Senate Approval of New START Moves Nuclear Arms Control Forward

By Hans M. Kristensen

The Federation of American Scientists today applauded the Senate’s ratification of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) between the United States and Russia.

The Senate voted 71 to 26 in favor of ratification of the treaty.

The approval of the treaty is a victory for common sense and an impressive achievement for the Obama administration in overcoming stubborn opposition from Cold Warriors to modest nuclear arms reductions.

New START does not require destruction of a single nuclear warhead, but it reduces the limit for how many of them can be deployed on long-range ballistic missiles and heavy bombers.

The United States and Russia possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons and will continue to do so when the treaty limit is reached seven years from now.

During the past year and in an effort to ensure Congressional support for New START, the administration has committed to significant increases in spending on modernizing nuclear weapons and the production complex over the next decade: well over $100 billion for modernization of missiles and bombers, and more than $85 billion for modernizing warheads and production facilities.

This modernization will have to be balanced against the other important goal of U.S. nuclear policy: securing international support for strengthening non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials. Demonstrating clear intensions to reducing the number and role of nuclear weapons will be essential to winning support for this agenda.

Despite its limitations, the approval of the New START treaty brings U.S-Russian strategic relations back on track, reestablishes a vital on-site inspection regime, and potentially opens the way for negotiations on additional reductions in the future.

Those negotiations must establish limits on and verification of U.S. and Russian non-deployed and non-strategic nuclear weapons, and prepare the ground for broadening nuclear arms control to the other nuclear weapons states.

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

FAS Podcast: The Way Forward: Nuclear Renaissance and International Peace and Security

Listen to a new edition of the FAS Podcast: “A Conversation With An Expert,” featuring FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson. Topics discussed include an overview of his presentation at the ninth annual South Korea-United Nations Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Issues, the role of civil society in the nuclear disarmament effort, how the recent U.S. political developments affect future international arms control treaties, the likelihood of nuclear energy expansion in the U.S. and public opinion, the way forward for civil society in the debate surrounding nuclear security, and much more!

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The Way Forward: Nuclear Renaissance and International Peace and Security

Photo of Jungmun Beach, Jeju, ROK by Charles D. Ferguson.

Read the Conference Paper.

Listen to the FAS Podcast: A Conversation With An Expert, featuring my trip to South Korea.

From December 2nd to 3rd, I participated in the 9th Republic of Korea-United Nations annual Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Issues. This year’s conference took place at Jeju, South Korea, which is an island off the southern coast of the Republic of Korea’s mainland . While Jeju is famous for its resorts and is thus a favorite vacation destination for Koreans, it is equally as renowned for hosting bilateral and multinational meetings to discuss security issues. Longtime participants in these meetings refer to the “Jeju process.” Continue reading

Biological Weapons Convention: More Communication & Collaboration Needed

Credit:The GSTAAD Project

On 6th of December 2010, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, delivered a message to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of the State Parties on the need for structured and regular means of monitoring developments in science and technology to reduce risks to international security and achieving global biological disarmament. “While much is being done to promote assistance and cooperation for the peaceful uses of biological science and technology, more could still be done to improve coordination and communication, ” he said.  The five-day meeting in Geneva is part of a four-year programme mandated by the 2006 Sixth Review Conference of the BWC aimed at strengthening the implementation of the Convention and improving its effectiveness as a practical barrier against the development or use of biological weapons. Continue reading