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  • Author: Katarzyna Kubiak
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The global treaty-based nuclear order is running out of steam. The problems facing it are progressively building up, while problem-solving is losing momentum. The search for a “golden key” to address disarmament and non-proliferation in a way fit for the 21st century prompts decision-makers to look for novel approaches. NATO needs to actively shape this newly emerging space. Acting today from within a tight policy and institutional “corset”, the Alliance should strengthen its non-proliferation and disarmament portfolio, and harness its consultative and coordination strengths for agenda-setting, norm-shaping and awareness-raising within the international community.
  • Topic: NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, Global Focus
  • Author: Eva M. Lisowski
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was formed in 1957 to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to inspect civilian nuclear materials and activities to deter military diversions. To decide the frequency of inspections and inspection criteria, the IAEA set its safeguard standards with the objective of assuring “timely detection of diversion of significant quantities of nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities to the manufacture of nuclear weapons.” The two nuclear weapon designs developed and detonated during World War II were the “gun-type” and “implosion” designs. Because implosion device technology requires much less fissile material than guntype technology, the IAEA significant quantity6 (SQ) values were determined based on the fissile material requirements of nuclear implosion devices like the plutonium-based “Fat Man” detonated over Nagasaki in 1945. Utilizing implosion designs perfected in the late 1940s, however, the explosive yields achieved in 1945 can be produced with much less fissile material. Table 1 lists the fissile material requirements of contemporary nuclear weapon technology. “Low Technical Capability” in Table 1 refers to the Mark III implosion device set off at Nagasaki. “Medium Technical Capability” refers to implosion designs perfected in the late 1940s and “High Technical Capability” in Table 1 refers to the implosion technologies the United States perfected in the 1950s.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Nonproliferation, Nuclear Energy, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Henry D. Sokolski
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: Sometimes, slow, steady changes produce revolutionary results. A case in point is missile and space technologies, which Space and Missile Wars: What Awaits will examine. Long-range missiles, satellites, and space launch vehicles used to be high technology exclusive to the superpowers. Now, scores of states have both. As for ballistic missiles and drones, even non-state actors have them, and these systems are far more accurate than anything the superpowers had even at the height of the Cold War. Then, long-range missiles could only be certain of destroying their targets if they were nuclear-armed and wiped out areas as large as cities. Now, drones are so accurate they can pinpoint and kill single individuals. As for space satellite launchers, they originally were derived from nuclear delivery missiles. None were privately owned. Similarly, almost all space satellites were government property and, until 1965, the owners were only American and Soviet. Now, the French, Chinese, Japanese, British, Indians, Israelis, Ukrainians, Iranians, and North Koreans have all launched satellites of their own. In addition, more than 60 nations own and operate their own satellites and increasingly, satellites are launched, owned, and operated entirely by private entities. These developments are nontrivial. They will define the military competitions with China, Russia, and other hostile states for the next two to three decades. Will the spread of accurate missiles embolden weak actors – small states and terrorist organizations – to threaten stronger states with missile attacks against key civilian targets (dams, reactors, petrochemical plants)? Will weak actors be tempted to use accurate drones to assassinate their adversaries’ key leaders? Will such attacks catalyze war, producing modern Sarajevos that draw in nuclear-armed states (e.g. Israel, Pakistan, India, North Korea, or the superpowers)? With so many new space actors, will anyone be able to attribute hostile actions in space? Will states attack satellites mostly in low Earth orbit or geosynchronous orbit? Will the most important attacks come from antisatellite systems based on Earth, in low Earth orbit, or on or near the moon? This volume is designed to answer these questions.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Non State Actors, Military Affairs, Drones, Nonproliferation, Space, Missile Defense, Satellite, Nuclear Energy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Henry D. Sokolski
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: Although much has been said about the fusion of China’s civilian and military sectors, no detailed, unclassified analysis has been done of how Beijing’s “peaceful” nuclear efforts might be exploited to make more nuclear warheads. Even the U.S. Department of Energy’s own explanations of the export restrictions it imposed on “advanced” nuclear exports to China failed to discuss this. This volume is dedicated to clarifying just what the connection could be. Much of it focuses on China’s advanced fast breeder reactor program and its related plutonium recycling efforts. As explained in this volume’s first chapter, “How Many Nuclear Warheads China Might Acquire by 2030,” the least burdensome way for China to achieve nuclear weapons parity with the United States is simply to use the weaponsgrade plutonium that its planned “peaceful” fast breeder reactor and reprocessing programs will produce to make primaries for the two-stage thermonuclear weapons designs they already have perfected. By exploiting this weapons plutonium and the highly enriched uranium and tritium that China can easily access or make, Beijing by 2030 could conservatively assemble an arsenal of 1,270 warheads (nearly as many as the US currently has deployed on its intercontinental missiles).
