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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
ACA Press Releases

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

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For Immediate Release: April 28, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Description: 

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

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

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For Immediate Release: April 21, 2022 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Description: 

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

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

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For Immediate Release: March 25, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Description: 

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

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

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For Immediate Release: Feb. 11, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Description: 

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

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Talks to Restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action: Background and Resources

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For Immediate Release: Jan. 31, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director (202-463-8270 x107); Julia Masterson, research associate (202-463-8270 x 103)

Multilateral negotiations to restore U.S. and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal are reportedly making progress. According to senior U.S. officials, the United States and Iran "are in the ballpark of a possible deal" to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

On Jan. 28, negotiators paused work to consult with capitals ahead of what could be a final push to reach a common understanding on a win-win outcome. The next few days and weeks may be critical if the talks are to succeed in resurrecting the accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The United States and its partners are concerned that “the pace at which talks are progressing is not catching up with the pace of Iran’s nuclear advances,” which have accelerated throughout negotiations. U.S. officials have warned that Iran could soon reach a ‘nuclear breakout’ threshold, meaning that it could produce enough fissile material for one nuclear bomb. At that point, although Iran would need to master several additional, complicated steps to build a viable nuclear weapon, the White House has alluded that the United States might consider alternative strategies.

The JCPOA, which was concluded in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), verifiably blocked Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons and provided incentives for Tehran to maintain an exclusively peaceful nuclear program.

Following the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal in May 2018 and Iranian retaliatory measures that began in 2019, however, the agreement’s future is in jeopardy as Iran’s nuclear capacity continues to increase.

Promptly and simultaneously restoring U.S. and Iranian compliance with the JCPOA would help stabilize the current situation and prevent a major nuclear proliferation crisis in the region.

A return to full compliance with the JCPOA would also provide a platform for further negotiations on a long-term framework to address Iran’s nuclear program and would create space to engage with Iran on other areas of concern, such as regional tensions and its ballistic missile program.

News

Factsheets

Reports

  • The comprehensive "Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle: The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" report (August 2015) includes:
    • a summary of the history and status of Iran’s nuclear program,
    • a detailed summary and explanation of the JCPOA,
    • answers to more than two-dozen frequently asked questions, and
    • annexes on “Understanding ‘Breakout’” and “Iran’s Ballistic Missiles and the Nuclear Deal.”

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Useful resources for media and others on the 2015 nuclear deal as talks progress in Vienna on restoring the agreement. 

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Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and the Government of Mexico Voted 2021 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year

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Recognized for Novel Initiative to Combat Illicit Arms Trafficking

For Immediate Release: Jan. 14, 2022

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

(Washington, D.C.)—Mexico’s foreign minister, Mr. Marcelo Ebrard, and the government of Mexico were selected as the 2021 Arms Control Persons of the Year through an online poll that drew thousands of participants from dozens of countries. The annual contest is organized by the independent, nongovernmental Arms Control Association.

Mr. Ebrard and the government were nominated for their lawsuit against U.S. gun manufacturers and distributors that takes a novel approach to combat illicit weapons trafficking from the United States into Mexico that is fueling violence and criminal activity.

The lawsuit, filed in a Massachusetts federal district court, alleges that several major firearms manufacturers and wholesalers “design, market, distribute, and sell guns in ways they know routinely arm the drug cartels in Mexico,” and that contributes to a decline of life expectancy in Mexico. It said the named companies sell about 340,000 of an estimated half-million guns that illegally flow each year from “Massachusetts and other U.S. states to criminals south of the [U.S.-Mexico] border.”

“The Mexican Foreign Ministry’s lawsuit against the U.S. firearms companies represents an important new way to hold rogue actors accountable for their role in the violence caused by small arms trafficking across international borders,” according to Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

“The Arms Control Person(s) of the Year 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,” he said.

This year, eight individuals and groups were nominated by the Arms Control Association staff and board of directors. “All of the nominees demonstrated extraordinary leadership in raising awareness of and advancing effective arms control solutions for the threats posed by mass casualty weapons during the course of 2021,” Kimball said.

