Washington’s pursuit of national ballistic missile defense for the last twenty years has, as much as anything else, driven Russian and Chinese strategic nuclear weapons acquisition decisions.
There are a small number of threats to our nation’s security, involving truly catastrophic consequences, which may be managed by good public policy. Some of these involve uncertainties over scientific or technological developments that could lead to good, as well as very bad outcomes. Think designer biology, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. But two stand out both for the certainty and magnitude of their destructive impact: climate change and nuclear weapons.
What does good public policy look like when dealing with nuclear weapons? It looks like actions that reduce uncertainty, increase transparency and security, and decrease numbers. It is called “arms control.”
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
Bombs Away- The Case for Phasing Out U.S. Tactical Nukes in Europe
An extensive report questioning the wisdom of stationing tactical nuclear weapons in Europe (incl. the B-61). Foreign Affairs, July/August 2014 Issue
State department office whittled down in staff numbers from 14 at start of administration to four as Trump shifts approach
A state department office tasked with negotiating and implementing nuclear disarmament treaties has lost more than 70% of its staff over the past two years, as the Trump administration moves towards a world without arms control for the first time in nearly half a century.
The Office of Strategic Stability and Deterrence Affairs, normally a repository of expertise and institutional knowledge that does the heavy lifting of arms control, has been whittled down from 14 staffers at the start of the Trump administration to four, according to the former staffers.
US joint chiefs of staff posted then removed paper that suggests nuclear weapons could ‘create conditions for decisive results’
[T]he new document “is very much conceived as a war-fighting doctrine – not simply a deterrence doctrine, and that’s unsettling”. – Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, who downloaded and publicized the new policy document before the Pentagon pulled it from the internet.
theguardian.com | The Pentagon believes using nuclear weapons could “create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability”, according to a new nuclear doctrine adopted by the US joint chiefs of staff last week.
The document, entitled Nuclear Operations, was published on 11 June, and was the first such doctrine paper for 14 years. Arms control experts say it marks a shift in US military thinking towards the idea of fighting and winning a nuclear war – which they believe is a highly dangerous mindset.
“Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability,” the joint chiefs’ document says. “Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.”
By Alicia Sanders-Zakre
Foreign ministers and high-level representatives from 15 non-nuclear-armed countries gathered in Stockholm on Tuesday to discuss advancing disarmament, amidst an ever-deteriorating arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation landscape. The resulting joint statement falls far short of the creative thinking and urgency required to rebut current nuclear threats, including an impetuous U.S. President with the launch codes and an effort to dramatically increase the production of radioactive nuclear bomb cores at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
NPT Looks Ahead to 2020 Review Conference Without Consensus Recommendations
NPT states-parties failed to adopt a common set of recommendations for the 2020 Review Conference on the final day of the two week-long 2019 PrepCom on Friday, May 10. Nevertheless, most states expressed optimism in concluding statements about prospects for next year’s review conference and underlined the importance of action in the intervening 12 months on key NPT-related commitments.
The recommendations drafted by the chair, Syed Hussin of Malaysia, failed to garner consensus especially after a round of revisions that sought to take into account the suggestions of the majority of NPT states-parties led several nuclear-weapon states and some of their allies to express their displeasure and their support for the earlier draft. Since NPT states did not adopt the revised draft recommendations by consensus, the document will be issued instead as a working paper submitted by the PrepCom chair. The chair also issued an 8-paragraph reflection on the PrepCom.
In his closing remarks, the incoming president-designate of the 2020 Review Conference, Rafael Mariono Grossi of Argentina promised to “begin work on Monday” on an ambitious plan for consultations with states-parties.
He later tweeted: “As #NPT2019 closes work starts to prepare a successful Review of Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2020. I will consult extensively reach out to all. Everybody’s goal is success. No less.
As #NPT2019 closes work starts to prepare a successful Review of Non Proliferation Treaty in 2020. I will consult extensively reach out to all. Everybody’s goal is success. No less. @UN_Disarmament @CancilleriaARG @ArmsControlNow @NTI_WMD pic.twitter.com/pbaWHq2rsN
— Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) May 10, 2019
WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Michael McCaul, the Committee’s ranking member, today introduced legislation calling on the Trump Administration to retain limits on Russia’s nuclear forces. The “Richard G. Lugar and Ellen O. Tauscher Act to Maintain Limits on Russian Nuclear Forces” calls for an extension of New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) limits on Russia until 2026, as allowed under the Treaty, unless Russia violates the Treaty or until a new agreement in is in place that provides equal or greater constraints, transparency, and verification measures with regard to Russia’s nuclear forces.
“It’s like showing up at a buffet and, instead of having a balanced meal, you say, “I will just gorge on every single capability that is out there.” When you only need a balanced meal to do the job, you don’t need to eat everything at the nuclear buffet table, including offensive and defensive weapons.
Unlike a dinner buffet where it’s “all you can eat at a fixed price,” the nuclear buffet table requires you to pay for everything. With the current spending plan, that is right now estimated to be $1.7 trillion over the next 30 years by the Congressional Budget Office. If you add on all the other capabilities this administration apparently wants to add on, you’re talking about an even bigger price tag.” Senator Chris Van Hollen, Appropriations Committee”
Before I ever thought of running for elected office, I interacted a lot with folks at the Arms Control Association and in the arms control community back in the 1980s. I grew up in a Foreign Service family in many places around the world, but one of the things that I remember most and that had a great impact on me was when I read Jonathan Shell’s New Yorker series, “The Fate of the Earth,” that described what would happen to the planet after a nuclear war.
“Neither country would have the same degree of confidence in its ability to assess the other’s precise warhead levels,” CNA’s Vince Manzo wrote in the study. “Worst-case planning is also more likely as a result.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The demise of the only U.S.-Russia arms control pact limiting deployed nuclear weapons would make it harder for each to gauge the other’s intentions, giving both incentives to expand their arsenals, according to a study to be released on Monday.
The expiration of the New START accord also may undermine faith in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which calls on nuclear states such as the United States and Russia to work toward nuclear disarmament, as well as influence China’s nuclear posture, historically one of restraint.
MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in a decision that was widely expected, suspended his country’s observance of a key nuclear arms control pact on Saturday in response to a similar move by the United States a day before.
But adding to a sense that the broader architecture of nuclear disarmament has started to unravel, Mr. Putin also said that Russia would build weapons previously banned under the treaty and would no longer initiate talks with the United States on any matters related to nuclear arms control.
The Trump administration withdrew from the treaty, a keystone of the late Cold War disarmament pacts known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, saying that Russia had been violating it for years. The decision holds the potential to initiate a new arms race, not only with Russia, but also China, which was never a signatory to the 1987 treaty.
NPR, February 1, 2019, 6:07 AM ET By GEOFF BRUMFIEL
The true battle over these new weapons may end up in Congress. While Republicans seem ready to back the Trump administration’s request for more battlefield nukes, the newly elected Democratic majority in the House of Representatives seems intent on blocking them.
“We do not view nuclear weapons as a tool in warfare,” Adam Smith, now the Democratic chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a speech in November. “It makes no sense for us to build low-yield nuclear weapons.”