The idea of nuclear disarmament is gaining traction internationally, but countries supporting it must counter the nuclear proliferation risk created by Iran and North Korea, and make sure disarmament treaties include strong verification mechanisms, says former Secretary of State George P. Shultz.
Forty years ago, the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) set into place one of the most important international security bargains of all time: states without nuclear weapons pledged not to acquire them, while nuclear-armed states committed to eventually give them up. At the same time, the NPT allowed for the peaceful use of nuclear technology by nonnuclear-weapon states under strict and verifiable control. The NPT is a good deal that must be honored and strengthened.
A CFR expert on nuclear issues, Paul Lettow says President Obama's agenda will be heavily tilted toward nuclear issues in 2010. He says this is "the ideal moment for strong American leadership on these issues," and despite Obama's disappointment in not wrapping up a new START treaty by the end of the year, Lettow expects the treaty to be signed in early 2010.
A comprehensive report by the International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament maps out short, medium, and long term goals for policy makers to use in order to completely eliminate nuclear weapons.
Following a post-Cold War erosion of senior level attention to nuclear weapons stewardship, the Air Force general charged with protecting the U.S. nuclear arsenal says his service is finally regaining its strategic focus.
Expert David Albright, says the preliminary agreement by which Iran will ship its low-enriched uranium to Russia for further processing "allows time for negotiations" to get Iran to freeze its nuclear program but warns Iran might still block the implementation of the plan.
Listen to Charles D. Ferguson, the Philip D. Reed senior fellow for science and technology at CFR, discuss U.S. nuclear weapons policy and strengthening the nonproliferation regime with students as part of CFR's Academic Conference Call series.
CFR's top arms control expert, Charles D. Ferguson, says "nothing revolutionary" was agreed to on arms control issues at the U.S.-Russia summit, despite a pledge to cut nuclear arsenals down from current levels.
On July 6, Presidents Medvedev and Obama signed a Joint Understanding to guide the remainder of the negotiations. The Joint Understanding commits the United States and Russia to reduce their strategic warheads to a range of 1500-1675, and their strategic delivery vehicles to a range of 500-1100. Under the expiring START and the Moscow treaties the maximum allowable levels of warheads is 2200 and the maximum allowable level of launch vehicles is 1600.
...We've taken important steps forward to increase nuclear security and to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
This starts with the reduction of our own nuclear arsenals. As the world's two leading nuclear powers, the United States and Russia must lead by example, and that's what we're doing here today. We have signed a Joint Understanding for a follow-on treaty to the START agreement that will reduce our nuclear warheads and delivery systems by up to a third from our current treaty limitations. This legally binding treaty will be completed this year.
We've also agreed on a joint statement on nuclear security cooperation that will help us achieve the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years -- progress that we can build upon later this week at the G8 summit. Together, these are important steps forward in implementing the agenda that I laid out in Prague.
In Moscow, President Barack Obama will focus on improving U.S.-Russia relations, which suffered during the final years of the Bush administration. But analysts say moving beyond rhetoric toward substantive change could be complicated by history and competing interests.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.