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"No one can solve this problem alone, but together we can change things for the better." 

– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
Disarmament

Republican Senators Back New START


October 2018
By Kingston Reif

Several Republican senators are expressing support for extending the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) amid signals that the Trump administration may choose not to renew the pact.

A C-SPAN screen grab shows David Trachtenberg, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, and Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, testifying September 18 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.Although it expires in February 2021, the treaty can be extended up to five years by agreement of the U.S. and Russian presidents without requiring further action by Congress or the Duma. Its expiration, without a replacement, would end treaty restrictions limiting the number of deployed strategic warheads on each side to a maximum of 1,550, a target each met this year and that is far below the tens of thousands deployed during the Cold War. (See ACT, March 2018.)

“We ought to be a little bit more pro-continuing the benefits the [New] START treaty gives us rather than getting the idea there might be some way we get out of it,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) Sept. 18 at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S.-Russian arms control efforts.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly expressed interest in extending the treaty, which was ratified in 2011, although Russia has raised concerns about some of the procedures the United States has used to remove nuclear weapons launchers from accountability under the agreement.

The Trump administration has yet to formulate the U.S. position. John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, said that the administration remains in the “very, very early stages” of an interagency review about whether to extend, replace, or jettison New START or to pursue a different type of approach, such as the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which only limited deployed warheads and did not include verification provisions. (See ACT, September 2018.)

Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, reiterated at the hearing that the administration is still considering its options. “I know this committee has sought the Trump administration’s view of extending the treaty,” she said. “A decision has not been made at this time.”

Thompson added that several issues would have an impact on an extension decision, including “Russia’s decision to manufacture compliance issues regarding U.S. weapons,” whether Russia would agree to limit the new strategic weapons systems Putin boasted about in a March speech, and Russia’s “behavior in other arms control agreements.”

In a pre-election address to the Russian Federal Assembly on March 1, Putin boasted about the development of several new nuclear weapons systems, including nuclear-armed hypersonic glide vehicles; globe-circling, nuclear-powered cruise missiles; and very long-range nuclear torpedoes for use against U.S. port cities. (See ACT, April 2018.)

Since 2014, the United States has accused Russia of testing and deploying ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and is reviewing what the State Department calls defensive options in case Russia’s actions “result in the collapse of the treaty.” (See ACT, January/February 2018.) Moscow denies it is violating the agreement and instead has accused Washington of breaching the accord.

Neither Thompson, nor David Trachtenberg, the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, would provide their views on what the implications would be if New START were allowed to expire in 2021 with nothing to replace it. Trachtenberg testified alongside Thompson at the Sept. 18 hearing.

The testimony from Thompson and Trachtenberg seemed to surprise and trouble some Republican committee members, particularly the question of linking continuation of New START to disputes involving other arms control treaties. Further, administration officials have had little to say publicly about the benefits of New START limitations to restrain the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.

“My concern is that we could be…saying, “Well, they’re violating the INF [Treaty]…and all these other treaties, and we don’t like all the stuff they’re doing,’ which is true,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “But I worry that we just throw, then, the New START treaty out.”

“If the [New] START treaty is being complied with and it’s yielding the benefits to us of not having to have so many nuclear armaments,” committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) asked, “we would not consider undoing the [New] START treaty because other treaties are not being adhered to, would we?”

Democratic members of the committee also criticized the administration’s position on the agreement and pointed out that their continued support for spending hundreds of billions of dollars to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal hinged on the administration’s support for arms control, including extending New START. (See ACT, December 2017.)

“I…want to remind the administration that bipartisan support for nuclear modernization is tied to maintaining an arms control process that controls and seeks to reduce Russian nuclear forces, which inevitably means promoting military and fiscally responsive policies on ourselves,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the committee’s ranking member, said. “We’re not interested in writing blank checks for a nuclear arms race with Russia, and we don’t want to step off our current path of stability to wander again down an uncertain road filled with potentially dire consequences.”

Corker also acknowledged this linkage, stating that “the modernization piece, and the reduction in warheads piece go hand in hand.”

Will the Trump administration let the treaty expire?

Arc of History Bends toward Nuclear Disarmament

September 26, 2018, marks the fifth International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The international community will reflect on the progress that has been made toward this critical goal and the substantial work that remains. At the United Nations in New York, 10 additional countries are expected to sign or ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons , which opened for signature September 20 last year and which, as of Sept. 25, 2018, had 15 states-parties and 60 signatories . Today, there are some very tough challenges that pose a serious threat to the international...

How to Transcend Differences in Nuclear Disarmament Approaches


September 2018
By Mitsuru Kitano

Dealing with differences in approaches to nuclear disarmament presents a fundamental challenge for global disarmament and nonproliferation efforts, along with continued tensions between the United States and Russia and several regional issues.

Japanese Ambassador Mitsuru Kitano signs the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage at the International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters in Vienna on January 15, 2015. (Photo: Dean Calma/IAEA)A case in point is the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted in July last year with 122 states voting in favor, 1 opposed, and 1 abstention among those who gathered to negotiate this treaty.1 The treaty, opened for signature last September, has been signed by 59 states and ratified by 12 states.2

Treaty proponents assert that a step-by-step approach has proved fruitless in moving toward a world free of nuclear weapons. They claim that the prohibition treaty constitutes an effective measure for nuclear disarmament under Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) by creating a legally binding prohibition on nuclear weapons.

Nuclear-weapon states, however, have made it abundantly clear that they oppose the prohibition treaty.3 The report on the 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review specifically mentions that the treaty was “fueled by wholly unrealistic expectations of the elimination of nuclear arsenals without the prerequisite transformation of the international security environment.”4 Such skepticism is shared by so-called nuclear umbrella states. These countries generally attach importance to the security situation and favor a step-by-step approach for advancing nuclear disarmament. Thus, the rift is obvious, and these divergent nuclear disarmament approaches may present a serious stumbling block for the upcoming 2020 NPT Review Conference, a key meeting to protect and advance the global nonproliferation effort.

When deliberating ways to mitigate and reconcile the differences in approach, it is important to consider the reality of nuclear weapons, which differs from one region to another. For instance, the “nuclear shadow” is imminent in North America, Northeast Asia, South Asia, Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, the regions which have nuclear-weapon states under the NPT and de facto nuclear possessors. This is not the case in Latin America, Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific, where there are no nuclear weapons possessors whatsoever.

The expression “nuclear shadow” encompasses a host of elements related to nuclear weapons ranging from numbers and types of nuclear weapons to nuclear doctrine, deterrence, nuclear signaling, saber-rattling, and political significance. Nuclear shadow consists of all these relevant factors and the significance which nuclear weapons-possessing states attach to them.

Not surprisingly, in the regions with the nuclear shadow, there are many pressing issues. In the context of the U.S.-Russian relationship, there are the issues of extension of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and implementation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, on which there are compliance disputes.5 There is also the issue of how to bring into the strategic calculus various new factors, such as precision-guided conventional strike systems and developments in the cyber and space domains. Further, in recent years there has been more nuclear saber-rattling. The “escalate to de-escalate” doctrine, which allegedly has been promoted in Russia, has also been cited as a matter of concern.

