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"I want to tell you that your fact sheet on the [Missile Technology Control Regime] is very well done and useful for me when I have to speak on MTCR issues."

– Amb. Thomas Hajnoczi
Chair, MTCR
May 19, 2021
PressRoom

2023 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year Winner Announced

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For Immediate Release: Jan. 12, 2024

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Tony Fleming, director for communications, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110

(Washington, D.C.)—Workers and technicians at the U.S. Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky were selected as the 2023 Arms Control Persons of the Year through a recent online contest that engaged thousands of participants from dozens of countries.  

The annual contest is organized by the independent, nongovernmental Arms Control Association. The contest has been held each year since 2007.

Workers at the Blue Grass Army Depot in KentuckyThe workers and technicians at the two chemical stockpile depots were nominated for their successful and safe completion of eliminating the last vestiges of the United States' once-enormous declared stockpile of lethal chemical munitions as required by the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.

Under the supervision of the U.S. Army's Office of Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, the last mustard gas munition was destroyed in June at Pueblo; Blue Grass destroyed the last missile loaded with Sarin nerve agent in July. The elimination program cost an estimated $13.5 billion.

“We applaud the highly professional work of all the people involved in the difficult destruction of the last remnants of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile," remarked Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

"Their efforts bring to close an important chapter in the decades long global disarmament struggle to verifiably eliminate an entire class of weapons considered so inhumane that their use was condemned more than a century ago," he said.

"The successful work of the people and community watchdogs in and around the Pueblo Chemical Depot and the Blue Grass Army Depot is an important reminder that even after a major treaty, like the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, is concluded, there is hard, behind-the-scenes work to be done in order to ensure full implementation and ongoing compliance,” Kimball added.

A total of nine individuals and groups were nominated by the Arms Control Association staff and board of directors for the annual Arms Control Person(s) of the Year honor. 

"This contest is a reminder of the positive initiatives—some at the grassroots level, some on the international scale—designed to advance disarmament, nuclear security, and international peace, security, and justice,” Kimball said.

Worker and technicians at the U.S. Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado
 

The runners-up in this year’s contest were the governments of Austria and 27 co-sponsoring states that secured approval in the United Nations' First Committee of the first-ever resolution on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), advancing the possibility of binding international regulations on such weapons systems. In response to its adoption, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and International Committee of the Red Cross president Mirjana Spoljaric issued a joint call urging world leaders to launch negotiations on a new legally binding instrument to set clear prohibitions and restrictions for LAWS and to conclude these negotiations by 2026.

Online voting for the 2023 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year contest was open from Dec. 8, 2023, until Jan. 11, 2024.  A list of all of this year's nominees is available at ArmsControl.org/ACPOY/2023.

Previous recent winners of the "Arms Control Person of the Year" include: the Energoatom staff working at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (2022) and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and the Government of Mexico (2021). A complete list of previous winners from previous years is available here.

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Workers and technicians at the U.S. Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky were selected as the 2023 Arms Control Persons of the Year.

2023 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year Nominees Announced

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For Immediate Release: Dec. 8, 2023

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Tony Fleming, director for communications, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110

 

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

"In a field that is often focused on grave threats and negative developments, our Arms Control Person(s) of the Year contest aims to highlight several positive initiatives—some at the grassroots level, some on the international scale—designed to advance disarmament, nuclear security, and international peace, security, and justice," noted Daryl G. Kimball, executive director.

"These nominees and their outstanding efforts during the past year illustrate how many different people can, in a variety of creative and sometimes courageous ways, contribute to a safer world for the generations of today and tomorrow," he added.

This year's nominees are listed below and a link to the ballot is available at ArmsControl.org/ACPOY.

Voting will take place between Dec. 8, 2023, and Jan. 11, 2024. The results will be announced Jan. 12, 2024. Follow the discussion on social media using the hashtag #ACPOY2023.

A full list of previous winners is available at ArmsControl.org/ACPOY/previous.

The 2023 nominees are:

  • Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan for his government's decision to host the May 2023 Summit of the G-7 Leaders in Hiroshima, which focused international attention on the growing risks of nuclear weapons and the special responsibilities of the leaders of nuclear-armed states and their allies to reduce nuclear risk and advance nuclear disarmament, and for Japan's $20 million contribution to a fund establishing Japan Chairs at overseas research institutions and think tanks focused on achieving a world without nuclear weapons.
  • Amb. Leonardo Bencini, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament and President of the ninth Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Review Conference for succeeding in establishing its first working group to “identify, examine and develop specific and effective measures, including possible legally-binding measures, and making recommendations to strengthen and institutionalize the Convention.”
  • Christopher Nolan, director and writer of the film biopic Oppenheimer, which introduced an entirely new generation to the complex history and unique horrors of nuclear weapons and reminded earlier generations that nuclear weapons and nuclear war still pose an existential threat to us all.
  • The leaders of several grassroots organizations—including Just Moms STL, the Navajo Uranium Radiation Victims Committee, and the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, among others—for successfully winning bipartisan support in the Senate to extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) and recognize the health claims of the downwinders of the first U.S. nuclear test in New Mexico and other affected communities in Arizona, Colorado, Guam, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, and residents living near formerly utilized Cold War-era nuclear weapons production sites in Missouri.
  • IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) for monitoring the safety and security of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during wartime and reporting on the IAEA Director General's five principles for preventing a nuclear accident and ensuring the integrity of the power plant. Over the past year, nearly a dozen teams of IAEA experts have rotated into the war zone surrounding Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to keep the facility operating safely under the most difficult circumstances.
  • Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, head of the United Transitional Cabinet and leader of democratic forces of Belarus, for steadfast opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin's plan to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus as a dangerous escalation of nuclear brinkmanship and a violation of the country’s nuclear-free status, which was established by the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Belarus of 1990, as well as the in the country’s 1994 constitution.
  • Workers and technicians at the U.S. Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky for successfully and safely completing the dangerous job of eliminating the last vestiges of the United States' once-enormous declared stockpile of lethal chemical munitions as required by the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention. Under the supervision of U.S. Army's office of Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, the last mustard gas munition was destroyed in June at Pueblo; Blue Grass destroyed the last missile loaded with Sarin nerve agent in July. The elimination program cost an estimated $13.5 billion.
  • The governments of Bulgaria, Slovakia, South Africa, and Peru which will have by the end of 2023 all completed their yearslong processes to destroy their stockpiled cluster munitions as mandated by the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, to which 112 countries are party.
  • The governments of Austria and 27 co-sponsoring states for introducing and securing approval of resolution L.56 at the UN First Committee. It is the first-ever resolution on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) and it indicates growing support for progress toward a binding international legal instrument regulating LAWS. The resolution, which was approved by a vote of 164-5-8, calls for UN secretary-general António Guterres to seek the views of member states on “ways to address the related challenges and concerns they raise from humanitarian, legal, security, technological and ethical perspectives and on the role of humans in the use of force.” Guterres and ICRC president Mirjana Spoljaric issued a joint call urging world leaders to launch negotiations on a new legally binding instrument to set clear prohibitions and restrictions for LAWS and to conclude these negotiations by 2026.
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These nominees and their outstanding efforts during the past year illustrate how many different people can, in a variety of creative and sometimes courageous ways, contribute to a safer world for the generations of today and tomorrow.

