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“For 50 years, the Arms Control Association has educated citizens around the world to help create broad support for U.S.-led arms control and nonproliferation achievements.”

– President Joe Biden
June 2, 2022
PressRoom

Russian Delay of Scheduled Meeting on New START Irresponsible

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For Immediate Release: Nov. 29, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl Kimball, executive director (202-463-8270 x107); Shannon Bugos, senior policy analyst (202-463-8270 x113)

(Washington, DC) – Russia elected not to show up for a meeting with the United States regarding ongoing implementation concerns with the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), a day before representatives of the two countries had planned to convene in Cairo, Egypt.

Moscow informed Washington Nov. 28 of its decision to “unilaterally postpone” the meeting of New START’s Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC), which handles treaty implementation and verification concerns.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attributed the decision to both technical and political reasons, including the war in Ukraine. Arms control is not “immune” to other events taking place in the world, he commented Nov. 29. Ryabkov emphasized to reporters that “this is not a cancellation, but a postponement.”

The U.S. State Department responded by reiterating the Biden administration’s commitment to rescheduling the meeting as soon as possible.

“Russia’s choice to postpone the BCC meeting with the United States is irresponsible, especially at this time of heightened tensions when dialogue between the world’s two largest nuclear powers is paramount,” says Laura Kennedy, a board member of the Arms Control Association and a former U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament.

“The Biden administration has taken the correct stance of communicating its willingness to reschedule the meeting at the earliest possible date, underscoring the U.S. commitment to effective arms control and maintaining strategic stability,” Kennedy added. “We hope and expect that Russia will reciprocate.”

One of the main topics on the table would have been the nearly three-year pause in the treaty’s on-site inspections of nuclear weapon-related facilities, a hallmark of the New START verification regime. The two countries agreed to pause the inspections in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. On August 8, 2022, Russia further delayed any resumption of inspections by blocking treaty visits to its facilities, until such time as there is a resolution for allowing Russia’s New START inspection teams to travel to the United States despite Western sanctions and restrictions on Russia due to the war in Ukraine.

“New START stands as the last treaty limiting the U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals and provides unparalleled insight into Russian nuclear forces that the U.S. military greatly values for posture and planning purposes,” says Shannon Bugos, a senior research analyst at the Arms Control Association. “Further delays of the BCC meeting are deeply regrettable, particularly as resuming inspections will likely help pave the way for dialogue on future arms control following New START’s expiration in 2026.”

The United States and Russia last held a BCC meeting in October 2021, the first since the coronavirus pandemic prompted a pause in the meetings. The meeting this month was slated to take place Nov. 29 through Dec. 6 in Cairo, Egypt, and would have marked the first meeting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Under New START, the two countries are obligated to hold two BCC meetings each year.

“Even during the worst periods of the Cold War, the United States and Russia recognized the value of maintaining common sense limits on the world’s most dangerous weapons,” Bugos added. “Today, more than ever, they must meet their shared responsibility to reduce their massive nuclear arsenals and avoid miscalculations that could lead to nuclear catastrophe.”

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Dialogue on Implementation of Arms Control Agreement in Mutual Interest

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New Nuclear Posture Review Sends Mixed Signals at Time of Heightened Nuclear Danger

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A Preliminary Analysis by Daryl G. Kimball, executive director

For Immediate Release: Oct. 26, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl Kimball, executive director (202-463-8270 x107); Shannon Bugos, senior policy analyst (202-463-8270 x113)

(Washington, D.C.)— After delaying for nearly seven months the release of the public version of the classified Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Pentagon-led study sends muddled messages about the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense strategy and foreign policy at a time when the United States should be more clearly de-emphasizing the salience of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear weapons use.

At the same time, the NPR appropriately and smartly "places renewed emphasis on nuclear arms control, nuclear nonproliferation, and risk reduction," which is vitally important as the last U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty expires in less than three and a half years, and the risk of nuclear weapons use in the context of Russia's war on Ukraine is as high as any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis 60 years ago.

The NPR notes that verifiable nuclear arms control strategies offer "the most effective, durable and responsible path to reduce the role nuclear weapons in our strategy and prevent their use" and calls for a greater emphasis on nuclear risk reduction dialogue with the United States' primary nuclear adversaries, Russia, and China.

A Risky, Status Quo Nuclear Weapons Declaratory Policy

The study, which was coordinated by the Pentagon and approved by President Biden, reiterates longstanding policy reserving the right of the United States to use nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear weapons threats "in extreme" circumstances to defend the "vital interests of its Allies and partners."

The 2022 NPR declares that "the fundamental role of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our Allies, and partners." The document acknowledges that there is "a narrow range of contingencies in which U.S. nuclear weapons may still play a role in deterring attacks that have a strategic effect against the United States or its Allies and partners."

This broad and ambiguous nuclear weapons declaratory policy walks back President Biden's earlier position and pledge to narrow the role of U.S. nuclear weapons. In 2020, Biden wrote "that the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring—and, if necessary, retaliating against—a nuclear attack. As president, I will work to put that belief into practice, in consultation with the U.S. military and U.S. allies.”