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Military Affairs, Nonproliferation, Missile Defense, Denuclearization, Nuclear Energy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The year 2020 was characterized by the intensification of US-China confrontation and strategic competition, which had been pointed out in the Strategic Annual Report 2019, in all areas from military and security affairs as well as dominance in advanced technologies and supply chains to narratives on coronavirus responses. Amid this confrontation, the rules-based international order faced even more severe challenges; the multilateral framework established after World War II with the United Nations at its core lost its US leadership and fell into serious dysfunction. While the international community is struggling to cope with the rapidly expanding outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China has been moving to expand its influence through increasingly authoritarian and assertive domestic and international policies on the rule of law and territorial issues, as well as through economic initiatives such as the existing “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) and its responses to the pandemic. The confrontation with the United States is becoming more and more pronounced, and the Indo-Pacific region is turning itself into divided and contested oceans. In this transforming strategic environment, expressions of support for the vision of a rulesbased “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) that Japan has been promoting for the past several years, or announcements of similar visions have followed one after the other. The year 2020 also saw significant strengthening of the cooperative framework among four countries – Japan, the United States, Australia, and India (QUAD) – together with the enhancement of bilateral cooperation between countries in this group. At the same time, progress was also made in a regional cooperation framework that includes China with the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement in East Asia. The Strategic Annual Report 2020 looks back at major international developments since last year’s Report through the end of 2020, focusing on the transformation of the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific region and the response of the international community.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Multilateralism, COVID-19, Destabilization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Middle East, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Giorgi Surmava
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: On January 26, 2021, during a phone conversation between the President of the United States, Joseph Biden, and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, a decision was confirmed by the parties to extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START, CHB-3) without any preconditions for five more years from February 5, 2021 to February 5, 2026 after which the sides exchanged diplomatic notes. New START was the last treaty still in force with regard to nuclear armaments as the United States left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) under the Trump administration. At the same time, the Trump administration was also against extending New START without changes as it was set to expire in February 2021. Russia, on the other hand, was opposed to any kind of changes to this treaty. In a very short while after Biden’s arrival to power, the treaty was extended by five years without any changes. What was the reason for this decision? Why was the prior presidential administration against this and why did the new one make efforts to achieve an agreement in a short period of time? What can we expect to happen next? These are the questions that we will attempt to answer in this publication.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States of America
  • Author: Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Jana Wattenberg
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: I n recent years, gender has come up in arms control and disarmament deliberations. Ireland, for example, submitted working papers on gender to preparatory committee meetings of the Nuclear Non-ProliferationTreaty (NPT) Review Conferences. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) emphasizes that nuclear weapons use affects men and women differently and calls for equal representation in disarmament negotiations. However, such references to gender are so far the exception rather than the rule in arms control and disarmament talks. We argue that a systematic inclusion of gender perspectives advances arms control and disarmament deliberations and negotiations in four main ways. First, a gender lens calls attention to the human and gendered consequences of the development and use of weapons. Second, it exposes arms control and disarmament agreements that lack gender provisions. Third, a gender lens highlights the absence of diversity in arms control and disarmament communities.3 Fourth, gender perspectives help reveal hierarchical power structures and encourage critical reflections on the legitimacy of established processes and agreements. In sum, the inclusion of a gender perspective produces more humane, effective, legitimate and sustainable agreements.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Gender Issues, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Security, Women, Disarmament, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Augusto C. Dall'Agnol, Marco Cepik
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional (RBPI)
  • Institution: Instituto Brasileiro de Relações Internacionais (IBRI)