On other regional fronts, North Korea’s nuclear advances continue to present a serious threat, despite the historic meeting in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un. The Iranian nuclear issue is in flux following Trump’s announcement in May of the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Frustration is mounting over the lack of progress on a Middle Eastern zone free from weapons of mass destruction, an issue in NPT discussions since the 1990s. In South Asia, India and Pakistan continue to enhance their nuclear arsenals. All these pressing challenges are inherent in regions with nuclear shadow.

Proponents of the prohibition treaty consider these nuclear issues to be a global threat affecting all humanity, thus calling for the drastic measure of nuclear weapons prohibition. Critics of the treaty are generally more directly exposed to or involved in these issues and see no option other than pursuing a realistic step-by-step approach.

With a view to advancing nuclear disarmament, it makes sense to go beyond this division over nuclear disarmament approaches. The following issues should be examined in order to mitigate and reconcile differences.

Disarmament and Security

The first question to contemplate is the relationship between nuclear disarmament and the security environment. The divergence between advocates and critics of the prohibition treaty reflects the contrast between those who underscore the cause of disarmament and those who give greater weight to the security situation.6 Those in regions without the nuclear shadow tend to be the former, while those from regions with the nuclear shadow tend to be the latter. The Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament, a group organized by Japan, observed that “this divide has deepened and become so stark that states with divergent views have been unable to engage meaningfully with each other on key issues.”7 How then to address this conundrum?

As is often stated, disarmament does not occur in a vacuum. Whether a security situation is favorable or not makes a fundamental difference to expectations toward disarmament. Looking at the past, important nuclear reduction measures were realized when the security situation was favorable. It is no coincidence that such major steps as the 1987 INF Treaty; voluntary disarmament measures for strategic, theater, and tactical nuclear weapons by the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia in 1990 and 19918; and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 1991 (START I) were achieved when the Cold War was ending and there was a relaxation of the East-West security environment.

A favorable security situation is an essential prerequisite to achieving good progress on nuclear disarmament. This applies not only to U.S.-Russian relations but also to other dyads such as the Indian-Pakistani relationship. Thus, it is with good reason that U.S. policymakers underlined the importance of “creating the conditions for nuclear disarmament.”9

The relationship between disarmament and the security situation is a two-way street. As discussed, the security environment affects what can be achieved in disarmament. At the same time, undertakings in the area of disarmament and arms control also affect the security situation. For instance, the U.S. decision in 2002 to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty had many implications on the security relationship between the United States and Russia.10

As is often argued, today’s security situation is not in a good state. The nuclear shadow has become more prominent in many parts of the world. Since the mid-1990s, some see the coming of the “second nuclear age.”11 The most recent UN report on the disarmament agenda asserted that “Cold War tensions have returned, but in a much more complex and dangerous environment.”12 In this sense, the endeavor to advance nuclear disarmament is an uphill battle.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted July 7, 2017 with 122 states voting in favor, one opposed, and one abstention. The treaty opened for signature September 20, 2017. (Photo: Ralf Schlesener/ICAN)Under these circumstances, it is necessary to consider what measures may be possible even in an unfavorable security situation. Those who favor nuclear disarmament should be reminded that they are not operating in a closed system. Like it or not, the external environment comes into play. It is sometimes argued, from those who attach importance to the provisions and logic of the NPT, that a favorable security situation should not be a precondition for nuclear disarmament because Article VI of the NPT does not refer to a security situation.

Yet, the NPT preamble highlights the importance of “the easing of international tension and the strengthening of trust between States” in advancing nuclear disarmament. On the other hand, an unfavorable security situation does not provide justification for not moving forward because several paths to address this security-disarmament nexus do exist.

On the security side, easing tensions is imperative. Building confidence and enhancing trust are important. Addressing regional proliferation concerns is vital. On the disarmament side, it is essential to avoid backsliding. There are concerns about the durability of the INF Treaty and New START, which impose legally binding limits on the world’s two largest nuclear superpowers.13 The international community should also endeavor to move the security-disarmament nexus in a positive direction through measures such as raising transparency, risk reduction, and verification of nuclear disarmament.

Applicability and Time Frame

The second question is the issue of applicability and time frame for disarmament measures, particularly global disarmament measures. As noted earlier, there is a clear difference in the situation between regions with nuclear shadow and regions without nuclear shadow. Tailored measures are needed to address some of the region and country specific issues, but global measures cannot be forsaken in order to advance disarmament and nonproliferation.

For global disarmament measures to be effective, they should be appropriate in applicability and time frame. As for the vision of a world without nuclear weapons, it would be fair to say that this is a goal with general applicability but of a long time frame. Discussions of this goal refer, of course, to the global situation, including those regions with imminent nuclear shadow. It is meant to be a goal of general application.

At the same time, realization of this goal will not occur overnight. U.S. President Barack Obama, who clearly and fervently expressed his wish to realize the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, acknowledged that “this goal will not happen quickly—perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence”14 It is certainly a goal with a long time frame.

Taking another example, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a measure to be applied generally, and its entering into force is a current challenge. The treaty was adopted in 1996 with almost unanimous support from the international community.15 Although there remain eight countries needed to ratify the treaty in order to bring it into force, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and the United States have signed the treaty. As for the three remaining, India and Pakistan have committed to a voluntary moratorium, and North Korea announced the discontinuation of further nuclear testing in April and took a destructive measure for its Punggye-ri nuclear test site in May. Prohibiting nuclear testing has been judged as a meaningful and feasible global measure. Striving for the CTBT to enter into force is an issue for immediate action.16

How then to evaluate a measure for the legal prohibition of nuclear weapons, as exhibited by the prohibition treaty, from this standpoint? There can hardly be any argument about the significance of the legal prohibition of nuclear weapons if it is proposed as a measure of limited application, as in the form of nuclear-weapon-free zones. Currently, there are five such regional zones17 in Latin America (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific (Treaty of Rarotonga), Southeast Asia (Bangkok Treaty), Africa (Pelindaba Treaty), and Central Asia (Treaty of Semipalatinsk). Such nuclear-weapon-free zones provide for legal prohibition of nuclear weapons in these specific regions.

The central question is whether a legal prohibition of nuclear weapons can be a measure for general application.18 Nuclear-weapon-free zones are established in regions without nuclear shadow and not in regions with nuclear shadow. In this context, an examination should explore how such zones have dealt with nuclear weapons existing in these regions or the nuclear ambitions of the countries concerned.

The Treaty of Pelindaba became a reality after South Africa renounced nuclear weapons.19 For the Treaty of Semipalatinsk, the proposal for a Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone was advanced after Kazakhstan renounced nuclear weapons left on its territory following the breakup of the Soviet Union.20 The Treaty of Tlatelolco is a more complicated case, but the essence remains the same.21 The treaty was signed in 1967 and entered into force in 1968 between Mexico and El Salvador,22 but the biggest challenge for the region was that the military leaderships of Brazil and Argentina did not forgo a nuclear option.23 Brazil ratified the treaty in 1968, but did not waive the requirements for its entry into force then. The important evolution took place hand in hand with domestic political change in these two countries, namely a shift from military to civilian rule, which led to a historic agreement between the presidents of each country to establish a bilateral nuclear inspection system in 1990. Both countries subsequently changed their stance to fully committing themselves to this treaty. Both countries ratified the amended treaty in 1994.

