By James Loftis, Policy Intern
The Trump Administration just released its “Executive Summary of Findings on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” also known as the Compliance Report. As directed by Congress, the Department of State is required to provide an annual report on “the status of United States policy and actions with respect to arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament.” An unclassified report (with classified annexes, as necessary) must be submitted to Congress by April 15 each year. The full report has reportedly been delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The 2020 Executive Summary of the Compliance Report includes a number of assessments and significant concerns and charges that were not present in the 2019 Compliance Report. In addition to new language describing the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, there is language expressing stronger concern over whether China, Iran, and Russia are now, or have previously been in violation of their obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention. The summary also makes several new assessments about compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Certain language describing China’s nuclear weapons testing program requires immediate clarification for the confusion it has generated. Contrary to some news reports published in the hours immediately following the document’s public release, the United States did not conclude that China has conducted covert or yield-producing nuclear tests during 2019, nor did it conclude that China is in non-compliance with any of its commitments regarding nuclear weapons testing. Rather, the Executive Summary cites several additional activities that “raised concerns regarding [China’s] adherence to the ‘zero yield’ standard adhered to by the United States.” Both Russia and China have already denied the charges leveled in the report regarding low-yield testing and made counter-accusations about the U.S. testing program.
In this summary, the United States also certified that Russia is in compliance with its obligations under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START or NST) which is set to expire on February 5, 2021. This agreement may be extended for up to five years upon presidential agreement, but the Trump Administration continues to say it is reviewing a possible extension.
The link below shows the executive summary, with new content highlighted in yellow.