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In Russia, With Love for Arms Control

With relations between Washington and Moscow at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War, the prospects for keeping common sense limits on U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals remain uncertain. 

Nevertheless, we continue to press hard for the renewal of expert-level talks on nuclear risk reduction measures, including the extension of the 2010 New START agreement, and bringing Russia into compliance with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. 

Without progress on these issues, the already fraught U.S.-Russian relationship could become even more difficult. If in the near future, Trump and Putin do not agree to extend New START, that treaty will expire in 2021. That would mean that for the first time since 1972, there would be no limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.

As we explain in more detail below, we have launched an intensive media outreach campaign to ensure that the nuclear arms control issue is a feature in the media and public policy conversation.

Just a week after the Helsinki summit, I also traveled to Moscow with a group of top U.S. experts and former officials, including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Tom Pickering, for a meeting on arms control issues that we co-organized with the Nuclear Crisis Group and the U.S. Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Our conference focused on developing practical solutions and was informed by earlier findings of our U.S.-Russian-German Commission on Addressing the Challenges to Deep Nuclear Cuts.

We also held frank discussions at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on New START and INF issues. U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman graciously spent time with our delegation at a reception he hosted for us at his residence at Spaso House. 

Our task now is to ensure that a serious dialogue to reduce nuclear risks resumes and that the core pillars of the U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control architecture remain in place. 

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Daryl G. Kimball,
Executive Director
On July 24, the Russian-U.S. Conference on Arms Control opened in Moscow at the offices of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund. It was organized by the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Arms Control Association.

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Saving U.S.-Russian Arms Control

ACA staff and board members helped to shape coverage of the Trump-Putin summit in July through several op-eds, media appearances, and interviews. It was the culmination of several months’ efforts designed to highlight the need to defend and strengthen existing arms control agreements between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.

In Fortune, Executive Director Daryl Kimball co-authored an op-ed with Larry Weiler, a negotiator on the 1963 Hotline Agreement and the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Director for Disarmament Policy Kingston Reif and Alexandra Bell suggested in Breaking Defense that the extension of New START would be “a nuclear triumph for Trump.” Board member Greg Thielmann described “How Trump Can Use Arms Control to Advance U.S. Interests in Helsinki” in a piece for The Hill.

Kimball, Reif, and Board Chair Thomas Countryman were also cited in several publications regarding expectations for and the outcomes of the summit, including Vox, the Economist, TIME, and The Daily Beast. Countryman spoke with CBS News Radio about the summit’s outcome, and board member Michael Klare was interviewed by public radio station KPFA on tensions between the two governments.

In February, we hailed the successful reduction of the two countries’ strategic nuclear forces by New START’s implementation deadline. 

In April, we coordinated the release of a statement from a distinguished, high-level group of American, Russian, and European nuclear experts, including former Senator Richard Lugar, warning that urgent steps need to be taken to contain nuclear risks arising from the inaction on these agreements and from rising tensions between the two governments. 

The statement calls on Trump and Putin to discuss and pursue—on a priority basis—effective steps to immediately extend the New START agreement, intensify efforts to resolve INF Treaty compliance questions, and maintaining a regular dialogue on strategic stability as well as military-to-military dialogue on key issues.

Renew or extend your membership today to help support this high-level engagement on today's critical nuclear issues.

Two New Reports on Nuclear Security

In July, the Arms Control Association released two reports, each co-authored with a partner organization, that analyze nuclear security accomplishments and challenges in an age of evolving threats of nuclear and radiological terrorism.

On July 17, the Fissile Materials Working Group (FMWG) and the Arms Control Association held a joint event to mark the release of “The Nuclear Security Summits: An Overview of State Actions to Curb Nuclear Terrorism 2010–2016”, a report offering a comprehensive assessment of the commitments states have undertaken as part of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process that took place from 2010–2016. The Arms Control Association’s Director for Nonproliferation Policy Kelsey Davenport co-authored the report with FMWG authors Dr. Sara Kutchesfahani and Erin Connolly.

The report celebrates the successes of the NSS summits, which brought more than 50 world leaders together and strengthened the global nuclear security regime. The report found that the summit process resulted in a total of 935 concrete actions taken by individual states and groups of states to enhance nuclear security. While the NSS process did much to enhance global nuclear security, the report acknowledges that there will always be room to improve when it comes to addressing the evolving threat posed by nuclear terrorism. To read the report, click here.

On July 26, Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) and the Arms Control Association held a lunch briefing on Capitol Hill to release a joint report, “Empowering Congress on Nuclear Security: Blueprints for a New Generation”. It is the first-ever study on congressional attitudes towards nuclear security. ACA’s Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, Kingston Reif, co-authored the report with PSA authors Jack Brosnan, Andrew Semmel, and Nathan Sermonis.

The report found a concerning diminution of congressional engagement on and interest in critical efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism at a time when these materials remain at risk from theft and more countries express interest in nuclear research and development. The report offers action items for lawmakers in enhancing nuclear security efforts and reducing global stockpiles of nuclear materials. To read the report, click here.

Dr. Tony Namkung, Daryl G. Kimball, Mark Fitzpatrick, and Kelsey Davenport discuss options for peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula at the National Press Club, July 27, 2018. The event was broadcast live on C-Span
(Photo: Arms Control Association)

Not Your Average Board Chair

The Arms Control Association’s Board of Director’s Chair Thomas Countryman had a busy month traveling and speaking at events across the country and the world on behalf of the Arms Control Association.

On July 13, Tom participated in an Arms Control Association telebriefing call discussing the nuclear arms control agenda in advance of the Trump-Putin summit. He then spent several days in Livermore, California, where he spoke at a conference on U.S.-Russia arms control at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Continuing his media outreach about the Trump-Putin meeting, Tom was interviewed on KNX Newsradio Los Angeles, where he discussed the diplomatic implications of the Helsinki summit.

Back in Washington, Tom gave a lecture at the Washington International Diplomatic Academy, where he is a faculty member. His presentation, entitled “WMDs: International legal and political challenges,” spoke to the importance of arms control agreements in reducing the risk of nuclear war, and the various diplomatic tools that can be used when negotiating with countries such as North Korea and Iran. 

Tom then traveled to Switzerland to participate in working group discussions on spent fuel disposal with the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation. He spent the last week of July in Nagasaki, Japan, where he gave the keynote address July 28 on “Pathways to a Nuclear-Free World” to the International Symposium for Peace.

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