The runners-up in this year’s contest were Sébastien Philippe, an associate research scholar of the Princeton Program on Science and Global Security, and French journalist Tomas Statius, for their groundbreaking investigation that challenges the French government’s official public story of the health consequences of French atmospheric nuclear tests in the South Pacific. Their new findings suggest more than 100,000 people in Polynesia may be eligible to claim compensation from France for harm caused by the tests, which is about 10 times more than estimated by the existing French government.

Online voting was open from Dec. 8, 2021, until Jan. 12, 2022. A list of all of this year's nominees is available at https://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2021-12/2021-arms-control-persons-year-nominees-announced

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

  • Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins and Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security for catalyzing support and action from leaders and practitioners in the national security and foreign policy communities to increase diversity into their ranks (2020);
  • Areg Danagoulian and colleagues at MIT for development of an innovative new nuclear disarmament verification process using neutron beams (2019);
  • 4,000 Anonymous Google Employees whose open letter to company leadership led to Google ending its work on “Project Maven” with the Pentagon (2018);
  • Diplomats from Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa, and Costa Rica who secured the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (2017) ;
  • Tony de Brum and the government of the Marshall Islands (2016);
  • Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, (2015);
  • Austria's Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Ambassador Alexander Kmentt (2014);
  • Executive-Secretary of the CTBTO Lassina Zerbo (2013);
  • General James Cartwright (2012);
  • Reporter and activist Kathi Lynn Austin (2011);
  • Kazakhstan's Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Umarov and Thomas D'Agostino, U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator (2010);
  • Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) (2009);
  • Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his ministry's Director-General for Security Policy and the High North Steffen Kongstad (2008); and
  • Congressmen Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) and David Hobson (R-Ohio) (2007).
Description: 

Mr. Ebrard and the government were nominated for their lawsuit against U.S. gun manufacturers and distributors that takes a novel approach to combat illicit weapons trafficking from the United States into Mexico that is fueling violence and criminal activity.

    10th Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference: Background and Resources

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    For Immediate Release: Dec. 15, 2021

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

    In less than a month, hundreds of diplomats representing the states parties to the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), along with representatives from civil society, will convene Jan. 4-28 for talks that will shape the future of the international nuclear arms control regime at a time when the risks of nuclear proliferation and nuclear competition are growing.

    The conference caps a five-year cycle of meetings in which states-parties review compliance with the NPT and seek agreement on steps to advance the treaty’s main goals: preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons and sensitive nuclear technology and halting and reversing the nuclear arms race and advancing nuclear disarmament. This review conference occurs a quarter-century after state parties agreed on the indefinite extension of the NPT at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference.

    The conference, which was been delayed due to the pandemic, arrives as tensions between the United States and Russia and between the United States and China are worsening and as they are each accelerating programs to modernize and upgrade their deadly arsenals.

    As a result, a central issue at this Review Conference, the treaty’s 10th, will likely be the failure of the nuclear-armed states parties to meet their NPT Article VI disarmament obligations and the many of the specific disarmament-related goals outlined in the action plan that was adopted at the 2010 Review Conference.

    Although the United States and Russia agreed earlier this year to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) until early 2026, negotiations on a follow-on agreement or agreements have yet to begin. This week, a group of U.S., Russian, and European experts outlined a set of recommendations on how the two counties can achieve progress. Whether the five NPT nuclear-armed states will agree to commit to specific action steps to address this “disarmament deficit” is not clear.

    Other issues could prove to be contentious. These include how to advance the goal of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Divisions on that issue led the United States to block consensus on a final conference outcome at the 2015 NPT Review Conference.

    While there will likely be strong support from NPT states parties for the ongoing talks to restore U.S. and Iranian compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s failure to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s efforts to maintain adequate monitoring of its sensitive nuclear activities could not only complicate talks on the JCPOA, but it could become a flashpoint at the NPT conference.

    To make progress, the NPT Conference will need to recognize but also avoid unnecessary debate over the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force earlier this year. Supporters of the TPNW, which include some of the strongest backers of the NPT, note that the new treaty complements the NPT and is a good-faith contribution to their disarmament commitments. The NPT nuclear-weapon states unsurprisingly oppose the TPNW, which calls into question their continued reliance on the threat of using weapons of mass destruction in the name of their national security interests.

