Russian Foreign Minister Hopeful for Prompt Resolution of START Negotiations

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We are happy to serve you a daily summary of the day's top nuclear policy stories each morning, with excerpts from the stories in bullet form.

Stories we're following today:

Russia Says Hopes for Prompt U.S. Nuclear Deal - Reuters [link]

  • "The remaining questions, I hope, will be resolved rather promptly when the negotiations resume, and they will resume at the very beginning of February, I think," Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.
  • Sergei Lavrov's comments were Moscow's strongest public statement yet on a deal.
  • Lavrov said Jones and his Russian counterpart were expected to give the negotiators instructions that would help reach compromises. He did not say what remains in dispute or precisely when a final agreement might be reached.

Worried about Iran? Ratify Nuclear Test Ban Treaty - Greg Thielmann in the Des Moines Register [link]

  • An important step [to containing Iran's nuclear program] is ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Without the nuclear weapon test explosions banned by the treaty, states like Iran would have trouble validating the advanced, smaller-warhead designs they need for ballistic missile delivery.
  • President Barack Obama and a growing list of bipartisan leaders regard the CTBT as a linchpin of international efforts to reduce nuclear dangers, including the risk that Iran would decide to build or be able to build advanced nuclear weapons. U.S. ratification is key.
  • CTBT ratification by any of the key hold-out countries would make it harder for Iran to explain why it should not also ratify. Moreover, ratification progress would further strengthen the treaty's global verification network, ensuring detection of any Iranian test.
  • The United States no longer needs nuclear tests; Iran and other potential proliferators do. It's time for the U.S. Senate to do its part in containing nuclear threats by ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
  • Greg Thielmann is a Senior Fellow at the Arms Control Association - a Ploughshares grantee.

President’s New Budget Will Ensure Nukes Reliability - Max Bergmann of the Wonk Room [link]

  • The President’s new budget, due out shortly after the State of the Union address, will likely sweep the knee of one the main conservative arguments against the START treaty and efforts to cut nuclear weapons in general.
  • It appears now that the Administration’s new budget will take dramatic steps to address the concerns of the JASON study and of the four horsemen, thereby assuring the reliability of the US nuclear arsenal and the irrelevance of any new nuclear warhead.
  • One of the central arguments of conservatives opposed to arms control is the bogus notion that the US shouldn’t cut its nuclear forces because the existing nuclear arsenal is “deteriorating” and is increasingly unreliable.
  • By increasing spending on nuclear maintenance efforts, the President’s budget insures the US nuclear arsenal will remain reliable well into the future. Hence, conservative arguments that we can’t cut nuclear weapons because our arsenal is not reliable just have no basis in reality.

The Doomsday Clock Keeps Ticking - Lawrence Krauss in the L.A. Times [link]

  • Last week, on behalf of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, I announced that the Doomsday Clock... was to be moved back by one minute from its previous setting of five minutes to midnight
  • For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of nuclear weapons states are cooperating to vastly reduce their arsenals and secure all nuclear bomb-making material.
  • But good intentions and action are different things. Governments won't find the political will to follow through unless the public demands it. For that to happen, scientists can't just warn of impending doom; we have to dispel the misconceptions that make it easy for business-as-usual to persist. Here are seven wrongheaded notions that keep the clock ticking: [Link through to read more]

The Lighter Side (??)

HOWTO: survive a nuclear attack by Mutual of Omaha, 1951 - Boing Boing [link]

  • This 1951 Mutual of Omaha duck-and-cover ad explains how to survive a nuclear attack, giving such wise advise as "resist the impulse to look toward the source of this burning brightness," "shield yourself from the flash of brilliance," and "be alert for the blast wave." Helpful stuff.