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Right after I graduated, I interned with the Arms Control Association. It was terrific.

– George Stephanopolous
Host of ABC's This Week
January 1, 2005
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ACA and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

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March 24, 2020

Dear friends and colleagues around the globe,

We hope you and your family are taking good care in these anxious times.

Whether it is an unprecedented public health crisis, a climate emergency, or the threat of nuclear war, we are all in this together and our collective actions can make a difference.

The coronavirus pandemic underscores the importance of effective global governance and international cooperation.

Our staff and Board of Directors remain committed to advancing the core mission of the Arms Control Association: eliminating the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

Thanks to our loyal members and supporters, we are fortunate to have the resources and flexibility necessary to continue our work in the difficult months ahead. Here is what we are doing:

  • Our 12-person staff team is now set up for teleworking. We will continue our work, including producing and publishing the news and analysis you have come to rely upon, such as our flagship journal, Arms Control Today.
  • In the coming weeks, we will offer new virtual engagement opportunities for members and other supporters. Our 2020 Annual Meeting has been postponed and will shift to an interactive streaming format. We’ll continue our series of occasional member telebriefings. We’ll also be active through our social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
  • We will continue our public policy and media outreach campaigns to shore-up the guardrails against nuclear catastrophe: the nonproliferation and arms control agreements and diplomacy that are increasingly under threat.
  • As a leader in the field, we will continue to communicate with other organizations, experts, and networks in the United States and around the world about how we can adapt to the changes that the coronavirus crisis will impose on the international system. We will continue to encourage more effective international cooperation and governance.

We all may be more physically distant these days, but we ask that you stay in touch, and we welcome your suggestions and ideas. After all, we need one another more than ever.

You can contact us at 202-463-8270 or email us at [email protected].

Thank you and please be safe,

Daryl G. Kimball,
Executive Director

Arms Control Experts Urge Trump to Agree to Extend Key Treaty Limiting Russia’s Nuclear Forces

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For Immediate Release: February 5, 2020

(Washington, D.C.)—In one year, on Feb. 5, 2021, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) will expire unless President Trump takes up Russia’s offer to extend the treaty by a period of up to five years.

“New START is the only remaining legally binding, verifiable agreement limiting the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals,” says Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “If it lapses with nothing to replace it, the result would open the door to unconstrained nuclear competition that President Trump says he wants to avoid.”

New START, which has been in force since February 5, 2011, verifiably limits U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals to 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed strategic missiles and heavy bombers.

“New START is working as designed,” says Thomas Countryman, chairman of the board of the Arms Control Association and former acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, “and both sides are in compliance with the treaty’s limits and obligations.”

Military and intelligence officials have said they greatly value New START’s monitoring and verification provisions, which provide predictability and transparency and help promote a stable nuclear deterrence posture vis-à-vis Russia. Republican and Democratic members of Congress and all of the major Democratic presidential contenders support New START extension.

“Extending New START should be the easiest foreign policy decision Trump can make. Failure to extend the treaty, on the other hand, would be one of the worst decisions the President could make,” Countryman said.

Although Russia has indicated its support for a clean, unconditional extension, the Trump administration has yet to officially decide on the future of the treaty. Instead, Trump administration officials say they want to explore options for a new treaty that covers all types of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons and involves China.

Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, recently said that, in regard to China, “I wouldn't want to pay the price of losing the restrictions on Russian forces in order to get restrictions on a Chinese force that’s much smaller and less significant in the composition of its war fighting.” Currently, the United States and Russia each have a total of about 6,000 nuclear warheads, while China has about 300.

“A new agreement with Russia and with China is not achievable before New START is due to expire,” notes Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and nuclear threat reduction policy with the Arms Control Association. “By extending New START, however, Trump could secure a significant foreign policy win that would provide a foundation for follow-on negotiations with Russia and possibly with China to further reduce nuclear risks,” he said.

