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"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
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In Solidarity With Those Working for Racial Justice and Equity

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Statement from the Staff and the Board of Directors
June 5, 2020

The staff and board of directors of the Arms Control Association collectively express our solidarity with protests against systemic racism and chronic police brutality in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, and the relentless violence committed against Black people through the many centuries past. We believe that Black Lives Matter.

Good people must not remain silent in the presence of injustice and state-sanctioned violence.

We offer our support and solidarity to the families of the victims and to those who are working to achieve racial and social justice and equality in the United States and around the globe. More than this, we believe we must take proactive measures to eliminate the structures of inequality and injustice that permeate our society.

We recognize and affirm that the right to peacefully assemble, dissent, protest, and hold political leaders accountable is essential to a functioning democracy and progress toward a more just and peaceful world.

Our organization’s mission is focused above all on preventing the real threat of catastrophic nuclear war. This problem is inextricably linked to finding effective solutions to the daunting array of other human, environmental, and global security challenges, and to the struggle to build a more just, peaceful, and equitable future for all.

Writer and Civil Rights activist James Baldwin said in 1961 that “racial hatred and the atom bomb both threaten the destruction of [people] as created free by God.” And as Randall Forsberg, a former Arms Control Association board member, said on June 12, 1982, at the Central Park rally where one million people rallied for a Nuclear Weapons Freeze: “Until the arms race stops, until we have a world with peace and justice, we will not go home and be quiet. We will go home and organize.”

These realities and values still drive our work today and will in the future.

As we express our solidarity with those pursuing racial and social justice and equity, we know that our own organization can and must do more, and we commit to pursue–on our own and in concert with partner organizations and initiatives–actions that more effectively promote diversity and inclusion, especially for women and people of color, in our own activities and in our field.

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Our organization's mission of preventing the real threat of catastrophic nuclear war is inextricably linked to finding effective solutions to the daunting array of other human, environmental, and global security challenges, and to the struggle to build a more just, peaceful, and equitable future for all.

Video Short: The United States and Nuclear Testing

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I am Daryl Kimball. I am executive director of the Arms Control Association.

Is the United States considering resuming nuclear weapons tests?

Yes, some very senior White House officials have actually proposed resuming nuclear weapons testing which would break the 28-year-long U.S. moratorium on such behavior.

It was on May 22nd that the Washington Post reported that senior Trump officials discussed whether to set off a nuclear test explosion, a demonstration nuclear test, to try to put pressure on Russia and on China. One senior official said that such a test could prove useful from a negotiating standpoint as the Trump administration tries to engage China in talks and to change Russia's position on certain nuclear issues. The idea was opposed by a number of other senior officials but the Post reports that the idea is still under active consideration.

How will new U.S. nuclear tests affect global security?

Let's be clear: the resumption of U.S. nuclear weapons testing would not advance the cause of arms control; it would be an invitation for other nuclear-armed countries to follow suit. A resumption of U.S. nuclear testing would lead the Russians, the Chinese, the Indians, perhaps the North Koreans to resume nuclear testing. It would allow them to proof-test new and more dangerous types of nuclear weapons. It would be the starting gun for an unprecedented global nuclear arms race that would hurt U.S. and international security for years and years to come.

Can the President really do that, and how quickly?

Yes, he can and relatively quickly. The National Nuclear Security Administration is currently poised to conduct a simple nuclear test within six to ten months if so ordered by the president. Such a test would not be designed to fix some technical problem with an existing U.S. nuclear warhead nor would it be to proof-test a new nuclear warhead design. It would be a simple demonstration test with little instrumentation. It would be conducted underground at the former Nevada Test Site just outside of Las Vegas. But Congress can act to deny funding for tests and to prevent the president from doing so.

Haven’t we ended nuclear testing permanently?

The United States ended nuclear test explosions in 1992 and led the way in the negotiation of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which today has 184 states signing the treaty. Even though the treaty is in existence, the door to nuclear testing is still open. The United States and China are among the eight states that have not yet ratified the treaty and they must do so to bring the treaty into force to make sure that the monitoring and verification and inspections regime is as strong as possible.

To learn more, visit ArmsControl.org/Factsheets for what you should know about the history of nuclear testing and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

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Executive director Daryl Kimball describes recent discussions by senior Trump administration officials to resume U.S. nuclear weapons testing and the effect such would have on global security and arms control.

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Open Skies Treaty Pullout An Irresponsible National Security Misstep, Warn Experts and Former Officials

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For Immediate Release: May 21, 2020

Media Contacts: Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, D.C.)—The Trump administration reportedly will announce that it intends to pull the United States out of the 1992 Open Skies Treaty, a valuable arms control and security agreement intended to reduce risks to the United States and its European allies.

