At Y-12, the cost of designing the Uranium Processing Facility keeps spiraling: $92 million in '06, $2 billion by '16. (How do you spend 2 billion dollars designing anything?)
- See OREPA's June '15 UPF update
Click the image to download this large printable map of DOE sites, commercial reactors, nuclear waste dumps, nuclear transportation routes, surface waters near sites and transport routes, and underlying aquifers. This map was prepared by Deborah Reade for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.
"We see no reason why the pathway adopted for the elimination of other weapon systems, including for the elimination of both other types of WMD- that of a legally-binding prohibition- should not equally be applicable as a pathway for the elimination of nuclear weapons. There is no need to reinvent the wheel in order for the international community to move forward: the standard route used in relation to the abolition of other weapon systems... should again be followed." Statement by the New Zealand delegation to the UN Open Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament, 23 February, 2016[link]
"Another year of stalemate is unacceptable"
Ban Ki-Moon: "Deferring nuclear disarmament indefinitely pending the satisfaction of an endlessly growing list of preconditions can lead only to a world full of nuclear weapons.
When I spoke to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, I said plainly that the very credibility of the body is at risk. The Conference's record of achievement is overshadowed by inertia that has now lasted for more than a decade. That must change. Another year of stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament is simply unacceptable."
-UN Sec.Gen. Ban Ki-Moon speaking at the Monterey Institute Jan 18, 2013 on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
See his full talk here.
New Set of Educational Tutorials on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and the Non-Proliferation Treaty
"The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), in partnership with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), has developed a new set of educational tutorials on today's non-proliferation challenges. The tutorials are designed to build a basic understanding of these issues for anyone new to the field- including students, young professionals and media- or serve as a refresher course for experienced professionals. They can be used on the job, in the classroom, or on the road to get oriented on key concepts and issues related to nonproliferation.
These mobile-friendly, online tutorials can be used to understand the work of diplomats and experts at the ongoing Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2015 NPT Review Conference.
More info, view the materials
20th Anniversary Collection
Editor Stephen Schwartz has selected one article from each of the volumes, each of which are freely available until the end of the year. (view article collection)
SUNY Albany historian Larry Wittner examines the disparity between American public opinion and political attitudes toward nuclear disarmament. Statistically, Americans favor disarmament, while government officials are reluctant.
Reason over Relics:
Restructuring our Nuclear Force
Lt. Gen. Robert Gard (Ret.), Chairman, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation:
"With the end of the cold war, the world has changed, and those who ardently defend massive spending on nuclear weapons are either unaware of, or unwilling to consider, the changed strategic landscape.
Our current nuclear force structure is a holdover from an era where the overarching goal was deterring a Soviet nuclear attack on the United States or an invasion of Europe. Every submarine in our fleet today can single-handedly destroy every major city in either China or Russia and completely obliterate smaller nations. If the essence of deterrence is a credible threat, then its safe to say we can make significant reductions with no impact whatsoever on our deterrent or security capacity."
(Read "Reason over Relics" at The Hill)
Senators Lugar and Nunn Honored
Senators Dick Lugar and Sam Nunn were honored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in The Hague for their role in helping ex-Soviet states secure and dismantle huge stocks of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The prize will henceforth carry their names: The Nunn-Lugar Award for Promoting Nuclear Security.
Above, Senator Lugar urging the Senate to continue funding the Nunn-Lugar Act (2009).
The President's Remarks at the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Symposium "After all, even with all your success- the thousands of missiles destroyed, bombers and submarines eliminated, the warheads that have been deactivated- we're nowhere near done. Not by a long shot. And you all know this. There's still much too much material- nuclear, chemical, biological- being stored without enough protection... That's why working to prevent nuclear terrorism is going to remain one of my top national security priorities as long as I have the privilege of being President of the United States." (Full transcript)(mp3 audio file)
Who Will Claim Ronald Reagan's Mantle On Nuclear Disarmament Today?
"A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?"
-1984 State of the Union
"We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth."
-Inaugural Address, 1985
"It is my fervent goal and hope... that we will someday no longer have to rely on nuclear weapons to deter aggression and assure world peace. To that end the United States is now engaged in a serious and sustained effort to negotiate major reductions in levels of offensive nuclear weapons with the ultimate goal of eliminating these weapons from the face of the earth."
-Speech, Oct. 20, 1986
"My dream is to see the day when nuclear weapons will be banished from the face of the Earth."