ACA Warns Against Calls for Buildup of the Already Massive U.S. Nuclear Arsenal in Race with Russia, China 

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Preliminary Assessment of the Report of the
Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States

For Immediate Release: October 12, 2023

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

Following more than a decade of deteriorating relations and uncertainty on disarmament diplomacy, the three states with the larget nuclear arsenals—Russia, the United States, and China—are on the precipice of a unconstrained era of dangerous nuclear competition.

The last remaining U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreement, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), will expire in February 2026; the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty no longer exists; the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty is history; and Russia is moving to "de-ratify" the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. At the same time, China is expanding and diversifying its relatively smaller nuclear arsenal so it can maintain a retaliatory capacity that its leaders believe is sufficient to withstand potential U.S. nuclear or conventional strikes and U.S. missile defenses.

The experience of the Cold War teaches us that an unconstrained arms race has no winners, only losers. Leaders in Moscow, Beijing, and Washington need to seize the opportunity to engage in nuclear risk reduction talks, negotiate sensible and verifiable reductions of their arsenals, and refrain from building new destabilizing types of weapons, rather than proceed down a "lose-lose" path of nuclear competition.

Regrettably, the final report of the bipartisan Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, issued today, suggests that in response to Russia’s nuclear and military behavior and the anticipated growth of China's strategic nuclear arsenal, the United States must be prepared to add more capability and flexibility to the U.S. strategic deterrent to counter two "near-peer" nuclear adversaries. Moreover, as the risk of military conflict with Russia and China grows, the report also advises that the United States must be prepared to fight and “win” two simultaneous wars, by enhancing its missile defense capabilities, and if necessary, bolstering its nuclear weapons capabilities, including new theater-range capabilities.

If there is a military conflict between nuclear-armed states, deterrence will have failed and, in the ensuing conflict, there will be no “winners.” 

Once nuclear weapons are used in a war between the United States and Russia or between the United States and China, there is no guarantee a nuclear war could be “limited.” According to independent estimates, a large-scale nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia would kill and injure more than 90 million people in the first few hours, and many more in the days and weeks afterward.

Some commissioners, in their individual capacities, have argued in separate papers (see Project Atom, pages 38-48) that “deterring China and Russia simultaneously [requires] an increased level of U.S. strategic warheads” and enhancing U.S. sub-strategic nuclear capabilities. We disagree.

As Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin noted in remarks Dec. 9, 2022, at StratCom Headquarters: “Nuclear deterrence isn't just a numbers game. In fact, that sort of thinking can spur a dangerous arms race.”

In the current context, any decision to increase the number of deployed U.S. strategic nuclear weapons above New START levels could trigger a dangerous action-reaction cycle. It would not enhance deterrence in the face of China’s growing nuclear capabilities or Russia's existing capabilities. It would more likely encourage China to deploy more nuclear weapons on an even wider array of delivery systems over the coming decade and prompt Russia to match any increases in the U.S. strategic force.

Under New START, the United States (and Russia) can now deploy as many as 1550 strategic nuclear warheads on 700 missiles and bombers. Each has additional non-strategic nuclear weapons. China’s total nuclear force is estimated to include just over 400 nuclear warheads of all types.

Increasing the number of deployed U.S. strategic nuclear weapons or adding new types of nuclear war-fighting weapons to the the arsenal would not only be counterproductive, but prohibitively expensive. A July 2023 Congressional Budget Office report estimates that, if carried out, the current plans for nuclear forces delineated in the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) and the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) fiscal year 2023 budget requests would amount to a staggering $756 billion over the 2023–2032 period, or an average of over $75 billion a year.

Despite reckless behavior on the part of Russia and China in pursuing a more diverse array of nuclear weapons, the scale and diversity of the current U.S. nuclear arsenal still exceeds what is necessary to hold a sufficient number of adversary targets at risk so as to deter enemy nuclear attack.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, in his address on June 2, 2023, reiterated that "the United States does not need to increase our nuclear forces to outnumber the combined total of our competitors to effectively deter them."

While the Commission’s final report does recognize the value and importance of continued U.S. efforts to engage Russia and China in the nuclear arms control enterprise, it underplays the importance of stronger U.S. leadership on arms control in preventing an unconstrained nuclear arms race. 

For more than 50 years, U.S. presidents of both parties have recognized the value of nuclear arms control to constrain adversary capabilities that can threaten the United States, its allies, and the world.

This is why the Biden administration's 2022 Nuclear Posture Review states that “Mutual, verifiable nuclear arms control offers the most effective, durable and responsible path to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our strategy and prevent their use.” The President's National Security Advisor said June 2, 2023, that the United States is ready to engage in nuclear arms control diplomacy with Russia and with other nuclear-armed members of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) “without preconditions.”

Rather than take actions that might accelerate dangerous nuclear competition, the United States must exercise prudent nuclear restraint and energetically pursue effective arms control and disarmament diplomacy with Russia, China, and other nuclear-armed states inside and outside of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

As Sullivan emphasized June 2, with respect to Russia: "It is in neither of our countries’ interests to embark on an open-ended competition in strategic nuclear forces—and we’re prepared to stick to the central limits as long as Russia does. And rather than waiting to resolve all of our bilateral differences—the United States is ready to engage Russia now to manage nuclear risks and develop a post-2026 arms control framework."

Sullivan noted that the type of limits the United States can agree to after the New START Treaty expires "will of course be impacted by the size and scale of China’s nuclear buildup" which is "why we’re also ready to engage China without preconditions—helping ensure that competition is managed, and that competition does not veer into conflict."

Considering that new bilateral nuclear arms control limits with Russia may be difficult to achieve so long as Russia's war on Ukraine rages on, the United States could seek an executive agreement or simply a reciprocal unilateral arrangement verified with national technical means of intelligence that commits Russia and the United States to respect New START’s central limits until a more permanent and comprehensive nuclear arms control arrangement is concluded.

At the same time, U.S. and other world leaders should urge China, France, and the United Kingdom to cap the size of their nuclear arsenals as long as Russia and the United States meet their fundamental nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligations, which involve participating in genuine negotiations to halt and reverse a potential nuclear arms race.

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The Report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States suggests that in response to Russia’s nuclear and military behavior and the anticipated growth of China’s strategic nuclear arsenal, the United States must be prepared to add more capability and flexibility to the U.S. strategic deterrent and enhance its missile defense capabilities.

Russian De-Ratification of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Would Be Self-Defeating “Own Goal,” Say Experts

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More Than 80 Civil Society Leaders Call on Russia to “Reaffirm Its Full Support for the CTBT”

For Immediate Release: Oct. 6, 2023

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

(Washington, D.C.)—Following remarks by Russian President Putin yesterday indicating he is “not ready to say now whether we really need or don’t need to conduct tests” and suggesting that Russia could revoke its ratification of the 1996 treaty to ban nuclear tests to “mirror” the United States, the Russian Duma will consider “de-ratification” of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The United States has signed the treaty, but unlike Russia, it has not yet ratified the pact.

