LINK BETWEEN NUCLEAR TESTING AND NEW START AGREEMENT
News broke last month that in a meeting, senior national security officials discussed conducting an explosive nuclear test at a site in Nevada for the first time since 1992. The test would reportedly be a political move to persuade China to join arms control negotiations with the United States and Russia. The Trump Administration has long made clear its desire to create a new trilateral arms control agreement that would replace the bilateral New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) between the United States and Russia, which is set to expire in February if not extended.
Senior Policy Director and former State Department official Alexandra Bell spoke with The Christian Science Monitor extensively about what happens if the United States and Russia let arms control lapse. America’s NATO allies and partners have been clear, as the Center’s new infographic shows: they want New START extended. You can click on the image below to go to a web page listing each country’s thoughts on New START extension.
As a reminder, while conducting arms control discussions with China and all nuclear powers is a good idea for reducing the global nuclear stockpile and lowering nuclear risks, the United States and Russia have 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. We cannot afford to gamble with an existing treaty in hopes of getting a better one. Talks between the United States and Russia are scheduled to take place on Monday; China has been invited but it is unclear whether they will attend.
Meanwhile, conducting an explosive nuclear test is a dangerous and unnecessary idea, but that hasn’t stopped a Senate panel from approving $10 million to prepare for testing “if necessary.” Bell told The Santa Fe New Mexican that renewed U.S. testing would likely lead to a testing race. The Salt Lake Tribune quotes Executive Director John Tierney: “It is beyond reckless to provoke a possible widespread return to explosive testing simply to make a political point. No one doubts the nuclear supremacy of the United States — least of all China.” Watch our new 59-second video to learn more, and be sure to share it on Facebook and Twitter.
RELATIONSHIP WITH IRAN LEAVES UNITED STATES INCREASINGLY ISOLATED
On May 27, the Trump Administration announced that it would block efforts by Russia, China and others to continue implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. The administration is essentially daring Iran to work toward nuclear weapons capability, writes Research Analyst Samuel Hickey. This week, European allies said they do not support the Trump Administration’s efforts to collapse the nuclear deal, leaving the United States increasingly isolated on the international stage.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency issued new reports on Iran’s nuclear program and nuclear deal compliance. As Hickey explains, while the nuclear deal had successfully blocked Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon, now two years since the United States’ withdrawal, Iran is clearly breaching the deal. Now, Iran’s “breakout time” — the time needed to accumulate enough materials for one nuclear weapon — has gone from the 12 months achieved under the Iran deal to now, less than four months.
WITHDRAWING FROM OPEN SKIES TREATY HURTS UNITED STATES AND ALLIES
The Trump Administration’s announcement last month that it would withdraw from the 34-country Open Skies Treaty that allows for mutually agreed-upon surveillance overflights proves it is “in the business of devaluing alliances and proving that America First is America alone,” Bell told The Nation. The United States takes far more advantage of this treaty than Russia, overflying Russia three times more than Russia overflies the United States. As Bell co-wrote in an op-ed in Responsible Statecraft, this treaty has for decades helped prevent miscalculations and misunderstandings that could have led to conflict. She spoke about this treaty withdrawal, the New START treaty, and other nuclear weapons issues on Australia’s Planet America.
‘Sea change:’ Advanced reactors spur look at recycling waste: Hickey tells E&E News about the proliferation concerns inherent in fuel reprocessing policy conversations.
U.S. seeks to base missiles in the Pacific. Some allies say no.: Bell told The Los Angeles Times that it’s “naive and dangerous” to discuss deploying missiles in the Pacific.