The experiences of such nuclear-weapon-free zones suggest that the function of such zones is to ensure the absence of nuclear weapons in regions without nuclear shadow, rather than the removal of nuclear weapons in regions with nuclear shadow. This indicates that, given the current situation, the legal prohibition of nuclear weapons is bound to be a measure of limited applicability if it is intended as a measure of immediate action. It is enlightening, from this perspective, that many of the signatories of the prohibition treaty come from regions without nuclear shadow.24 On the other hand, if considered to be a measure of global applicability, its time frame should be long term. As often stated, it is when the global stock of nuclear weapons comes closer to a minimum point that the general legal prohibition can best be argued.

This characteristic, however, does not negate the significance of the legal prohibition of nuclear weapons. Even though this measure does not enjoy universal application, it does represent recommitment for nonpossession of nuclear weapons by those who go along with it. Regarded as a long-term measure, it acts as a reminder of a goal to pursue over time, if not right now.

Conclusion

These considerations lead to several practical steps that can be taken. First, it is important to reaffirm the essential, that being measures of general applicability that should remain irrespective of the immediate security situation. In this regard, together with staying committed to a goal of a world without nuclear weapons, the NPT stands out for its importance.25 The NPT is an irreplaceable cornerstone for disarmament and nonproliferation, as has been stressed by chairs of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 NPT Review Conference.26 We should exert our best efforts to maintain and strengthen the NPT-based regime of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

The NPT regime is upheld by its review process. The health of the NPT regime depends on a well-functioning review process. The importance of the NPT and its review process tends to be underestimated. Voices sometimes challenge its significance, but we will be confronted with many more challenges if the NPT regime does not function well. Dysfunction of the NPT review process could undermine the NPT, raising the probability of the emergence of further outliers. This is not in the interest of the international society. In order to avoid such a situation, we should reaffirm the importance of the NPT and produce a tangible result at the 2020 NPT Review Conference. We should steadfastly remain committed to this essential element even in an unfavorable security situation. Indeed, there is all the more reason to do so in such a difficult situation.

Second, backsliding must be avoided, given that it can lead to further deterioration of the security situation and the emergence of a new nuclear arms race. Under current circumstances, the United States and Russia hopefully will agree to extend New START’s duration, as permitted by the treaty, and preserve the INF Treaty while resolving the compliance disputes which jeopardize the accord. Deterioration in nonproliferation files can also be a serious setback. Hence, the unraveling of the Iranian nuclear deal should be avoided.

Third, all parties should exert efforts to move forward. Despite a deteriorating security situation, it is important to make progress on those fronts where it is possible. There are a number of areas on which to focus. We should continue to work for realization of disarmament measures of general application, such as the entry into force of the CTBT and early start of the negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty. We should also strive for measures to move the security-disarmament nexus in a positive direction through measures that promote transparency and reporting of nuclear weapons, risk reduction measures such as de-alerting and improving lines of communication, negative security assurances, and verification of nuclear disarmament.

We find ourselves in an uphill battle. It is not a good time to argue over different approaches. There is a need to transcend differences and gather forces in support of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. Accordingly, it is important to respect other's positions.

The aforementioned Group of Eminent Persons asserted that “civility in discourse and respect for divergent views must be restored to facilitate a joint search for a common ground for dialogue, where all parties even though they might have different perspectives can work together to reduce nuclear dangers.”27 Civility derives from the frankness to recognize the limitation of one’s belief and openness to acknowledge the significance of opponents’ ideas.

ENDNOTES

1. Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, “The Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty: Negotiations and Beyond,” Arms Control Today, September 2017.

2. International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, “Signature/Ratification Status of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” n.d., http://www.icanw.org/status-of-the-treaty-on-the-prohibition-of-nuclear-weapons/ (numbers as of July 25, 2018).

3. Shatabhisha Shetty and Denitsa Raynova, eds., “Breakthrough or Breakpoint? Global Perspectives on the Nuclear Ban Treaty,” European Leadership Network, December 2017, https://www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/ELN-Global-Perspectives-on-the-Nuclear-Ban-Treaty-December-2017.pdf.

4. Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Nuclear Posture Review,” February 2018, https://media.defense.gov/2018/Feb/02/2001872886/-1/-1/1/2018-NUCLEAR-POSTURE-REVIEW-FINAL-REPORT.PDF.

5. Thomas M. Countryman and Andrei Zagorski, “Urgent Steps to Avoid a New Arms Race,” Arms Control Today, June 2018.

6. Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament, “Building Bridges to Effective Nuclear Disarmament: Recommendations for the 2020 Review Process for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),” n.d., http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000349264.pdf.

7. Ibid.

8. “Factfile: Comparison of U.S. and Soviet Nuclear Cuts,” Arms Control Today, November 1991; Matthew Bunn, “News and Negotiations: Bush and Yeltsin Press New Nuclear Cutbacks,” Arms Control Today, January/February 1992.

9. Christopher Ashley Ford, “Creating the Conditions for Nuclear Disarmament: A New Approach” (remarks at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies Nonproliferation Workshop, Annecy, France, March 17, 2018), https://www.state.gov/t/isn/rls/rm/2018/279386.htm; Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, “Creating the Conditions for Nuclear Disarmament (CCND): Working Paper Submitted by the United States of America,” NPT/CONF.2020/PC.II/WP.30, April 18, 2018.

10. Brad Roberts, The Case for U.S. Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016), pp. 110–113; Angela E. Stent, The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), pp. 72–73.

11. Fred Ikle, “The Second Coming of the Nuclear Age,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 75, No. 1 (January/February 1996); Keith B. Payne, Deterrence in the Second Nuclear Age (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996). See Paul Bracken, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics (New York: Times Books, 2012); Therese Delpech, Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century: Lessons From the Cold War for a New Era of Strategic Piracy (Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 2012).

12. UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, “Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament,” May 2018, https://front.un-arm.org/documents/SG+disarmament+agenda_1.pdf.

13. Countryman and Zagorski, “Urgent Steps to Avoid a New Arms Race.”

14. Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Remarks by President Barack Obama in Prague as Delivered,” April 5, 2009,
https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-barack-obama-prague-delivered.

15. Rebecca Johnson, Unfinished Business: The Negotiation of the CTBT and the End of Nuclear Testing (Geneva: UN Institute for Disarmament Research, 2009), pp. 141–142; Jaap Ramaker et al., “The Final Test: A History of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Negotiations,” Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, 2003, p. 38.

16. Daryl G. Kimball, “Revitalizing Diplomatic Efforts to Advance CTBT Entry Into Force,” Arms Control Association Policy White Paper, April 25, 2018, https://www.armscontrol.org/policy-white-papers/2018-04/revitalizing-diplomatic-efforts-advance-ctbt-entry-into-force.

17. Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation (VCDNP), “Cooperation Among Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zones: History, Challenges and Recommendations; VCDNP Task Force Report,” March 2018, https://vcdnp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NWFZ-TF-Report-final-1.pdf. Mongolia has one-country nuclear-free status.

18. See Sara Z. Kutchesfahani, “The NPT at 50: A Staple of Global Nuclear Order,” Arms Control Today, June 2018.

19. Jozef Goldblat, “Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones: A History and Assessment,” The Nonproliferation Review (Spring-Summer 1997), pp. 24–25; Helen E. Purkitt and Stephen F. Burgess, South Africa’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2005), pp. 190–191.

20. Nuclear Threat Initiative, “Central Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone (CANWFZ),” April 30, 2018, http://www.nti.org/learn/treaties-and-regimes/central-asia-nuclear-weapon-free-zone-canwz/.

21. Goldblat, “Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones,” pp. 19-22; Mitchell Reiss, Bridled Ambition: Why Countries Constrain Their Nuclear Capabilities (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1995), pp. 64–65.

22. The Treaty of Tlatelolco further entered into force for 11 countries in April 1969, thereby meeting the condition for setting up and commencing the work of the Agency for Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America.

23. Reiss, Bridled Ambition, pp. 45–88.

24. Some signatories are from regions with nuclear shadow: Austria, Ireland, and Lichtenstein from Europe; Nepal and Bangladesh from South Asia; and the state of Palestine from the Middle East.

25. See Jackie O’halloran Bernstein, “The NPT at 50: Successes, Challenges, and Steps Forward for Nonproliferation,” Arms Control Today, June 2018; Kutchesfahani, “NPT at 50.”

26. Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, “Towards 2020: Reflections of the Chair of the 2017 Session of the Preparatory Committee,” NPT/CONF.2020/PC.I/14, May 15, 2017; Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, “Chair’s Reflection’s on the State of the NPT,” NPT/CONF.2020/PC.II/12, May 4, 2018.

27. Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament, “Building Bridges to Effective Nuclear Disarmament.”
 


Mitsuru Kitano is Japan’s ambassador to the international organizations in Vienna and previously was director-general of the Disarmament, Nonproliferation and Science Department of the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

 

 

A Japanese diplomat envisions ways to handle differences in order to protect and advance arms control efforts.

REMARKS: When Disarmament Goes ‘Backward’


September 2018
By Hans Blix

Most people and governments might agree that the current global quantity of 15,000-plus nuclear weapons and the current global level of annual military expenditures of some $1.7 trillion are tragically excessive.

Hans Blix (Photo: SIPRI)Yet, much of the world is currently engaged in arms races. Even heaven is not left in peace. Outer space is already “a war-fighting domain” filled with satellites, and many can be mobilized for war. Low-level cyberwar is already here. Nuclear weapons, “Star Wars,” and missile shields are again in focus.

In 2009, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared in London that they would work for a total elimination of nuclear weapons. Today, there is no trace of such negotiations. Rather, several states, notably the United States and Russia, keep reminding the world of their arsenals.

At the 2020 review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, nuclear-weapon states-parties will no doubt argue that a step-by-step approach is the only practical way to disarmament. Non-nuclear-weapon states will remind us that step-by-step action has been urged for 50 years with meager results. Now it is practiced—backward. The stocks of nuclear weapons still suffice to end human civilization in a quick suicide, while we have added the risk of a slow suicide through global warming.

Some claim that nuclear weapons have helped to prevent armed confrontations. They point to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, when the fear of a nuclear exchange made the United States and the Soviet Union shy away from war and agree to a diplomatic solution. Others remind us that, on a number of occasions, misunderstandings and mistakes nearly caused nuclear exchanges and that only luck saved the world.

Last year, frustration among non-nuclear-weapon states and civil society led to the negotiation of a treaty comprehensively prohibiting possession and use of nuclear weapons. As none of the states possessing nuclear weapons will adhere to the treaty, it will not lead to nuclear disarmament. Indeed, some of them are so opposed to the treaty that they seek actively to dissuade other states from joining.

The main political aim of the treaty, perhaps, is not the unrealistic one to achieve nuclear disarmament, but rather to further delegitimize nuclear weapons and thereby add restraints to their use and strengthen a nascent general norm against use.

What restraints? The first restraint undoubtedly flows from the fear that an attack with nuclear weapons may lead to a retaliatory nuclear strike and mutually assured destruction or unacceptable devastation. This restraint and the stigma attached to any nuclear weapons use no doubt continues to weigh heavily on military planners. From time to time, military officials are heard to voice doubts that they can seriously plan for the use of nuclear weapons.

Perhaps recent proposals to introduce new types of smaller nuclear weapons are advanced in view of a perceived reduced credibility of the old nuclear weapons. Yet, low-yield, “more useable” nuclear weapons would not be fit for the possibly legal use citing the “extreme circumstance of self-defense” to which the International Court of Justice has referred. They would be battlefield weapons with a lower threshold for use. They deserve to be opposed and discredited. From this viewpoint, the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was timely and welcome.

It is rightly said that so long as nuclear weapons exist, they may come to be used. It is paradoxical that this risk may also act as a constant warning to nuclear-weapon states not to let themselves be drawn into controversies that might escalate to a nuclear conflict. In 1985, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev showed that they were fully aware of this and voiced a line that must never be forgotten: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought.”


Hans Blix was director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1981 to 1997. This column is adapted from his May 28 lecture, “Is the World on the Road to Peace or War?,” to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Stockholm.

A warning from a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Can Trump and Putin Head Off a New Nuclear Arms Race?

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Volume 10, Issue 8, August 8, 2018

The much-anticipated July 16 summit meeting in Helsinki between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin did not go well for the United States. In a news conference following the two-hour, one-on-one tête-à-tête between the two leaders, Trump, unfortunately, failed to condemn Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election and said he believed Putin’s denial of involvement to be “extremely strong and powerful.”

Nor does it appear that the meeting has resulted in any tangible breakthrough toward the goal of improving the strained U.S.-Russian relationship. This includes the most important area in which U.S. and Russian security interests continue to align: reducing the risk of catastrophic nuclear war and curbing a qualitative nuclear arms race that threatens to become a quantitative arms race.

The United States is poised to spend more than $1.7 trillion over the next 30 years on maintaining and upgrading its nuclear delivery systems (bombers, land-based missiles, and submarines) and their associated warheads and supporting infrastructure. The Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review spells out – with more frightening specificity than before – the circumstances under which use of American nuclear weapons will be considered and proposes two new, “more usable” types of low-yield nuclear weapons.

Russia is also replacing and upgrading its bloated nuclear arsenal. Worse yet, Russia is in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and Putin has boasted of new, Strangelovian weapons, including nuclear-armed hypersonic glide vehicles, globe-circling nuclear-powered cruise missiles and very long-range nuclear torpedoes for use against American port cities.

Neither the planning nor the boasting needs to become our reality. Indeed, Trump told reporters at the White House in March that he wanted to meet with Putin in large part “to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control” and has characterized the costly nuclear upgrade programs being pursued by each side as “a very, very bad policy.”