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Experts Available in Washington:

  • Thomas Countryman, former​ ​acting​ ​under secretary of state for​ ​arms​ ​control and ​international security, and ​​chair of the board for the Arm​​s Control Association, [email protected], 301-312-3445
  • Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, [email protected], 202-277-3478
  • Kingston Reif, ​director for ​disarmament​​ and ​threat reduction​ ​policy​, ​[email protected], 202-463-8270, ext. 104
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New START, the last remaining treaty limiting the world's two most deadly arsenals, expires one year from today. Arms control experts urge the Trump administration to agree to extend the treaty.

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Trump Administration's Landmine Policy Reversal a Dangerous Mistake, Requires Congressional Action

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For Immediate Release: Jan. 30, 2020

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Jeff Abramson, Senior Fellow, (202) 463-8270 ext. 112

(Washington, DC)—According to multiple press reports, the Trump administration is poised to rescind former President Barack Obama’s 2014 directive to no longer “produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines,” known as APLs, which are small explosive devices placed under, on, or near the ground. The new policy would reportedly lift current restrictions on deploying landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula.

“The resumption of the use of anti-personnel land mines and continued stockpiling and production of these indiscriminate weapons is militarily unnecessary and dangerous,” says Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

“If the Trump administration seeks to reverse the Obama-era policy on anti-personnel mines, Congress should respond by imposing a ban on the deployment of any type of anti-personnel land mine in new theaters of operation,” Kimball states.

More than 160 nations have signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits the use, development, production, stockpiling or transfer of anti-personnel land mines, which pose a serious threat to civilian populations caught up in conflict and war, often for years after fighting has stopped.

The United States is not a signatory to the treaty and continues to stockpile millions of APLs. The last time the United States used anti-personnel mines in a substantial way was in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. The only exception was the use of a single antipersonnel mine in Afghanistan in 2002.

The world has rejected landmines because they are indiscriminate and disproportionately harm civilians, who make up the vast majority of landmine casualties,” said Jeff Abramson, a senior fellow with the Arms Control Association and coordinator of the Forum on Arms Trade. “Technical solutions to make landmines self-destruct or otherwise labeled as ‘smart’ have failed to work as advertised and been rejected by the 164 counties, including all U.S. NATO allies, that have joined the Mine Ban Treaty.”

“The world has moved on from the use of landmines. The United States should too,” Abramson said.


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If the Trump administration reverses the Obama-era policy on anti-personnel mines, Congress should respond by imposing a ban on the deployment of any type of anti-personnel land mine in new theaters of operation.

Trump Proposal Would Weaken Controls on the Export of Dangerous Firearms

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For Immediate Release: Jan. 17, 2020

Media Contact: Jeff Abramson, senior fellow, (202) 463-8270 ext. 112

(WASHINGTON, DC)—Today, the Trump administration released controversial changes that will be published in the Federal Register Jan. 23 to federal rules on how certain firearms and military-style weapons are sold abroad. Under the new rules, nonautomatic and semi-automatic firearms, their ammunition, and certain other weapons currently controlled under the State Department-led U.S. Munitions List (USML) would move to the Commerce Department's Commerce Control List (CCL).

One effect of the rules change would be that Congress would lose its ability to provide oversight on the sales of these weapons to other countries.

In December, after the compromise National Defense Authorization Act removed a provision in the House's version that would have prohibited the changes, Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) put a hold on the implementation of the administration’s revised firearms export rules.

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"The administration's decision to no longer consider semi-automatic assault weapons, select sniper rifles, and their ammunition as weapons of war, but instead as commercial items, is dangerous and misguided. It is in the U.S. national security interest to maintain tighter control over military-style weapons that are too often misused to commit human rights abuses and perpetuate violent conflicts.

The administration’s firearms export rule changes would compound the damage caused by Trump’s rejection last year of the United States’ signature on the 2014 global Arms Trade Treaty, which requires that other states meet arms export control standards that the United States has had in place for many years.

Sadly, President Trump continues to put the profits of gun makers ahead of long-term global security and more responsible U.S. arms transfer policy."