“Russian ‘de-ratification’ of the CTBT would be a clumsy, self-defeating gimmick that would have no effect on the United States nuclear test ban policy,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, which has campaigned for decades for a global ban on all nuclear weapons tests.

“Instead, it would undermine efforts to bring into full legal force the CTBT, which has the support of the other 186 states that have signed the treaty since 1996, including China and virtually all of the world’s non-nuclear weapon states,” he said.

Other nonproliferation experts and members of civil society agree. In a statement delivered Sept. 22 at a conference on the CTBT at the United Nations, 87 nuclear experts and organizations said:

“De-ratification would further undermine Russia's already shaky nuclear nonproliferation reputation, alienate non-nuclear weapon states, and damage the broader nuclear nonproliferation system.”

“Contrary to perceptions among some in Moscow,” Kimball added, “Russian ‘de-ratification’ of the CTBT would not in any way create leverage for Russia vis-a-vis ‘the collective West,’ nor will it change the United States government’s strong support for the CTBT and the de facto global nuclear test moratorium.”

“Ironically,” Kimball noted, “Russian ‘de-ratification’ of the CTBT would not bring the United States any closer to ratification of the treaty, which requires a supermajority of 67 out of 100 Senators. That legislative body is currently divided on highly partisan lines. Generally speaking, politicians do not change their votes under pressure from foreign governments.”

“To the contrary, it is more likely that de-ratification of the CTBT by the Duma would raise questions about whether Russia plans to resume nuclear explosive testing, which would make some U.S. Senators more hesitant about approving U.S. ratification,” said Kimball, who has lobbied for a ban on testing and the CTBT since 1990.

“De-ratification by the Duma would also contradict recent and past Russian statements and pledges on the CTBT and its nuclear test moratorium,” Kimball said.

In 2016, Russia joined the United States, China, and other members of the UN Security Council in support of Resolution 2310, which reaffirms support for the CTBT, and Russia joined a statement from its permanent five members pledging they would not take any action that would “defeat the object or purpose of the treaty.”

Resolution 2310 also took note of a Sept. 15, 2016, joint statement by the five permanent Security Council members recognizing that “a nuclear-weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion would defeat the object and purpose of the CTBT.” By endorsing this language, the resolution affirmed the view of these five states that even before the treaty enters into force, all CTBT signatories have an existing obligation not to conduct nuclear test explosions.

“We strongly urge states parties to the CTBT and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which also bans nuclear tests, to call upon President Putin to reaffirm full support for the CTBT and the moratorium on nuclear testing, and not to take Russia and the world backward to a dangerous era of tit-for-tat nuclear threats and nuclear arms racing,” Kimball said.

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Consideration by the Russian Duma to “de-ratify” the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) would be a "clumsy, self-defeating gimmick," say nuclear nonproliferation experts with no effect on United States nuclear test ban policy.

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Civil Society Leaders Call on States to Reinforce the CTBT

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For Immediate Release: Sept. 21, 2023

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

(New York)—In a statement to be delivered at a major United Nations conference this Friday, Sept. 22, a diverse array of nongovernmental leaders in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, as well as high-level former government officials, diplomats, military leaders, scientists, and downwinders are calling on governments take urgent action to counter growing threats to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the de facto global nuclear test moratorium it has established.

Emma Bjertén, Disarmament Programme Manager for Reaching Critical Will with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom delivered a statement on the CTBT on behalf of civil society at the 13th Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT at UN headquarters in New York.

"Since the conclusion of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which has been signed by 187 countries, nuclear testing has become taboo," the joint statement, endorsed by 87 organizations and high-level individuals, says.

The treaty prohibits “any nuclear weapons test explosion, or any other nuclear explosion,” no matter what the yield. The CTBT Organization operates a fully functional International Monitoring System (IMS) to detect and deter cheating. 

"Though it has not yet formally entered into force, the CTBT is one of the most successful and valuable agreements in the long history of nuclear nonproliferation, arms control, and disarmament," the civil society leaders say.

"Like other critical nuclear risk reduction, nonproliferation, and arms control agreements," the statement warns, "the CTBT is under threat due to inattention and worsening relations between nuclear-armed adversaries. We cannot take the treaty, the IMS, or the de facto global nuclear test moratorium for granted."

"In recent years," the civil society statement notes, "the possessors of the largest nuclear arsenals have launched nuclear weapons modernization programs, some are pursuing new nuclear weapons designs, and some are increasing the size and diversity of their arsenals. Military activities and subcritical experiments at former test sites continue."

The statement notes that there has been no serious consideration of ratification of the CTBT by any of the remaining states that must still ratify for the treaty to formally enter into force: China, DPRK, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States.

The statement says that "[China's] explanation for delaying formal consideration of its ratification of the treaty is no longer serious or credible. We call on China to finally initiate the process for ratification of the treaty without further delay or excuses."

As for the United States, the civil society leaders note that "the Biden administration made it clear in 2021 that the United States supports the CTBT 'and is committed to work to achieve its entry into force' ... but unfortunately, the Biden administration has, so far, done nothing to pursue the kind of outreach and education campaign that will be necessary to secure the advice and consent for ratification by the U.S. Senate," which last debated the treaty 24 years ago.

The civil society leaders urge Russia, which has signed and ratified the CTBT "to formally reaffirm its full support for the CTBT ... and work in collaboration with other states parties to engage in talks to develop voluntary confidence-building measures to ensure that ongoing experiments at former nuclear test sites are consistent with the CTBT."

"With these challenges in mind, states parties cannot afford to simply express rhetorical support. They must do more through more energetic, higher-level bilateral and multilateral diplomacy through this Article XIV process, at the UN General Assembly, the Security Council, and beyond," according to the civil society leaders.

"Now is the time," the civil society leaders implore, "for this conference and each CTBT state party to focus on new and creative approaches to overcome the stubborn intransigence of the eight remaining Annex 2 'hold-out' states, which have deprived the international community, and themselves, of the full security benefits of the treaty and its extensive verification system."

The civil society statement also reminds the 186 CTBT states parties that they "have a moral, and in some cases, a legal obligation to provide health monitoring, health care, and other forms of assistance to those impacted by nuclear weapons test explosions."

"Hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions more have suffered—and continue to suffer—from illnesses directly related to the radioactive fallout from nuclear detonations in the southwestern and western United States, islands in the Pacific, in Australia, western China, Algeria, across Russia, in eastern Kazakhstan, India, Pakistan, the DPRK, and elsewhere," the civil society statement notes.

The civil society leaders "urge all CTBT states parties (particularly nuclear-armed states) to:

  • Support further scientific research on the health and environmental effects of nuclear testing, and provide financial support for health monitoring and health care programs for populations affected by nuclear testing; and 
     
  • Cooperate with states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as they begin to fulfill their legal responsibilities under that treaty to provide assistance and environmental remediation to those people and regions affected by nuclear weapon use and testing. We also encourage those CTBT states parties that have not already done so to sign and ratify the TPNW, which reinforces the CTBT's prohibition on nuclear testing."

