distaste for multilateral organizations.

The pact, however, has long enjoyed the backing of the current chairman and top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.). With his support, the Foreign Relations panel unanimously approved the accord Feb. 25 and sent it to the full Senate for a vote. Other key lawmakers urging passage include Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

They want the Senate to act soon because the convention becomes open to amendment this November. “If the United States is not party to the Convention at that time, our ability to protect Convention rights that we fought hard to achieve will be significantly diminished,” Lugar said in a Feb. 25 statement

Some conservative Republicans, such as Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.) and Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), have opposed the convention on the basis that it could hinder the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which is a coalition of 14 states committed to stopping shipments of weapons of mass destruction and missiles in transit. “I am concerned about…being able to board and search ships,” Inhofe said March 23.

Bush administration officials and the Pentagon say such fears are unwarranted. “Far from impeding PSI, joining the convention would actually strengthen the United States’ PSI efforts,” John Turner, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international, environmental, and scientific affairs, said in March 23 testimony.

In an April 7 letter supporting U.S. accession to the convention, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers wrote, “The rules under which U.S. forces have operated for over 40 years to board and search ships or to conduct intelligence activities will not be affected.” He also stated that the convention “ensures the ability of the U.S. Armed Forces to operate freely across the vast expanse of the world’s oceans under the authority of widely recognized and accepted international law.”

Despite its rhetorical support for the treaty, the administration does not appear to be pressing the Senate to act. A senior administration official told Arms Control Today April 21 that “[t]he administration fully supports the Law of the Sea Convention. The issue of timing of Senate action is properly addressed to the Senate leadership.”

Confronted by the conflicts within his own party, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has not scheduled the treaty for review. Frist aides did not respond to inquiries asking why the convention had not been put on the Senate calendar.


 

 

 

 

A handful of Republican senators are warning that U.S. accession to the UN Law of the Sea Convention might undermine a U.S.-led initiative to intercept dangerous weapons as well as U.S. sovereignty...

U.S. Defends New Nuclear Weapons Research

Wade Boese


U.S. research into new nuclear weapons designs will not spur other states to do the same nor impede U.S. nonproliferation efforts, the Bush administration asserted in a March 31 report to Congress. Other world officials suggest otherwise.

The Bush administration sought and won a repeal last year of a decade-old legislative ban on research into low-yield nuclear weapons with explosive power equal to or below five kilotons. (See ACT, December 2003.) Although granting the administration’s request, Congress demanded the administration assess by March 1 of this year how the repeal might affect efforts to halt worldwide nuclear proliferation.

Summing up its findings, the administration reported, “[T]here is no reason to believe that repeal has had or will have any practical impact on the pursuit of nuclear weapons by proliferating states, on the comprehensive diplomatic efforts ongoing to address these threats, or on the possible modernization of nuclear weapons by China or Russia.” The Departments of Defense, Energy, and State jointly submitted the report.

This conclusion contrasts sharply with the view of the United Nations top nuclear official, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei. In a Feb. 12 piece in The New York Times, ElBaradei wrote, “We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security—and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use.”

Top foreign officials from other states, such as Canada and Sweden, have echoed ElBaradei. Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds lamented March 16, “[W]e see a trend towards an increased emphasis on nuclear weapons as part of security strategies and signs that a new generation of nuclear weapons might be in the making. Such pursuits would undermine the credibility of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and could prompt a new arms race.”

In addition to researching new low-yield weapon designs, the Bush administration is exploring possible modifications to existing nuclear weapons to destroy targets buried deep underground better.

Administration officials justify the development of new nuclear weapons on the grounds that they are responding to changes in threats to U.S. national security. They cite the necessity of convincing terrorists and rogue regimes that the United States would use nuclear weapons if need be. They claim that, in the absence of smaller or modified nuclear weapons, U.S. enemies may nurture a dangerous doubt about the willingness of U.S. policymakers to unleash a nuclear attack, fearing large numbers of civilian casualties or international censure. “Nuclear modernization efforts may well strengthen deterrence by altering an adversary’s perception of what the United States is able to do, or might be prepared to do in a crisis,” the report declared.

Yet, development of newer or smaller nuclear weapons would not translate into an increased willingness to actually use them, according to the report.

During an April 6 appearance in Washington, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov deemed it a “dangerous thing” to advance nuclear weapons as a possible tool to thwart terrorists. The Russian newspaper Izvestia quoted Yuri Baluyevskiy, another leading Russian defense official, in an April 9 article as contending, “If the nuclear weapons which were formerly seen only as a political instrument of deterrence become battlefield weapons, that will be not simply scary but super scary.”

To be sure, Russia could be subject to the same criticism. Russia possesses the largest arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons and concluded a nuclear exercise predicated on countering terrorism in February that the Kremlin touted as its largest in 20 years.

Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Feb. 18 that Russia might match U.S. arsenal changes. “As other countries increase the number and quality of their arms and military potential, then Russia will also need to ensure it has new-generation arms and technology,” Putin said.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration insisted in its report that “we believe there is relatively weak coupling between Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons [research and development] efforts.”
Already anticipating how its new nuclear weapons research will be received at a review conference of nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) states-parties next year, the administration set out to blunt the expected condemnation in its report. “Nothing in the NPT…prohibits the United States from carrying out nuclear weapons exploratory research or, for that matter, from developing and fielding new or modified nuclear warheads,” the report asserted. It further dismissed criticisms of U.S. nuclear policy as misguided because the United States has consistently reduced its nuclear arsenal and “[t]he nuclear arms race has, in fact, been halted.”

 

 

 

 

U.S. research into new nuclear weapons designs will not spur other states to do the same nor impede U.S. nonproliferation efforts, the Bush administration asserted in a March 31 report to Congress...

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