The Week Ahead, April 20-26: Obama Visits Tokyo and Seoul; Events on Nukes & Humanitarian Consequences, Deeper Nuclear Cuts

The following are some of the key arms control dates and developments to watch in the coming week. WeekAheadSOLO

For more news and analysis on these and other weapons-related security issues, consider subscribing to ACA’s monthly journal Arms Control Today, which is available in print/digital and digital-only editions.

- written and compiled by Tim Farnsworth

April 23-26: Obama Visits Tokyo and Seoul — North Korea on the Agenda

President Obama is expected to spend three days in Japan before visiting South Korea as part of his swing through Asia this month. One topic on the agenda: how to restart the Six-Party Talks (China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States) over North Korea’s on going nuclear and missile programs.

The six-party talks have been stalled since 2009, when North Korea launched the three-stage Unha-2 rocket and conducted its second nuclear test explosion. North Korea could be ready to conduct its fourth nuclear test in the near future despite recent strong warning not to do so from Beijing.

Last week, Undersecretary of State Gottemoeller spoke about the value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in Hiroshima and the P5 states issued a joint statement reaffirming their support for the CTBT and the prevention of further nuclear testing by any state at a meeting in Beijing.

For more information see:

April 24 Event: Faith Ldrs. Conf. on the Humanitarian Impact of N- Weapons

Soka Gakkai International, along with 10 other co-sponsoring organizations, including the Arms Control Association, are holding an event on Thursday, April 24 from 9:30am to 4:00pm in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Institute for Peace. Click here to RSVP.

The gathering brings together faith, science, diplomatic and policy leaders to evaluate the “humanitarian effects” of nuclear weapons, and pathways to accelerate progress on nuclear disarmament. Speakers include: Anita Friedt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear and Strategic Policy, U.S. State Department, and Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association.

For more information on the recent humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons conference, see:  “Mexico Hosts Meeting on Nuclear Effects,” in the March issue of Arms Control Today and the transcript from our March 31 event, “The NPT and the Humanitarian Consequences of N-Weapons.”

PREVIEW: April 28: Russian-German-U.S. Commission to Release Report

The 21-member U.S.-Russian-German Deep Cuts Commission has formulated proposals to achieve further arms control and nuclear risk reduction to enhance national, Euro-Atlantic and international security.  The first report, “Preparing for Deep Cuts: Options for Enhancing Euro-Atlantic and International Security,” will be released during a public event at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. on April 28. Click here to RSVP.

Speakers include: Steven Pifer, Director, Arms Control and Nonproliferation Initiative, Brookings Institution; Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association; Götz Neuneck, Deputy Director, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, IFSH; Eugene Miasnikov, Director, Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies in Moscow.

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The Week Ahead, April 14-20: Arms Control Compliance Report Due; UN Disarmament Commission; Nukes and Humanitarian Consequences

The following are some of the key arms control dates and developments to watch in the coming week. WeekAheadSOLO

For more news and analysis on these and other weapons-related security issues, consider subscribing to ACA’s monthly journal Arms Control Today, which is available in print/digital and digital-only editions.

- written and compiled by Tim Farnsworth

April 14-20: Arms Control Compliance Report Due to Congress

The State Department is expected to deliver its annual arms control compliance report to Congress this week. The report could shine more light on the recent accusations by the United States over alleged Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).  For latest coverage of the INF allegations, check out Tom Collina’s latest news story from the April issue of Arms Control Today,GOP Presses Obama on INF Treaty Concerns.

Previous versions of the compliance report can be found on the State Department’s website.

April 7-25: UN Disarmament Commission Annual Meeting

The UN Disarmament Commission began it’s annual meeting on April 7 in Geneva with opening statements from 45 nuclear and non-nuclear countries. The delegates all stressed the need to break the 15-year deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament on negotiations on further nuclear disarmament efforts and to make progress on a meeting of key states on a Middle East zone free of weapons mass destruction.

While some delegates pointed out obstacles to some disarmament efforts–entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty–others pointed toward the success of some, like the recent series of Nuclear Security Summits.

The Commission will meet all month to discuss ways to move the nuclear disarmament agenda forward and find a way to break the deadlock.