    As of now, it is not clear who will represent the United States at the conference. President Biden’s nominee to lead the U.S. delegation to the NPT meeting, Adam Scheinman, has not yet been confirmed by the U.S. Senate due to opposition from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

    Another open question is whether, as with past NPT Conferences, is whether the president or secretary of state will address the opening of the NPT conference to describe in more detail the United States’ vision for reducing the existential threats posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons.

    RESOURCES

    News and Analysis

    Interviews 

    Fact Sheets

    Official Conference Documentation and Speeches  

    Twitter

    Description: 

    The 10th Review Conference by states parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty will take place Jan.4-28. It is expected to shape the future of the international nuclear arms control regime at a time when the risks of nuclear proliferation and nuclear competition are growing. The following resources are provided to journalists covering the event. 

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    2021 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year Nominees Announced

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    For Immediate Release: Dec. 8, 2021

    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 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 large, some small—designed to advance international peace, security, and justice," noted Daryl G. Kimball, executive director.

    This year's nominees are listed below. All of the nominees have, in their own way, provided important leadership that helped reduce weapons-related security dangers during the past year.

    The ballot and list of 2021 nominees are available at ArmsControl.org/ACPOY.

    Voting will take place between Dec. 8, 2021 and Jan. 12, 2022. The results will be announced on Jan. 14, 2022. Follow the discussion on Twitter using hashtag #ACPOY2021.

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

    The 2021 nominees are:

    • James Cleverly, minister for Middle East and North Africa at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, on behalf of the United Kingdom and the 163 associated countries, for introducing and winning approval in the UN First Committee for a resolution mandating the creation of a new working group focused on developing possible norms, rules, and principles (including legally-binding measures) of responsible military behaviors in space and aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space.
    • Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Oreg.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who established the bicameral Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group in early 2021, for their energetic efforts to build support for action by the Biden administration to pursue New START follow-on arms control negotiations with Russia, to reduce the role and the number of nuclear weapons in U.S. nuclear policy, and to seek nuclear risk reduction talks with China.
    • Decker Eveleth from the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen from the Federation of American Scientists for utilizing open-source satellite imagery to reveal construction activity in central China for the possible deployment of at least 250 additional land-based, nuclear-armed, long-range ballistic missiles. Their work has prompted a public debate about how the United States and China can avoid an arms race driven by mutual concerns about vulnerability to nuclear attack.
    • Avinashpall Singh and Rooj Ali, two high school students from Winnipeg, Canada, for their successful effort to win the city council’s unanimous support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), one of the dozens of such initiatives around the globe to encourage city governments to call for their national governments to join the TPNW.
    • Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the Agency's team of inspectors, for their steadfast efforts to sustain effective, intrusive monitoring of Iran’s sensitive nuclear activities under the terms of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the Agency, as the United States and Iran struggle to find a political formula that brings both countries back into compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
    • Sébastien Philippe, Associate Research Scholar of the Princeton Program on Science and Global Security, and French journalist Tomas Statius, for their groundbreaking investigation that challenges the French government’s official public story of the health consequences of French atmospheric nuclear tests in the South Pacific and has stirred international debate about how Paris should respond. Their new findings suggest more than 100,000 people in Polynesia may be eligible to claim compensation from France for harm caused by the tests, which is about 10 times more than estimated by the existing French government.
    • Steve Kostas, a senior lawyer with the Open Society Justice Initiative; Hadi al Khatib, founder of the Syrian Archive; and Mazen Darwish, founder of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, for filing legal complaints in France and Germany against Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad and other Syrian officials for their role in chemical weapons attacks against civilians in Douma, Ghouta, and Khan Shaykhun, Syria. The complaints request criminal investigations and prosecutions of Mr. al-Assad and a number of Syrian government officials and chains of command responsible for the attacks.
    • Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and the Government of Mexico for its lawsuit against U.S. gun manufacturers and distributors in a Massachusetts federal district court that takes a novel approach to combat illicit weapons trafficking. The lawsuit alleges that several major firearms manufacturers and wholesalers “design, market, distribute, and sell guns in ways they know routinely arm the drug cartels in Mexico,” and that contributes to a decline of life expectancy in Mexico. It said the named companies sell about 340,000 of an estimated half-million guns that illegally flow each year from “Massachusetts and other U.S. states to criminals south of the border.”
    Description: 

    All of the nominees have, in their own way, provided important leadership that helped reduce weapons-related security dangers during the past year. Voting will take place between Dec. 8, 2021 and Jan. 12, 2022. The results will be announced on Jan. 14, 2022. 

