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March 16: Crimea Referendum & New START
Tensions are rising in Ukraine as Russian military forces have been deployed to the eastern boarder of Ukraine and a referendum on secession of Crimea is scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 16. Should the referendum pass, U.S. and European leaders have said they may impose further restrictions on Russia, including possible economic sanctions and travel bans on Russian officials and military officers. The EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on Monday, March 17 to discuss the situation.
In another potential escalation of the Ukraine situation, Russian media reports published March 9 suggested that Russia may be prepared to suspend receiving inspection teams as required under the 2010 New START Treaty because of “groundless threats to Russia from the U.S. and NATO regarding its Ukrainian policy are considered by us as an unfriendly gesture and allow to declare force majuere.”
According to the Part Five, Section IX of the Protocol of the New START Treaty, the only basis for the cancellation of inspections are “circumstances brought about by force majuere,” which is an event that is a result of the elements of nature, as opposed to one caused by human behavior.
According to March 14 an email from a senior official with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Arms Control Association, March 14, Russia intends to fully comply with it’s commitments under current arms control agreements between the two countries. He referred to a March 12 statement by Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, who told reporters on Wednesday: “We intend to continue to fulfill [our] international obligations and to continue the practice of voluntary transparency in the extent to which it will respond to our interests. [Of] course, this applies fully to the START Treaty and the Vienna Document [of] 2011.”
March 17: P5+1 and Iran Political Talks Resume
Talks will resume in Vienna, Austria on a final phase agreement to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. In February, negotiators from the United States, its P5+1 partners (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom), and Iran agreed to a framework and timetable to guide the talks. At this meeting, the negotiators may begin to exchange specific proposals for resolving several tough issues.
For further analysis, see: “Final Phase P5+1/Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Realistic Options on the Key Issues,” ACA Issue Brief, Feb. 26; and “Crafting a Well-Rounded Nuclear Deal With Iran,” by George Perkovich, and “The Case for Zero Enrichment in Iran,” by Michael Singh in the March issue of Arms Control Today.
March 20-21: Nuclear Security Knowledge Summit
Taking place just ahead of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, the Nuclear Knowledge Summit with nuclear experts and NGOs from around the world will come together to see how they can help advance the global nuclear security agenda.
For an in-depth look at what to expect from the 2014 NSS, see today’s news report, “U.S. Set to Co-Sponsor New Nuclear Security Initiative,” by Kelsey Davenport in Arms Control Today.
Since the beginning of the summit process in 2010, the Arms Control Association has been covering the summits and tracking the progress on national nuclear security commitments. Our latest report, “The Nuclear Security Summit: Assessment of Joint Statements,” published with Partnership for Global Security, examines the progress made on the 13 joint statements presented at the 2012 summit. These multilateral initiatives allowed for like-minded states to collaborate on advancing common nuclear security goals.
Hold the Date, March 31: Options for 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 and analysis on the subject of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, see: “Mexico Hosts Meeting on Nuclear Effects,” in the March issue of Arms Control Today.