In Helsinki, Putin presented the Trump administration with several proposals “to work together further to interact on the disarmament agenda, military, and technical cooperation.” These included: beginning discussions about an extension of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which verifiably limits U.S. and Russian deployed strategic nuclear forces and expires in early 2021; reaffirming commitment to the INF Treaty; resuming dialogue on Russian concerns about U.S. missile defense plans and joint efforts to eliminate missile threats; and measures to prevent dangerous military incidents. Russia also proposed to resume “strategic stability” talks as a forum to discuss the above and related issues.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg Summit, July 2017 (Source: Kremlin.ru)

Following the summit, Trump stated that “[p]erhaps the most important issue we discussed at our meeting...was the reduction of nuclear weapons throughout the world.”

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee July 25 that no specific agreements were reached on nuclear arms control in Helsinki and the administration doesn’t yet have a position on whether to extend New START. U.S. officials have said that Washington has been seeking to resume the strategic stability talks, but the two sides have not agreed upon a date.

As the United States and Russia work to build on the dialogue that began in Helsinki and prepare for a possible second summit meeting between Trump and Putin, there are four relatively simple decisions the two leaders could make that could reduce nuclear risks and lay a more positive foundation for further steps not just in nuclear arms control, but in the still thornier disputes that divide the two powers.

Immediately Extend New START

Like the larger relationship, the U.S.-Russian arms control architecture is under significant strain. New START remains one of the few bright spots in the relationship. Ratified in 2011, the Treaty limits the number of deployed strategic warheads to a maximum of 1,550 on each side, a target each met earlier this year, and which is far below the tens of thousands we pointed at each other during the Cold War. The Treaty imposes important bounds on strategic nuclear competition as long as it is in force.

Although it expires in February 2021, the treaty can be extended by up to five years by agreement by the two Presidents, without requiring further action by the Congress or the Duma. If New START is not extended, then in 2021 there will be no legally-binding limits on the world’s two largest strategic arsenals for the first time since 1972. Unconstrained U.S.-Russian nuclear competition - in both numbers and technology - could spark an arms race as dangerous as that of the 1950s and 1960s and add scores of billions in additional costs to an already unrealistic U.S. nuclear upgrade plan.

For his part, Putin has repeatedly voiced interest in extending the treaty. This seems due in part to the fact that if the New START limit on deployed strategic warheads (1,550 each) were to expire, the United States would have a significant “upload” potential by virtue of its higher number of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles.

The most recent New START data exchange shows that the United States has 652 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers, while Russia has 527. Russia appears to be seeking a similar upload capability. This means that in the absence of New START, each side could quickly increase the number of warheads deployed on these systems.

In his first call with Putin after inauguration day, Trump reportedly described New START as another flawed deal negotiated by his predecessor, like the Iran deal that he recently upended. Before joining the Trump administration as National Security Advisor, John Bolton also castigated the agreement. The administration is currently conducting a review of the pros and cons of extending the treaty.

But a decision to extend the Treaty can be packaged so that it is a personal victory for President Trump, rather than an extension of an Obama achievement. Extension until February 2026, would preserve its significant security advantages – not only the numerical limits, which aid U.S. military planning, but also the mutual transparency provided by the treaty’s verification measures (including data exchanges, notifications, and inspections).

An extension would also buy more time for the two sides to discuss other stabilizing measures while improving the bilateral political atmosphere. It would provide a venue to discuss and possibly limit several of the new systems under development by Russia (the treaty allows for the limitation of new strategic arms developed after the treaty entered into force) and lay the base for talks to further reduce each side’s nuclear stockpiles.

Moreover, while many observers are rightly concerned about what Trump might give away in diplomacy with Putin, extending New START could help create a positive atmosphere for reducing tensions in the U.S.-Russian relationship without making an unwise or impractical concession to Moscow. Key Senate Democrats have called for an extension of the treaty so long as Russia remains in compliance with it.

Resolve the INF Treaty Compliance Dispute

The INF Treaty made a major contribution to European and global security by verifiably eliminating all U.S. and Soviet ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

However, the treaty is now at risk, with the United States charging that Russia has deployed an illegal ground-launched cruise missile – the 9M729. Moscow, for its part, alleges, far less credibly, that Washington may be violating the treaty too. Its major gripe is that the U.S. is deploying missile defense systems in Europe that could be used to launch offensive missiles.

Russia’s flagrant violation of the treaty, as well as other key agreements such as the Chemical Weapons Convention, is unacceptable and requires a firm U.S. response, including enhancements to U.S. and NATO conventional military preparedness if the violation persists.

Complicating matters further, the Trump administration is pursuing a response to Russia’s violation that includes the development of our own treaty-prohibited missile. Some in Congress are also suggesting that we respond to Russia’s violations by declaring the agreement null and void if Russia doesn’t immediately return to compliance. Both moves play directly into Moscow’s propaganda interests.

Efforts to address the reciprocal accusations through the treaty’s dispute mechanism – the Special Verification Commission – have done little to resolve either side’s concerns. This is the moment when Trump and Putin need to provide a political impetus to those stalled expert discussions. The problems are technically complex, but they can be resolved.

Independent U.S. and Russian experts who are familiar with the nature of the Russian INF violation agree that in order to break the impasse, both sides need to acknowledge the concerns of the other side. They argue that Washington and Moscow should agree to reciprocal site visits by experts to examine the missiles and the deployment sites in dispute. If the 9M729 missile is determined to have a range that exceeds 500 km, Russia could modify the missile to ensure it no longer violates the treaty or, ideally, halt production and eliminate any such missiles in its possession.

For its part, the United States could modify its missile defense launchers to clearly distinguish them from the launchers used to fire offensive missiles from U.S. warships or agree to transparency measures that give Russia confidence the launchers don’t contain offensive missiles. Such an arrangement would address the concerns of both sides and restore compliance with the treaty without Russia having to acknowledge its original violation of the treaty.

Resume the Dialogue on Strategic Stability

Russian-American consultations on strategic stability are neither a luxury nor “business as usual.” They provide a means for each side to express concerns about new technologies and capabilities that may disrupt the tenuous balance of nuclear terror that has held – with a good deal of luck – for more than 60 years. This dialogue provides the forum at which military officials can make agreements that reduce the risk of a non-nuclear conflict. It also provides the ‘circuit breaking’ signal mechanisms that can prevent an incident from escalating from conventional to nuclear combat.

As Bernard Brodie noted in 1946 at the onset of the nuclear age, the chief job of the military is now not to win wars, but to avert them. A strategic stability dialogue serves the function of enhancing understanding and avoiding misperceptions between two military establishments with world-killing power that can be unleashed within minutes of an order to do so.

There is much of concern to discuss through the strategic stability format as first envisioned by the Obama administration. In addition to the development of new nuclear weapons and the erosion of key arms control guardrails, technological change and advances in conventional weapons are raising concerns about new escalation dangers. Both sides are developing hypersonic missiles, new missile defense capabilities, offensive cyber weapons, and anti-satellite and counterspace weapons.