The once-every-two-years CTBT Conference on Facilitating Entry Into Force is designed to promote ratification by the remaining 44 states listed in the treaty's Article XIV, in order to trigger formal entry into force and allow the option of short-notice on-site inspections.

The full text of the statement and list of signatories is below and available as a PDF at https://www.armscontrol.org/NGO-statement-CTBT-Sept2023-conference


Advancing the CTBT and Defending the De Facto Nuclear Test Moratorium
Civil Society Statement to the 13th Article XIV Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of the CTBT
Sept. 22, 2023

Since the conclusion of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which has been signed by 187 countries, nuclear testing has become taboo.

All CTBT states parties agree that the treaty prohibits “any nuclear weapons test explosion, or any other nuclear explosion,” no matter what the yield. The CTBT Organization operates a fully functional International Monitoring System (IMS) to detect and deter cheating.

Most nuclear-armed states that have not signed or not ratified the CTBT, including India, Israel, and Pakistan, are currently observing nuclear testing moratoria. Even though the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced in January 2020 it "will no longer observe its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear testing," it has not yet resumed nuclear testing.

Though it has not yet formally entered into force, the CTBT is one of the most successful and valuable agreements in the long history of nuclear nonproliferation, arms control, and disarmament. Without the option to conduct nuclear tests, it is more difficult, although not impossible, to develop, prove, and field new warhead designs.

Civil society friends of the CTBT welcome the governmental support for the CTBT that is evident at this assembly.

But now, after 13 such meetings, it is clear to us that new and more energetic strategies must be considered not only to advance the treaty, but to strengthen the de facto norm against testing.

Like other critical nuclear risk reduction, nonproliferation, and arms control agreements, the CTBT is under threat due to inattention and worsening relations between nuclear-armed adversaries.

In recent years, the possessors of the largest nuclear arsenals have launched nuclear weapons modernization programs, some are pursuing new nuclear weapons designs, and some are increasing the size and diversity of their arsenals. Military activities and subcritical experiments at former test sites continue. There has been no serious consideration of ratification of the CTBT by any of the remaining Annex 2 states in several years.

With these challenges in mind, states parties cannot afford to simply express rhetorical support. They must do more through more energetic, higher-level bilateral and multilateral diplomacy through this Article XIV process, at the UN General Assembly, the Security Council, and beyond.

As representatives of civil society, we offer the following observations and recommendations for all states parties to consider and pursue.

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

    We welcome recent efforts to secure ratifications from several additional states. But it is now time for this conference and each CTBT state party to focus on new and creative approaches to overcome the stubborn intransigence of the eight remaining Annex 2 “hold-out” states—China, DPRK, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States—which have deprived the international community, and themselves, of the full security benefits of the treaty and its extensive verification system.

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

    If the states parties at this conference are serious about securing entry into force, they will need to devote more significant and higher-level diplomatic pressure in the capitals of all eight CTBT hold-out states to move them to sign and/or ratify the treaty.
  • The People’s Republic of China: Since halting nuclear testing and signing the CTBT in 1996, China’s leaders and officials have consistently expressed their support for the CTBT, but they have failed to follow through with ratification. Chinese leadership is important and overdue. The government’s explanation for delaying formal consideration of its ratification of the treaty is no longer serious or credible. We call on China to finally initiate the process for ratification of the treaty without further delay or excuses.
     
  • The United States: After some senior Trump administration officials callously discussed in 2020 that the United States should resume nuclear testing for the first time since 1992 to try to intimidate Russia and China, the Biden administration made it clear in 2021 that the United States supports the CTBT “and is committed to work to achieve its entry into force.”

    We welcome these statements of support, but unfortunately, the Biden administration has, so far, done nothing to pursue the kind of outreach and education campaign that will be necessary to secure the advice and consent for ratification by the U.S. Senate. Given that the United States has not conducted a nuclear test explosion in more than 30 years and has no technical, military, or political reason to resume testing, the national security case for ratification and strengthening the barriers against testing by others is even stronger than when it was last considered by the Senate in 1999.

    One salient issue that will need to be addressed to secure U.S. ratification is the recent U.S. State Department charge that “during the 1995–2018 timeframe, Russia probably conducted nuclear weapons-related tests” at its former test site at Novaya Zemlya. The assessment provides no evidence of the charge and does not claim the Russian activities were militarily significant. Russia, which has signed and ratified the CTBT, has vigorously denied the charge and repeatedly pointed to the failure of the United States to ratify the treaty.

    The United States, China, and Russia, all CTBT signatories, all continue to engage in weapons-related activities at their former nuclear testing sites. Although the IMS is operational and far more effective than originally envisioned, very low-yield nuclear test explosions can still be difficult to detect without on-site monitoring equipment or inspections, which will not be in place until after entry into force.

    To address concerns about clandestine activities at former test sites, states parties should explore the development of voluntary confidence-building measures designed to detect and deter possible low-level, clandestine nuclear testing.

    In a positive move, in June National Nuclear Security Administrator, Jill Hruby, announced that her agency is "open to working with others to develop a regime that would allow reciprocal observation with radiation detection equipment at each other’s subcritical experiments to allow confirmation that the experiment was consistent with the CTBT."

    We urge all CTBT states parties, especially those with active nuclear test sites, to engage in this important technical dialogue to improve capabilities to ensure compliance before and after the treaty's entry into force.
  • The Russian Federation: More than thirty years ago, citizen activists and independence leaders in Kazakhstan forced the Russian leadership to halt nuclear testing. In the years that followed, Russia actively supported the negotiation of the CTBT and it ratified the treaty.

    Now, unfortunately, there are credible reports that senior Russian officials have been discussing the option of "unratifying" the CTBT in order to achieve symmetry with the United States in all areas of nuclear policy, but no official decisions have been made.

    Such a move would be self-defeating and would sabotage the CTBT regime.

    Contrary to perceptions of extremists in Moscow, "un-ratification" would not in any way create leverage for Russia vis-a-vis "the collective West." Instead, it would undermine Russia's already shaky nuclear nonproliferation standing, alienate nonnuclear weapon states, and damage the broader nuclear nonproliferation system.

    Recall that in 2016, Russia joined the United States, China, and other members of the UN Security Council in support of Resolution 2310, which reaffirms support for the CTBT, and Russia joined a statement from its permanent five members pledging they would not take any action that would “defeat the object or purpose of the treaty."

    According to an August 29 report by the news outlet RBC, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said that as for the possibility of Russia withdrawing its ratification, the official said that the option "is not under consideration at the moment."

    We strongly urge Russia to formally reaffirm its full support for the CTBT and to work constructively with other friends of the CTBT to urge the remaining hold-out states to sign and/or ratify the treaty without delay and work in collaboration with other states parties to engage in talks to develop voluntary confidence-building measures to ensure that ongoing experiments at former nuclear test sites are consistent with the CTBT.
     
