The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is the Council’s affiliated 501(c)(3) research organization.
G7 IN HIROSHIMA WAS OPPORTUNITY FOR BIDEN TO LEAD ON NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
President Joe Biden joined world leaders in Hiroshima for the G7 Summit last week, providing ample opportunities for the leaders to acknowledge the harms nuclear weapons cause and commit to preventing future nuclear risks.
In an op-ed, in the press and through letters to the White House from Members of Congress and leaders within the national security and nuclear arms control community, we urged President Biden go further than his counterparts and show leadership on disarmament, including by calling for a nuclear freeze.
Meanwhile, the G7 leaders shared their first-of-its-kind “vision on nuclear disarmament” which states, in part, their “commitment to achieving a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all.” It criticizes Russia’s nuclear threats and behavior, states the overall global decline in nuclear arsenals must continue and said China’s nuclear build-up is a cause for concern. It also called for renewed negotiations on the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, an end to explosive nuclear testing and bringing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force, among other topics.
WASHINGTON RELEASES NEW START DATA IN CONTRAST TO MOSCOW
The United States announced May 15 it has 1,419 deployed nuclear warheads in its arsenal, as it urged Russia to release its data under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). President Vladimir Putin suspended Russia’s participation in New START in February 2023 as part of its effort to punish the United States over its support for Ukraine. “The United States continues to view transparency among nuclear weapon states as extremely valuable for reducing the likelihood of misperception, miscalculation, and costly arms competitions,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday.
Russian military forces also evacuated 18 settlements in the Zaporizhzhia region in anticipation of the coming Ukrainian offensive. A Ukrainian official described the evacuation as a “mad panic.” The International Atomic Energy Agency warned a “severe nuclear accident” could occur. The United States accordingly equipped Ukrainian authorities with sensors to detect and identify the origin of potential attackers. Additionally, Moscow and Minsk signed a deal to formalize the formerly agreed upon deployment of Russian tactical nuclear missiles on Belarusian territory, which Senior Policy Director John Erath said does not change either side’s military calculus.
Center Board member former Ambassador Susan Burk spoke with NPR about Russia’s ongoing nuclear threats. “Even in the coldest days of the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviets always…continued to carry on a very substantive dialogue on nonproliferation issues,” she said. Noting Putin’s alarming mentions of the United States’ use of nuclear weapons in Japan in 1945 as a way to potentially justify future use, Burk said, “The fact that it was done once doesn’t mean that it would be OK for someone to do it again.”
More: Senior Policy Director John Erath spoke with Euronews: How safe is depleted uranium and why is the UK’s decision to send it to Ukraine prompting debate? | Erath in RTVI USA: США об атаке на Кремль, применит ли Россия ядерное оружие, на границу с Мексикой отправляют военных | Erath in VNExpress: Thông điệp răn đe hạt nhân của Nga trước sức ép từ phương Tây
KIM REGIME FUNDS NUCLEAR PROGRAM THROUGH CYBER CRIME
North Korea’s cyber crimes have become a serious threat to its global foes, especially as they impact its weapons program. “About half of North Korea’s missile programme had been funded by cyberattacks and cryptocurrency theft,” the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, Anne Neuberger, reported at a non-profit event this month, further lamenting that the country is “so darn creative in this space.” This figure represents an increase from last year when Neuberger claimed that the Kim regime used cyber crime to fund one-third of their missile program. A report by the United Nations Security Council showed that Pyongyang stole up to $1 billion worth of virtual assets in 2022. Cyberattacks generated about $2 billion in funds between 2015 and 2019 for North Korean mass destruction programs, according to UN sanctions monitors.
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR RECOGNIZES ISRAEL’S ‘FREEDOM OF ACTION’ AGAINST IRANIAN NUCLEAR THREAT
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan affirmed at a public policy event Washington, D.C., that, “We have made clear to Iran that it can never be permitted to obtain a nuclear weapon. President Biden has repeatedly reaffirmed, he will take the actions necessary to stand by this statement, including recognizing Israel’s freedom of action.”
The Biden administration proposed to Israel a few weeks ago the idea of engaging in joint military planning concerning Iran. Israeli officials have so far treated the proposal with suspicion, fearing it is an attempt to “tie Israel’s hands” from taking action against Iran — especially its nuclear facilities — if the United States objects. A U.S. official stressed that the proposal is “not about planning any kind of joint U.S.-Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear program.” However, the Israeli national security advisor warned that Iran’s new nuclear facility, Tzachi Hanegbi, would not be immune from attack though he prefers a diplomatic solution. This building located near Natanz in the Zagros mountain range is likely beyond the range of ground-penetrating airstrikes.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THREE STATES SHAPE 2024 SENATE RACES
There were three significant developments in the 2024 Senate elections this month. Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland announced his retirement at the end of this term after a distinguished career in the Senate since 2007. As Maryland is predominately a Democratic state, his replacement is likely to be a Democrat unless former Republican Governor Larry Hogan changes his mind and decides to run. There are already several Democratic candidates for the seat.