— Jeff Abramson, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association

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Changes would put profits over national and international security

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European Powers Should Renew Effort to Bring the United States and Iran Back Into Compliance with 2015 Nuclear Deal

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For Immediate Release: Jan. 14, 2020

Media Contacts: Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 102; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, D.C.)—France, Germany, and the United Kingdom announced Tuesday that they are triggering the dispute resolution mechanism in the 2015 nuclear deal to respond to Iran’s breaches of key nuclear limits.

We urge the three European governments to redouble their efforts to restore full implementation of the nuclear deal by all parties and to prevent the collapse of this effective nonproliferation agreement.

Triggering the dispute resolution mechanism is the latest consequence of the Trump administration’s reckless Iran policy. Iran’s decision to breach limits on its nuclear program put in place by the deal is an unfortunate but unsurprising response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s irresponsible choice in 2018 to reimpose sanctions on Iran in violation of the agreement and his administration’s aggressive campaign to deny Tehran any benefit of remaining in compliance with the accord.

While Iran’s violations of the accord are serious, they are reversible and they do not suggest, as some have alleged, that Iran is dashing to acquire a nuclear bomb.

It is critical that the remaining parties to the JCPOA use the dispute resolution mechanism to restore rather than undermine confidence in the nuclear deal. The effort spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron to return the United States and Iran to compliance with the accord and commit both sides to negotiations on a range of issues, including a long-term framework to guide Iran’s nuclear program, is a pragmatic and viable option that addresses concerns in both Tehran and Washington.

The dispute resolution mechanism is outlined in the main text of the JCPOA (paragraphs 36-37). Any party to the deal can trigger the dispute resolution mechanism to address an allegation of noncompliance with the accord’s obligations.

By triggering the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism, the three European parties to the nuclear deal increase the risk that UN Security Council sanctions on Iran will be reimposed. Snapping back UN sanctions lifted by the JCPOA would collapse the deal and could lead to an unrestrained Iranian nuclear program subject to far less intrusive monitoring than is required under the nuclear agreement. This would create a new nuclear crisis that undermines international security and further increases the risk of war.

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While Iran’s violations of the accord are serious, they are reversible and they do not suggest, as some have alleged, that Iran is dashing to acquire a nuclear bomb.

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MIT Professor Areg Danagoulian and Colleagues Voted 2019 Arms Control Persons of the Year

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For Immediate Release: Jan. 10, 2020

Media Contact: Tony Fleming, director for communications, 202-463-8270 ext. 110

(Washington, D.C.)—Professor Areg Danagoulian and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were selected as the 2019 Arms Control Persons of the Year through an online poll that drew participants from over 100 countries. The annual contest is organized by the independent, nongovernmental Arms Control Association.

Dr. Areg Danagoulian and colleagues at MIT developed an innovative new nuclear disarmament verification process using neutron beams.Prof. Danagoulian and his team were nominated for their work developing an innovative new nuclear disarmament verification process using neutron beams. This process addresses the fact that parties to arms control treaties more often destroy delivery systems than warheads (e.g., the U.S. dismantling B-52 bombers for compliance with START). This leaves large stockpiles of surplus nuclear weapons, increasing risks of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Instead, the neutron beam test authenticates the warheads’ isotopic composition without revealing it, enabling a verified dismantlement of nuclear warheads.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association remarked, “This innovation paves the way for more effective arms control agreements, inspections, and enforcement.  Professor Danagoulian’s MIT team has brought the best science to arms control and provided a creative solution that can reduce nuclear threats and enhance security.”

This year, 10 individuals and groups were nominated by the Arms Control Association staff and board of directors. All of the nominees demonstrated extraordinary leadership in advancing effective arms control solutions for the threats posed by mass casualty weapons during the course of 2019. 

This contest is a reminder of the diverse and creative ways that dedicated individuals and organizations from around the globe can contribute to meeting the difficult arms control challenges of today and the coming decades. It is a hopeful way to close out 2019 and begin 2020.


Arms Control Today is the monthly flagship
publication of the Arms Control Association.

Since 1972, Arms Control Today has provided
policymakers, journalists, and concerned citizens with the latest authoritative analyses on arms control proposals, negotiations, and agreements, and related national security news.