-from "Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Weapons" by Paul Lettow
(Read more of "Ronald Reagan, Republicans, and Nuclear Weapons" by Jonathan Granhoff, President, Global Security Institute)
"Twenty-five years ago this month, I sat across from Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, to negotiate a deal that would have reduced, and could have ultimately eliminated by 2000, the fearsome arsenals of nuclear weapons held by the United States and the Soviet Union"
"Farewell to Arms" by Mikhail Gorbachev
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Nuclear Arms Reduction and Non-Proliferation - Updates, Recent News
(l.) Conference President Elayne Whyte of Costa Rica, and (r.) Tim Wright of ICAN
"Many citizens, scientists and laymen alike, view nuclear-weapons abolition as an essential milestone in the development of human civilization, a moral, ideological and practical campaign that could catalyze the transformation of international relations and improve the outlook for civilization at a critical time." -James Doyle
A Successful First Session of Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Negotiations
The first of two sessions of the Ban Treaty discussions at the UN has ended; participants from the 130 countries and the civil society groups participating are pleased with the outcome and optimistic about the prospects of a full ban treaty being voted in July. Countries' and NGOs' suggestions regarding terms and details of an eventual prohibition treaty which were put forward during the week will be used by conference President Whyte to prepare a draft treaty for consideration by the parties prior to the second session, June 15 to July 7 of this year.
The conference brought some fairly surreal opposition, including a senior US general opining that without nuclear weapons wars would be much worse, and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley leading a protest boycott in front of the UN against the effort. While Haley's stunt did get her the lion's share of the American press coverage of the talks, the US, along with its allies and the other nuclear weapons states, are clearly isolated on the issue.
We have a dossier on the background and trajectory of this initiative, and we'll keep it up to date with news and developments: Ban Treaty dossier.
For further in-depth coverage of these negotiations, see the Reaching Critical Will and ICAN websites. Also note the ban treaty blog at ICAN for daily news and developments.
Note: ICAN has posted a Flickr album of annotated high-def photos of the UN Ban Treaty negotiations.
January 11, 2017: Obama Administration Announces Unilateral Nuclear Weapon Cuts
Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Obama administration had cut 553 warheads
from the US nuclear weapons stockpile since September 2015. The cuts bring the total number of reductions during the last 8 years to 1,255; the current number of nuclear warheads in the stockpile is now at 4,018. These were not, however, "deployed" nuclear weapons. FAS stated, "We estimate that the warheads were taken from the inactive reserve of non-deployed warheads that are stored to provide a "hedge" against technical failure of a warhead type or to respond to geopolitical surprises."
Hans Kristensen noted, "The cut adds significantly to the large inventory of retired (but still intact) warheads that are awaiting dismantlement." That number was estimated by VP Biden to be now 2,800. Most, if not all, of these weapons awaiting dismantlement are stored at the Kirtland AFB storage site in Albuquerque. (Also stored there are some number of "hedge" weapons, so it is possible that these 553 warheads just received a modified designation, but otherwise have not even been moved.) The warheads are meant to be dismantled at the Pantex Plant; however at the current average rate of 278 per year, it will take to 2026 to dismantle the current backlog.
Kristensen notes, "Even so, the Obama administration still holds the position of being the administration that has cut the least warheads from the stockpile compared with other post-Cold War presidencies."
(refs and more details at FAS)
The Historic UN Vote On Banning Nuclear Weapons
The very first resolution passed by the newly formed United Nations on December 21, 1945, Resolution 1(1), established a commission of the UN Security Council to ensure: 1) that atomic energy is only used for peaceful purposes, and 2) the elimination of atomic weapons from the arsenals of nations.
That was 71 years ago. Then there was the appalling Cold War nuclear arms race. Now, a quarter century after the end of that frozen conflict, the nations of the UN General Assembly have moved again to deal with the catastrophic danger of nuclear weapons, and have passed an historic resolution "to convene in 2017 a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination."
All nuclear weapons states, with the single exception of North Korea, voted against or abstained. The final vote was 123 for the resolution, 38 against, and 16 abstaining. (see country by country vote)
"There comes a time when choices have to be made and this is one of those times," said Helena Nolan, Ireland's director of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, "Given the clear risks associated with the continued existence of nuclear weapons, this is now a choice between responsibility and irresponsibility. Governance requires accountability and governance requires leadership."
The Obama Administration was in fierce opposition. It lobbied all nations, particularly its allies, to vote no. "How can a state that relies on nuclear weapons for its security possibly join a negotiation meant to stigmatize and eliminate them?" said Ambassador Robert Wood, the U.S. special representative to the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
An interesting argument considering that the President himself had declared in Prague in 2009, "To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same." (ref)
Ploughshares' Joe Cirincione wrote in a commentary for the Huffington Post: "The U.S. opposition is a profound mistake. Ambassador Wood is a career foreign service officer and a good man who has worked hard for our country. But this position is indefensible."
