DISAPPOINTING FY 2022 DEFENSE POLICY BILL SENT TO BIDEN
More than two and a half months into the fiscal year, Congressional leaders finally hammered out a deal on the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual bill that authorizes programs and policies at the Pentagon, NNSA, and other defense activities. The final “compromise” version of the bill, which Executive Director John Tierney calls “a tremendous waste of taxpayer money,” includes $25 billion above the White House’s request, fully funds nuclear weapons programs, and does little to the risks posed by nuclear weapons worldwide. Read the Council’s full statement and the Center’s analysis of the final bill.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE AND DANGEROUS DETERRENCE
It is December 2021, and Russia is threatening Ukraine. Again. When rumors arise that Russia will try to take more of Ukraine, they are followed by firm statements that the international community will not tolerate such behavior, and then by rapid international denials of any intention to send troops to Ukraine or take any step that would increase the risk of violence. The reason for avoiding any such confrontation boils down to the entirely reasonable point that conflict with Russia risks the use of nuclear weapons.
This is deterrence, explains Senior Policy Director John Erath in his latest piece published in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. No one will act if doing so may provoke a nuclear response. Yet in the present moment, Russian President Vladimir Putin is putting the responsibility for avoiding nuclear war on others while turning the concept of deterrence backwards. Erath details seven ways to keep Putin from engaging in nuclear blackmail.
THE PENTAGON’S NEW CHINA REPORT: READING BETWEEN THE LINES
Senior Fellow John Isaacs wrote an op-ed in The National Interest explaining why an effective policy response to China’s military buildup should consider all aspects of the situation, not just the potential numbers of nuclear weapons or ships, and employ all instruments of policy, not just the military.
PROSPECTS AND STATUS OF IRANIAN NUCLEAR NEGOTIATIONS
After a five-month hiatus, talks resumed in Vienna between Iran and the P4+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom) on Nov. 29 to discuss the nuclear deal’s revival, but the Raisi administration’s approach to talks risks unraveling those efforts. The new government has outlined additional concessions that go beyond the original terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran demands that the United States remove all sanctions imposed since the United States withdrew from the agreement in May 2018 and guarantee that a future president will not leave the deal again. While unrealistic, Research Analyst Samuel Hickey describes why these demands should not be seen as redlines. Rather, Iran appears to seek a metric to validate the value of any deal it reaches over its nuclear program. Finally, check out Hickey’s latest analysis as he discusses the status of the nuclear talks going into the holidays.
HOW TO JUMPSTART A DIALOGUE WITH CHINA ON ARMS CONTROL
China’s efforts to increase its military strength and the signs that it may seek to increase its stockpile of nuclear warheads by the end of the decade are indeed challenges, but not as large as they are made out to be. The United States’ nuclear arsenal is significantly larger than China’s (around 15-20 times greater, depending on which estimate one uses), so conventional Cold War-type arms control is simply not an option because of this disparity. Writing in The Diplomat Magazine, Research Analyst Samuel Hickey argues that “engaging China in talks to begin an accession process for the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) could, however, prove a useful entry point into broader arms control talks.”
Hickey was also invited on the podcast Power Play to discuss this article, China’s recently launched hypersonic weapon, the state of China’s current nuclear arsenal, export control initiatives, and China-U.S. relations surrounding nuclear weapons and arms control. Bringing China into the MTCR is not the silver bullet to resolving bilateral issues, but maybe it can spark a chain reaction of engagement on a host of issues.
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