U.S. efforts to convene such a bilateral dialogue have led only to intermittent meetings in the last five years, with no hard results. The United States and Russia held a round of strategic stability talks in September in Helsinki, but Russia pulled out of the second round of talks slated to take place in March in Vienna.

The Nuclear Posture Review did not offer any proposals to advance U.S.-Russian arms control or address these growing challenges to strategic stability more broadly. But with Trump’s State Department team finally in place, it’s time for the two leaders to commit to an intensified dialogue to reduce the immediate risk and to lay the basis for eventually achieving a less threatening nuclear posture on both sides. To succeed such a dialogue must include topics which the United States has always been reluctant to put on the agenda, such as ballistic missile defense and the development of rapid-strike conventional weapons.

Making Avoiding Nuclear War Great Again

When Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met for a summit meeting in 1985 in Geneva, they issued a joint statement that was both self-evident and reassuring: “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” It set the right tone for the resumption of nuclear arms reduction negotiations that would eventually yield dramatic results in the years that followed.

In itself, such a statement from Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at their next meeting would not immediately reduce bloated U.S. and Russian arsenals or eliminate the launch-under-attack nuclear doctrines that still could lead us to a civilization-ending conflict. But it would demonstrate to a world on edge about Moscow and Washington’s nuclear bluster that those who fashion themselves as world leaders recognize their most basic responsibilities to humanity.

For decades, U.S. leadership has limited the spread of nuclear weapons, drastically reduced the global inventory of these weapons, brought about a halt to all nuclear testing by all but one state (North Korea), and sustained a strong taboo against nuclear weapons use.

But today—five decades after the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons was negotiated—the global nuclear order is under increasing strain due to the North Korean threat, stalled progress on global disarmament, rising tensions between several nuclear-armed states, and global technological advances that are putting new pressures on nuclear stability.

Trump and Putin have an important opportunity to put the brakes on a new, potentially more dangerous, arms race. Important steps in that direction would come from extending New START, preserving the INF Treaty while resolving compliance disputes, and resuming discussion of the strategic stability agenda, from which both sides and the broader world community will benefit.

THOMAS M. COUNTRYMAN, former acting under secretary of state for arms control and international security and chairman of the board of directors of the Arms Control Association; KINGSTON A. REIF, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy; DARYL G. KIMBALL, executive director

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Trump and Putin have an important opportunity to put the brakes on a new, potentially more dangerous, arms race.

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Nuclear Disarmament: Challenges and Opportunities

These remarks were delivered on August 2 in Hiroshima at the International Conference Against A & H Bombs to an international audience of nuclear disarmament activists and government representatives. On the 73 rd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, the global nuclear disarmament enterprise is in a state of crisis. Nearly 50 years after the adoption of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the five states that signed as nuclear weapon states have failed to give up their weapons. Dramatic nuclear reductions have brought global nuclear weapons arsenals down from 60,000 nuclear...

ACA Board Chair on Pathways to a Nuclear Weapon Free World

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Pathways to a Nuclear Weapon Free World

Remarks by Thomas Countryman
Chairman of the Arms Control Association
to the International Symposium for Peace 
Nagasaki, Japan
July 28, 2018

Introduction

Panelists discuss working toward sustainable peace at the International Symposium for Peace “The Road to Nuclear Weapons Abolition” held on July 28 in Nagasaki. (Photo: Kengo Hiyoshi/Asahi Shimbun) Let me thank the organizers of today’s conference for bringing me again to Japan. In my current focus outside the government of the United States, continuing to push for real progress on nonproliferation and arms control measures, it's always a special pleasure to come to Japan. The Japanese role in leading the international diplomatic challenge to create the highest standards in arms control and nonproliferation is unparalleled. Not only as a partner of the United States but in its own leadership role, Japan has done much to create the modern nonproliferation regime that has greatly reduced but not yet eliminated the threat that weapons of mass destruction pose to all of us.

It is especially moving to be here in Nagasaki. Visiting the memorial yesterday, a sacred place, brought back to me what President Abraham Lincoln said at the site of the bloodiest battle America ever witnessed: that those who have fallen on this site “have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract”. I sensed on this spot what no book can convey: the enormous challenge and the risk that humanity continues to face in the presence of 15,000 nuclear weapons in this world. Here I want to commend the very special role the hibakusha have played in preserving vital lessons for the memory of humanity. For 70 years, they have spread the simple truth that a human being is not just a statistic. They will touch future generations long after their own has passed from this world. I wish that every American and every world leader would have the opportunity to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki as I have.

Current Challenges

It is much easier to talk about the challenges to nuclear disarmament than it is to describe a simple path to a world free of nuclear weapons. So let me dwell first on the current challenges that we face.

First, the two major nuclear powers, the United States and the Russian Federation, have passed a turning point in their nuclear doctrines and nuclear arsenals. After about 40 years of a steady decrease in the size and diversity of their nuclear arsenals and the mission that each assigned to their nuclear weapons, both Washington and Moscow have turned a corner towards expanding the size and variety of arsenals and the circumstances for their use.

U.S. 2018 Nuclear Posture Review

The U.S. administration’s Nuclear Posture Review from this February is not a radical change from the previous nuclear posture but it is a significant change in direction. In calling for the development of new low-yield nuclear weapons, the United States is thinking more actively and – in my view - making more thinkable the use of low-yield nuclear weapons in the context of a conventional conflict. As so many have pointed out, there is no such thing as a limited nuclear war once that threshold has been crossed. “A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon," George Shultz, who served as President Ronald Reagan's top diplomat, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in January. "You use a small one, then you go to a bigger one. I think nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons and we need to draw the line there."

Secondly, the Nuclear Posture Review describes with more specificity than before circumstances under which the United States would consider the use of nuclear weapons to encompass not only first use by an opponent but also a response to a devastating attack by cyber or other means. Just two years ago, the Obama administration considered carefully the possibility of proclaiming a no-first-use doctrine for U.S. nuclear weapons. That U.S. policy has now shifted towards a broader definition of possible first use is of deep concern to me.

Finally, I am most disappointed in the Nuclear Posture Review in that it effectively renounces the traditional leadership that the U.S has exercised on non-proliferation and arms control issues. It makes no mention of America’s binding legal obligation under Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to pursue a reduction in arsenals. It makes no new proposals for how the U.S. will move forward in negotiations with Russia and others. And it defers any meaningful action until security conditions in the world have improved. This retreat from global leadership, whether in arms control, in climate policy or in free trade agreements is unworthy of a nation that claims to be a superpower.