"The idea of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons is inspired by similar, successful treaties to ban biological weapons, chemical weapons, and landmines. All started with grave doubts. Many in the United States opposed these treaties. But when President Richard Nixon began the process to ban biological weapons and President George H.W. Bush began talks to ban chemical weapons, other nations rallied to their leadership. These agreements have not yet entirely eliminated these deadly arsenals (indeed, the United States is still not a party to the landmine treaty) but they stigmatized them, hugely increased the taboo against their use or possession, and convinced the majority of countries to destroy their stockpiles.
"The ban treaty idea did not originate in the United States, nor was it championed by many U.S. groups, nor is within U.S. power to control the process. Indeed, this last seems to be one of the major reasons the administration opposes the talks.
"The movement reflects widespread fears that the world is moving closer to a nuclear catastrophe - and that the nuclear-armed powers are not serious about reducing these risks or their arsenals. If anything, these states are increasing the danger by pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into new Cold War nuclear weapons programs.
"There is still time for the United States to shift gears. We should not squander the opportunity to join a process already in motion and to help guide it to a productive outcome. It is a Washington trope that you cannot defeat something with nothing. Right now, the US has nothing positive to offer. The disarmament process is dead and this lack of progress undermines global support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty and broader efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
"The new presidential administration must make a determined effort to mount new initiatives that reduce these weapons, reduce these risks. It should also support the ban treaty process as a powerful way to build global support for a long-standing American national security goal. We must, as President John F. Kennedy said, eliminate these weapons before they eliminate us." (read the full post at HuffPo)
"The rest of the world is finally standing up to this threat to their survival and that of the planet. They are taking matters into their own hands and refusing to be held hostage by the nuclear nations. They will no longer be bullied into sitting back and waiting for the nuclear states to make good on empty promises."
- Robert Dodge,
Nuclear Weapons- The Time for Abolition is Now
The Vatican's ambassador to the UN, Archbishop Bernardito Auza declared, "Nuclear arms offer a false sense of security and the uneasy peace promised by nuclear deterrence is a tragic illusion. Nuclear weapons cannot create a stable and secure world. Peace and international stability cannot be established on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of total annihilation. Lasting peace cannot be guaranteed by the maintenance of a balance of terror... The indefinite possession of nuclear weapons is morally wrong, an affront to the 'entire framework of the United Nations' and a contradiction to its vocation of service to humanity and the global common good." (ref)
And the Dalai Lama has stated: "By far the greatest single danger facing humankind- in fact, all living beings on our planet- is the threat of nuclear destruction. I need not elaborate on this danger, but I would like to appeal to all the leaders of the nuclear powers who literally hold the future of the world in their hands, to the scientists and technicians who continue to create these awesome weapons of destruction, and to all the people at large who are in a position to influence their leaders: I appeal to them to exercise their sanity and begin to work at dismantling and destroying all nuclear weapons." (ref)
And yet in spite of the clear opposition and condemnation of the vast majority of nations and of the people of the world, even of our "faith leaders", the nuclear weapons states, most particularly the US and Russia, are embarked on a "modernizing" production binge of new doomsday machines. This indeed can only be described as indefensible. Which of our 'leaders' will have the courage to lead the way in stopping this insanity?
Security Council urges all to ratify Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
23 September 2016. "Reaffirming that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery, threatens international peace and security, the United Nations Security Council today adopted a resolution urging all States who haven't done so to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty".
Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of CTBTO: "A world free of nuclear of weapons goes by stopping testing too, and then taking steps that will reinforce the agreements that are already here, and then leading us towards what we all want: a world free of nuclear weapons; a world free of any attempt of modernization that some are talking about today." (ref)
Success With Movement to Ban at the UN:
September 22, 2016.
Austria's foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, announced his country would join other UN member states in tabling a resolution next month to convene negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons in 2017.
The Austrian-sponsored resolution would take forward this recommendation by establishing a formal mandate for negotiations. The deadline for tabling the resolution in the General Assembly's First Committee, which deals with disarmament matters, is 13 October.
Following the tabling, nations will debate the resolution, then vote on whether to adopt it in the final week of October or first week of November. A second, confirmatory vote will take place in a plenary session of the General Assembly early in December.
Myanmar said on Monday 10/10: "Many in the room have expressed that nuclear weapons must be banned like other WMDs. They must be outlawed, in all aspects, as an interim measure leading to their total elimination."
UN OEWG concludes with major breakthrough in effort to ban nuclear weapons
In the most contentious of three recommendations to the General Assembly,
62 countries declared their support for:
"The convening by the General Assembly of a conference in 2017 open to all states, international organizations, and civil society, to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons leading towards their total elimination."