The 2022 NPR reports that the administration conducted a "thorough review of options for nuclear declaratory policy, including both No First Use and Sole Purpose policies, and concluded those approaches would result in an unacceptable level of risk ...."

In reality, policies that threaten the first use of nuclear weapons, whether they are long-range or shorter-range, tactical nuclear weapons carry unacceptable risks. Putin’s deadly war against Ukraine, his nuclear threats, and Russia’s policy that reserves the option to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict with NATO underscore the dangers of such policies. As President Biden declared Oct. 6, “I don’t think there’s any such thing as an ability to easily use a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.”

Costly Modernization Plans and New Capabilities

The NPR study also rubber stamps much of the multibillion-dollar program of record for the modernization of all U.S. nuclear weapons delivery systems and the refurbishment of all existing major nuclear warhead types.

The document rightly seeks to cancel the Trump administration's proposal for a destabilizing and very expensive new capability, the nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile, however, it also endorses the Trump-era, W76-2 lower-yield warhead on sub-launched ballistic missiles. The Pentagon argues that the ostensible purpose for the system, which was deployed in 2020, is to provide the president greater "flexibility" to retaliate to a limited nuclear strike by a hostile adversary. In layperson's terms, this means nuclear war-fighting at the regional level using a missile system designed for retaliation against an all-out strategic attack on the United States.

President Biden strongly criticized the W76-2 in 2020, saying it was a "bad idea" that makes the U.S. government "more inclined" to use nuclear weapons than in the past.

The NPR also endorses the development and the introduction of a new design warhead first proposed by the Trump administration, the W-93. This warhead is redundant and is not necessary to maintain the existing U.S. arsenal, rather it is primarily intended to provide support for the nuclear weapons modernization plan of a foreign government, the United Kingdom.

Blurring the Lines Between Nuclear and non-nuclear Deterrence

The NPR, which was released in tandem with the Biden administration's Missile Defense Review and overall National Defense Strategy, doubles down on the concept of "integrated deterrence" involving "synchronizing nuclear planning, exercises, and operations." The goal is, according to the 2022 NPR, to "raise the nuclear threshold of our adversaries in regional conflict by undermining adversary confidence in strategies for limited war that rely on the threat of nuclear escalation."

But because the NPR's integrated deterrence strategy relies on the employment of dual-capable (i.e., nuclear and conventional) fighter bombers and U.S. long-range ballistic missiles and air-launched cruise missiles, missile interceptors, and cyber offensive capabilities, it creates the potential to contribute to a miscalculation by certain adversaries about whether the U.S. is launching a nuclear attack, or not. Such an approach is potentially more destabilizing in the absence of a U.S declaratory policy that rules out first use of nuclear weapons.

Renewing Focus on Arms Control

On the positive side, in contrast to the Trump administration's 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, the 2022 NPR helpfully and appropriately says that the United States "will seek opportunities to pursue practical steps to advance the goals of greater transparency and predictability, enhanced stability, reduced reliance on nuclear weapons and, ultimately, a world without nuclear weapons."

“Even at the height of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were able to work together to uphold our shared responsibility to ensure strategic stability,” President Biden said on the first day of the 10th review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in August. “Today, my administration is ready to expeditiously negotiate a new arms control framework to replace New START when it expires in 2026," he said.

The 2022 NPR re-affirms the president's statement by expressing the view that "Mutual, verifiable nuclear arms control offers the most effective, durable and responsible path to reduce the role nuclear weapons in our strategy and prevent their use."

The Biden administration should therefore move expeditiously to formally launch negotiations on a New START follow-on arms control framework, which is essential to reduce the Russian nuclear threat, constrain a potential Chinese nuclear buildup, and lower the risk of nuclear conflict.

Appropriately, the NPR also says the United States' "priorities include fostering transparency and mutual risk reduction, pursuing initiatives that limit destabilizing systems or postures, and reducing the chance of miscalculation." At the moment, however, direct dialogue with Russian leaders on reducing nuclear risk is compromised, and unfortunately, Chinese officials have rebuffed U.S. overtures for bilateral strategic risk reduction talks.

One option mentioned in the NPR and that must be pursued more vigorously and creatively is the multilateral P5 process, which is currently chaired by the United States and involves all five nations recognized as nuclear-weapon states under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States).

NPR Assertions About Nuclear Weapons and International Law

Similar to the NPRs of the Obama and Trump administrations, the 2022 NPR claims that U.S. nuclear targeting plans will "not intentionally threaten civilian populations or objects in violation of the Law of Armed Conflict," which applies principles of distinction and proportionality.

Unfortunately, these assurances are undermined by the fact that the United States has not to date foresworn the possibility that it might direct nuclear attacks against the civilian population, or otherwise launch attacks that cause disproportionate civilian harm, by relying on the customary international law doctrine of belligerent reprisal.

If we are to operate according to a “rules-based international order,” certain states, including the United States, cannot bend the rules to suit their narrow national security aims. In a democracy, we must also be transparent about what we think the rules are and why. Other states, and other serious lawyers, consider the potential use of nuclear weapons on the scale envisioned in the U.S. nuclear war plan to be incompatible with international law, particularly International Humanitarian Law.

We challenge the Pentagon and the White House to provide a detailed written explanation to support the assertion that U.S. nuclear weapons use plans are consistent with the Law of Armed Conflict and provide an explanation as to why the U.S. government continues believes it is permissible under customary international law, to target civilians intentionally or consequentially by way of reprisal using nuclear or other weapons.

Daryl G. Kimball has served as the executive director of the Arms Control Association since 2001 and has been a leading nongovernmental advocate for nuclear threat reduction and disarmament since 1989. In November 2021, he was invited to brief the Pentagon's NPR Working Group.

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A Preliminary Analysis by Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Directo

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NPT Review Outcome Highlights Deficit in Disarmament Diplomacy, Divisions Between Nuclear Rivals

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NPT Review Outcome Highlights Deficit in Disarmament Diplomacy, Divisions Between Nuclear Rivals

Draft Document Did Include U.S.-Russian Commitment to Resume Talks on New START Follow-On

For Immediate Release: August 26, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270, ext. 107

(United Nations, New York City)—After four weeks of speeches, debate, and closed-door negotiations over the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), diplomats from 151 nations failed to reach consensus on a conference document designed review and strengthen implementation of the treaty due to Russian objections to language addressing the nuclear safety crisis at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which was seized by Russia in March.

Good Defeats Evil is a bronze sculpture by Soviet/Russian painter and sculptor Zurab Tsereteli (1934 – ).  The sculpture is located at the U.N. Visitors’ Entrance in New York City.(Photo by UN Gifts)

“The NPT is often called the cornerstone of global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, but the debate and results of this meeting reveal there are cracks in the foundation of the treaty and deep divisions between nuclear-armed states,” warned Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, which has tracked the progress of treaty implementation since the first NPT review conference in 1975.

"Even if Russia had been more flexible on how the NPT Review Conference should address the Zaporizhzhia nuclear crisis, the draft text that emerged from the conference negotiations illustrates there is general support for the treaty, but a deficit of leadership -- and concrete action -- on disarmament goals and objectives, particularly from the NPT's five nuclear-armed states," Kimball said.

“This NPT conference represents a missed opportunity to strengthen the treaty and global security by agreeing to specific action plan with benchmarks and timeframes that is essential to effectively address the growing dangers of nuclear arms racing and nuclear weapons use,” he said.

 "There was one important item on the list of disarmament measures that was agreed to in the draft conference document that does set forth a specific, unconditional action step within a set timeframe," Kimball noted. In paragraph 187.17, the document says:

“The Russian Federation and the United States commit to the full implementation of the New START Treaty and to pursue negotiations in good faith on a successor framework to New START before its expiration in 2026, in order to achieve deeper, irreversible, and verifiable reductions in their nuclear arsenals.”

“Given the deep tensions between Moscow and Washington in the wake of Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, their commitment to engage in nuclear arms control negotiations is a vital step toward preserving commonsense, effective limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals,” noted Shannon Bugos, senior policy analyst with the Arms Control Association.

Bugos emphasized, however, that, “To date, Washington and Moscow have not yet agreed, let alone discussed, when or where they will begin to engage in serious formal negotiations on deeper nuclear reductions in an arms control arrangement to follow New START. Regardless of the conference outcome, they should do so immediately.”

On other disarmament issues, however, the conference was unable to secure agreement on specific action steps.

“Behind closed doors, diplomats from the five nuclear-weapon states – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States – rejected pragmatic proposals for specific, time-bound commitments to fulfill their NPT disarmament obligations,” Kimball noted. “The nuclear-weapon states clearly failed to bring new, creative yet realistic ideas and the necessary political will to meet those obligations, instead arriving with every intention to prevaricate when pressed upon their lack of progress towards nuclear disarmament.”

As time ran out on the conference, many states-parties expressed unhappiness with numerous elements of the Aug. 25 draft final outcome document but chose not to oppose consensus. Many non-nuclear-weapon states were justifiably displeased with the lack of ambition and specificity on nuclear disarmament matters.

At the 2010 review conference, the NPT nuclear-weapon states pledged "to accelerate concrete progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament," including "all types of nuclear weapons," as well as to work assiduously toward the entry into force of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Article VI of the NPT commits states-parties to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”

“The reality is that since the conclusion of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), U.S.-Russian strategic stability and nuclear arms control talks have not produced results. Instead, important nuclear arms control agreements such as the 1987 Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty are either gone or in jeopardy. The only remaining treaty that verifiably limits the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals is New START, which will expire in early 2026,” Kimball explained. "Negotiations on a successor agreement are essential to future efforts to strengthen the NPT and reduce the nuclear danger."