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The runner-up was Afghanistan’s first all-female demining team, nominated for completing landmine work in Bamyan province, the first of Afghanistan's 34 provinces to be declared free of landmines. The women were trained by the Danish Demining Group as part of a United Nations Mine Action Service pilot program working with Afghanistan’s Directorate of Mine Action Coordination (DMAC).

Afghanistan’s first all-female demining team completed landmine work in Bamyan province this year, the first of Afghanistan's 34 provinces to be declared free of landmines.“The courageous efforts of the Afghan demining team exemplifies women’s empowerment and engagement in peace and security and underscores the importance of humanitarian disarmament,” said Kathy Crandall Robinson, Chief Operations Officer of the Arms Control Association.

Online voting was open from Dec. 12, 2019, until Jan. 8, 2020. A list of all of this year's nominees is available at https://armscontrol.org/acpoy/2019

Previous winners of the "Arms Control Person of the Year" are:

 

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Prof. Danagoulian and his team were nominated for their work developing an innovative new nuclear disarmament verification process using neutron beams.

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2019 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year Nominees Announced

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For Immediate Release: December 12, 2019

Media Contacts: Kathy Crandall-Robinson, chief operations director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 101; Tony Fleming, director for communications, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Since 2007, the 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 posed by mass casualty weapons.

In a field that is often focused on threats and challenges, our Arms Control Person(s) of the Year contest aims to highlight the many positive initiatives that help improve international peace and security.

This year's nominees are listed below. All of the nominees have, in their own way, provided leadership to help reduce weapons-related security threats during the past year.

A full list of previous winners is available here.

The ballot and list of 2019 nominees is available at armscontrol.org/acpoy. Voting will take place between December 12, 2019 and January 8, 2020. The results will be announced on January 10, 2020.

The 2019 nominees are:

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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.

Proposed Change to U.S. Weapons Export Rules Is Bad Policy

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(WASHINGTON, DC)—Media reports indicate that the Trump administration has taken the decision to move forward with rules that could expedite how certain firearms and military-style weapons are sold internationally. Under the new rules, nonautomatic and semi-automatic firearms, their ammunition, and certain other weapons currently controlled under the State Department-led U.S. Munitions List would move to the Commerce Department's Commerce Control List (CCL).

Under the new rules, Congress would lose its ability to provide oversight on these sales. The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act would prohibit the changes, but the NDAA has stalled in Congress. Moving forward would appear to override a hold that Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) put on the changes in February.

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"We need to maintain tight export controls on the types of military-style weapons that are often misused to commit human rights abuses and that perpetuate violent conflicts that hurt vulnerable civilian populations. The Trump administration’s plan to remove military-style weapons from the State Department’s review and Congressional notification processes is bad policy.
        The proposed change in policy makes it easier to sell U.S. weapons abroad and might help the bottom line of a few gun makers, but it threatens to undermine long-term global security and decades of more responsible U.S. arms transfer policy."
     – Jeff Abramson, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association

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Under new rules from the Trump administration, Congress would lose its ability to provide oversight on how certain firearms and military-style weapons are sold internationally.

Iran's Latest Step Is a Step in the Wrong Direction

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For Immediate Release: November 5, 2019

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

(Washington, DC)—Today, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced that the government would begin injecting uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into the centrifuge arrays at its underground Fordow uranium enrichment facility. This action, which serves no legitimate civilian purpose and is the fourth and latest breach of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a step in the wrong direction.

Iran’s leaders may be trying to leverage greater European action for the sanctions relief it was promised through the JCPOA, but this latest breach of the JCPOA limits is a serious mistake and that will further complicate tensions over Iran’s nuclear activities.

We strongly urge Iran to refrain from accumulating low-enriched uranium from the centrifuges at Fordow. If Iran starts accumulating LEU from the process, it will increase proliferation risk over time. However, because the site is under IAEA surveillance, we will know quickly if Tehran takes any steps toward the production of bomb-grade material.