(Of the 27 opposed, most were NATO countries, with Australia and South Korea - countries under the US 'nuclear umbrella')
"This breakthrough is result of the new global discourse on nuclear weapons. Since Norway hosted the first conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in 2013, the effect of the weapons on humans and the environment has taken center stage. Three conferences were held on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons (Norway, Mexico, Austria). These brought together governments, academia and civil society for fact-based examination of what the weapons can do- and what can be done to mitigate their effect. The conferences found that there is no way to recover from any use of nuclear weapons in populated areas, and no way to prevent the damage from crossing borders..."
"International treaties exist to prohibit all other weapons of mass destruction (chemical and biological) as well as to outlaw other weapons with indiscriminate effects (anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs). The fact that nuclear weapons are not clearly illegal is simply bizarre.
"No weapon has ever been eliminated before it was made illegal, and nuclear weapons are no exception. A ban would not only make it illegal for nations to use or possess nuclear weapons; it would also help pave the way to their complete elimination. Nations committed to reaching the goal of abolition have shown that they are ready to start negotiations in 2017."
- (read more of ICAN's coverage)
- Susi Snyder (PAX-Netherlands) Op-Ed in Huffington Post
- Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will- Editorial
- UN Tribune : UN Votes to Begin Negotiations on a Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons
August 9, 2016 Nuclear Disarmament: Basel Peace Office Makes a Novel Proposal in Final Days of UN OEWG
The final session of the UN nuclear disarmament working group (#OEWG) opened in Geneva on Friday August 5; governments will meet for another 4-5 days over the next two weeks, to discuss the OEWG draft report, with the aim to adopt the final report on August 19 for submission to the UN General Assembly.
Of particular note: Basel Peace Office introduced a working paper which expanded on a novel proposal calling for a nuclear-ban amendment conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If one-third of the States Parties to the NPT call for such a conference, the NPT depositories (Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) are legally obliged to hold the conference, invite all States Parties to the NPT to attend and discuss the proposed nuclear weapons ban. "Such an NPT conference could therefore build political momentum and legal impact for a nuclear ban, particularly in nuclear-armed and allied states." (more at UnfoldZero) / (view/download Basel Peace Office proposal full text PDF)
George Shultz: The Power of Ought
A salute to former Secretary of State George Shultz on his 95th birthday from the organization he co-founded, Nuclear Threat Initiative
NTI launches the William J. Perry Project
Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has just published a new book, a memoir titled "My Journey at the Nuclear Brink". At the same time, NTI has launched the online William J. Perry Project, to "educate and engage the public on the dangers of nuclear weapons in the 21st century".
"I hope to encourage young people to take the baton I am trying to pass to them. My generation created this existential problem- their generation must find a way to solve it."- William Perry.
The Pope and the Bomb: Bishop Oscar Cantú Remarks
Bishop Oscar Cantú, Chairman, Committee on International Justice & Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, at "The Pope and the Bomb: New Nuclear Dangers and Moral Dilemmas" event on September 17, 2015, with moderator E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post columnist, former Sen. Sam Nunn, NTI Co-Chairman and CEO, and Prof. Maryann Cusimano Love, Associate Professor of International Relations, The Catholic University of America.
June 2015 Recommended: An Unnoticed Crisis: The End of History for Nuclear Arms Control?
Alexei Arbatov, Carnegie Moscow Center
"Nearly all negotiations on nuclear arms reduction and nonproliferation have come to a stop, while existing treaty structures are eroding due to political and military-technological developments and may collapse in the near future."
"With the disintegration of the nuclear arms control regime, threats of and plans for the combat use of nuclear forces will return to the strategic and political environment. Mutual mistrust, suspicion, and misunderstanding among nuclear states will also increase, which may lead to a fatal error in a crisis, with grave consequences."
"It appears that many parliamentarians, influential politicians, and civic organizations in both the United States and Russia have embarked on a course of destruction of everything that state leaders, diplomats, and militaries have so painstakingly built in this realm over several decades"
"The history of nuclear arms control has endured periods of stagnation and setbacks before, and some of these were quite lengthy... But the current period of disintegration is unprecedented, with literally every channel of negotiation deadlocked and the entire system of existing arms control agreements under threat. The lack of attention to this situation from the great powers is also unprecedented, but it fits within the drastic deterioration in broader relations between Russia and the United States."
Read more, including Arbatov's suggestions to safeguard the arms control process: view/download PDF
May 24, 2015:NPT Rev Con 2015 Fails Over Mideast Nuclear-Free Zone "Anti-nuclear campaigners, angered by the perceived weakness of the outcome document, view the humanitarian pledge as the most significant result of the troubled diplomatic process." (ref)
At the last NPT RevCon in 2010, it was agreed that there should be a conference on establishing a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East in 2012. That conference never took place.