“Although China, France, and the United Kingdom have engaged in discussions on nuclear terms and doctrines through their N-5 Process, they have stubbornly refused to seriously engage in talks on ideas and proposals that would cap or reduce their own deadly arsenals,” Kimball added. “It was particularly troubling that the Chinese delegation at the conference opposed to references calling for a voluntary halt of fissile material production for nuclear weapons purposes.”

In the draft conference document, NPT states-parties did “express deep concern at the absence of tangible progress in further reductions in global stockpiles and in the implementation of disarmament commitments by the nuclear-weapon states since the 2015 Review Conference,” Kimball said. “But noting such a lack of progress is not substitute for committing to actions that actually lead to a halt and reversal the nuclear arms race.”

“Not suprisingly, the NPT nuclear-weapon states also resisted calls from non-nuclear-weapon states to unequivocally condemn recent threats of nuclear weapons use, such as those issued on Feb. 24 and April 27 by Russia against any state that might interfere with its invasion of Ukraine,” Kimball noted.

In the draft NPT Review Conference outcome document, the nuclear-weapon states would only “commit to refrain from any inflammatory rhetoric concerning the use of nuclear weapons.”

At the outset of the NPT conference, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a working paper that attempted to distinguish between “irresponsible” offensive nuclear threats of Russia and “responsible” nuclear threats for “defensive” purposes of their own nations. The Russian delegation defended what they called Russia’s nuclear “warnings” as simply part of Moscow’s nuclear deterrence strategy.

In contrast, the states-parties to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) issued a strong June 23 consensus political statement at the first meeting of TPNW states-parties. That statement asserts that "any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations.” The TPNW statement further condemned "unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.”

“In the wake of the disappointing month-long 10th NPT review conference, the jury is still out on when, and if, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China have the will, the political courage, and the common sense to walk back from the nuclear brink and actually do what is necessary to meet the disarmament-related goals set out in 2010 and that were referenced again in the draft 2022 conference document,” Kimball said.

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

 

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After four weeks of speeches, debate, and closed-door negotiations over the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), diplomats from 151 nations failed to reach consensus on a conference document designed review and strengthen implementation of the treaty due to Russian objections to language addressing the nuclear safety crisis at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which was seized by Russia in March.

Resources on the 10th NPT Review Conference

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For Immediate Release: July 29, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

Hundreds of diplomats representing the states-parties to the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), along with representatives from civil society, will convene in at UN headquarters in New York for talks that will shape the future of the international nuclear arms control regime at a time when the risks of nuclear proliferation and nuclear competition are growing.

The conference caps a five-year cycle of meetings in which states-parties review compliance with the NPT and seek agreement on steps to advance the treaty’s main goals: preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons and sensitive nuclear technology and halting and reversing the nuclear arms race and advancing nuclear disarmament. 

This review conference comes a quarter-century after state-parties agreed on the indefinite extension of the NPT at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference. As states-parties seek to reach agreement on ways to reaffirm their support for the treaty and its implementation, several issues could prove to be contentious including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the nonproliferation system and the failure of the nuclear-armed states-parties to meet their NPT Article VI disarmament obligations and goals outlined in the action plan adopted at the 2010 Review Conference.


Official Schedule and Documents

The first week of the conference will feature high-level speeches by world leaders before the meeting turns to a review of thematic issues. The conference agenda, working papers from delegations, and plenary session speeches are available on the official UN NPT conference website.

If you are not able to attend in person, you can still follow the conference via UN WebTV. Tune in Friday, Aug. 5 at approximately 3:00 pm Eastern U.S. time for NGO statements.


ACA Updates and Resources and Side Events

As we have done since the first NPT Review Conference in 1975, the Arms Control Association team will be there to monitor and engage in the proceedings. Our research team will provide twice-weekly updates on key developments at the Review Conference. You can follow these updates at ArmsControl.org/blog/2022/updates-10th-NPT-RevCon.

Additional ACA resources on the 10th NPT Review Conference are highlighted below.

Many official and nonofficial side events are scheduled through the course of the month and are listed on the official conference side-events calendar and from our colleagues at Reaching Critical Will. Some events will be in-person only while some will also be webcast.


Events Before and During the Review Conference

  • July 29: ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball will deliver the keynote address for an international symposium organized by the Asahi Shimbun, the Nagasaki city government, and the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace titled: “The Road to Nuclear Weapons Abolition.” The event will start at 9:00 pm Eastern U.S. time July 29 (July 30 at 10:00 am, Japan Standard time) and will be live streamed in English here: https://youtu.be/k80HSwG8YCg. Kimball’s remarks as prepared for delivery will be available at https://www.armscontrol.org/events
  • Aug. 5: Nongovernmental organizations will address the NPT Review Conference. Among the presentations will be one on “The Necessity of a Meaningful Action Plan on Article VI,” organized by ACA and endorsed by other major nuclear disarmament NGOs. The session can be viewed live via UN WebTV beginning at 3:00 pm ET.
  • Aug. 10: The Deep Cuts in Nuclear Arsenals project will host a side event from 1:15 to 2:30 pm in conference room 5 on “Reducing nuclear risks and nuclear arsenals in times of tension in Europe.” Panelists include ACA’s Daryl Kimball, ACA Board Member Angela Kane, and Andrei Baklitskiy with UNIDIR. More details are online here.
  • Aug. 18: ACA executive director Daryl Kimball will speak at a side event on “Strengthening all three pillars of the NPT,” organized by the Mission of Kazakhstan from 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm at the Kazakh Mission.

News and Analysis


Interviews 


ACA Fact Sheets

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Official documents, side-events, and other useful resources related to the 10th nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York, Aug.1-26, 2022

Nuclear Ban States Solidify 2017 Treaty

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Strongly Condemn Recent Threats of Use of Nuclear Weapons As Violation of International Law

For Immediate Release: June 24, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington/Vienna)— At their first formal meeting since entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), states parties meeting in Vienna this week formally agreed on a series of 50 action steps to implement the 2017 agreement and condemned recent threats of use of nuclear weapons as a violation of international law.

In the statement, dubbed the “Vienna Declaration,” the governments condemn all threats to use nuclear weapons as violations of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations,” citing "increasingly strident nuclear rhetoric.” The document also demanded, “that all nuclear-armed states never use or threaten to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances.”

The conference's condemnation of threats of nuclear weapons use is a direct response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's threats of nuclear use against any who might interfere in Russia's war against Ukraine.

"The Vienna Declaration is the strongest statement against the threat of nuclear weapons use since Russia's war against Ukraine began and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued threats of possible use of nuclear weapons against any who might interfere," noted Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "It is a much stronger condemnation of these nuclear threats than any statements from the leaders of the United States, Britain, or France, by the UN General Assembly, and any consensus statement that is likely to emerge from the forthcoming 10th Review Conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).” 

In the document, the states parties condemned “unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances. Far from preserving peace and security, nuclear weapons are used to coerce and intimidate; to facilitate aggression and inflame tensions. This highlights the fallacy of nuclear deterrence doctrines, which are based and rely on the threat of the actual use of nuclear weapons and, hence, the risks of the destruction of countless lives, of societies, of nations, and of inflicting global catastrophic consequences.”

To date, 86 states have signed the TPNW and 66 states have ratified. The trety prohibits the possession, development, transfer, testing, use, or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Eighty-three countries participated in the first meeting of states parties in Vienna from 21 to 23 June 2022, including observer states.

Kimball, who was a participant in the first meeting of TPNW states parties, also spoke at the June 20 Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons about the “Nuclear Risk Dimension of the War on Ukraine.”

In addition to the Vienna Declaration, dozens of states parties strongly condemned the recent nuclear threats by President Vladimir Putin against any state that might interfere with the Russian invasion of Ukraine in their national statements.

“We commend the four NATO member states, including Germany and the Netherlands, who chose to attend the meeting as observers and who pledged to engage ‘in constructive dialogue and exploring opportunities for practical cooperation’ with TPNW states,” Kimball said.

The TPNW meeting also underscored the strong support states parties for the NPT and the complementarity between the two treaties.

“The next global gathering about nuclear weapons will take place in August at the 10th NPT Review Conference,” Kimball noted. “It is no ordinary NPT review conference. States must act with urgency and boldness.”

“In the face of the growing danger of nuclear war, the 191 NPT states-parties must build on the TPNW meeting outcomes by reinforcing the norms against nuclear weapons, condemning any threat of nuclear weapons use, and agreeing to specific actions necessary to fulfill the treaty’s Article VI disarmament provision. This should include an explicit call upon the United States and Russia to begin negotiations to conclude new disarmament arrangements, and a call for all NPT nuclear-armed states to freeze their nuclear stockpiles, and agree to engage in disarmament negotiations,” Kimball suggested.

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At their first formal meeting since entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, states parties formally agreed on action steps to implement the 2017 agreement and condemned recent threats of use of nuclear weapons.

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Experts Call on Biden to Redouble Diplomacy to Restore 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

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IAEA Director-General Warns “Fatal Blow” to Agreement Could Be 3 to 4 Weeks Away

For Immediate Release: June 10, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, D.C.)—Experts from the Arms Control Association strongly urge President Joseph Biden to immediately redouble efforts to break the stalemate on talks to restore compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi warned that efforts to restore the JCPOA will face a “fatal blow” within three to four weeks, after Iran announced June 9 that it was disconnecting certain cameras monitoring key nuclear facilities.

“President Biden clearly supports a restoration of mutual compliance with the JCPOA as the best way to roll back Iran’s potential to produce bomb-grade nuclear material and maintain more stringent International Atomic Energy Agency oversight of Iran’s sensitive nuclear activities,” noted Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “And it is.”

“Unfortunately, the Biden administration has not treated the growing crisis, which was triggered by former President Trump’s irresponsible withdrawal from the agreement in 2018, with the necessary degree of urgency it deserves,” he charged. “In the wake of new disturbing developments, however, the White House must take immediate action.”

This week, Iran disconnected 27 cameras monitoring key nuclear facilities in retaliation for an IAEA Board of Governors resolution urging Iran to cooperate with the agency on its investigation of undeclared nuclear materials from the pre-2003 nuclear weapons program. The IAEA risks losing its continuity of knowledge about Iran’s nuclear activities—which is necessary for restoring the JCPOA—if the cameras remain disconnected for more than 3-4 weeks, Grossi warned June 9.

“A deal to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA is on the table and could be quickly implemented—if the United States and Iran move away from hardline positions on the non-nuclear issue blocking agreement: whether and under what conditions to lift a U.S. foreign terrorist organization (FTO) designation on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy.

“It is past time for both sides to resolve that impasse and finally deliver on what is in the interest of all sides: an agreement to restore compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal,” she said.

“The Biden Administration continues to argue that it is up to Iran to accept the deal or negotiate over the IRGC designation. But it is a failure of leadership on the part of the White House not to announce it will immediately intensify diplomatic efforts to break the impasse on the issue. And blaming Iran, however emotionally or politically satisfying that may seem to be, doesn’t avert the imminent nuclear crisis and it doesn’t advance U.S. national security interests” Kimball said.

"Biden will pay a small political cost for lifting sanctions on the IRGC, but it pales in comparison to the enormous national and international security threat of a nuclear-armed Iran," Davenport said.

“Currently, Iran could produce enough nuclear material for a bomb in less than 10 days—a window so short Tehran’s actions may not be detected by international inspectors. Restoring the JCPOA’s limits on Iran’s nuclear program will significantly increase that margin to about six months, which provides the international community with enough time to take effective action to counter any Iranian move toward a nuclear weapon,” Davenport said. 

“If President Biden fails to promptly conclude negotiations with Iran to restore the JCPOA, it would perpetuate the failed strategy pursued by the Trump administration and allow Iran to further expand its nuclear program and defy its safeguards obligations with the IAEA. Biden risks going down in history as the president that allowed Iran to reach the brink of a nuclear bomb. It is past time the United States doubled down on creative proposals to break the impasse,” she warned. 

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Experts from the Arms Control Association are calling on President Biden to immediately redouble stalled diplomatic efforts to restore compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which is facing what the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Director-General says could be a “fatal blow” within three to four weeks.

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Success of 25-Year-Old Chemical Weapons Prohibition Treaty Cannot Be Taken for Granted, Experts Caution

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For Immediate Release: April 28, 2022

Media Contacts: Paul Walker, coordinator of the CWC Coalition, (617) 201-0565; Leanne Quinn, CWC Coalition Program Assistant, (202) 463-8270 x 106

(Washington, D.C.) - April 29 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1997 entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which outlaws the development, production, and use of deadly chemical weapons and requires the verifiable destruction of remaining stockpiles. 

“The CWC has solidified the global taboo against chemical weapons and has evolved to become a sophisticated, resilient, and effective disarmament regime. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2013, has been tremendously successful in overseeing the demilitarization of vast chemical weapons stockpiles,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

The CWC enjoys almost universal global support with 193 States Parties. To date, 99% of the world’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles have been safely and irreversibly destroyed, and there have been thousands of on-site inspections of chemical weapons facilities and chemical industrial facilities to ensure treaty compliance.

“But the work of eliminating prohibited chemical weapons stockpiles is not yet complete and the global taboo against chemical weapons possession, production, and use cannot be taken for granted.” Kimball cautioned.

The use, and threat of use, of chemical weapons has not completely abated. Chemical weapons were used in Syria and Iraq numerous times in the last decade, questions about Syria’s undeclared chemical weapons capacity linger, and nerve agents have been used in assassination attempts in Malaysia, Russia, and the United Kingdom; and there are serious concerns about the potential use of chemical weapons by Russia in Ukraine.

“In the coming months and years, all states that support the CWC have a responsibility to actively uphold and enforce the norms established by the treaty,” Kimball said.

On April 13, more than 35 chemical weapons experts signed on to a joint statement organized by the CWC Coalition, a special project of the Arms Control Association, expressing concern about the threat of use of chemical weapons in Ukraine.

“We call upon Russia, in the strongest possible terms, to respect its solemn obligations under the Geneva Protocol and the CWC not to contemplate, let alone use or threaten to use, these globally banned weapons of mass terror,” the statement said.

The CWC regime faces other challenges, as well. Egypt, Israel, North Korea, and South Sudan remain outside of the treaty, and only 62% of states parties have enacted domestic laws to fully implement treaty provisions. Chemicals and technologies that can be used to create these weapons are often dual use, and chemical security must be a continued priority to prevent chemical terrorism.

“Ensuring continued prohibition of these weapons, and verified treaty compliance among all states-parties, should be a core international security interest of all nations. Achievements must be safeguarded, and violators must be investigated and held to account,” said Leanne Quinn, program assistant for the CWC Coalition.

Out of the 193 states-parties to the CWC, eight had or still have declared chemical weapons stockpiles. Of those eight countries, Albania, India, Iraq, Libya, Russia, South Korea, and Syria have completed destruction of their declared arsenals.

“The United States is scheduled to complete chemical weapons stockpile elimination efforts in September 2023. Technical challenges at the two remaining chemical weapons destruction sites remain formidable and meeting that goal is not assured. We call on the United States to make every effort possible to safely finish destroying the last vestiges of its chemical weapons stockpile by the treaty-mandated deadline,” said Paul Walker, vice-chair of the Arms Control Association and coordinator of the CWC Coalition.

The fifth review conference of the CWC will take place next year and member states must dedicate themselves to the ongoing task of ensuring treaty obligations are fully implemented and that the CWC and the OPCW can adapt to meet new challenges.

“To help the OPCW in that mission, governments and nongovernmental actors have a responsibility to ensure the chemical weapons prohibition regime has the necessary political and public support, and technical and financial resources to verify compliance – and hold accountable those who may violate the chemical weapons taboo,” stated Walker.

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On the 25th anniversary of the CWC's entry into force, experts caution that despite the CWC's numerous achievements, the global taboo against chemical weapons possession, production, and use cannot be taken for granted.

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40+ Nonproliferation Experts Call for Action to Restore the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

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For Immediate Release: April 21, 2022 

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy (317) 460-8806. 

(Washington, D.C.)—With negotiations to restore compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), at a critical juncture, a group of more than 40 former government officials and leading nuclear nonproliferation experts issued a joint statement today expressing strong support for an agreement that returns Iran and the United States to compliance with the accord. 

“A prompt return to mutual compliance with the JCPOA is the best available way to deny Iran the ability to quickly produce bomb-grade nuclear material,” the experts' statement notes. “It would reinstate full IAEA international monitoring and verification of Iran’s nuclear facilities, thus ensuring early warning if Iran were to try to acquire nuclear weapons—and possibly become the second state in the Middle East (in addition to Israel) with such an arsenal.” 

Despite Iran’s compliance with the accord, former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA in May 2018, reimposed sanctions that had been waived as part of the agreement, and embarked on a pressure campaign designed to deny Tehran any benefit of remaining in compliance with the nuclear deal. 

Iran continued to meet its JCPOA obligations until May 2019, when Tehran began a series of calibrated violations of the agreement designed to pressure the remaining JCPOA parties to meet their commitments and push the United States to return to the agreement. These violations, while largely reversible, have increased the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. 

“As a result of Trump administration policies,” the experts' statement says, “it is now estimated that the time it would take Iran to produce a significant quantity (25 kg) of bomb-grade uranium (enriched to 90 percent U-235) is down from more than a year under the JCPOA, to approximately one or two weeks today.” 

“Restoring the limits on Iran’s nuclear program will significantly increase (by many months) the time it would take Iran to produce a significant quantity of bomb grade material, which provides the margin necessary for the international community to take effective action if Iran were to try to do so,” they write. 

“Just as importantly,” the experts write, “the JCPOA mandates unprecedented International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring, verification, and transparency measures that make it very likely that any possible future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly.” 

If President Biden fails to bring negotiations with Iran to a prompt and successful conclusion it would perpetuate the failed strategy pursued by the Trump administration and allow Iran to further improve its capacity to produce weapons-grade nuclear material. The result, the nuclear nonproliferation experts write, “would increase the danger that Iran would become a threshold nuclear-weapon state.” 

Failure to bring Iran back under the limits established by the JCPOA would produce long-term adverse effects on the global nonproliferation regime, put U.S. allies at greater risk, and create a new nuclear crisis. 

Signatories of the letter include a former special representative to the president of the United States on nonproliferation, former U.S. State Department officials, the United States' former Ambassador to Israel, Russia, and the United Nations, and leading nuclear nonproliferation experts based in the United States, Europe, and Asia. 

The full text of the statement and list of signatories is available online.

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Experts note that if President Biden fails to bring negotiations with Iran to a successful conclusion, Iran could further improve its capacity to produce weapons-grade nuclear material. 

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Biden’s Reported Decision to Retain Option to Use Nuclear Weapons Against Non-Nuclear Threats Is Disappointing, Illogical, and Dangerous

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For Immediate Release: March 25, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl Kimball, executive director (202-463-8270 x107); Shannon Bugos, senior policy analyst (202-463-8270 x113)

(Washington, D.C.)— President Joseph R. Biden has stepped back from a campaign vow and approved an old Obama-era policy that allows for a potential nuclear response to deter conventional and other non-nuclear dangers in addition to nuclear ones, U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal Thursday.

Biden’s policy will reportedly declare that the “fundamental role” of the U.S. nuclear arsenal will be to deter nuclear attacks. Such a policy, the officials said, will leave open the possibility that nuclear weapons could also be used in “extreme circumstances” to deter conventional, biological, chemical, and possibly cyberattacks by adversaries.