Russia

As concerned as I am about the direction of U.S. policy, I am even more concerned about the continuing development by Russia of new weapons and new delivery methods. Russia seems driven by an exaggerated fear, in fact, a paranoia, about the future capabilities of U.S. missile defense. I call these fears exaggerated because I believe that missile defense can never provide an impenetrable shield. Russia is building not only new generations of ICBMs but even more dangerous weapons systems that seem to step out of the pages of a science fiction comic book, including a nuclear torpedo of unlimited range and a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Russia seems intent on probing the boundaries of existing arms control agreements, particularly the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which laid the basis for the next 25 years of successful arms limitations. Even more than the uninformed statements by the U.S. president, the rhetoric of the Russian president - increasingly defining Russia’s national power as a function of its nuclear arsenal - erodes both the prospect of future arms control and the moral taboo against initiating the use of nuclear weapons. The 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is due to expire in 2021 and although President Putin has raised the prospect of extending the treaty, President Trump has so far rebuffed such proposals.

Joint Comprehensive Program Of Action

In the shorter term, I am especially concerned about the U.S. decision to withdraw from, that is to violate, the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action with Iran. This agreement is unprecedented, both in its inspection and verification requirements, and it prevented the risk of a tenth state breaking into the nuclear weapons club. I do not believe that Iranian development of a nuclear weapon is imminent but I am deeply concerned about the follow-on effects of this decision, that is the undermining of U.S. credibility and commitment to any agreement, the creation of a serious dispute between the U.S. and its best allies in Europe and Asia, the erosion of the international rules-based order and a resurgent radicalism in Iran.

North Korea

I am less pessimistic but still deeply concerned about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. President Trump did the right thing, trading in violent rhetoric for an opportunity for dialogue. There are dozens of reasons to distrust North Korea’s approach to negotiations and to doubt the capability of the Trump administration to negotiate a meaningful, verifiable denuclearization of North Korea. But the pursuit of negotiation is far preferable to simply sleepwalking towards war, as we seemed to be doing a year ago.

Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT)

The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty remains central to our shared global ambition to prevent the development of new nuclear weapons and to reduce existing arsenals. On the surface, the deliberations at NPT conferences often seem utterly divorced from the real world. In fact, all the concerns I’ve just listed have a real effect on the degree of consensus you can reach among NPT parties and on the commitment that other parties show to the treaty.

For the 2020 Review Conference, I can foresee the worst but I am determined to work for the best. The RevCon can easily be upset either by the U.S. and Russia sniping at each other or by the continued inability of the states in the Middle East to sit down together and begin the process of discussing a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East. But the most severe threat to the unity of states-parties is the growing frustration of non-nuclear weapon states with the pace of nuclear disarmament. Seeing no new U.S.-Russian agreements since 2010 and the new threatening developments in Washington and Moscow that I’ve already described, the majority of the world’s non-nuclear weapon states have made clear that they will demand more urgent progress in 2020.

Moving Towards a Nuclear Weapon Free World

So what can we do to move towards a world free from nuclear weapons?

Near-Term Steps

There are a number of steps that the United States and Russia could take right now that would change the current trajectory. First and most simply, to hear President Trump and President Putin repeat what Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan said in 1985 - that a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought - would be of value, would provide some reassurance that these two leaders understand their responsibilities to humanity. Secondly, the United States and Russia need to extend New START. Third, they need to make a political decision to work harder on resolving the dispute about compliance with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty. And fourth there needs to be a more regular dialogue between Moscow and Washington on both the military and political level, to pursue risk reduction measures that would prevent a conventional conflict from escalating to a nuclear one and to explore other steps that would allow each to maintain security at a lower level of armament. Finally, the United States should reassert the leadership it showed after 2010 when it led an intensive dialogue among the P5 nuclear-weapon states to give the world greater transparency, to reduce nuclear risks, and to lay the groundwork for future multilateral arms control.

It’s not easy to get either Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin to do something that reminds them of Mikhail Gorbachev or Barack Obama. In fact, it’s not easy to get them to do something unless you can convince them that it was their own brilliant idea. But it is an obligation of the rest of the world to continue to press for this. I know from my own experience with bilateral diplomacy that meetings with either Russian or American leaders always have an agenda filled with urgent items and that concerns about long-term items such as arms control simply fall out of the conversation. It is crucial that not only Japanese leaders but all world leaders press both Presidents to take serious action.

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Beyond Moscow and Washington, what can non-nuclear weapon states do for themselves to move us towards a nuclear-weapon-free world? Many non-nuclear weapon states have sought to answer that question by negotiating a new treaty banning nuclear weapons, adopted last July.

The drafting of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons last year was historic. Some would like to see it as simply an expression of frustration on the part of the non-nuclear weapon states. It’s a lot more than that. It is a strong moral and ethical statement. And more than that, it is something tangible, something that can be touched by the hibakusha and the citizens of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It is a statement of reality that the risk of nuclear war is not born only by the nuclear-weapon states but by the entire world. And it is intended to serve as an impulse for further action globally on nuclear disarmament. I’m well aware of its limitations. The TPNW will not by itself immediately eliminate any nuclear weapons. And it does not provide a pathway for Washington and Moscow to overcome their current impasse.

I don’t see the discussion between advocates and skeptics of the TPNW as being an argument about practicalities or about whether this treaty can work. It is - or it should be - a respectful discussion about deterrence. Nations that face no immediate military threat tend to underestimate the importance that military alliances and military deterrence play for those states that do face actual military threats. Similarly, those states whether in Europe or in Asia that feel reassurance under the nuclear umbrella of the United States tend not to appreciate how strongly concerned other states are about the disastrous humanitarian effects that a nuclear war would cause.

What is needed now is a multi-sided discussion on a topic that is easy to define and extremely difficult to resolve: how to guarantee the security of the world and of each nation without resort to nuclear deterrence. This is a discussion that has to bring together not only the idealists and social activists who helped to bring about the TPNW but also the security experts and military leaders who have the responsibility of providing for their nations’ security. It has to bring together not only nuclear-weapon states but those who are allies of nuclear-weapon states and those who feel themselves to be far from any military threat. Given my own experience with the ineffectiveness of the United Nations as a place to discuss such difficult issues, I think it has to start smaller than a conference of 190 countries.

UN Secretary-General’s Disarmament Agenda

Washington and Moscow are not going to lead this discussion. What can the rest of the world do? The UN Secretary General has laid out a comprehensive blueprint on what needs to be done on disarmament issues to provide genuine security for our citizens. I love the document. I’d like to focus in particular on what he says about nuclear disarmament.

He calls on the United States and Russia to resolve INF compliance concerns, extend New START and pursue additional reductions. He encourages all states to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, to negotiate a fissile material cutoff treaty, establish a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, pursue nuclear risk reduction measures, and develop nuclear disarmament verification standards and techniques. He warned that the international community is moving backward on disarmament. “Let us all work together to bring new urgency to achieve the universal goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world,” he said while unveiling his agenda at the University of Geneva in late May.

So how do we take forward an idea on which not only everyone in this room but most of the world is united upon?

Joint Enterprise

Now is the time to convene a high-level summit approach to help overcome the impasse on nuclear disarmament. Leaders from a core group of states can invite their counterparts - 20 to 30 heads of states of nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon countries - to join a one or two day summit on steps to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. This could be a starting point for ongoing regular disarmament discussions at the expert and ministerial level. As the former foreign minister Kishida argued, this dialogue must be based both on a clear understanding of the devastating impact of nuclear weapon use and an objective assessment of the security concerns of states.