These developments have, of course, been triggered by President Donald Trump's decision last year to withdraw from the JCPOA and to reimpose sanctions against Iran, which is a clear violation of the commitments made by the United States in 2015. Trump’s Iran policy is by all measures failing. The United States' relationship with Iran far less stable and the security situation in the region is far more dangerous than it was at the end of 2016.

Both sides - Iran and the United States - should return to full compliance with the JCPOA or the crisis will worsen significantly in 2020. The best off-ramp for both sides is the plan floated by French President Emmanuel Macron for U.S. sanctions waivers to allow substantial purchases of Iranian oil in exchange by Europe in exchange for Iran returning to full compliance with the JCPOA, to be followed by the initiation of direct talks on issues of mutual concern.

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Iran may be trying to leverage greater European action for the sanctions relief, but its latest actions will further complicate tensions

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Trump Administration May Pull Out of Open Skies Treaty; Last U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Treaty Also at Risk

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For Immediate Release: October 27, 2019

Media Contacts: Tony Fleming, director for communications, 202-463-8270 ext. 110; Jessica Sarstedt, 202-802-1835

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Trump administration officials continue to deliberate on the future of the Open Skies Treaty. It was reported earlier this month that the White House is considering a proposal advanced by former National Security Advisor John Bolton to withdraw from the 34-nation agreement, which has been in force since 2002. The Open Skies Treaty allows unarmed information-gathering flights over other parties to the agreement to track and monitor military deployments, including those of Russia.

Open Skies is another critical piece in the overlapping armor of arms control and security agreements negotiated by Republican and Democratic administrations that helped bring an end to the Cold War. These agreements have provided predictability and transparency of our adversaries’ military activities, reduced the nuclear weapons threat, and decreased tensions and the risk of military conflict.

A U.S. exit from Open Skies would add to tensions with Russia, especially after the U.S. exit from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, undermine the security of our European allies, and damage the credibility of U.S. leadership. As The Wall Street Journal and others have reported, the government of Ukraine greatly values the Open Skies Treaty and supports full participation and compliance by all parties.

Not only is the Open Skies Treaty at risk, but Trump has also not decided on whether to extend the only remaining treaty limiting U.S. and Russian nuclear weaponry, the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which is due to expire in February 2021.

Abandoning these agreements would make more likely something Trump says he wants to avoid. Just this week, Trump reminded everyone that his goal is to not seek an arms race and noted the importance of arms control agreements, specifically driving home the need to place a cap on nuclear weapons arsenals.

On Monday, Oct. 21, Trump said in an interview: “We should all get together and work out something—a cap, have a cap. We don't need 10,000 [nuclear] weapons, [we need to] have a cap.”

The United States and Russia, which possess the two largest nuclear arsenals in the world, already have an agreement in force which caps each country’s nuclear weapons: New START. The treaty:

  • Caps each sides’ strategic deployed nuclear warheads at 1,550,
  • Caps deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers assigned to nuclear missions to no more than 700 each, and
  • Caps deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and bombers are limited to no more than 800 each.

By walking away from either one of these agreements, the United States would set back efforts to reduce military and nuclear tensions with Russia and other nuclear armed states.

Instead, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week, we need to sustain, strengthen, and build upon proven multilateral agreements that provide transparency about Russia’s military activities and that verifiably cap U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, including the Open Skies Treaty and New START.

Experts Available for Comment

Amb. Bonnie Jenkins, former Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, Department of State, and member of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association.

Alexandra Bell, Senior Policy Director at the Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation and former Senior Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

Lynn Rusten, Vice President, Global Nuclear Policy Program, Nuclear Threat Initiative, and former senior director for arms control and nonproliferation on the White House National Security Council staff and senior advisor in the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance (AVC), where she led the interagency backstopping process supporting the negotiation and ratification of New START.

Thomas Countryman, former​ ​Acting​ Under Secretary of State ​Arms​ ​Control and ​International Security and ​​Chair of the Board of Directors of the Arm​​s Control Association.

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Background information and experts available on the Open Skies Treaty and New START

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