    Arms Control Association Says China’s Nuclear Buildup Deeply Troubling

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    Calls for Start of Talks on Arms Control and Risk Reduction
    to Head Off Dangerous Arms Race

    Statement by Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

    For Immediate Release: Nov. 3, 2021

    Media Contacts: Daryl Kimball, 202-463-8270, ext. 107; Shannon Bugos, 202-463-8270, ext. 113

    (Washington, D.C.)—The Defense Department’s annual China Military Power report released today confirms what statements from department officials and revelations from nongovernmental organizations this year had already suggested: China appears be on the cusp of a significant and very concerning nuclear weapons buildup that exceeds the department’s earlier projections.

    In our view, China’s nuclear advances and the increasingly competitive relationship with the United States make it more important than ever that Beijing agrees to engage in a meaningful dialogue on arms control and risk reduction. There are no winners in a nuclear war and there are no winners in a nuclear arms race. It is in the mutual interest of the United States and China to head off unconstrained nuclear weapons competition in the years ahead.

    Last year, the Pentagon said that China could, over the next decade, at least double an operational nuclear warhead stockpile numbering in the low-200s. This year’s report projects that Beijing “may … have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027,” an estimate which appears contingent on the construction by China of new fast breeder reactors and reprocessing facilities. The report adds that China “likely intends to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030.”

    The report also highlights China’s apparent plans to expand the size and diversity of its nuclear delivery platforms (including through the construction of hundreds of new land-based intercontinental ballistic missile silos) and enhance the readiness of is nuclear forces.

    China’s deeply troubling pursuit of a larger and more capable nuclear arsenal and complete lack of transparency about its nuclear force plans calls into question China’s longstanding minimum nuclear deterrence policy and is likely to exacerbate tensions with the United States and undermine stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

    Beijing cannot credibly claim that its nuclear weapons buildup comports with its legal obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” The failure of the five nuclear-armed nuclear weapon states-parties of the NPT to follow through on their disarmament commitments in recent years will be a major sticking point at the January 2022 NPT Review Conference.

    The United States and China in particular need to start a regular and meaningful arms control and risk reduction dialogue to help avoid a dangerous arms race and a crisis that could lead to a catastrophic war and even the possible use of nuclear weapons.

    The Biden administration has repeatedly expressed its desire to commence a dialogue on strategic stability and nuclear risk reduction with Beijing. But thus far, China has stubbornly and illogically rebuffed the proposal. As a nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT, China needs to engage in the nuclear risk reduction and disarmament enterprise sooner rather than later.

    Meanwhile, as the Biden administration continues to conduct a review of U.S. nuclear weapons policy scheduled to be completed in early 2022, it must keep the growing Chinese nuclear threat in perspective and resist alarmist calls by some to augment the United States own planned nuclear weapons spending spree.

    Even if China were to decide to increase its nuclear stockpile to roughly 1,000 warheads, it would still be smaller than the current U.S. stockpile of about 3,750 active nuclear warheads. Claims that China could soon achieve nuclear overmatch against the United States are wildly overstated.

    The longstanding U.S. position of nuclear superiority over China and unwillingness to acknowledge mutual vulnerability to nuclear attack has not brought Beijing to the negotiating table nor dissuaded it from modernizing its arsenal.

    To make matters worse, the Trump administration’s proposed expansion of the capability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, its one-sided demand for Chinese nuclear restraint, and threats to “spend China into oblivion” have been met by an accelerated pace of Chinese nuclear expansion.

    The United States cannot “arms race its way out” of the challenge China’s nuclear arsenal poses.

    In fact, the United States already maintains a nuclear arsenal in excess to what is necessary to deter a nuclear attack and extend deterrence to allies. Planned U.S. spending on nuclear weapons poses a major threat to security priorities more relevant to countering Beijing and assuring allies, such as pandemic defense and response as well as pacing China’s advancing conventional military capabilities.