  • Abstract: This article explains changes in strategic stability through a path dependence framework, discussing its antecedent conditions, increasing returns, cleavages, critical junctures, reactive sequences, and legacy. We identify the leading causes of its formation, reproduction, modification, and, eventually, its end. Such an analysis is relevant as far as we observe significant changes in cornerstone’s aspects of strategic stability after the abrogation of the ABM Treaty and the INF Treaty. We argue that strategic stability as an institution passes through radical modifications produced by reactive sequences breaking the causal loop that allowed its reproduction since its formation.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, INF Treaty
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Julia Masterson
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arms Control Association
  • Abstract: In recent years, the global norm against chemical weapons use has eroded, and it is critical that responsible states take action to reinforce it. Systematic violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the malign use of chemical agents have continued for nearly a decade without adequate accountability. These incidents risk growing in severity and becoming more widespread for as long as the issue remains unaddressed. Reinforcing the norm against chemical weapons use necessitates a unified global effort to utilize all CWC provisions and to strengthen the consequences that violators face under the treaty and in accordance with international law.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, International Law, Weapons , Norms, Chemical Weapons
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kelsey Davenport, Daryl G. Kimball, Kingston Reif
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arms Control Association
  • Abstract: Upon taking office, the new presidential administration of Joseph Biden will confront a dizzying array of major challenges, not the least of which are related to the risks posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons. Tensions between the world’s nuclear-armed states are rising; the risk of nuclear use is growing; billions of dollars are being spent to replace and upgrade nuclear weapons; and key agreements that have kept nuclear competition in check are gone or are in serious jeopardy. The situation has been complicated by the neglect and poor policy choices of President Donald Trump and his administration. Over the past four years the Trump administration made nearly every nuclear policy challenge facing the United States worse. Fortunately, Biden has a long and distinguished track record when it comes to dealing with nuclear weapons-related security issues. Unlike his predecessor, Biden possesses a strong personal commitment to effective nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament that dates back to his early days in the Senate and continued through his last days as vice-president under President Barack Obama. In this analysis we have outlined what we believe to be the five most important sets of nuclear weapons policy challenges and decisions that the new Biden administration will need to address in its first 100 days and beyond, along with recommendations for effectively dealing with each of these policy challenges: Reviving and Advancing the Nuclear Arms Control Enterprise Reducing U.S. Nuclear Weapons Excess Stabilizing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Jump-starting Denuclearization and Peace Diplomacy with North Korea Restoring U.S. Leadership on Multilateral Nonproliferation and Disarmament If pursued, these actions and decisions would make the United States and the world safer from the threats posed by nuclear weapons. These initial steps would also put the administration in a better position to pursue more lasting and far-reaching nuclear risk reduction and elimination initiatives over the next four years.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Peace, Denuclearization, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Kelsey Davenport, Julia Masterson
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Arms Control Association
  • Abstract: Addressing the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons is one of the most significant and complex challenges facing the United States. Developing, implementing, and sustaining a verifiable diplomatic process that reduces risk and rolls back Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program requires a whole of government approach, including constructive contributions from members of the U.S. Congress. While crafting and implementing such an approach will be the prerogative of the Executive Branch, the role that Congress can play in supporting or hindering such a process should not be overlooked. Congress has used an array of tools to put in place conditions for negotiations, express its support or opposition to administration policy, and implement coercive measures toward North Korea designed to punish Pyongyang for its violations of international law and stymie its weapons development efforts. Using survey data and in-depth interviews from the late months of 2020, this report provides insight into how Congress views the North Korean nuclear threat and U.S. approaches to engaging with Pyongyang. More clarity into Congressional views and attitudes may lead to more effective policymaking.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: George Perkovich