  • India and Pakistan: Since their destabilizing tit-for-tat nuclear detonations in 1998, India and Pakistan have refused to reconsider the CTBT even though neither country has expressed an interest in, nor technical justification for, renewing nuclear testing. UN Security Council Resolution 1172 paragraph 13 “urges India and Pakistan ... to become Parties to the ... Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty without delay and without conditions.”

    India and/or Pakistan could advance the cause of nuclear disarmament, enhance their national security and nonproliferation reputations, and ease concerns about a resumption of nuclear testing, by converting their unilateral test moratoria into legally binding commitments through the CTBT.
  • The Middle East: Ratification of the CTBT by Egypt, Iran, and nuclear-armed Israel— all of which must ratify to trigger CTBT entry into force—and Saudi Arabia would reduce nuclear weapons-related security concerns in the region. It would also help create the conditions necessary to achieve their common, stated goal of a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East. A goal of the co-chairs of the Article XIV process should be to approach each of these governments to gain a clearer understanding regarding the circumstances that would allow each to join the CTBT.
     
  • The DPRK: Pyongyang's push to build-up its nuclear weapons capabilities represents another threat to the norm against nuclear testing. Although Chairman Kim Jong Un has green-lighted further ballistic missile testing and fissile material production, he has not ordered the resumption of nuclear testing since he announced a unilateral nuclear test moratorium in the spring of 2018. However, the closure of the DPRK’s test site has still not been verified, and the DPRK has not made a legally binding commitment to halt nuclear test explosions by signing and ratifying the CTBT.

    All CTBT signatory states should underscore, in multilateral and bilateral fora and in meetings with the government in Pyongyang, that signature and ratification of the treaty would represent a significant step toward denuclearization and help create the conditions for peace and normalization of relations.

    In particular, we call upon the leadership of China and Russia, which maintain ties to the DPRK, to press Chairman Kim to reaffirm the DPRK's nuclear test moratorium and, as former CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo proposed in 2018, urge him to sign the CTBT like all the other major nuclear powers have done, and close the Punggye- ri Nuclear Test Site under international supervision.
  1. Addressing the Human Cost of Nuclear Testing

Since 1945, there have been 2,056 nuclear weapons test explosions. Of that total, the United States detonated some 1,030 test explosions and the Russian Federation detonated 715.

The CTBT and the de facto global nuclear testing moratoria help reduce further health and environmental injury from further nuclear weapons testing. CTBT states parties have a moral, and in some cases, a legal obligation to provide health monitoring, health care, and other forms of assistance to those impacted by nuclear weapons test explosions.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions more have suffered—and continue to suffer—from illnesses directly related to the radioactive fallout from nuclear detonations in the southwestern and western United States, islands in the Pacific, in Australia, western China, Algeria, across Russia, in eastern Kazakhstan, India, Pakistan, the DPRK, and elsewhere.

For example, in Kazakhstan, where the Soviet Union conducted more than 450 nuclear test detonations, including 116 in the atmosphere, the Kazakh government estimates more than 1.5 million people were harmed and it is clear that many continue to suffer the effects of these detonations.

Fallout from U.S. atmospheric nuclear blasts at the Nevada Test Site may have caused 10,000 to 75,000 thyroid cancers in the United States, according to a 1990 National Cancer Institute study. A new study, released in July by Princeton University researchers, shows that the fallout from the 1945 Trinity test reached 46 states, Canada, and Mexico within 10 days of detonation. The study also reanalyzed fallout from all 93 aboveground U.S. atomic tests in Nevada and suggests that earlier official assessments underestimated the scope of the contamination, which reached all regions of the continental United States and points beyond.

In the Marshall Islands, where the United States detonated massive above ground nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s, the scale of damage from nuclear testing was immense. The 67 U.S. atmospheric nuclear weapons tests—23 at Bikini Atoll and 44 at Enewetak Atoll—spewed radioactivity over the entirety of the Marshall Islands and produced a total explosive power of 108.5 megatons (TNT equivalent). That was about 100 times the total yield of all atmospheric tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site.

Today, the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands are negotiating the terms of a new Compact of Free Association that obligates the United States to help address the damage caused by past nuclear testing.

We join others in urging the Biden administration to agree to provide the necessary financial and technical support for long-term environmental remediation programs, expansion access to health care especially as it relates to treatment related to illnesses associated with radiation exposure, and for building independent capacity to monitor, assess, and address environmental and health needs of the Marshallese in the years to come.

An independent 2021 scientific investigation using information from declassified French military archives re-evaluated the estimations of the doses of radioactivity received by the civilian population of so-called French Polynesia after the six most contaminating French atmospheric tests. The study found that France’s atomic energy commission calculations of the maximum dose received by the local inhabitants were between twice to ten times lower than the updated estimates. We urge all CTBT states parties (particularly nuclear-armed states) to:

  • Support further scientific research on the health and environmental effects of nuclear testing, and provide financial support for health monitoring and health care programs for populations affected by nuclear testing; and
     
  • Cooperate with states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as they begin to fulfill their legal responsibilities under that treaty to provide assistance and environmental remediation to those people and regions affected by nuclear weapon use and testing. We also encourage those CTBT states parties that have not already done so to sign and ratify the TPNW, which reinforces the CTBT's prohibition on nuclear testing.

Bottom Line

More than a quarter century since they were established, the CTBT and the CTBTO enjoy broad support and have been highly successful. But we cannot take the treaty, the IMS, or the de facto global nuclear test moratorium for granted.

Now is the time to act to reinforce the treaty and the global norm against nuclear testing, which is important for the achievement of nuclear disarmament.

Endorsed by:

Dr. Rebecca E. Johnson, Executive Director, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy

Giancarlo Aragona, former Italian Ambassador Moscow and London, former Director of Political Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, and member of the European Leadership Network

Thomas Countryman, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, Chair of the Board of the Arms Control Association

Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Shatabhisha Shetty, Director, Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament

Tanya Ogilvie-White, Senior Research Advisor, Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament

Joel Petersson Ivre, Policy Fellow, Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non- Proliferation and Disarmament

Peter Wilk, M.D., Administrative Chair, Back from the Brink Coalition

Sebastian Brixey-Williams, British American Security Information Council (BASIC)

Lord Des Browne of Ladyton, Vice-Chair, Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)* and former Minister of Defence of the United Kingdom

Susan F. Burk former Special Representative of the President on Nuclear Nonproliferation, and member of the ACA Board of Directors

Rachel Bronson, Ph.D., President & CEO, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Francesco Calogero, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Rome*

Lord Walter Menzies Campbell of Pittenweem, member of the European Leadership Network*

Dr. Tobias Fella, Coordinator, Commission on Challenges to Deep Cuts*

Dr. Pierce Corden, Former Director of Administration, CTBTO Preparatory Commission John Tierney, Executive Director, Council for a Livable World

Admiral (ret.) Giampaolo Di Paola, former Minister of Defence and former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and currently Chairman of the Board of Aerea*

Sergio Duarte, Amb. (ret.), Ministry of External Relations of Brazil* and former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

Lucia Centallas, Founder and Executive Director, Bolivian Women's Efforts

Marc Finaud, Senior Advisor, Associate Fellow, Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP)*

Hubert K. Foy, Director and Senior Research Scientist, African Center for Science and International Security*