“If the report is correct, President Biden will have failed to follow through on his explicit 2020 campaign promise to adopt a much clearer and narrower policy regarding nuclear weapons use, and he will have missed a crucial opportunity to move the world back from the nuclear brink,” charged Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

Biden wrote in Foreign Affairs: “As I said in 2017, I believe that the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring—and, if necessary, retaliating against—a nuclear attack. As president, I will work to put that belief into practice, in consultation with the U.S. military and U.S. allies.”

“Putin’s deadly war against Ukraine, his nuclear saber-rattling, and Russia’s policy that reserves the option to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict with NATO underscore even more clearly how extremely dangerous it is for nuclear-armed states to threaten the use of nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear threats—and it reinforces why it is necessary to move rapidly away from dangerous Cold War-era thinking about nuclear weapons,” Kimball said.

“Biden has apparently failed to seize his opportunity to meaningfully narrow the role of nuclear weapons and failed, through his NPR, to distinguish U.S. nuclear policy from Russia’s dangerous nuclear doctrine that threatens nuclear first use against non-nuclear threats,” he added.

“There is no plausible military scenario, no morally defensible reason, nor legally justifiable basis for threatening or using nuclear weapons first—if at all. As Presidents Reagan, Biden, Gorbachev, and even Putin have all said, a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” Kimball said. “Once nuclear weapons are used in a conflict between nuclear-armed states, there is no guarantee it will not result in nuclear retaliation and escalation to an all-out nuclear exchange.”

“We also strongly urge the administration to explain how Biden’s nuclear weapons declaratory policy will differ from Russia’s dangerous nuclear doctrine and under what circumstances the United States might believe it would make sense to initiate the use of nuclear weapons for the first time since 1945,” he said.

Shannon Bugos, a senior policy analyst at the Arms Control Association, added, “The final Biden NPR should also reiterate the longstanding U.S. commitment to actively pursue further verifiable reductions in the still bloated nuclear stockpiles of the United States and Russia, and to seek to engage China and other nuclear-armed states in the disarmament enterprise.”

“The sobering reality is that it would take just a few hundred U.S. or Russian strategic nuclear weapons to destroy each other’s military capacity, kill hundreds of millions of innocent people, and produce a planetary climate catastrophe,” she noted.

“Maintaining ambiguity about using nuclear weapons first is dangerous, illogical, and unnecessary," said Bugos.

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Biden has apparently failed to seize his opportunity to meaningfully narrow the role of nuclear weapons and failed through his Nuclear Posture Review.

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U.S., German, Russian Experts Outline Plan for Defusing Russia-NATO Crisis Through Arms Control

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For Immediate Release: Feb. 11, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association 1-202-463-8270, ext. 107; Oliver Meier, +49 171 359 2410, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy Hamburg

(WASHINGTON, D.C)—In a joint statement issued today, a senior group of American, European, and Russian security experts warn that: “The tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and NATO create the potential for a disastrous war that can and must be avoided through serious and deft diplomacy.”

“Among other steps, NATO and Russia should pursue agreement on common sense arms control instruments to help move away from the brink of disaster and promote stability and security in Europe,” they write. The experts are members of a 24-member group of leading nuclear arms control and risk reduction experts known as the Deep Cuts Commission.

“NATO and Russia have advanced different ideas on conventional and nuclear arms control. Yet, the two draft agreements put forward by Moscow in December 2021 as well as the U.S. and NATO responses to these texts submitted in January 2022 indicate there is room for negotiations designed to resolve mutual security concerns,” the Commissioners note.

“Both sides have stated that they are ready to engage in talks on risk reduction and confidence-building concerning offensive and defensive missile deployments in Europe, transparency on conventional weapons and military exercises, as well as on conventional forces posture and arms control,” the Commissioners point out in their Feb. 11 joint statement.

Among other steps, the Commission recommends negotiations on a balanced agreement between the United States and Russia on a verifiable moratorium on the deployment of intermediate-range missiles between the Atlantic and the Urals and an arrangement between NATO and Russia for reciprocal transparency visits to NATO’s Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland and Russia’s 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile sites.

Other recommendations include agreements, guidelines, and notifications designed to scale back major military exercises and avoid close military encounters between Russian and NATO forces.

“Substantive discussions on these important issues as well as information exchanges and confidence-building steps offer a path to stabilize the current crisis and enhance European security in the longer term,” the Commissioners say.

The full statement from the Deep Cuts Commission, “Defusing the Ukraine Crisis through Arms Control, Transparency and Risk Reduction,” is available online.

The Deep Cuts Commission was established in 2013 and is based at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH). The Commission was established to provide decision-makers with concrete, practical policy options to enhance international security by reducing the number and risks of nuclear weapons. The Arms Control Association (ACA) and the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO, RAN), are the U.S. and Russian project partners.

 

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A senior group of American, European, and Russian security experts warn that "tensions between Russia, Ukraine and NATO create the potential for a disastrous war that can and must be avoided through serious and deft diplo­macy.”

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