“The Open Skies Treaty has helped preserve the post-Cold War peace. It allows the 34 participating nations, including the United States and Russia, to fly unarmed observation aircraft over one another’s territory. This helps preserve a measure of transparency and trust, thereby enhancing stability and reducing the risk of conflict,” says Thomas Countryman, the former U.S. acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, and now chair of the board of the Arms Control Association.

“A unilateral U.S. exit from Open Skies would undermine our security and that of our European allies, all of whom strongly support the treaty,” Countryman added. “It has the effect—and perhaps this is the intention—of signaling a diminished U.S. commitment to its NATO allies.”

“U.S. and allied treaty flights over Russia provide valuable information about Russian military activities, thereby enhancing stability and reducing the risk of conflict in Europe,” says Kingston Reif, Arms Control Association director for disarmament and threat reduction policy. "The treaty has been an especially important tool in responding to Russia's aggression against Ukraine." 

“There is strong bipartisan support in Congress for maintaining U.S. participation in Open Skies,” Reif notes. “The administration’s announcement of withdrawal is a slap in the face to Congress as it violates notification requirements written into law last year.”

The administration told reporters the formal notification of withdrawal would be effective immediately and the withdrawal itself will take effect in six months. However, such action violates Sec. 1234 of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which requires the administration to notify Congress 120 days ahead of a U.S. notification of an intent to withdraw.

The Trump administration cites Russian noncompliance as a motivating factor for its decision. Disputes have arisen because Russia has imposed a sublimit of 500 kilometers over the Kaliningrad Oblast for treaty flights, refused access to observation flights along its border with the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and denied planned U.S.-Canadian flights over a Russian military exercise in September 2019.

However, Russia recently approved and allowed a joint U.S.-Estonian-Latvian treaty flight over Kaliningrad this year that was not subjected to the earlier Russian restrictions. In addition, Jim Gilmore, U.S. representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said March 2 that Russia will no longer raise an “objection” for the United States and its allies to “fly over one of their major exercises.”

As President Reagan’s former Secretary of State, George Shultz, former Senator Sam Nunn, and former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry wrote in October 2019 in the Wall Street Journal: “As with any treaty, implementation disputes arise. Current disagreements are related to underlying territorial and political issues between Russia and some of its neighbors. But these problems can be solved through professional, pragmatic diplomacy, not by abandoning treaty commitments.”

“Today’s announcement is part of a troubling pattern. The Open Skies Treaty is not the first, and may not be the last, nuclear or conflict risk reduction agreement this administration has withdrawn from without a viable strategy for replacement,” observes Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

“Failure to take up Russia’s offer to extend by five years the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which the administration has threatened to do, would compound the damage and further heighten the risk of unconstrained military and nuclear competition between the United States and Russia at a time when the world can ill afford it,” he warns.

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The treaty allows the 34 participating nations, including the United States and Russia, to fly unarmed observation aircraft over one another's territory, helping preserve a measure of transparency and trust and enhancing stability and reducing the risk of conflict.

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Video Short: U.S. Policy Toward Iran and the Nuclear Deal

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My name is Kelsey Davenport and I am the director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association.

Why did the Trump administration withdraw the United States from the 2016 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran?

The 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Iran resolved a decadeslong crisis over that country's nuclear program by putting in place intrusive monitoring and stringently limiting Iran's nuclear activities. Despite international inspectors and the U.S. intelligence community assessing that Tehran was complying with that deal, President Trump repeatedly referred to the agreement as a failure and in May of 2018 withdrew the United States from the agreement and we imposed US sanctions on Iran. The Trump administration has subsequently pursued a maximum pressure campaign against Tehran designed to push Iran to negotiate not only on its nuclear program but restrictions on its ballistic missile activities and activities in the region.

How have Iran and the other parties to the agreement responded to Trump's actions?

Unsurprisingly, there were many parties to the deal, and Iran opposed the U.S. withdrawal and reimposition of sanctions. Now, for the first year after Trump embarked on this pressure campaign, Iran continued to abide by the deal and worked with the Europeans, Russia, and China to try and reconstitute some sanctions relief envisioned by the agreement. However, after a failure to develop any meaningful trade within that year, Iran began to take steps in May of 2019 to violate the deal. Now, these steps have been incremental, they are quickly reversible, and they don't constitute an immediate proliferation risk. It's clear that what Iran is trying to do is pressure the remaining parties to the deal to deliver on sanctions relief so that the deal delivers some benefits to Iran.

How can the United States and Iran step back from confrontation and prevent a new proliferation crisis?

The Trump administration's current maximum pressure campaign toward Iran increases the risk that the JCPOA will collapse and that a conflict will ignite in the region. A much more effective approach for the United States would be to return to compliance with the JCPOA alongside Iran and for both sides to agree to engage in negotiations that address areas of mutual concern. This could include a longer-term framework to guide Iran's nuclear program and addressing areas like Iran's ballistic missile activities and Iran's activities in the region. In return, the U.S. is going to have to put something on the table that's attractive to Iran—likely more effective sanctions relief. But if the United States takes this approach, it could meet U.S. security needs and prevent a new nuclear crisis from igniting in the Middle East, a crisis that the United States and the international community can ill-afford at this time.