    The factors driving China’s pursuit of a nuclear buildup are unclear but likely multifaceted. Whether China implements the projected buildup over the next several years remains to be seen and is likely to be influenced by the trajectory of the overall U.S.-China strategic relationship, U.S. and allied regional military deployments, and advances in U.S. long-range conventional strike and missile defense capabilities.

    Indeed, the Pentagon has repeatedly noted that U.S. missile defense capabilities contribute to China’s nuclear threat perceptions. The November 2020 U.S. test of a sea-based missile interceptor against an ICBM-class target has likely deepened China’s concerns about the potential future vulnerability of its strategic nuclear forces.

    The Biden administration, and Congress, must avoid taking steps that would compound nuclear tensions with China and give Beijing a cynical excuse to expand its arsenal.

    Description: 

    The executive director is calling for the start of talks on arms control and risk reduction to head off a dangerous arms race.

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    Nuclear Weapons Policy Experts Praise Biden for Transparency on Nuclear Arsenal

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    Statement by Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

    For Immediate Release: October 6, 2021

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

    The Biden administration’s decision to declassify updated information on the number of nuclear warheads in the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal is a welcome step that reverses an unwise decision by the Trump administration to classify this information. It also puts pressure on other nuclear armed states that maintain excessive secrecy about their arsenals, and highlights the need for further steps to reduce the number, role, and risk of nuclear weapons in the United States and world’s other eight nuclear-armed states.

    The October 5 declassification announcement indicates that the total number of “active” and “inactive” warheads is 3,750 as of September 2020. The stockpile figures do not include retired warheads and those awaiting dismantlement. The updated stockpile number is only 72 warheads fewer than the figure announced in September 2017, after which the Trump administration decided as a matter of policy not to provide any further updates on the size of the U.S. stockpile.

    Interestingly, the detailed figures released yesterday show, Donald Trump as the first post-Cold War  that for the first time in 25 years, the United States increased the size of the nuclear arsenal between the years 2018 and 2019. As our colleagues at the Federation of Scientists suggest, this may be due to the deployment of the a new, low-yield warhead on the D-5 sub-based strategic ballistic missile by the Trump administration.

    In a democratic society, it is essential that the public and our elected leaders have the information necessary to engage in a fact-based discussion of key issues affecting national and international security—nuclear weapons being among the most consequential.

    By being more transparent about the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile size, the United States is on much firmer ground to put pressure on other nuclear-armed states, particularly Russia and China to be more responsible nuclear possessors by providing basic information on the number and types of nuclear weapons in their arsenals. This is essential to understanding whether and how they world’s nuclear-armed states are—or are not—meeting their obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and elsewhere 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 ….”

    Agreement on enhanced nuclear stockpile transparency is also necessary if there is to be further progress on arms control and disarmament measures between the United States and Russia beyond the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and with China in the future.

    The updated U.S. nuclear stockpile figures do, however, underscore several troubling realities:

    • progress toward serious nuclear weapons stockpile reductions have stalled in recent years, and some states, particularly China and Russia, appear to be increasing the size and/or diversity of their arsenals.
    • an arsenal of 3,750 nuclear warheads, including approximately 1,389 strategic deployed warheads on 665 land-based and sea-based missiles and bombers accountable under New START, is more than enough to deliver a devastating nuclear blow to any nuclear-armed adversary. It would take just a few hundred U.S. nuclear weapons to destroy Russian and Chinese military capacity, kill hundreds of millions of innocent people, and produce a planetary climate catastrophe. And according to previous Pentagon assessments, the United States could further reduce its deployed strategic arsenal even further and still deter a nuclear weapons attack by any nuclear-armed adversary against the United States or our treaty allies. 

    The Biden administration has pledged to “take steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy” and to seek to “head off costly arms races and re-establish our credibility as a leader in arms control.”

    As the administration continue to work on its Nuclear Posture Review, we hope and expect it will take further tangible steps to provide the leadership necessary to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons worldwide.

    Description: 

    The Biden administration’s decision to declassify information on the number of U.S. nuclear warheads is a welcome step that reverses an unwise decision by the Trump administration.

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