THANKFUL TO CELEBRATE JUNETEENTH TODAY
The Center and Council are thankful to President Joe Biden and a bipartisan majority in Congress for finally declaring today, Juneteenth, a federal holiday. Although there has been progress in the 156 years since the last enslaved Americans were freed, there is still much to do for all Americans to share equally in the fulfillment of this nation’s highest ideals of freedom and justice for all. We know that the only way to make this country better is to acknowledge and learn from its harmful past, including slavery and a nuclear weapons complex that disproportionately harms communities of Color. We stand with all those seeking to ensure America’s promise soon applies to all Americans.
NEXT STEP IN ARMS CONTROL: AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET IT RIGHT
It is notable — and a good sign — that arms control did not make headlines following the June 16 summit in Geneva between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Senior Policy Director John Erath explains, good arms control deals take years of painstaking negotiations.
Also significant is the fact that the statement the White House released following the talks frames the goal as “future arms control and risk reduction measures” and the future talks as “bilateral strategic stability dialogue” because that means the talks will look toward the future rather than the past, and will focus strictly on what the two countries can do to reduce nuclear threats, while opening up potential other avenues for discussion later — if Putin is willing.
It is also a good sign that Biden and Putin reaffirmed the Reagan-Gorbachev statement that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” as Executive Director John Tierney and other experts urged them in a letter to do.
INSERTING MISSILE DEFENSE INTO STRATEGIC STABILITY TALKS WITH RUSSIA
Executive Director John Tierney and board member Joe Cirincione published a piece in Defense One: “How Biden Can Leverage Missile Defense in His Summit with Putin” ahead of Wednesday’s summit in Geneva. They argue that being prepared to discuss missile defense would put the United States in the driver’s seat in strategic stability talks with Russia. The piece also discusses a letter that was signed by 65 national security experts and sent to President Biden not too long ago, as covered by Defense News. In response to a piece by a top hawkish voice on missile defense, Tierney and research analyst Samuel Hickey argue that showing an openness to dialogue on something Moscow cares about, like missile defense, may unlock the door to progress on a U.S. priority, like placing limits on non-strategic nuclear weapons.
IRANIAN ELECTION IS NO OBSTACLE TO VIENNA NEGOTIATIONS
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei handpicked the winner of Iran’s June 18 presidential election, Ebrahim Raisi — the judiciary chief who came in second in the 2017 election — to ensure that there are no surprises in this year’s election. However, indirect consultations in Geneva between the United States and the remaining members of the Iran nuclear deal (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran) to revive the deal continue unabated. The rigged nature of the election signals that the personal views of the president will not threaten the likelihood of reviving the nuclear deal. Rather, it is only the Supreme Leader who needs to agree to a “compliance for compliance” return to the nuclear deal. Some media reports suggest that talks may wrap up in a couple of weeks to begin the process of walking back into compliance.
SENATE APPROVES BILL TO COMPETE WITH CHINA
There has been massive and bipartisan focus in Washington on the challenge from China. While both the Biden administration and many Republicans are asking to increase the military budget to confront China militarily, last week the Senate, on a bipartisan basis, approved a bill that focuses more on competing with China economically rather than a military confrontation. The House has yet to act. Senior Fellow John Isaacs has written on China extensively, most recently explaining why deterrence, not domination, is key to dealing with China, and why China is not the new Soviet Union.
HOUSE REPEALS 2002 AUTHORIZATION TO USE MILITARY FORCE
Presidents of both parties have long used outdated Authorizations for the Use Military Force (AUMFs) to justify military strikes and the forever wars well beyond the original authorizing scope. With the U.S. troops in Afghanistan to be withdrawn by September, Congress is finally beginning to deal with these outdated war authorizations. This week, with the support of Council for a Livable World, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to vote on similar legislation to repeal the 1991 Gulf War and 2002 Iraq War AUMFs next week.
KEY DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILLS UP SOON IN CONGRESS
Every year, the Council lobbies on the bills that fund the Pentagon and nuclear weapons complex to advocate for our arms control priorities and combat runaway spending on nuclear programs. Those bills are soon to begin their long and tortuous congressional path when the House Appropriations Committee, headed by two progressives — Full Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Betty McCollum of Minnesota — begins marking up these bills starting at the end of June.
On May 28, the Biden administration released its budget request for fiscal year 2022, requesting $753 billion for national defense, including $43.2 billion for nuclear weapons programs. We are dismayed that President Biden has not only recommitted this nation to an unrealistic level of defense spending, but also that he has adopted, seemingly without debate, most of the nuclear policies and programs of the Trump administration. Read our full statement, which was covered in POLITICO, denouncing the request.
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION MOVES AHEAD WITH REDUNDANT, DESTABILIZING NEW NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Asking for $15 million in the recent budget request, the Biden administration is planning to move forward on Trump-era plans to develop a new Nuclear Sea Launched Cruise Missile, a weapon that previous Republican and Democratic administrations deemed was no longer necessary after President George H. W. Bush removed it from the conventional Navy in 1991. This weapon is a legacy of Cold War-era thinking and would put nuclear weapons onto conventional Navy ships. Research Analyst Monica Montgomery was quoted in Forbes about this “surprising and troubling” decision.
CENTER AND COUNCIL MOURN LOSS OF GEORGE WALLERSTEIN
Upon hearing the news of George Wallerstein’s passing, Executive Director John Tierney released the following statement celebrating the former board member’s — and longtime nuclear arms control champion’s — life.
“George was an incredible advisor and supporter, and a wonderful human being. We will miss his brilliant insights, sense of humor and overwhelming generosity with his time and resources… As a physicist who also served in the military during the Korean War, George understood first-hand the importance of diplomacy and finding peaceful solutions to the world’s biggest problems.” Read the full statement
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