In Texas, Rep. Colin Allred (D) announced he will challenge Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in the Senate. Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide in nearly 30 years, so Allred has his work cut out for him. However, given his more moderate political stance, he may fare better than Cruz’s last challenger, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Finally, Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware has announced his retirement at the end of this term. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) is the favorite to succeed Sen. Carper but has not officially announced her candidacy.
REPUBLICANS ENGAGE IN UNUSUAL EFFORTS TO BRING U.S. TROOPS OVERSEAS HOME
On April 27, the House of Representatives defeated a resolution offered by conservative Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to remove about 900 U.S. troops from Somalia. The vote was 102-321, with the votes on the provision split with 52 Republicans and 50 Democrats voting aye. It was an unusual left-right coalition, with conservatives such as Gaetz and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) joining liberals such as Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in favor. Previously, on March 8, a Gaetz resolution to compel the withdrawal of American troops from Syria was beaten 103-321, with close to equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans voting aye.
BIPARTISAN BILL AIMS TO KEEP ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE FROM TAKING OVER NUCLEAR LAUNCH
The Block Nuclear Launch by Autonomous Artificial Intelligence Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill introduced earlier this month, would “reduce the risk of a nuclear weapon being launched by mistake due to the agency of artificial intelligence at the expense of human intelligence,” said Executive Director and former Congressman John Tierney in a statement released by the Council.
“As policymakers and national security officials consistently assess technology’s rapid advancements and how artificial intelligence (AI) might be used for good, it’s also necessary for those who oversee this country’s most destructive weapons to evaluate ways to make weapons safer constantly — including from advancing technology. Following the recommendation of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence to keep a human in the loop at all stages of the nuclear launch process is a timely and appropriate response to modern nuclear weapons concerns.”
DEFENSE SPENDING BILL IS OFF TO A BUMPY START
The House of Representatives was slated to begin consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on May 11. However, debt ceiling negotiations are currently all-consuming in Washington and have put other major legislation on hold. At present, it is unclear when the House Armed Services Committee will consider the NDAA. In the Senate, it seems as though NDAA consideration is similarly delayed by debt limit negotiations.
Appropriators are also being affected by the unofficial pause in considering major legislation. In fact, subcommittee chairs in the House reportedly have not received their topline funding allocations on which they base their legislation. The House Appropriations Committee was slated to begin considering the less controversial bills, such as the Legislative Branch and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations, but markups were ultimately postponed due to debt ceiling negotiations. This delay could set up a very busy summer and likely will result in at least some version of a short-term continuing resolution to keep funding the government at the end of the fiscal year.
NEW ON THE NUKES OF HAZARD BLOG: EXPORT CONTROL FACT SHEETS, NUCLEAR-POWERED SUBMARINES AND JAPANESE-KOREAN DIALOGUE
Introducing: Export Control Fact Sheets: Scoville Fellow Sophia Macartney launched a new fact sheet portfolio to cover the multilateral export control regimes that are crucial to enforcing non-proliferation and arms control. Sophia took an interest in export controls, she writes, “by seeing the value of the intersection of science and policy.” As with other foreign policy tools, export controls have their limits, she writes, “but they also present an opportunity for the United States to strengthen relationships with allies and encourage good behavior of currently risky countries as they seek access to advanced technologies.”
Japan-Korea Relations Show That Cultural Dialogue is Essential to Security: Research Analyst Matthew Teasdale writes that recent discussions between Japan’s Prime Minister and South Korea’s President serve as a “powerful example of how former foes can work together to resolve common security issues diplomatically.” North Korea, he writes, “poses a nuclear threat to both countries among other conventional and cyber threats. While debate on historical injustices continues, shared risk offers a needed route for cooperation between the two states.”
Gatekeeping nuclear-powered submarines: What will the precedent be?: Scoville Fellow Sophia Macartney explains the proliferation concerns of the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) pact to provide Australia, a non-nuclear state, with nuclear-powered submarines. The loophole that excludes naval reactors from IAEA monitoring coupled with the potential precedent that this deal exemplifies to other countries could demonstrate a lack of prioritizing non-proliferation policy at a time when it must not be overlooked more than ever, she writes.
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