The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is the Council’s affiliated 501(c)(3) research organization.
‘OPPENHEIMER’ MOVIE: FURTHER READING AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR NEW ENGAGEMENT
Oppenheimer, a film by Christopher Nolan about the man known as the Father of the Atomic Bomb, hit theaters this weekend and, along with Barbie as part of the “Barbenheimer” cultural phenomenon, broke box office records. American Prometheus, the book on which Oppenheimer is based, is back on best-selling charts nearly 20 years after its release.
At the Council and Center, we are cautiously optimistic that this film will draw much-needed attention to nuclear disarmament issues. We also acknowledge that focusing on those who built the bomb, including Council founder Leo Szilard, often comes at the expense of focusing on those who continue to be harmed by its creation. It is incumbent upon us to share their voices.
We won’t spoil the movie for you, but will provide you with resources from us and our partners in disarmament that can provide necessary context for what the film does and does not show. We urge you to share these resources with your friends and loved ones and use the opportunity Oppenheimer provides to have conversations about nuclear issues with those who have not shown interest before.
Since our founding in 1962, the Council has been a leader in the movement to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear arsenals. After decades of success in arms control, which saw the global stockpile decrease from about 70,000 to about 13,000 today, we are once again facing challenges from those who would return to the days of unbridled arms races and threats of nuclear weapons use.
We have been down that path. We know where it leads. We also know how to turn off of it. It is only through diplomacy and arms control that we can avoid the worst-case scenario Oppenheimer and his fellow atomic scientists envisioned.
As in 1962, we remain at the forefront of efforts to fight against another arms race like the one our founder anticipated in 1945, and we remain the oldest political organization that endorses and supports Congressional candidates on the basis of their views on nuclear weapons and national security. If you value our work, consider contributing to our efforts and sharing this link with your network. Help us make the most of the moment Oppenheimer provides to attract new generations to our cause.
Fears rose over Russian tampering with the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine in early July. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported it had “so far found no visible indications of mines or other explosives currently planted” at the facility but stressed that it did not have full access to the roof. Fortunately, no such explosion has yet occurred and public reporting around the issue looks to have abated.
IN IRAN, NUCLEAR TALKS NOT PART OF THE CONVERSATION
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the United States is “in a place where we’re not talking about a nuclear agreement” but hopes Iranian officials can take actions to deescalate tensions and once again create an environment that can host a conversation about Iran’s nuclear program.
NUCLEAR-ARMED SUBMARINE ARRIVES IN SOUTH KOREA
For the first time since the 1980s, the United States has deployed a nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) to South Korea. The arrival follows the Washington declaration between South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden in April that promised to enhance deterrence against North Korea. South Korean and U.S. officials concurrently held the inaugural nuclear consultative group meeting in Seoul to discuss similar matters.
Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s influential sister, warned that the moves to reinforce extended deterrence will make North Korea “go farther away from the negotiating table” and beef up its own military capability. This escalation comes after a record year of North Korean missile launches in 2022 that nearly tripled the number of missile launched in 2017 — previously the most dangerous year.
DEFENSE SPENDING HIJACKED BY NON-DEFENSE CULTURE WARS
The House of Representatives advanced its version of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on July 14. The legislation, which normally enjoys broad bipartisan support, passed mostly along party lines due to controversial provisions that had little to do with national defense. It was already a bad bill before House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) allowed votes on amendments that have little to do with national defense, on limiting trans rights, reproductive health care and education.
This year’s bill authorizes increases in nuclear weapons spending while cutting funding for nuclear cleanup efforts, heightens nuclear rhetoric and prevents the United States from sharing critical nuclear information with Russia under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Read the Center’s analysis of the House NDAA.
The Senate is currently considering its version of the NDAA. While the legislation is unlikely to include the culture war provisions the House included, it still contains other bad provisions related to nuclear weapons. Read the Center’s analysis of the Senate NDAA.
The NDAA has dominated the headlines, and for good reason. Outside of the defense spending bill, there are two other pieces of legislation we’re watching.
One deals with compensation for victims of nuclear testing; S. 1751, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2023, would expand which groups are eligible for compensation. Among those currently excluded are those who lived downwind from the first atomic test in 1945 at the Trinity site in New Mexico.
The other piece of legislation deals with the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). These outdated authorizations have been exploited by presidents of both parties and it is time for Congress to reclaim its constitutional war powers authority. The Senate passed a repeal of these AUMFs earlier this year. An amendment to the House NDAA that would have repealed the AUMFs was not considered. Standalone legislation in the House, H.R. 932, currently has 63 cosponsors almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
ENDORSEMENT SEASON HAS BEGUN: OUR FIRST FIVE
As we discuss bad defense spending bills and frustrating political developments, the Council is working hard to ensure that strong leaders remain in Congress and new leaders enter in 2024. Council staff is speaking with candidates communicating our mission and values for a diplomacy-first foreign policy that actually responds to the threats we will face in the future.
NUCLEAR CRISES AND CLOSE CALLS: MISSING TYBEE BOMB
Have you heard about the lost nuclear weapon off the coast of Georgia? The Center just added a fact sheet about the missing Tybee Bomb to its nuclear crises and close calls portfolio. In 1958, a collision between two American jets caused one of the pilots to jettison the 7,600-pound nuclear bomb into the Wassaw Strait by Tybee Island. Despite theories that the bomb was retrieved by the Soviet Union, this bomb remains at the bottom of the ocean. Commonly known as the “Tybee Bomb,” it has an explosive yield of up to 3.8 megatons, about 190 times more powerful than the Fat Man bomb that destroyed Nagasaki in 1945.
NEW ON THE NUKES OF HAZARD BLOG: CHINA, CHEMICAL WEAPONS
Blinken Opens Dialogue with Xi: Research Analyst Matthew Teasdale writes that Secretary Antony Blinken’s visit to China last month dutifully shored up tense relations with Beijing. While President Xi rebuffed initiatives to reopen military communications and discuss non-proliferation, the trip built confidence and reinforced global norms. The administration’s China policy smartly employs dialogue and diplomacy to avoid confrontation as China’s economy shakes and neighbors perceive their expansionist policy as threatening.
Good News on Chemical Weapons: Senior Policy Director John Erath writes about the United States’ elimination of its chemical weapons stockpile and lessons that can help us eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, too.
As election season begins, the Council is still hard at work on its advocacy 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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