Last month, Egypt, backed by other Arab states and the 100+ non-aligned nations, proposed that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convene a regional conference within 180 days on banning weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East as called for at the 2010 NPT review, with or without Israel's participation, and without a pre-agreed agenda.
Those conditions were "unacceptable to Israel and Washington".
Reuters: "Egypt's proposals, Western diplomats say, were intended to focus attention on Israel. Washington and Israel say Iran's nuclear program is the real regional threat."
More than a taste of Alice in Wonderland there: Israel after all, has the only nuclear arsenal* in the mideast, and is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty; Iran is, on the other hand, a signatory to the treaty, has no nuclear weapons, and indeed has officially forsworn them.
More Reuters: "After four weeks of negotiations at the United Nations on ways to improve compliance with the pact, there was no consensus among its 191 signatories."
Actually there was a consensus: of the 191 parties, only 3 opposed: US, UK, Canada.
Israeli PM Netanyahu telephoned Kerry "to convey his appreciation to President Obama and to the secretary".
*According to recently declassified documents, the US aided Israel in developing its nuclear weapons; what's more, the same Benjamin Netanyahu was a key player in the smuggling of nuclear triggers from the US to Israel.
The Real Outcome: The Austrian Pledge
As the 2015 NPT Review Conference ended, 107 states had endorsed the Austrian pledge, issued at the recent Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in Geneva, committing to work for a new legally binding instrument for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
"The wide and growing international support for this historic pledge sends a signal that governments are ready to move forward on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, even if the nuclear weapon states are not ready to join."
"History honors only the brave" declared Costa Rica. "Now is the time to work for what is to come, the world we want and deserve."
May 8, 2015: Four Reasons Why U.S. Claims of NPT Compliance Are False NukeWatch's Jay Coghlan has recently returned from the NonProliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations. The U.S. claims to be in compliance with the NPT's obligation that all nuclear powers disarm their stockpiles. This is false given the trillion dollar plan for rebuilding nuclear weapons with new military capabilities, new production facilities and new missiles, subs and bombers.
- Read the full NukeWatch fact sheet:
Podcast audio: NPT Review with Dr. James Doyle
Here's a good review of the NPT situation going into the Review Conference this month, in a podcast from ABC (Australia):
"Who's next- looking back on 45 years of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty", with Dr. James Doyle, ex-LANL non-proliferation expert. (Listen audio/mp3)
April 17, 2015: NPT Disarmament Obligations and Nuclear Myth-Busting
Dr. James E. Doyle
"On April 14, 2015 the U.S. State Department Bureau of International Security and
Nonproliferation released a so-called Fact Sheet entitled "Myths and Facts Regarding the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Regime." As such, it represents the official position of
the United States Government, and is aimed at international delegations that will be attending
the 2015 NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference from April 27 to May 22 at the
United Nations in New York City. The State Department's fact sheet contains several
important statements that are misleading, inaccurate or fail to address the most salient aspects
of global efforts to prohibit the military uses of nuclear energy. American nuclear security
and non-proliferation agendas would be better served if such misstatements were not
repeated and promoted at the NPT Review Conference..."
(View/download full report)
Obama Promised a "World Without Nuclear Weapons," But May Now Spend $1 Trillion on Upgrades Amy Goodman with Elena Sokova, executive director of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation DemocracyNow, Oct.24, 2014
"It's a funny thing:
the administrations that talk the most about reducing nuclear weapons tend to reduce the least."
How Presidents Arm and Disarm Oct 15, 2014: Hans Kristensen analyzes how it is that President Obama, despite his strong rhetoric about reducing the numbers of nuclear weapons, so far has had the least effect on the size of the stockpile of any of the post-Cold War presidents.
Read Kristensen's analysis at the F.A.S. Security Blog, 10/15/14
Slowing Nuclear Weapon Reductions and Endless Nuclear Weapon Modernizations: A Challenge to the NPT Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July-August 2014
"The nuclear-armed states have large residual nuclear arsenals, and post-Cold War reductions of nuclear weapons have slowed. Meanwhile, the nuclear nations have undertaken ambitious nuclear weapon modernization programs that threaten to prolong the nuclear era indefinitely.
"These trends present a challenge to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty community, appearing to contradict the promises by the five NPT nuclear-weapon states to pursue a halt to the nuclear arms race and to seek nuclear disarmament.
"The NPT does not explicitly place limitations on modernizations, but the 2015 NPT Review Conference will have to address whether extending the nuclear arsenals in perpetuity is consistent with the obligations under NPT's Article VI and the overall purpose of the treaty."
"More than 93 percent of the world's nuclear weapons belong to just two countries: Russia and the United States.
