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"I want to tell you that your fact sheet on the [Missile Technology Control Regime] is very well done and useful for me when I have to speak on MTCR issues."

– Amb. Thomas Hajnoczi
Chair, MTCR
May 19, 2021
Focus Archive

In each month's issue of Arms Control Today, executive director Daryl Kimball provides an editorial perspective on a critical arms control issue. These monthly “Focus” editorials are available for reprint on a non-exclusive basis with permission from the Arms Control Association and link to the original publication online.

  • A special UN Security Council meeting on nuclear disarmament issues convened by Japan in March underscored agreement among all 15 members that the risk of nuclear war and arms racing is higher than at any point since the end of the Cold War.

  • Fifty-seven years ago, through the Outer Space Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to codify a fundamental nuclear taboo: nuclear weapons shall not be stationed in orbit or elsewhere in outer space.

  • As the new year begins, the existential risks posed by nuclear weapons continue to grow.

  • On Sunday, Nov. 20, 1983, I left my college dorm to visit my parents’ home in the suburbs of Oxford, Ohio. That evening, along with some 100 million other Americans, we witnessed two hours of stunning television that would mobilize the nation, as well as some of its leaders, to take meaningful steps to reduce the nuclear danger.

  • The experience of the Cold War teaches us that an unconstrained arms race has no winners, only losers. Leaders in Beijing, Moscow, and Washington need to engage in nuclear risk reduction talks, negotiate sensible and verifiable reductions of their arsenals, and refrain from building new destabilizing types of weapons rather than proceed down the dangerous path of unconstrained nuclear competition.

  • Curbing the spread of nuclear weapons and the uranium-enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing technologies needed to make them has long been in U.S. security interests.

  • Although it has not yet formally entered into force, the CTBT is one of the most successful agreements in the long history of nuclear arms control and nonproliferation. But as with other critical nuclear risk reduction, nonproliferation, and arms control agreements, the CTBT is under threat due to inattention, diplomatic sclerosis, and worsening relations between nuclear-armed adversaries.

  • Deteriorating relations between the major nuclear powers have stymied progress on nuclear arms control and disarmament for more than a decade. As bleak as the situation is, however, reports of the death of nuclear arms control are greatly exaggerated, and last month, the Biden administration outlined a viable path for moving back from the nuclear brink that deserves serious attention and support.

  • The decades-long effort to halt and reverse an arms race involving the world’s deadliest weapons may soon number among the casualties of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of independent, non-nuclear Ukraine and his increasingly reckless nuclear threats.

  • The 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has changed the global debate on the advisability, legality, and morality of the continued possession and modernization of nuclear weapons for the better.

  • After more than a decade of deteriorating relations and dithering on disarmament, the three largest nuclear powers—Russia, the United States, and China—are on the verge of an unconstrained era of dangerous nuclear competition.

  • In the midst of Russian nuclear threats in its war on Ukraine and an accelerating global nuclear arms competition, U.S. President Joe Biden and other leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialized states will convene for their 2023 summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

  • Even before his disastrous decision to invade Ukraine last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin had demonstrated a malign indifference toward basic norms of international behavior, an uneven record of compliance with cornerstone arms control agreements, and a penchant for bullying and using deadly force against opponents.

  • Since the end of the Cold War, every U.S. president has conducted an in-depth review of the nation's nuclear strategy.

  • Over the long, dangerous course of the nuclear age, the easing of tensions and resolution of crises between the nuclear-armed states have relied not only on good luck and self-restraint, but on effective, leader-to-leader dialogue.

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