This is not a new idea. Four of the best American thinkers on such issues - George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn - have been arguing for several years for a Joint Enterprise, a new multilateral effort that would take concrete, practical steps to create the conditions that would make possible genuine nuclear disarmament. As outlined by the “four horsemen,” a Joint Enterprise summit would be supplemented by a joint communique from all participating states and national commitments to work towards disarmament. Unfortunately, the leadership of such an effort will not come from either Washington or Moscow. When the long-time ‘leader of the free world’ is deliberately stepping away from leadership, the other democratic nations of the world must take up the challenge. It’s up to Japan, to Germany, to Canada, to other nations that still believe in multilateralism to get this effort started.

Discussion of the conditions that would help achieve a nuclear weapons-free world must become as common among world leaders as discussions about tariffs or immigration. The constant raising of this topic is the responsibility of Presidents and Prime Ministers, and it is the duty of citizens of all nations to remind their leaders of this responsibility.

It is written in Pirkei Avot, a well-known Jewish text, that “you are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” Here in Nagasaki, we say again that all of us – elected leaders, civil society organizations, and ordinary citizens – “we will not desist from this duty.”

Thank you and God bless you!

 

 

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Remarks by Thomas Countryman to the International Symposium for Peace in Nagasaki, Japan

Fissile Material Report Points Toward Treaty


An expert group tasked by the United Nations with laying the groundwork for the negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) completed its work June 8 with consensus recommendations that could be taken forward by a new subgroup of the Conference on Disarmament (CD).

“With this report, which has been aptly described as ‘two inches from a negotiating text’, the range of possible treaty provisions is further distilled in a manner that makes clear there is little more to be done on an FMCT other than to negotiate it,” Canadian Ambassador Heidi Hulan, who chaired the high-level preparatory group, told Arms Control Today in a June 18 email.

The FMCT preparatory group, mandated by a 2016 UN General Assembly resolution, was made up of representatives from 25 states who met for two weeks in 2017 and 2018. It followed on from the meetings of a group of governmental experts, convened in 2014 and 2015, on the same subject. The UN General Assembly in 1993 approved the negotiation of an FMCT in the CD, but the consensus-based CD has failed to start negotiations due to a few states’ objections.

The preparatory group’s discussions sought to clarify issues concerning a potential treaty’s scope, definitions, verification measures, and legal and institutional arrangements before negotiations begin. Its recommendations will go to the UN secretary-general, the General Assembly, and the CD, where they could inform the work of a new subsidiary body, created in February in part to discuss the negotiation of an FMCT. With the preparatory work completed, the CD “needs to be held to account for its negotiation, and finally end the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons,” wrote Hulan.—ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE

Fissile Material Report Points Toward Treaty

The Fight Continues: Reflections on the June 12, 1982 Rally for Nuclear Disarmament

On the morning of June 12, 1982, as the sun shined down on the green grass in Central Park, people began to gather carrying signs for nuclear disarmament. Throughout the morning, buses arrived from around the country. By the afternoon, nearly every blade of grass was covered. Citizens filled second, third, fifth, sixth, seventh, and Madison avenues. By mid-afternoon, the police estimated that over 750,000 people were in Central Park demanding an end to nuclear weapons. By the end of the day, that number had swelled to 1 million. The rally and subsequent march were organized around the United...

Saudi Arabia Threatens to Seek Nuclear Weapons


June 2018
By Kingston Reif

In the wake U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to terminate the Iran nuclear deal, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told CNN that “if Iran acquires a nuclear capability, we will do everything we can to do the same.”

The comments echo a similar warning from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in March and could complicate U.S. efforts to negotiate and implement a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with the kingdom.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman March 22 at the Pentagon. “If Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” Prince Mohammed told CBS News on March 15. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” Prince Mohammed told CBS News in a March 15 interview.

Saudi Arabia is a non-nuclear-weapon state-party to the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits the kingdom from pursuing nuclear weapons development.

Although in the past some Saudi officials and members of the royal family have hinted at matching Iran’s nuclear capability, the recent statements from the Saudi leadership have been far more explicit.

For example, asked by Reuters in January 2016 if Saudi Arabia would seek to acquire nuclear weapons if Iran does, al-Jubeir said, “I don’t think it would be reasonable to expect me to answer this question one way or another.”

Saudi Arabia has been one of the few countries to praise Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, which put significant, long-term constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.

“We believe the nuclear deal was flawed,” al-Jubeir told CNN on May 9. “We believe the deal does not deal with Iran's ballistic missile program nor does it deal with Iran's support for terrorism.”

Neither Trump nor any member of his administration has publicly condemned the Saudi threats to acquire nuclear weapons if Iran does. Some officials have even suggested the administration might look the other way if Saudi Arabia violated its NPT commitment not to acquire nuclear weapons.

When asked later that day to comment on al-Jubier’s comment, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “Right now, I don’t know that we have a specific policy announcement on that front, but I can tell you that we are very committed to making sure that Iran does not have nuclear weapons.”

Long-standing, bipartisan U.S. policy has been to actively work against the spread of nuclear weapons to any country, friend or foe.

Saudi Arabia’s unabashed nuclear hedging comes as it continues to negotiate a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, known as a 123 agreement, with the Trump administration. (See ACT, April 2018.) A 123 agreement, named after the section of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act that requires it, sets the terms for sharing U.S. nuclear energy technology, equipment, and materials with other countries.

Saudi Arabia has ambitious plans to generate nuclear power, but currently has no nuclear power plants. The kingdom plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 to 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion, according to the World Nuclear Association. It has solicited bids for the first two reactors and hopes to sign contracts by the end of this year.

A key issue in the negotiations is whether the United States will insist that Saudi Arabia agree to forgo uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing as part of a 123 agreement. These activities are considered sensitive because they can be used to make fuel for nuclear power reactors and produce nuclear explosive material. To date, Saudi Arabia has resisted a ban and suggested that it seeks to make its own fuel.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said May 24 at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that the administration has told the Saudis it wants “a gold standard section 123 agreement from them, which would not permit them to enrich.”

Pompeo’s comments were the first indication that the administration is seeking such an agreement. Other administration officials had refused to say whether the United States was pushing a prohibition on fuel-making activity.

Previously, Energy Secretary Rick Perry had warned lawmakers that if the administration insists on nonproliferation standards Riyadh won’t accept, Russia and China would then win contracts to build reactors in Saudi Arabia and would demand less stringent nonproliferation and security standards than does the United States.

Bipartisan opposition to an agreement that does not block Saudi fuel-making continues to mount. “We need a gold standard, and I’m afraid this administration is already going down the road of, you know, doing something different than that,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told National Journal last month.

Even if the administration does sign a 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia soon, Congress could run out of time to consider it this year.

Once the executive branch submits a signed cooperation agreement to Congress, lawmakers have 90 days in continuous session to consider the pact, after which it automatically becomes law unless Congress adopts a joint resolution opposing it. That time period is rapidly closing due to a shortened election-year calendar.

Saudi comments complicate U.S. efforts to negotiate and implement a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with the kingdom.

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