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: For decades, policy debates in nuclear-armed states and alliances have centered on the question, “How much is enough?” What size and type of arsenal, and what doctrine, are enough to credibly deter given adversaries? This paper argues that the more urgent question today is, “How much is too much?” What size and type of arsenal, and what doctrine, are too likely to produce humanitarian and environmental catastrophe that would be strategically and legally indefensible? Two international initiatives could help answer this question. One would involve nuclear-armed states, perhaps with others, commissioning suitable scientific experts to conduct new studies on the probable climatic and environmental consequences of nuclear war. Such studies would benefit from recent advances in modeling, data, and computing power. They should explore what changes in numbers, yields, and targets of nuclear weapons would significantly reduce the probability of nuclear winter. If some nuclear arsenals and operational plans are especially likely to threaten the global environment and food supply, nuclear-armed states as well as non-nuclear-weapon states would benefit from actions to physically reduce such risks. The paper suggests possible modalities for international debate on these issues. The second initiative would query all nuclear-armed states whether they plan to adhere to international humanitarian law in deciding if and when to detonate nuclear weapons, and if so, how their arsenals and operational plans affirm their intentions (or not). The United Kingdom and the United States have committed, in the words of the 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, to “adhere to the law of armed conflict” in any “initiation and conduct of nuclear operations.” But other nuclear-armed states have been more reticent, and the practical meaning of such declarations needs to be clarified through international discussion. The two proposed initiatives would help states and civil society experts to better reconcile the (perceived) need for nuclear deterrence with the strategic, legal, and physical imperatives of reducing the probability that a war escalates to catastrophic proportions. The concern is not only for the well-being of belligerent populations, but also for those in nations not involved in the posited conflict. Traditional security studies and the policies of some nuclear-armed states have ignored these imperatives. Accountable deterrents—in terms of international law and human survival—would be those that met the security and moral needs of all nations, not just one or two. These purposes may be too modest for states and activists that prefer the immediate prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons. Conversely, advocates of escalation dominance in the United States and Russia—and perhaps in Pakistan and India—will find the force reductions and doctrinal changes implied by them too demanding. Yet, the positions of both of these polarized groups are unrealistic and/or unacceptable to a plurality of attentive states and experts. To blunt efforts to stifle further analysis and debate of these issues, the appendix of this paper heuristically rebuts leading arguments against accountable deterrents. Middle powers and civil society have successfully put new issues on the global agenda and created political pressure on major powers to change policies. Yet, cooperation from at least one major nuclear power is necessary to achieve the changes in nuclear deterrent postures and policies explored here. In today’s circumstances, China may be the pivotal player. The conclusion suggests ways in which China could extend the traditional restraint in its nuclear force posture and doctrine into a new approach to nuclear arms control and disarmament with the United States and Russia that could win the support of middle powers and international civil society. If the looming breakdown in the global nuclear order is to be averted, and the dangers of nuclear war to be lessened, new ideas and political coalitions need to gain ascendance. The initiatives proposed here intended to stimulate the sort of analysis and debate from which such ideas and coalitions can emerge.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Environment, Nuclear Power, Weapons , Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Russia, China, India, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: James M. Acton
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Ambiguity about whether a weapon is nuclear-armed prior to its launch is an underappreciated, serious, and growing danger. Rising geopolitical tensions and the decay of arms control are exacerbating the risk that such pre-launch warhead ambiguity could lead to nuclear use in a crisis or conflict. Recent developments in technology—as well as potential future advances, such as the development of ambiguous intercontinental missiles—further add to the danger. A first step toward reducing these risks is to enhance awareness among decisionmakers of the causes and potential consequences of ambiguity. Unilateral and cooperative risk-mitigation measures could further reduce the danger of escalation, including in conflicts between the United States and Russia or the United States and China.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, United States of America
  • Author: Jonathan Winer
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar initiated his effort to take Libya’s capital, Tripoli, by force on April 4, 2019, Libya has remained in a state of full-on civil war. The conflict involves not only competing forces within the country, but also foreign powers using Libyan clients as proxies for their regional interests. These external actors—primarily the United Arab Emirates, Russia, and Turkey, plus a host of supporting players—continue to exacerbate the chaos as they maneuver for long-term power. Meanwhile, the United States is absent.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Civil War, Military Intervention, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Afrah Nasser
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: After Yemen’s 2011 uprising broke out, the country went through a series of political upheavals and cycles of violence that tore the country apart, including the start of a full-scale civil war in 2014 and the Saudi- and UAE-led intervention in 2015. In a context where civilians have been deliberately attacked by all sides, COVID-19 has added a new layer to the unspeakable suffering for millions of civilians in Yemen, whilst Europe has reacted with development aid but has thus far failed to support need for accountability in the conflict.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Health, War, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Wilfred Wan
