THE PRESIDENT, INAUGURATION AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS
We have long advocated for changes to this system, specifically ones that would not give any president — regardless of temperament and experience — the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons. A bill introduced in Congress by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-33) the last two terms, and slated to be reintroduced shortly, would address this issue plainly by requiring Congress to sign off on any nuclear first strike. Executive Director John Tierney spoke about this bill when it was introduced for the second time in 2019.
On Friday, the Center released an episode of its Nukes of Hazard podcast that explains the history behind the president’s nuclear authority and details how the “nuclear football” transitions from one president to another — even if one of those presidents is thousands of miles away. To dive deeper into the history of presidential launch authority, check out this Nukes of Hazard podcast episode from September.
IRAN CONTINUES REDUCING ITS BREAKOUT TIME
Already, Iran has begun enriching uranium to 20% — a small step away from weapons-grade — at its underground facility at Fordow. Previously, Iran had only enriched uranium up to 4.5%, which was still a violation of the nuclear deal’s 3.67% limit.
Last week, Iran once again notified the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, of new violations prescribed by the nuclear legislation. Iran is starting work to develop uranium metal-based fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Iran has not previously conducted research and development on uranium metal. Experiments with metal alloys are prohibited under the nuclear deal because of their potential proliferation implications. In addition to the leverage Iran has accumulated by incrementally breaching the limits of the nuclear deal, Tehran has amassed an array of diplomatic cards to keep U.S. preconditions for its return to compliance off the table.
Tehran has reduced its breakout time — the time needed to amass enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon — from a year to just a few months. These new escalations will further reduce that timeline and add even more pressure on the incoming Biden-Harris administration to re-enter the nuclear deal quickly.
DIPLOMATS, EXPERTS TO FILL TOP FOREIGN POLICY POSITIONS ONCE AGAIN
NEW START AGREEMENT SET TO EXPIRE FEBRUARY 5 UNLESS EXTENDED
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