Cutting Nuclear Arsenals Will Increase Euro-Atlantic Security

April 29, 2014 | Edited by Lauren Mladenka and Geoff Wilson

Cut deeper - “Arms-control proponents are urging Washington and Moscow not to stop discussing new nuclear-weapon curbs, as tensions soar between the capitals,” Diane Barnes reports for Global Security Newswire. “A so-called ‘Deep Cuts Commission’ advocated steps such as curbing the readiness of the former Cold War rivals' nuclear weapons to fire on a moment's notice, as well as reducing long-range warhead deployments beyond levels mandated by the 2011 New START agreement.”

--“In an inaugural report issued on Monday, the group of independent analysts and former officials asserted that mistrust between Russia and the United States over military maneuvers in Ukraine underscores a need for the two governments to jointly consider how they can reduce the risk of a nuclear exchange… Pulling back from dialogue could lead to a ‘hardening of each side’s existing positions’ that would complicate any future nuclear-reduction talks and increase the potential for ‘misunderstandings,’ the group stated in its findings. The authors suggested that in the absence of new arms-control talks, Russia may increasingly rely on nuclear weapons to counterbalance Washington's ‘growing technological edge’ in the development of missile defense systems, conventional long-range strike capabilities and potential space-based weapons.” Full story here.

--Read the full “Preparing for Deep Cuts: Options for Enhancing Euro-Atlantic and International Security” report here (pdf).

Closer to a solution - “[As] various U.S. military and national security leaders have pointed out, there is no military solution to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. That is why a multiyear agreement to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran and the risk of another war in the Middle East is squarely in the national security interest of the United States,” writes Lawrence Wilkerson in the Richmond Times Dispatch. “Already, under the Joint Plan of Action, a first-step arrangement was set up in November that has made Iran’s nuclear facilities subject to daily inspections and placed certain constraints on key actions. So far, Iran continues to adhere to this agreement. As Sen. Tim Kaine wisely pointed out, ‘this deal could bring us closer to a world less threatened by weapons of mass destruction.’”

--“In a final negotiated settlement with Iran, Congress will have a crucial role to play,” Wilkerson says. “If Iran agrees to a robust and intrusive inspection regime of its nuclear program, Congress will have to begin a near-parallel lifting of key sanctions. Of course, the purpose of these broad sanctions was to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Lifting some of them in conjunction with Iran’s compliance with a new and robust inspection regime will achieve that long-sought purpose.” Read the full piece here.

Informal talks - “The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Monday its chief inspector had held ‘informal’ talks in Tehran, ahead of a mid-May deadline for Iran to answer questions about detonators that could be used to help set off an atomic explosive device,” writes Fredrik Dahl in Reuters. “The International Atomic Energy Agency, which for years has been investigating suspected nuclear weapon research by Iran, gave no details about the previously unannounced visit of IAEA Deputy Director General Tero Varjoranta to the Iranian capital.” Full story here.

Easing relations - “A senior British diplomat made a brief visit to Tehran on Monday for talks with officials on the strained ties between the two countries and on Iran's nuclear program,” Reuters reports. “Earlier, IRNA said Tehran and London were looking to restore full diplomatic ties, all but severed after a 2011 raid on Britain's embassy in the Iranian capital.” Read the full report here.

Status report - “The United States is getting set to discuss its progress in meeting steps called for at a 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,” Global Security Newswire reports. “A U.S. delegation to the 2014 Preparatory Committee -- being held this week in New York in advance of next year's treaty Review Conference -- will ‘release a comprehensive national report on steps taken to implement’ the action plan agreed to by the accord's 189 member states at the last major conference, the U.S. State Department announced in a Sunday press release.”

--“Some 64 action items were agreed to at the 2010 Review Conference on a range of issues related to nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of atomic energy. One of the most high-profile commitments from the conference was an agreement to work to hold a major gathering of nations in 2012 ‘on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.’ That confab has yet to take place, though Israel, Iran and Arab countries have held preliminary discussions on the matter.” Read the full article here.

Increased activity - “Commercial satellites have picked up fresh signs of preparations by North Korea for an expected fourth nuclear test, according to two expert image analyses,” writes Rachel Oswald in Global Security Newswire. “Satellite photos taken three days ago confirm ‘a further increase of activity at North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site, likely related to preparations for an underground nuclear test,’ concludes a Sunday assessment by the expert website 38 North. 38 North image analysts Nick Hansen and Jack Liu report that a number of containers and crates can be seen close to the tunnel entrances of the site's ‘South Portal’ area. Some of these crates and boxes appeared to have been ‘moved into the tunnels,’ based on a comparison of photos dating back to April 19, the experts said.”

--“Of particular interest has been the rapid increase of materials near the entrance of the westernmost tunnel in the South Portal area,’ reads the analysis by 38 North, a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. ‘No crates or boxes were present on April 19 but by April 25, up to nine containers can be seen near its entrance.’” Get the full story here.

Tweet - @FAScientists: ICYMI: China SSBN fleet getting ready 3-4 new Jin class nuke powered ballistic missile subs – but for what?

Healthy dose of reality - “Whether through human error or mechanical failure, detonation of a single nuclear weapon would likely cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and massive global economic disruption — dwarfing the impact of destruction of the World Trade Center or the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown,” writes Dr. Peter Wilk in a piece for the Sun Journal. Why continue to hold ourselves at this level of risk? Our aggressive nuclear posture is of no use in addressing current threats to this nation’s security.”

--“The most recent nuclear posture review, signed off on by the Departments of Defense, State and Energy, and the National Security Council and the president, determined that adequate security can be assured with a nuclear arsenal 30 percent smaller than currently being planned to be maintained indefinitely. As a physician, it is my feeling that in this kind of situation, we must prevent what we cannot cure. The only way to improve national security and reduce the risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident is to take this country's nuclear forces off their high-alert status and negotiate further deep reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. And, as a bonus, more than $100 billion could be saved in the process.” Read the full piece here.

Tweet - @armscontrolnow: @steven_pifer: 50 numerical facts re US #nuclearweapons, ranging from 1.2 to 1 trillion. See

Baseless accusations - “Russia said on Monday that lawsuits in which the Marshall Islands accused nine nations with nuclear weapons capability of failing in their obligation to negotiate disarmament are ‘baseless’ and would not help rid the world of atomic weapons,”writes Steve Gutterman in Reuters “The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed surprise at the allegation, saying the Cold War arms race was decades in the past and that Russia and the United States had been negotiating nuclear cuts almost constantly for years.”

--“As a result ... Russia has reduced its strategic (long-range) nuclear potential by more than 80 percent and its non-strategic nuclear weapons by three-quarters from their peak numbers," the ministry said in a statement. "We are convinced that filing baseless suits does not foster a favorable conditions for further steps by the international community in the area of arms control and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” Full article here.


--“Russia and the INF Treaty” by Jeffrey Lewis in Arms Control Wonk.

--“Mason to brief feds on UPF alternatives report today,” by John Huotari for Oak Ridge Today.


--“The Future of the Russian-American Dialogue after the Ukrainian Crisis,” Discussion with Feodor Voitolovsky, Russian Academy of Sciences. April 29 from 4:00-5:00 at the Wilson Center, Fifth Floor, Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington. RSVP here.

--House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, markup of its portion of the defense authorization bill, H.R. 4435, which includes the nuclear weapons programs of the National Nuclear Security Administration. April 30 at 12:00 in 2118 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington. Webcast here.