"The overwhelming and disproportionate size of the Russian and US arsenals indicates that they predominantly are shaped by each other rather than other nuclear-armed states, and that the sizes of their current arsenals are more an indication of how far the Cold War drawdown has progressed (and how far it still has to go) rather than an expression of how many warheads the two countries actually need for their national security. In other words, were it not for their own large inventories, Russia and the United States could probably reduce their warhead inventories by a factor of 10. Doing so would put significant pressure on the other nuclear-armed states to limit their nuclear arsenals as well." (See the report in full)
Nuclear Modernization Briefings at the NPT Conference in New York Hans Kristensen, FAS:
"Last week I was in New York to brief two panels at the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (phew!).
"The first panel was on "Current Status of Rebuilding and Modernizing the United States Warheads and Nuclear Weapons Complex", an NGO side event organized on May 1st by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). While describing the U.S. programs, I got permission from the organizers to cover the modernization programs of all the nuclear-armed states... it puts the U.S. efforts better in context and shows that nuclear weapon modernization is global challenge for the NPT.
Nuclear Weapons Modernization Programs of Nuclear-Armed States View download presentation (PDF)
"The second panel was:
The Future of the B61: Perspectives From the United States and Europe.
"This GNO side event was organized by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation on May 2nd. In my briefing I focused on providing factual information about the status and details of the B61 life-extension program, which, more than a simple 'life-extension', will produce the first guided, standoff nuclear bomb in the U.S. inventory, and significantly enhance NATO's nuclear posture in Europe."
View download presentation (PDF)
Non-Treaty Reductions to U.S. Nuclear Stockpile A Report by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
Nov 26, 2013. By Kingston Reif and Usha Sahay
(View/download the full report.)
- The United States has adjusted the number and types of nuclear weapons in its arsenal via multiple different avenues.
- Treaties have been an important, but not the only, means by which the United States has reduced the number and types of nuclear weapons in its arsenal.
- While treaties have focused on the deployed portion of the U.S. strategic nuclear stockpile, presidents have routinely exercised broad authority over non-strategic or "tactical" nuclear weapons and non-deployed or "reserve" nuclear weapons, which together comprise the majority of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
- Since the end of the Cold War, Republican Presidents- George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush- have been particularly prone to cutting nuclear weapons without treaties pursuant to the authority of the Commander and Chief to set nuclear force levels.
- President Obama has been more intent than his post-Cold War Republican predecessors on a treaty-based approach to nuclear reductions, but has nonetheless come under fire from his opponents in Congress for attempting to reduce the size of the arsenal.
(View/download the full report)
Obama Announces Up to One-Third Cut in Nuclear Arms; In Contrast, U.S. Nuclear Agency Plans ˜$60 Billion in Weapons Upgrades and Improvements Nukewatch Press Release June 19:
"Today, standing in front of the historic Brandenburg gate in Berlin, President Barack Obama declared that he will seek to cut the arsenal of deployed strategic nuclear arms by up to one-third in concert with Russia. He also said he will pursue significant bilateral cuts in tactical or battlefield nuclear weapons in Europe. In contrast, just two days ago, Obamas National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) released it plans for over 60 billion dollars in upgrades and improvements to existing nuclear weapons, beginning with a $10 billion upgrade to the B61 tactical bomb based in Europe..." (Read more- view/download NWNM press release PDF) Full transcript of the President's Berlin Speech at WhiteHouse.gov.
- David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, had this to say: "President Obama ... stated, 'Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons no matter how distant that dream may be.' Yes, we all of us need the security of a world without nuclear weapons, but why must the dream be distant? Why must we think of the dream as being distant? Why must President Obama frame it in this way? Is he not demonstrating a deficit of leadership in doing so? Whose interests are being served- those of corporate weapons makers or those of the people of the world?" (Read full column)
". . . Recent scholarship in the fields of history and deterrence theory questions deeply held beliefs regarding how nuclear weapons might influence the behavior of national decision-makers. For example, declassified official documents from the Cold War reveal occasions when nuclear catastrophe was avoided by luck or seemingly random events rather than by the clearly identifiable operation of nuclear deterrence. There are further examples where existential characteristics of alerted nuclear forces appear to have caused crises that nearly resulted in their use. Finally, a growing number of strategists and technical and political elites regard nuclear weapons and deterrence theory as anachronistic.
"Many citizens, scientists and laymen alike, view nuclear weapons abolition as an essential milestone in the development of human civilisation, a moral, ideological and practical campaign that could catalyze the transformation of international relations and improve the outlook for civilisation at a critical time."
