Council: Front and Center: July 20, 2019


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

It looks increasingly like neither the Trump administration nor the Russian government will take the steps necessary 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 prohibits further construction and deployment of missiles with a 500–5,500 kilometer range.

Without the INF Treaty, Senior Policy Alexandra Bell explained to BBC World News, there will now be only one remaining constraint on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals, the New START treaty, which is also endangered. The New START treaty expires in February 2021, but can — and should be — extended another five years. (Of note, Bell’s segment starts around the 18-minute mark.)

The images below explain the history of U.S.-Russian arms control agreements. View them larger, like and share on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Following U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal) last year, Iran has begun violating parts of the deal, including by increasing its quantity and quality of low-enriched uranium. 

Center Research Analyst Erin Connolly explained to CTV (Canada) all the steps Iran has taken, how it got to this point, and how the other parties to the agreement are still trying to salvage the deal. Inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities still continue. Connolly said these actions represent Iran showing its frustration and urging the other parties to the agreement to take action because Iran does not want to continue abiding by an agreement that yields them no benefits.

North Korea said this week that it may resume nuclear and missile testing in response to renewed joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, which North Korea sees as a violation of the spirit of the agreement signed between President Trump and leader Kim Jong-un last June. This was less than three weeks after the leaders’ surprise third meeting at the DMZ.

As Program Coordinator Abigail Stowe-Thurston told Sinclair and The Wall Street Journal, denuclearization remains a worthy goal, but smaller steps and a sustained negotiating process must come first. In an op-ed that published just before Trump and Kim met for the third time, Bell writes that the first step toward progress requires Trump to separate his personal feelings for Kim from the very complex and historically fraught efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Last week, the House voted on the National Defense Authorization Act. We did not win every vote we’d hoped, and strongly believe that $733B is far more than the Pentagon needs. But we did have some wins, thanks in large part to your efforts to elect a progressive majority and to support our advocacy work. The wins in the image below belong to all of us! The process is not over, as the House and Senate must agree on the final version, but we are confident we will maintain some of these victories. (Like and share this image on Facebook or Twitter.)

Op-ed: Military spending has many points of contention: Closing overseas bases isn’t one of them: Executive Director John Tierney co-authored an op-ed explaining why closing many of the United States’ 800 overseas military bases would save billions of dollars and make America safer.

Op-ed: Congress is not asking the right questions about missile defense: Policy Intern Deverrick Holmes writes that Congressional questioning of missile defense programs often ignores the real issue: that missile defense creates an unstable environment counterproductive to U.S. interests.

Is nuclear weapons testing back on the horizon? Bell was a featured guest on a podcast (transcribed at this link) addressing concerns that after 25 years, U.S. nuclear weapons testing might restart.

Space Wars: Do we really need to be militarizing space? Policy Intern Bryce Farabaugh weighs in on Defense Secretary nominee Mark Esper saying in his confirmation hearing July 16 that he believes the United States must develop space as a “warfighting domain.” 

The Day That Changed the World Forever: Program Assistant Abby Pokraka writes about July 16, 1945, the day of the first atomic test. “That mushroom cloud became etched onto our collective consciousness—a symbol of both our capacity for scientific achievement and our capacity for destruction.” 

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