Rebecca Davis Gibbons, Professor, University of Southern Maine*

Robert Goldston, Professor, Princeton University, Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Affiliated Faculty Program on Science and Global Security*

Ambassador Thomas Greminger, Executive Director, Geneva Centre for Security Policy

Lisbeth Gronlund, Visiting Scholar, Laboratory for Nuclear Security and Policy, Nuclear Science and Engineering Dept, Massachusetts Institute of Technology*

Amb. Thomas Hajnoczi, (ret.), formerly Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs*

Lord David Hannay of Chiswick, and member of the European Leadership Network*

Blaise Imbert, Finance Officer, Initiatives pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (IDN)*

Zahnd Patrick, Professeur à Sciences Po Paris, Initiatives pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (IDN)*

Annick Suzor-Weiner, Professor Emeritus, Initiatives pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (IDN)

Daniel Högsta, Interim Executive Director, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

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

Garry Jacobd, President and CEO, World Academy of Art and Science*

Tedo Japaridze, Ambassador, former Foreign Minister of Georgia, and Chairman of the Center for Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Studies, House of Justice, Tbilisi

Angela Kane, Former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

Dr. Togzhan Kassenova, Senior Fellow, Center for Policy Research, University at Albany*

Jan Kavan, former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, and former President of the UN General Assembly

David A. Koplow, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center*

Dr. Ulrich Kühn, Director Arms Control and Emerging Technologies Program, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg*

Frederick K. Lamb, Research Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Core Faculty Member, Program in Arms Control & Domestic and International Security, University of Illinois*

Jutta Bertram-Nothnagel, Vice President, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy

John Burroughs, Senior Analyst, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy

Benetick Kabua Maddison, Executive Director, Marshallese Educational Initiative

János Martonyi, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Szeged

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

Oliver Meier, Policy and Research Director, European Leadership Network* Ivana Nikolić Hughes, President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Lord David Owen, former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action

John Hallam, Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner, People for Nuclear Disarmament

Matthias Grosse Perdekamp, Professor of Physics and Head of the Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign*

Sebastien Philippe, Research Scholar, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University*

Martin Fleck, Director, Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program, Physicians for Social Responsibility (National)

Denise Duffield, Associate Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles

Dr. Emma Belcher, President, Ploughshares Fund

Stewart Prager, Professor of Astrophysical Sciences Emeritus, affiliated with the Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University*

Alexander Glaser, Co-Director, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University

Frank N. von Hippel, Senior Research Scientist and Professor of Public and International Affairs emeritus, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University*

Francesca Giovannini, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School

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

Robert K. Musil, Ph.D., M.P.H., President & CEO, Rachel Carson Council

Amb. (ret.), Jaap Ramaker, Chair of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament

Tariq Rauf, former Head of Verification and Security Policy, IAEA, and former Consulting Advisor to the Executive Secretary for Policy and Outreach, CTBTO

Ray Acheson, Director, Reaching Critical Will

Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, Department of Astronomy, University of Cambridge*

Christian N. Ciobanu, Project Coordinator, Reverse The Trend: Save Our People, Save Our Planet

Alan Robock, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

Carlo Schaerf, Professor of Physics, and co-founder of the International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts (ISODARCO)

Sahil V. Shah Senior Fellow and Program Manager, Janne E. Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons, Council on Strategic Risks*

Mark Muhich, Chairman, Sierra Club Stop Nuclear Weapons Team

Stefano Silvestri, Professor, Scientific Advisor, Istituto Affari Internazionali*

Dr. Jennifer Allen Simons, Founder and President, The Simons Foundation Canada

Ivo Slaus, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Honorary President of the Board of Trustees of the World Academy of Art and Science, and the European Leadership Network*

Goran Svilanovic, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro

Greg Thielmann, former Director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs, at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and member of the ACA Board of Directors

Aaron Tovish, Founder and Member of the Coordinating Committee of NoFirstUse Global*

Carlo Trezza, former Ambassador of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament, former Chair of the Missile Technology Control Regime, and member of the European Leadership Network*

Lord David Triesman of Tottenham, member of the European Leadership Network*

Marylia Kelley, Senior Advisor, Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)

Dr. Tara Drozdenko, Director, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

Dylan Spaulding, Senior Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists

Deb Sawyer, Facilitator, Utah Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation

Elayne Whyte-Gomez, Professor of Practice, School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, former Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations Office in Geneva, and President of the Negotiating Conference for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Dr. Klaus Wittmann, Brigadier General (ret.) with the German Armed Forces, Potsdam University

Uta Zapf, former Chair of the Subcommittee on Arms Control, Disarmament and Nonproliferation of the Deutsche Bundestag

*Statement coordinated by the Arms Control Association

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Nongovernmental leaders in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, as well as high-level former government officials, scientists, and downwinders are calling on governments take urgent action to counter growing threats to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the de facto global nuclear test moratorium.

Transfer of Banned Cluster Munitions to Ukraine Is the Wrong Move

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Cluster Munitions Are Prohibited by the Majority of the World's Nations and NATO Allies  

For Immediate Release: July 6, 2023

Media Contacts: Daryl Kimball, Arms Control Association, (202) 463-8270 ext 107; Susan Aboeid, Human Rights Watch, (212) 290-4700

(Washington D.C.)—The head of the independent, nongovernmental Arms Control Association criticized the announcement expected from the Biden administration that President Biden will shift course and will invoke a waiver under U.S. arms export laws to allow stocks of U.S. cluster munitions to be transferred to the government of Ukraine.

Cluster munitions are designed to disperse or release explosive submunitions, each of which weighs less than 20 kilograms, and includes those explosive submunitions. The U.S. stockpile includes dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICMs), surface-to-surface warheads, and other types of older cluster munitions. Given that cluster munitions disperse hundreds or even thousands of tiny but deadly bomblets, their use produces significant quantities of unexploded submunitions that can maim, injure, or kill civilians and friendly forces during, and long after, a conflict.

The limited military value and the indiscriminate impacts of these weapons led the majority of the world’s countries to negotiate the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. The treaty – which  123 nations have joined – prohibits states parties from developing, producing, acquiring, using, transferring, or stockpiling cluster munitions. While twenty-three NATO members are parties to the treaty, the United States, Ukraine, and Russia are not.

In response to the expected announcement, Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, said: “Some types of lethal U.S. and European military assistance to Ukraine, including cluster munitions, would be escalatory, counterproductive, and only further increase the dangers to civilians caught in combat zones and those who will, someday, return to their cities, towns, and farms.

Some U.S. officials claim that these weapons 'would be useful' against mass formations of troops and armor or broad targets, such as airfields, and that they would allow Ukraine to concentrate their use of unitary warheads against higher-value Russian targets.

The reality is more complicated. Cluster munitions will not differentiate a Ukrainian soldier from a Russian one. The effectiveness of cluster munitions is significantly oversold and the impact on noncombatants is widely acknowledged, but too often overlooked.

The limited military utility and the substantial humanitarian dangers of cluster munitions are among the key reasons why the Defense Department halted using them in Afghanistan in 2002 and Iraq in 2003, and has chosen to invest in alternative munitions.

It is why, in 2008, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued an order to phase out by 2018 cluster munitions with an unexploded ordnance rate of greater than one percent, and it is why, in 2011, the Obama administration affirmed this policy. It is why Congress, in 2018, enacted a series of export restrictions on cluster munitions with a failure rate in excess of one percent.

The Pentagon has, unfortunately, dragged its feet and in 2017, the Trump administration announced the 2018 deadline for phasing out non-compliant cluster munitions would not be met. No new deadline for meeting that goal was set by the Trump administration or the Biden administration. 

The impetus to help supply Ukraine with the right kind of weaponry to defend its territory against Russian attacks and occupation is understandable. But cluster munitions are not the “winning weapon” in Ukraine’s fight for its future, and the success of its ongoing counteroffensive does not hinge on the delivery of any one particular type of weapon.

Currently, Washington is providing Ukraine with other munitions that are important for its military effort to repel Russia’s forces, including regular 155-millimeter unitary munitions and a new type of 155-mm millimeter artillery shell that can hit targets with greater precision.

Instead of transferring controversial cluster munitions and straining alliance solidarity, Washington and its allies should focus more energy on creative ways to provide Ukraine with the precision-guided munitions and the artillery shells it needs to repel Russian aggression.

It is also clear that cluster munitions produce significant quantities of unexploded submunitions that can maim, injure, or kill civilians and friendly forces during, and long after, a conflict. Human Rights Watch has issued numerous reports detailing civilian harm and suffering from U.S.-made cluster munitions used in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia, and Yemen.

As President Biden noted on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, “The decisions we make over the next five years are going to determine and shape our lives for decades to come… a choice between chaos and stability.”

Rather than add to the chaos and side-step the rules of the global system, President Biden should make it clear that cluster munitions need not and should not be part of the conflict in Ukraine, or in any war."

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Some types of lethal U.S. and European military assistance to Ukraine, including cluster munitions, would be escalatory, counterproductive, and only further increase the dangers to civilians caught in combat zones

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On NSA Advisor Jake Sullivan’s Address at the ACA’s Annual Meeting on “Reducing Nuclear Dangers in a Time of Peril"

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"More nuclear weapons make every person in every nation less secure."

Statement by Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—At the June 2, 2023 Arms Control Association annual conference, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan delivered a timely address (online here) detailing the Biden administration’s vision to head off nuclear weapons competition and advance arms control at a time of increasing nuclear peril.

Due to a decade of inaction on nuclear disarmament, noncompliance with key arms control agreements and norms, Russia's disastrous war on Ukraine, and rising U.S.-China tensions, we are on the verge of a dangerous three-way arms race that no one can win. In the coming months, we look forward to working alongside the Biden administration as it puts its vision of pursuing effective nuclear arms control and risk reduction efforts among nuclear-weapon states into action.

We encourage President Biden and his team to reinforce Mr. Sullivan’s remarks by asserting that more nuclear weapons make every person in every nation less secure, as well as emphasizing that the United States will exercise prudent nuclear restraint, persistently pursue disarmament diplomacy, and work together with the other major nuclear-armed states to achieve their collective nuclear disarmament responsibilities.

We hope President Biden will pursue a whole of government approach to rallying global opinion around the ongoing need for all five nuclear-armed states under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to adhere to their treaty obligations 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.” Failure to do so risks a global arms race and the eventual unraveling of the NPT.

Therefore, the Biden administration should make a concerted and sustained effort to urge the leaders of China, France, and the United Kingdom to agree to freeze the size of their nuclear arsenals as long as Russia and the United States meet their most basic disarmament responsibilities. While not eliminating the threat of nuclear war, such a global freeze would increase the chances of engaging China in arms control at the multilateral level and improve chances for progress on overdue, ambitious nuclear risk reduction and disarmament measures.

Unfortunately, as Russia wages a brutal war against Ukraine, the negotiation of a complex new bilateral nuclear arms control agreement to replace New START before its expiration in early 2026 is untenable. However, as Mr. Sullivan made clear, it is not in either country’s interest to engage in a costly and dangerous nuclear arms race.

To head off that possibility, we implore Russian President Vladimir Putin to shift gears and accept President Biden’s offer to engage in a dialogue on what follows New START. At the same time, the Biden administration should pursue a robust, diplomatic push for the United States and Russia to conclude a unilateral, reciprocal arrangement – verified with national technical means of intelligence – that commits the two countries to not exceeding the deployed strategic warhead limit of 1,550 set by New START until a more permanent arms control arrangement comes into effect.

Mr. Sullivan was smart to push back on the extreme proposals from the Dr. Strangelove caucus in Congress calling for the United States to withdraw from New START and to begin building up the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This would neither advance U.S. national security interests nor increase U.S. negotiating leverage vis-à-vis Russia. Rather, such actions would lend credence to Putin’s cynical disinformation campaign about who carries blame for the breakdown of nuclear arms control, further escalate already high tensions with a dangerous Russia, and undoubtedly encourage China to ramp up its efforts to expand and diversify its nuclear arsenal and undermine the security of U.S. allies in Europe and Asia.

At the same time, we urge the Biden administration to go further and make it clear that, for the foreseeable future, the United States will not and need not increase the size of its current nuclear deployed strategic nuclear arsenal – an arsenal that already far exceeds in number and destructive capability what is necessary to hold a sufficient number of adversary military assets at risk to deter an enemy nuclear attack.

At last year’s ACA Annual meeting, President Biden wrote in a message: “Today—perhaps more than any other time since the Cold War—we must work to reduce the risk of an arms race or nuclear escalation. In this time of intense geopolitical tension, arms control and nonproliferation diplomacy continues to be an essential part of safeguarding … global security.” We still wholeheartedly agree with this statement.

So long as the Russian war on Ukraine rages on, there will be a heightened risk of further nuclear threats from Russia. Going forward, we urge President Biden and his team to work with other responsible states, those with and without nuclear weapons, to push back and to reinforce the nuclear taboo against any and all nuclear threats, not just those issued by Russia in the context of its war on Ukraine.

Rather than attempt to distinguish between responsible and irresponsible nuclear threats, we encourage President Biden to reaffirm the statement he and other leaders (including Mr. Modi of India, Mr. Xi of China, and Mr. Kishida of Japan) issued at the G-20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia that: “nuclear weapons use and threats of use are inadmissable.” Because a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

U.S. leadership on nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament has always proven essential to reducing and eliminating the nuclear danger. With the danger of nuclear arms racing and nuclear war rising, President Biden, backed by Congress, must jumpstart nuclear disarmament diplomacy and push back on threats of nuclear weapons use. There is no more important responsibility for a U.S. president in the nuclear age.

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"We encourage President Biden and his team to reinforce Mr. Sullivan’s remarks by asserting that more nuclear weapons make every person in every nation less secure, as well as emphasizing that the United States will exercise prudent nuclear restraint, persistently pursue disarmament diplomacy, and work together with the other major nuclear-armed states to achieve their collective nuclear disarmament responsibilities."