(The above are excerpts- read or download the full text here)
Next Steps in Reducing Nuclear Risks:
The Pace of Nonproliferation Work Today Doesn't Match the Urgency of the Threat
George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, WSJ, 3/5/2013
". . . Despite these considerable efforts, nuclear dangers remain all too real. Technological progress and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional states are compounded by dangerous complacency. Bilateral relations between the two largest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, are frayed, and there are continuing difficulties in effectively addressing emerging nuclear threats in North Korea and Iran, punctuated recently by a test explosion in North Korea. Combined with the dangers of suicidal terrorist groups, the growing number of nations with nuclear arms and differing motives, aims, and ambitions poses very high and unpredictable risks.
"Global leaders owe it to their publics to reduce, and eventually to eliminate, these risks. Even during the Cold War, the leaders of the two superpowers sought to reduce the risk of nuclear war. What was possible among declared enemies is imperative in a world of increasing nuclear stockpiles in some nations, multiple nuclear military powers and growing diffusion of nuclear energy. A global effort is needed to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, prevent their spread, and ultimately end them as a threat to the world. It will take leadership, creative approaches and thoughtful understanding of the perils of inaction. Near-term results would lay the foundation for transforming global security policies over the medium and long term. We suggest four areas requiring urgent consideration:"
Read "Next Steps in Reducing Nuclear Risks: The Pace of Nonproliferation Work Today Doesn't Match the Urgency of the Threat" at NSP
At IAEA General Conference, the Holy See Insists on Nuclear Disarmament, Calls For a Middle East Nuclear-Free Zone "This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Papal Encyclical 'Pacem in Terris' of Blessed Pope John XXIII... we should ask ourselves whether we really live in a more secure and safer world today compared with that of a few decades ago".
Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, speaking at the 57th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, 16 September:
"The Holy See shares the thoughts and sentiments of most men and women of good will who aspire to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Hence, we would like to use this opportunity to renew our call upon the leaders of nations to put an end to nuclear weapons production and to transfer nuclear material from military purpose to peaceful activities."
(Vatican: "50 Years After Pacem in Terris, The Holy See Insists on Nuclear Disarmament")
"What is the only provocation that could bring about the use of nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. What is the priority target for nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. What is the only established defense against nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. How do we prevent the use of nuclear weapons? By threatening the use of nuclear weapons. And we can't get rid of nuclear weapons, because of nuclear weapons. The intransigence, it seems, is a function of the weapons themselves."- Martin Amis, Einstein's Monsters
- Action Alert:
Rep. Markey has reintroduced his important bill from last year (The SANE Act, aka H.R. 1506) that cuts over $100 billion in nuclear weapons spending. Use this online form to ask the representatives of your state to cosponsor the SANE Act.
September, 2016, The New Yorker: The Virtues of Nuclear Ignorance Zero-knowledge proof and nuclear disarmament verification:
how do you prove a bomb is real without revealing what's inside?
García-Robles' Nobel Medal Sold at Auction
Alfonso García Robles drafted the 1967 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982. He died in 1991. The Treaty of Tlatelolco, as it became known, was the first of its kind and is credited with keeping Latin America and the Caribbean free of nuclear weapons.
"A towering landmark in non-proliferation and disarmament, the Treaty's principles, safeguards and verification measures remain highly influential today." -Christie's, presenting the Nobel medal for auction April 28, 2017, New York City. (It brought $487,500)
The Urgency of Action on the CTBT Contributing to International Peace and Security in an Increasingly Unstable World
28 Apr 2015 - Side Event of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Preparatory Commission (CTBTO PrepCom)
45th Anniversary of the NPT
45 years ago, March 5, 1970, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force. In a press statement from the US Secretary of State John Kerry: "All countries profit when there is smart, continuous action in the direction of nuclear disarmament." (read the full statement)
World Council of Churches
"As long as nuclear weapons exist, they pose a threat to humanity... Nuclear-armed states appear to be flouting majority concerns by emphasizing the continued importance of nuclear weapons, modernizing their arsenals for many more decades of use and minimizing the Non-Proliferation Treaty obligation to negotiate effective measures for nuclear disarmament. Nevertheless, a new global constituency for abolition is transforming nuclear debate. Governments, international organizations, civil society campaigns and religious networks are delegitimizing nuclear weapons on the basis of their health, humanitarian and environmental consequences. The legitimacy and prestige ascribed to nuclear weapons is eroding as a result."
Statement Towards a Nuclear-Free World (July 2014)
Disarmament and Related Treaties
Published 4 December 2014 by The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, this publication contains the text of multilateral treaties that focus on nuclear weapons, and nuclear-weapon-free zones and other disarmament treaties.
Ebook version coming soon. PDF version available online now
October 22, 2014:
Taking stock of the Ukraine crisis' impact on the prospects for nuclear disarmament in Europe and wider arms control processes. Anna Sliwon, British-American Security Information Council
"From the violation of Ukrainian national borders, to the breach of the Budapest memorandum, through to Putin's ominous August rhetoric reminding Western leaders of Russia's status as a strong nuclear power, events in Eastern Europe have led to worsening of an already difficult climate for discussions on the issue of removal of American B61 gravity bombs deployed in five European states.
"...existing defense and deterrence mechanisms, international legal and allied security guarantees and assurances, and their viability and effectiveness, have been subject to renewed examination..."
"Against such a climate of uncertainty, insecurity and confrontation, it is difficult to imagine a serious consideration of prospects for nuclear disarmament in Europe by political leaders from NATO member states."
(see full article at BASIC)
"For the last two years, I have voiced concerns that modernizing the nuclear weapons stockpile not come at the expense of nonproliferation funding. This year is an egregious example of just that happening. And I am determined that it will not stand."
- Senator Diane Feinstein, April 30, 2014; opening statement to the Senate Energy and Water subcommittee hearing regarding nonproliferation cuts in the FY 2015 budget.
August 6, a time to reflect: Hiroshima, Hair-Trigger, and Existential Risks
David Wright, UCS, Global Security Program
"Today's growing tensions with Russia remind us that we are not yet out of the nuclear woods and that crises can still arise that can make it more likely for errors or accidents to lead to a nuclear exchange. Taking steps to reduce the risk of accidental or erroneous launch is probably the most important thing the U.S. can do to increase its security. Removing missiles from hair-trigger alert is an obvious and achievable first step that President Obama can and should take." (ref)
'It is a mistake to think that nuclear war is impossible. In fact, it might not be improbable.' -Anders Sandberg, Washington Post
Nuclear Threat Initiative- 10th Anniversary
The Saudi Proliferation Question "The first public hint by Saudi officials that the kingdom would consider acquiring a nuclear weapon as a counterweight to Tehran's nuclear program came in June 2011..." (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 12/17/13)
NTI press conference 1/8/14
NTI Co-Chairman Sam Nunn and President Joan Rohlfing applaud the removal of all or most weapons-usable nuclear materials from seven countries since the beginning of 2012. Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Sweden, Ukraine, and Vietnam
The Man Who Warned Congress about Pakistan Nukes in 1987 Paid a Steep Price
"If they had busted those [Pakistani] networks, Iran would have no nuclear program, North Korea wouldn't have a uranium bomb, and Pakistan wouldn't have over a hundred nuclear weapons they are driving around in vans to hide from us." -Richard Barlow, CIA analyst who testified behind closed doors on Capitol Hill in 1987 that the Agency had 'scores' of 'absolutely reliable' reports on Pakistan's clandestine efforts to obtain nuclear bomb technology... Top Reagan administration officials were in 'a panic', because Pakistan was the crucial player in the CIA operation funneling weapons to Islamic 'holy warriors' fighting the Soviet Red Army next door in Afghanistan. If it became known that Pakistan was secretly building a bomb, a law passed by Congress would require a cut-off of military aid..."
(ref: Newsweek, 12/03/13)
"Deliberately echoing the contradiction at the heart of President Obama's 'Prague Agenda', the 2010 Strategic Concept 'commits NATO to the goal of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons- but reconfirms that, as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear Alliance'. Formerly justified in terms of 'transatlantic burden sharing' and 'Alliance cohesion', the removal of tactical nuclear weapons [B61 bombs] is now on NATO's agenda, with or without a fundamental shift to denuclearize NATO's Security Concept. According to research published in 2011, this is actively sought by 10 NATO member states and opposed by only 3 (France, Hungary and Lithuania). The UK is among 14 who say they would not block, while one NATO member registered as 'don't know'." (Acronym.org)
Feb 24, 2014: The Myth of American Nuclear Obsolescence
"The United States is, in fact, engaged in the world's largest and most expensive nuclear weapons modernization program... Every aspect of the US nuclear deterrent is being modernized and updated... America is on pace to match the size of the Reagan nuclear build-up during the 1980s, despite the very changed security and economic realities facing our nation..."
-Jon Wolfsthal for The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (see full report at CNS).
Click to enlarge: Click to enlarge
Global Zero Op-eds by George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger and Sam Nunn:
"The people who are the most anti-nuclear are
the ones who know the most about it." -Eric Schlosser, author, "Command and Control" (ref)
Judgement Day http://xkcd.com/1626/
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"Nuclear disarmament is not just an ardent desire of the people, as expressed in many resolutions of the United Nations. It is a legal commitment by the five official nuclear states, entered into when they signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty."
-Nobel Laureate Joseph Rotblat
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