April 24 Event: Faith Leaders and the Dialogue on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear War

Soka Gakkai International, along with 10 other co-sponsoring organizations, including the Arms Control Association, are holding an event on Thursday, April 24 from 9:30am to 4:00pm in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Institute for Peace. Click here to RSVP.

The gathering brings together faith, science, diplomatic and policy leaders for a day of talking, listening and networking on the challenges and promise of the ‘humanitarian impact’ dialogue on nuclear weapons, and to explore pathways for collaboration between the faith-based and secular advocacy communities. Speakers include: Anita Friedt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear and Strategic Policy, U.S. State
Department, and Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association.

For more information on the recent humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons conference, see:  “Mexico Hosts Meeting on Nuclear Effects,” in the March issue of Arms Control Today and the transcript from our March 31 event, “The NPT and the Humanitarian Consequences of N-Weapons.”

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Creeping Toward the New START Limits

By Greg Thielmann

The latest data on strategic weapons exchanged between Russia and the United States under terms of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) shows movement by both countries toward the three key limits of the treaty. In spite of bilateral tensions over events in Ukraine, these data from the beginning of March and the fact that subsequent on-site inspections continue suggest that treaty implementation is still on track.

A quick glance at the deployed warhead trend line could raise concerns in the context of the recent sharp deterioration in the U.S.-Russian political relationship. The large advantage in U.S. warheads of nearly 300 from last September has been reduced to less than 75, and all three counts of U.S. systems are down, whereas two of the three metrics of Russian forces are up.

NewSTART_04_2014

However, such fluctuations reflect routinely scheduled events like refitting and refueling nuclear submarines, which can create spikes in the operationally deployed warhead totals. The more important measure is the long-term trends.

Russia Winning the Race Downward

The overall downward trend to date on the Russian side of the equation is likely to continue through this decade, independent of perturbations in Moscow’s relations with the West. The Cold War backbone of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces has been its ageing inventory of liquid-fuel, heavy ICBMs (each with ten warheads) and many more smaller solid-fuel, road-mobile ICBMs (each with a single warhead). These weapons are now being slowly replaced by a lesser number of new solid-fuel, road-mobile ICBMs (each with a few warheads).

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The Week Ahead, April 7-11: Iran Talks Resume; Hagel in China; CTBTO Group of Eminent Persons Meets

The following are some of the key arms control dates and developments to watch in the coming week. WeekAheadSOLO

For more news and analysis on these and other weapons-related security issues, consider subscribing to ACA’s monthly journal Arms Control Today, which is available in print/digital and digital-only editions.

- written and compiled by Tim Farnsworth

April 7-9: P5+1 Talks With Iran Resume

Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are meeting April 7-9 in Vienna to continue discussing elements of a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. The meeting follows lower-level talks on technical issues related to any future deal, held April 3-5.

At the center of these discussions are questions related to Iran’s enrichment capacity and the future of its heavy-water reactor at Arak. The group reached a six-month interim deal in November 2013 that has allowed these current talks to move forward.

Check out these latest resources to find out all you need to know about the current state of the P5+1 talks with Iran.

April 10-11: CTBTO Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) Meet

The Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) was established on 26 September 2013 on the margins of the UN General Assembly to promote the objectives of the CTBT and to help secure its entry into force. Its 18 members include current and current and former foreign ministers,  prime ministers, defense ministers and senior diplomatic leaders from all over the world.

The GEM will meet this week in Stockholm for discussions with Swedish Foreign Minister and regional experts on steps to advance prospects for signature and ratification in the remaining Annex 2 states.

Further information about the GEM can be found here. For more on the CTBT, see ACA’s Project for the CTBT Web site.

April 7-10: Hagel Meets with Chinese Officials on Trip to Asia

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to meet with Chinese officials in China as he continues to travel around Asia next week. A topic that is expected to be discussed during the meetings is North Korea’s continuing nuclear and missile program. Recently, news reports have speculated that North Korea could be ready to test another nuclear device in the near future.

According to Reuters, Hagel will also discuss the North Korean nuclear program and ways to solve it with officials in Japan and South Korea as part of this trip. Tensions between North and South Korea and its allies have stalled efforts for the six party talks to begin again.

Check out these resources from Arms Control Today and the Arms Control Association regarding the current status of North Korea’s nuclear and missile program:

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The Week Ahead March 31- April 5: GGE on the FMCT; Mine Action Day; 5th Anniv. of Prague Speech; Pitching-In

The following are some of the key arms control dates and developments to watch in the coming week. WeekAheadSOLO

For more news and analysis on these and other weapons-related security issues, consider subscribing to ACA’s monthly journal Arms Control Today, which is available in print/digital and digital-only editions.

- the staff at Arms Control Today

March 31: Forum on Options for Advancing Nuclear Disarmament Through Humanitarian Dialogue and NPT Process

The Arms Control Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility will be hosting an event in Washington, D.C. on March 31 that will explore explore options for accelerating progress on nuclear disarmament through the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons dialogue and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) process. The event will take place ahead of the 2014 NPT PrepCom scheduled to take place April 28-May 9 in New York.

For more information on the recent humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons conference, see:  “Mexico Hosts Meeting on Nuclear Effects,” in the March issue of Arms Control Today.

March 31-April 11: Group of Experts Meet on Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty

A group of governmental experts (GGE) established by UN resolution A/RES/67/53, will begin the first of two, two week-long sessions to make recommendations on possible aspects that could contribute to, but not negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The group is charged with presenting a consensus report to the UN General Assembly 70th Session.

For more information and analysis about the FMCT, check out these Arms Control Association resources: Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) at a Glance, Fact Sheet; “Nuclear Powers Urge Progress on FMCT,” by Tom Z. Collina,  Arms Control Today, May 2013; “UN First Committee Seeks FMCT Progress,” by Marcus Taylor, Arms Control Today, December 2012.

April 4: International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

On April 4, members of the international community will bring awareness to the public and government officials of the harm caused by the indiscriminate nature of landmines. Many experts and NGOs have called for the Obama administration to release its landmine policy review that was launched early in Obama’s first term, with the conclusion of joining the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, known as the “Ottawa Convention” or “Mine Ban Treaty.”

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Rubio Approach on INF Treaty Concerns Is Counterproductive

missile_5By Tom Z. Collina (UPDATED March 29)

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and other members of Congress are right to be concerned that Russia may not be complying with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The State Department confirmed in January that Russia may have breached the agreement by testing a new cruise missile, and the administration has formally taken up the issue with Moscow.

But Rubio and his colleagues* go too far with a March 25 resolution that would hold Russia accountable for “being in material breach of its obligations” under the treaty by calling for a halt to U.S. implementation of further strategic nuclear reductions, a move that would likely trigger a similar Russian response. Rubio’s resolution is premature at best and, if adopted, would undermine broader U.S. national security interests.

On Friday March 28 the House approved similar language as part of H.R. 4152, the Ukraine Support Act. However, the language in Sec. 302 of the House bill only calls for a report and determination from the administration of whether it believes Russia is in “material breach” of its INF obligations. The Senate adopted a similar version of the Ukraine Support Act by a voice vote, which calls for an annual report from the executive branch on developments in Russia’s nuclear program, including the size and state of Russia’s stockpile, its nuclear strategy and associated doctrines, its civil and military production capacities, and projections of its future arsenal.

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The Mixed Message of the Senate Letter On the Iran Nuclear Talks

By Daryl G. Kimball (UPDATED 8:00pm)

Clearly, Congress has an important role in implementing any comprehensive, final-phase agreement between the P5+1 and Iran to “ensure Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful.” Those talks are now underway in Vienna.

In that role, members of the Senate and House have a responsibility to support the efforts of the P5+1 on the basis of a clear understanding and realistic expectation for what the negotiations can deliver and for what is necessary to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

In a letter to the President signed by 83 Senators that was released today by the American Israel Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the members helpfully express their support for the P5+1 negotiations with Iran and their commitment to working with the President “on a bipartisan basis.”

However, the letter outlines a number of ambiguous and, in some cases, factually-challenged statements that undermine the letter’s value as a guide for what might constitute a successful nuclear negotiation with Iran. Continue reading

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