Council: Front and Center: August 17, 2019

The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is the Council’s affiliated 501(c)(3) research organization. 

As of August 2, only one treaty stands between an all-out nuclear arms race between the United States and Russia after the Trump administration and Russian government failed to salvage the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a Reagan-era deal that led to the destruction of nearly 2,700 missiles for conventional and nuclear warheads and prohibited further construction and deployment of missiles with a 500–5,500 kilometer range. To be clear, Russia had been in violation of the agreement since the Obama administration, but the United States did not do everything in its power to bring Russia back into compliance. 

Senior Policy Director Alexandra Bell gave a thorough analysis of the past, present and future of arms control with Russia in a radio interview on the Rick Ungar show. You can also read Bell telling CNN why these missiles are destabilizing, explaining to U.S. News and World Report why the United States is unlikely to place new INF-range missiles in Europe, and being quoted in USA Today about what should come next for the two countries. You can also watch Policy Analyst Geoff Wilson discuss the INF Treaty collapse and other nuclear concerns with KOCO 5 News in Washington, detail the history of the agreement with Voice of America, and explain concerns about stability with The Real News Network

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, is also endangered. New START expires in February 2021, but can — and should be — extended another five years. Just this week, Trump administration officials expressed interest in scrapping the deal in favor of negotiating a more comprehensive deal that includes other weapons and adds China as a third party to the deal. We fully support additional and more comprehensive deals, but there is no reason to scrap a deal that is working until another deal is met. (And, of note, China has not expressed interest in joining an arms control deal with the United States and Russia, as their arsenals are more than 20 times larger than China’s.) 

Meanwhile, an explosion late last week drew international attention to Russia’s nuclear program, which Bell discussed on CNN’s The Situation Room, and Wilson discussed with U.S. News and World Report.

North Korea has conducted six missile tests in less than four weeks, which it has said is in response to ongoing military exercises between the United States and South Korea. President Trump has shown great restraint in not escalating the situation further by lashing out at North Korea, but, as Program Coordinator Abigail Stowe-Thurston told The Wall Street Journal, North Korea’s testing might be sending the signal that the United States is running out of time to offer North Korea some kind of concession. In the interview from the end of July, she correctly predicted that we would see more provocations until that happens.

No First Use policy, which would state that the United States would not use a nuclear weapon first in conflict, came up in the first night of the second round of the Democratic presidential primary debates on CNN. Senator Elizabeth Warren emphatically expressed her support for the policy, correctly stating that such a policy would make the world safer. Stowe-Thurston explains what Montana Governor Steve Bullock got wrong in his rebuttal to Warren, and explains the problem with the framing of “tying the President’s hands.” 

Learn more about No First Use policy, including basic facts, answers to frequently asked questions, and myths versus realities.

Many Americans believe the “nuclear issue” was solved when the Cold War ended. Yet, there are still 14,000 nuclear weapons around the world today in the arsenals of nine countries. The United States alone currently maintains an arsenal of more than 6,000 weapons—more than enough to end life on this planet several times over. Americans are increasingly waking up to a nuclear nightmare, fueled by bloated defense budgets, unnecessary and wasteful modernizations of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and the unchecked power of the president to launch a weapon at will. Nukes of Hazard podcast host Geoff Wilson sat down with Joe Cirincione, the president of Ploughshares Fund, to make the case for why nuclear issues should be a serious agenda item for all Americans. You can listen now, or find it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother was 12 years old when she survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Now 74 years later, the author of “The Last Cherry Blossom” shares her mother’s story and explains how remembering the human cost of nuclear weapons can help young Americans understand why this issue is still important today. You can listen now, or find it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

The Council has made its first endorsees of the 2020 election cycle: three Senators, two Representatives, and one Representative challenger. Learn more about and donate to the House and Senate candidates from our website. The next round of endorsees is coming soon!