Front and Center: February 17, 2019

 
 
Trump Administration announces withdrawal from INF Treaty; is New START next?
We have known this move was likely since October, but the advance notice doesn’t make it any easier to handle. The Reagan-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is a staple of modern arms control agreements, and is one of two major nuclear agreements between the U.S. and Russia — which together hold more than 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenal. It’s true that Russia has been in violation of the treaty, but getting rid of the treaty altogether neither brings Russia into compliance nor contributes to global nuclear stability. As Executive Director John Tierney explains, both sides will now be free to build a new generation of intermediate-range missiles and press our luck with a potential replay of the Cold War. 

Furthermore, we are deeply concerned that President Trump will opt not to extend the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia by five years to 2026. This treaty, with which both countries continue to comply, required the U.S. and Russia to limit the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads and launchers, and allows for mutual inspections that build and enhance trust and provide vital intelligence information about Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal. As Executive Director Tierney explains, it is a stabilizing force that we cannot afford to lose.
 

Date, Location of Second U.S.-North Korea Summit Announced
During his State of the Union Feb. 5, President Trump announced that his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would take place Feb. 27-28 in Hanoi, Vietnam. We fully support direct diplomacy, especially over the fiery rhetoric that was happening in 2017, but we hope this summit will focus more on substance and less on ceremony. As Executive Director Tierney said after the first summit in June, not much took place for negotiators to build upon.
 

Top 6 Must-Reads (we couldn’t pick just five this month)
1) Here’s how many billions the US will spend on nuclear weapons over the next decade
2) Dems reintroduce bill to prevent nuclear first strike without congressional approval
3) Trump Administration Begins Production Of A New Nuclear Weapon
4) Overwhelming Majority Believe U.S. Should Remain in Controversial Arms Accord
5) Russia bids farewell to INF Treaty with fresh nuclear development plans
6) North Korea may have made more nuclear bombs, but threat reduced: study

Like this feature on key nuclear news and opinions since the last newsletter? Want to see something else in this newsletter? Email Anna at info@armscontrolcenter.org with your ideas!

 

Our Take
Op-ed: Trump’s missile defense plans: More theology on unproven technology: Executive Director John Tierney writes that the Trump Administration’s new missile defense plan could require taxpayers to foot the bill for a new nuclear arms race. Read more
 

Center in the Press
Las tensiones entre Rusia y Estados Unidos reavivan la carrera del rearme: Senior Policy Director Alexandra Bell spoke with El Pais about the potential for a new arms race post-INF Treaty. Please note, this story is in Spanish. Read more

Elizabeth Warren wants to ban the US from using nuclear weapons first: Senior Policy Director Alexandra Bell spoke with Vox about one of the proposed No-First-Use policy bills introduced in Congress so far. Read more

U.S. Envoy Voices Optimism Ahead of North Korea Nuclear Summit: Senior Policy Director Alexandra Bell told The Wall Street Journal that the upcoming summit in Hanoi must produce real commitments instead of simply headlines, or be seen as a failure. Read more

Trump Once Wanted to Negotiate With Russia Over Nukes. Then Mueller Happened.: Senior Policy Director Alexandra Bell told Foreign Policy that the U.S. is still using technology from the 1970s to verify treaty compliance. Read more

The INF Treaty is Dead. Is New START Next?: Senior Policy Director Alexandra Bell spoke told Foreign Policy that we have to look at what the world looks like if the INF Treaty disappears and there are no longer constraints on a whole class of weapons. The world is more secure with such constraints. Read more

 

Executive Director Tierney Speaks in Favor of No-First-Use
Executive Director Tierney was asked to speak at a press conference announcing proposed legislation that would implement a no-first-use policy in the United States, meaning the United States would never use nuclear weapons first. Watch the video: