The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is the Council’s affiliated 501(c)(3) research organization.
RUSSIA THREATENS TO STATION TACTICAL NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN BELARUS
The Kremlin issued yet another nuclear threat last month by announcing it plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. This follows the transfer of deployment vehicles including Iskander missile systems. The strategic value of such a move is questionable though. One senior administration official reportedly said that the United States has “not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture,” and that there were no “indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon.” Even before this escalatory decision, Moscow was already capable of striking eastern and central Europe. What this transfer does do is increase the probability of nuclear accidents.
North Korean state media delivered a veiled threat accusing the United States and South Korea of escalating tensions to “the brink of nuclear war” in response to joint military exercises between the two allies. Pyongyang has traditionally seen these activities as destabilizing in the fear that they may be a rehearsal for allied invasion. The Kim regime has continuously fired ballistic missiles since last year including one that landed in the waters between Korea and Japan in early April. These demonstrations are accompanied by wonder-weapon announcements like that of an “underwater nuclear attack drone” capable of creating a “super-scale radioactive tsunami.”
IRAN TENSIONS REMAIN HIGH AS ADMINISTRATION DENIES REPORTS OF INTERIM DEAL
It has been a month since Iran and Saudi Arabia renewed diplomatic relations through a deal brokered by China. The deal seems to already be bearing fruit as productive talks for a permanent peace in the Yemeni civil war were conducted. An end to this war could also provide relief to what is currently the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
In late March, the United States conducted air strikes on Iranian-backed groups in Syria after a U.S. contractor was killed and other U.S. personnel were injured in a drone attack.
Finally, news reports this month indicated that the Biden administration discussed a potential new proposal of an interim nuclear deal with Iran and other allies. However, those reports were largely dismissed by the administration and it is unclear how accurate they were. The Biden administration does still view diplomacy as the best strategy toward Iran.
NO, WE DON’T NECESSARILY NEED MORE WEAPONS
Council Senior Fellow John Isaacs recently authored an article in Inkstick, arguing that preparing to deploy more nuclear weapons is not the only possible response to Russian and Chinese behavior. We should avoid an “unconstrained, costly global nuclear arms race that has no winner and retain the option to pursue new diplomatic initiatives when those opportunities present themselves,” Isaacs writes.
MARKEY AND LIEU REINTRODUCE NUCLEAR LEGISLATION
Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) recently re-introduced their “Restricting Use of Nuclear Weapons Act” to prohibit any U.S. President from launching a nuclear strike without prior authorization from Congress. The bill would also institute safeguards to prevent the president from introducing nuclear weapons in a conflict. Both Members are longtime leaders on nuclear arms control issues. The Council is a supporter of this proposal and all legislation that could spark conversations about alternatives to the President’s sole authority to launch nuclear weapons.
LAUNCHED: NEXT UP IN ARMS CONTROL
The nuclear policy field has faced valid criticism over the years of being “male, pale and stale.” Since our founding, our mission has been to make nuclear weapons policy as accessible as possible because the policies necessary to reduce the risks of nuclear war can only happen with mass support.
As part of our job to work toward building that support, we are thrilled to announce the launch of a new Nukes of Hazard blog series, Next Up in Arms Control, geared toward youth and other voices that are generally underrepresented in nuclear policy.
If you or someone you know from an underrepresented community has some original ideas on how to advance nuclear, chemical or biological non-proliferation efforts, we’d love to hear from you.
NEW ON THE NUKES OF HAZARD BLOG: WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH, NEW START AND ARMS CONTROL DEBATE FALLACIES
Reflecting on the past, present and future of women in nuclear security: In celebration of Women’s History Month in March, three women on our staff — Scoville Fellow Sophia Macartney, Program Coordinator Isabel Martinez and Communications Associate Farah Sonde — organized a virtual roundtable discussion with some of the Center’s and Council’s esteemed women board members — Ambassador Susan F. Burk, Sharon Squassoni and Leonor Tomero — to reflect on the past, present and future of women in nuclear security. Although immense progress has been made to include all previously dismissed perspectives in nuclear security, there is still more work to be done to ensure the institutional and cultural changes are made to always allow all voices a seat at the table.
Is New START worth keeping?: Research Analyst Matthew Teasdale writes that headlines decrying the end of nuclear arms control because of Russia’s suspension of key elements of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) ignore not only the many global non-proliferation treaties that remain in place but also the history of arms control agreement negotiations writ large.
The fallacies of the arms control debate in times of tension: Communications Associate Farah Sonde writes about the fundamental misunderstanding many have that arms control is a luxury to ditch when tensions are high and that it implicitly creates a system of winners and losers — both dangerous and potentially fatal assumptions.
CALIFORNIA CONUNDRUM SPOTLIGHTS SENATE RACE
Senator Dianne Feinstein continues to be absent from the Senate as she battles a shingles diagnosis from February. Recently, calls for her to resign before the end of her term have increased. Her absence from the Senate Judiciary Committee has stalled Senate Democrats’ ability to advance President Biden’s judicial nominees. Senate Democrats attempted to replace Feinstein on the committee, but the effort was blocked by Senate Republicans. Feinstein is not seeking re-election in 2024 and three current House members, Katie Porter, Barbara Lee and Adam Schiff — all of whom have been previously endorsed by the Council — have declared bids to replace the longest-serving woman Senator.
FETTERMAN RETURNS TO THE SENATE
We welcome the return of Council-endorsed Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) to the Senate. Upon his release from the Walter Reed medical facility after treatment for depression, Fetterman highlighted his experience as an example of the recovery that is possible with therapy and thanked the medical team at Walter Reed for “changing his life.”
Elections are over and now it’s time for the Council to ramp up its advocacy work on Capitol Hill. Have you considered making a monthly donation to support our efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear threats through political action? You can donate as little as $1 a month. Become a monthly supporter today!
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