 

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to Speak at Arms Control Association Annual Meeting on June 2

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For Immediate Release: May 8, 2023

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, 202-463-8270 ext 107; Tony Fleming, director for communications, 202-463-8270 ext 110.

(Washington, D.C.)--White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will deliver the address at the Arms Control Association's Annual Meeting, “Reducing Nuclear Threats in a Time of Peril,” on June 2, 2023 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Sullivan will detail the President’s vision  for heading off nuclear weapons competition, advancing nuclear arms control and nonproliferation measures, and reducing the risk of nuclear use. His remarks will come shortly after the Summit of G-7 Leaders on May 19-21 in Hiroshima, Japan, the target of the first atomic bombing.

The nonpartisan Arms Control Association promotes effective arms control policies and supports international efforts to reduce and eliminate the threat posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons. The organization has been at the forefront of efforts to promote nuclear arms control and disarmament for over 50 years.

"We are honored to have National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan deliver keynote remarks on the Biden administration’s vision for reducing nuclear weapons dangers at this pivotal time," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. 

As President Biden wrote in his message to ACA at last year’s annual meeting,“Today—perhaps more than any other time since the Cold War—we must work to reduce the risk of an arms race or nuclear escalation. In this time of intense geopolitical tension, arms control and nonproliferation diplomacy continues to be an essential part of safeguarding … global security."

The June 2 event, which will run from 9am to 4pm, will also feature expert panel discussions on reinforcing the taboo against threats of nuclear use, preventing a three-way arms race,  the Iranian nuclear crisis, and the risks of artificial intelligence involvement in nuclear command and control. Our other keynote speaker is Ambassador Alexander Kmentt, one of the key architects of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Registration for the event is open to the public through the Arms Control Association's website

Members of the press may request complimentary registration

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Sullivan will detail the President’s vision  for heading off nuclear weapons competition, advancing nuclear arms control and nonproliferation measures, and reducing the risk of nuclear use.  His keynote remarks come shortly after the May 19-21 Summit of G-7 Leaders in Hiroshima, Japan, the site of the first atomic bombing.

Putin’s Reckless Decision to "Suspend" New START Will Increase Chances of Global Nuclear Arms Race

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Statement from Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

For Immediate Release: Feb. 21, 2023 (Updated)

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Shannon Bugos, senior policy analyst, (202) 463-8270 ext. 113

In a rambling attempt to justify Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine one year ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his decision to suspend implementation of the last remaining treaty limiting the world's two largest nuclear arsenals, the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

His comments suggest Russia will not engage in talks to resume New START’s on-site inspections, participate in meetings of the treaty's Bilateral Consultative Commission, nor share data on strategic nuclear stockpiles as required by the treaty. These actions represent a major violation of the terms of New START and are not allowed for under the terms of the treaty. Other senior Russian officials have previously said Russia will maintain under the central limits set by the treaty (1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles). In a separate statement issued today, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed that Russia will continue to observe limits on the number of strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems it can deploy under the treaty.

While this does not mark the end of New START, which is scheduled to expire Feb. 5, 2026, Putin’s announcement makes it far more likely that, after New START expires, there will be no agreement limiting U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972.

Putin’s “suspension” of New START harms Russia’s own security interests. Absent full implementation of treaty provisions, Moscow (and Washington) gains less insight and information regarding the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal.

In addition, the suspension undermines Russia’s obligations as a party to the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires the nuclear-weapon states 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…."

In contrast, U.S. President Joe Biden has made it clear that his administration stands ready to expeditiously negotiate a new nuclear arms control framework with Russia to supersede New START–but that Russia must first work in good faith to resume New START inspections. This is a more than reasonable request.

If New START expires in 2026 with no successor arrangement, Washington and Moscow could each double the number of their deployed strategic nuclear warheads in short order. Such a course of action would produce an arms race that no one can win and that increases the dangers of nuclear weapons for everyone.

We strongly support the Biden administration's announcement today that the United States "remains ready to talk about strategic arms limitations at any time with Russia irrespective of anything else going on in the world or in our relationship."

We reiterate our call upon Russia to comply with its obligations to allow for on-site inspections to verify compliance with New START and to engage in further nuclear disarmament diplomacy with the United States.

We also urge all states-parties to the NPT, no matter their position on Russia's war on Ukraine, to urge the Kremlin to meet its nuclear disarmament responsibilities by complying with New START and by agreeing to negotiate new–and ideally lower–limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals, as doing so would enhance global security and support the long-term viability of the NPT system.

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Putin’s announcement makes it far more likely that, after New START expires, there will be no agreement limiting U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972.

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U.S. Plan for "Responsible Military Use of AI" Constructive but Inadequate

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For Immediate Release: Feb. 16, 2023

Media Contacts: Michael Klare, senior visiting fellow, [email protected]; Shannon Bugos, senior policy analyst, [email protected]

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, the United States proposed a "Political Declaration on Responsible Military Use of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy" during a conference on the issue in Europe.

While a positive signal, the declaration ultimately proves an inadequate response to the militarization of AI and the risks posed by lethal autonomous weapons, according to experts at the independent, nongovernmental Arms Control Association (ACA).

“The motivation for the U.S. framework stems from the deliberations at the expert group meetings convened by the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), where a significant number of states have voiced support for a binding international ban on autonomous weapons capable of killing humans," notes Shannon Bugos, a senior policy analyst at ACA.

In October 2022, the United States joined a diverse, cross-regional group of United Nations member states, led by Austria, on a joint declaration that expressed concern about “new technological applications, such as those related to autonomy in weapons systems.”

"However, the United States and other states with technologically advanced militaries have resisted negotiations on a legally binding instrument to regulate behavior at the CCW, which operates by consensus,” Bugos notes. “Many other states–including Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, and Spain–have proposed negotiations on a legally binding, enforceable agreement to ban lethal autonomous weapons altogether.”

Michael T. Klare, a senior fellow with ACA, concluded that "The U.S. principles on responsible behavior, however comprehensive and commendable, do not make up formal rules or regulations, and are therefore not readily enforceable. This means that any state (including the United States) can endorse the declaration and claim to be abiding by its principles, but then violate them with impunity.”

Klare is the author of the new ACA report Assessing the Dangers: Emerging Military Technologies and Nuclear (In)Stability that assesses the risks and dangers of new military technologies, including AI and autonomous weapons. The report also provides a framework strategy for curtailing the indiscriminate weaponization of emerging technologies. 

"Principles are nice in theory but will not adequately protect us from the deployment and use of autonomous weapons systems capable of killing humans, possibly in an abusive and indiscriminate manner," Klare argues.

"Given the risks posed by autonomous weapons systems and AI, we continue to urge the United States to act more responsibly and call upon all governments represented at the CCW to support the initiation of negotiations on autonomous weapons, and to help craft an outcome ensuring continued human control over weapons of war and decisions to employ lethal force," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

 

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While a positive signal, the U.S.-proposed "Political Declaration on Responsible Military Use of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy" ultimately proves an inadequate response to the militarization of AI and the risks posed by lethal autonomous weapons, according to experts.

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