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In a difficult geopolitical environment marked by increased tensions among nuclear-armed and nuclear-allied states, there has emerged an urgent and widespread call for the implementation of practical measures to reduce the risk of nuclear-weapon use – whether intentional or inadvertent. A concerted effort to take risk reduction forward must address the spectrum of use scenarios by drawing on past activities, building on existing agreements and considering innovative approaches. NATO will have a key role to play, given the nuclear nature of the Alliance and the involvement of its members in strategic and regional competition. Alliance activities past and present can provide insight relevant to the development of multilateral risk-reduction measures. At the same time, in highlighting the dynamism and multi-faceted nature of risk, they underline the scale of the challenge ahead.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Risk, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Rose Gottemoeller, Steven Hill
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Times may be tough in the field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation (ADN). But ADN is by no means dead. This is a moment of opportunity, a chance to look to the future and consider what we should be doing differently to improve the international architecture for ADN in the future. NATO is in the process of considering how it can adapt to continue to be relevant in the changing global security environment. The time is therefore ripe for the Alliance to take on an enhanced role in preserving and strengthening more effective ADN. There are a number of areas in which it can support these efforts. These include specific steps to preserve and implement the Non-Proliferation Treaty, modernise the Vienna Document, adapt nuclear arms control regimes and deal with emerging and disruptive technologies (EDTs). NATO should position itself as a focal point for innovation in the ADN area, including promoting advances in verification, improving the multinational sharing and use of data, and advancing dialogue related to outer space.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Nonproliferation, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Steven Pifer
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The Biden presidency that begins in January will adopt some very different directions from its predecessor in foreign policy. One such area is arms control, particularly nuclear arms control with Russia—the one country capable of physically destroying America. President-elect Biden understands that arms control can contribute to U.S. security, something that President Donald Trump never seemed to fully appreciate. Biden will agree to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the sole remaining agreement limiting U.S. and Russian nuclear forces. His administration should aim to go beyond that and negotiate further nuclear arms cuts. That will not prove to be easy. Doing so, however, could produce arrangements that would enhance U.S. security and reduce nuclear risks.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Thomas Graham
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: During the depths of the 45-year-long Cold War in the early years, neither side believed it had an understanding of what the other side was doing. Both sides feared a sudden bolt from the blue in which nuclear weapons would lay waste to their societies. The threat was indeed beyond rational description. One U.S. B-52 bomber in those days carried more explosive power than all the bombs dropped by all the sides in World War II. The Soviet Union deployed an intercontinental ballistic missile with a 25-kiloton warhead that could strike the United States with only a few minutes of advanced warning, perhaps 20 minutes. One way of thinking about the explosive capability of just one megaton is to contemplate a freight train loaded with dynamite stretching from New York to California. Just one Soviet missile had 25 times this capability, and the Soviet Union had hundreds of such weapons. The bombs on the U.S. strategic bombers were of the same destructive force. And the U.S. ultimately built a missile force that had a destructive capability that was at least three or four times greater than the Soviet force. The two nations were like two strong men fighting each other to the death in a pitch-black room with long knives. The principal difference was that one of the men would eventually win and emerge victorious from the darkroom; yet in nuclear war, there would be no winners, only losers—and both contestants would be effectively destroyed.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, United States , Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Angela Kane, Noah Mayhew
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and Peace
  • Abstract: Many consider the Reagan-Gorbachev prin- ciple that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” (Joint Soviet-United States Statement 1985) to be the clarion call for arms control. With this, US and Soviet leaders put words to the fundamental under- standing that arms control was sacrosanct in the context of other, unrelated issues in inter- national security. In 2020, we live in a different reality where arms control by some experts has been reduced to “nuclear identity politics” (Ford 2020) while others claim that it is “practical- ly exhausted” (Yermakov 2020). Disconcert- ing as these sentiments may be, they contain a kernel of truth. Arms control in 2020 is still oriented to realities of the past. But if the arms race spirals into full force, it is humans who will be the losers. Hence, it is unhelp- ful to dismiss arms control as an obsolete manifestation of Cold War nightmares. But it is time for an update to address new global challenges, in particular quickly evolving geo- political realities and emerging technologies. Furthermore, the silos in the debate on arms control need to be overcome.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus