NATIONAL SECURITY IN THE AGE OF PANDEMICS
Greg Koblentz, a member of the Scientists Working Group on Biological and Chemical Security, co-wrote in Defense One that the government hasn’t treated pandemic threats with the same sense of urgency and focus that it has spent on great power competition with Russia and China. Also important, as Policy Intern James Loftis writes, is that rampant mistrust in the wake of the pandemic underscores the need for accountability and transparency in biodefense programs and the biotech industry.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION STOPS JUST SHORT OF ACCUSING CHINA, IRAN, RUSSIA OF TREATY VIOLATIONS
In the executive summary of its delayed, Congressionally mandated report on compliance with arms control treaties worldwide, the State Department has included new language expressing concern that China, Iran and Russia have been in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention. It also makes several new assessments about compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. Contrary to some initial news reports, the document does not conclude that China conducted any nuclear testing in 2019, but the full report will need to clarify the summary’s language about testing concerns. The summary also states the report concluded that Russia has been in compliance with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which is set to expire in February, but can and should be extended into 2026. Finally, the summary alleges that Iran continues to violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Senior Policy Director Alexandra Bell, a former State Department senior advisor, explains that the report is intented for facts, not conjecture. “The problem with inserting all these concerns rather than sticking to hard and fast assessments of legal compliance is that you’re taking this away from being a very cut-and-dry document…and turning it into more of a political document.”
CLOCK MIGHT BE TICKING ON OPEN SKIES TREATY
The Trump administration seems intent to pull out of the 28-year-old Open Skies Treaty, which allows for planned reconnaissance flights over other countries’ territories between each of the 34 parties. The United States gains concrete security benefits from the agreement. It is also hugely popular with U.S. allies. Bell told The Guardian that the administration “has yet to put forward any proposals on how to fix the two main issues that we’re having with the treaty.”
WE CAN’T FORGET ABOUT NORTH KOREA
Unsubstantiated claims have circulated for the past few days that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is gravely ill. We don’t know if that’s true or not. But we do know that North Korea is continuing to advance its nuclear weapons and missile technologies, as Bell told NK News, and socially distant nuclear negotiations need to resume, she wrote in The National Interest.
HOW THE SENATE CAN STRENGTHEN NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE ZONES
The United States doesn’t need to reserve the right to nuke Australia or Togo. Our new one-minute video explains how the U.S. Senate can make that U.S. policy. See also our new pages on the nuclear arsenals of Israel, the United Kingdom and China.
WOMEN HAVE PROTESTED NUCLEAR WEAPONS THROUGHOUT HISTORY
For generations, American women have fostered public support in an effort to reduce nuclear threats and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, writes Policy Intern Isabel Martinez. Indeed, it was American women who started a national movement that eventually helped push governments to create the first major arms control treaty of the nuclear age.
STAFF PROFILE: MEET RESEARCH ANALYST SAMUEL HICKEY
Research Analyst Samuel Hickey, a Chapel Hill, North Carolina, native, is one of our newest staff members. He studied international relations and physics in college, and was inspired to join the nuclear policy field while watching the Iran nuclear deal negotiations unfold when he was in college. Learn more
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