For more information about the status of the nuclear deal with Iran and updates on other important arms control issues, visit armscontrol.org/getthelatest for our updated news and analysis.

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Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, discusses the aftermath of the Trump administration withdrawing the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 multilateral agreement that placed limits on Iran's nuclear program.

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Global NGOs Urge Nonproliferation Treaty States to Comply with Obligations

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For Immediate Release: May 11, 2020

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.)—More than 80 national and international peace and nuclear disarmament nongovernmental organizations delivered a joint statement Monday to key government leaders urging them to fulfill unmet obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), particularly on nuclear disarmament, and to realize their agreed commitment to the goal of the “complete elimination of nuclear weapons.”

The joint statement marks the 25th anniversary of the package of decisions that led to the indefinite extension of the NPT and urges world leaders to act with greater urgency and cooperation to reduce nuclear risks and advance progress on disarmament per their commitment under the treaty.

“We’re not only at a pivotal point in the struggle against the fast-moving coronavirus; we are also at a tipping point in the long-running effort to reduce the threat of nuclear war and eliminate nuclear weapons,” the joint statement from more than 80 organizations from around the globe, including the Arms Control Association, warns.

“Tensions between the world’s nuclear-armed states are rising; the risk of nuclear use is growing; billions of dollars are being spent to replace and upgrade nuclear weapons; and key agreements that have kept nuclear competition in check are in serious jeopardy.”

“This environment,” the organizations write, “demands bolder action from all states to reduce nuclear risks by eliminating nuclear weapons; action that is rooted in ‘deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.’”

The NPT entered into force in 1970 and now has 191 states parties. It is considered the foundation of global efforts to address the risks posed by nuclear weapons. The NPT is not simply a nonproliferation treaty. It is also a treaty that requires action on disarmament.

“For the long-term viability of the NPT, all countries must fully implement their obligations. The body of previous NPT Review Conference commitments and action steps still apply. This includes the benchmarks agreed to at the historic 1995 Review and Extension Conference and further commitments made at the 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences. These remain largely unfulfilled, and some are at risk of being reversed or lost entirely.”

Implementing past action plans must be the floor and not the ceiling for taking forward the NPT’s provisions,” they write in the statement, which has been delivered to diplomats from most of the 191 states parties of the NPT.

The postponement of the 2020 NPT Review Conference offers an unprecedented opportunity to change the current course,” they argue.

“The current situation requires new and bolder leadership from responsible states to work together to build majority support for a plan of action to advance NPT Article VI [disarmament] goals and create much needed momentum for further progress on disarmament, and to save humanity from the scourge of nuclear war,” they write.

The full statement and the list of endorsing organizations are available online via Reaching Critical Will.

Video Short: New START at 10 Years

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My name is Kingston Reif and I am the director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association.

What is New START and why is its extension important?

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, which was signed a decade ago this week, limits the size of the still enormous U.S. and Russian deployed strategic nuclear arsenals and provides for an extensive monitoring and verification regime to ensure compliance with the treaty. The use of but a fraction of the still enormous U.S. and Russian arsenals would result in a catastrophe the likes of which humanity has never seen.

New START is excited to expire in less than a year, in February 2021, unless the U.S. and Russian presidents agreed to extend the treaty by up to five years. If New START expires with nothing to replace it, there would be no limits on the size of the U.S. and Russian arsenals for the first time in half a century. The risk of unconstrained nuclear competition and even more fraught bilateral relations would grow. As a global pandemic ravages the nation and the world, we can ill afford to lose the only remaining limits on the world's two largest nuclear arsenals, which would open the door to an arms race.

Can we negotiate a "trilateral" agreement with Russia and China as the Trump administration is pursuing?

The administration's pursuit of a more comprehensive arms control agreement that includes additional nuclear-armed states is a worthwhile and praiseworthy objective. However, such an effort would be unprecedented, extremely complex to negotiate, and time-consuming, and almost certainly cannot be achieved before New START expires in less than a year, all of which reinforces the case for extending New START which will buy an additional five years with which to pursue a more ambitious agreement.

What can concerned citizens do to support New START's extension?

The future of New START hangs in the balance it is important that members of Congress hear from their constituents about the importance of extending New START. You can take action by going to our website ArmsControl.org/TakeAction and encourage your member of Congress to support existing bipartisan legislation in the Senate and the House calling on the President to extend New START.

Thanks for your support. Stay healthy and stay safe

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In the first of a new video short series, Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, describes why it is particularly important now to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia before it expires in February 2021 and how you can help.

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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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