Monday, April 12, 2010

Nuclear prosture reviewed




Above is the briefing on April 6 by Secretary of Defense Bill Gates introducing the Nuclear Posture Review. Additional briefings and relevant documents can be found on a Defense Department website devoted to the NPR.

Prior to the release of the Review, President Barak Obama gave an exclusive interview on his thinking toward the use of nuclear weapons to The New York Times. Video clips and a transcript are available.

The Defense Department study says that “the fundamental role” of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attacks on the United States, allies or partners, a narrower presumption than the past. It reject, however, the formulation sought by arms control advocates that the “sole role” of nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack.

The NPR eliminates much of the ambiguity that has deliberately existed in American nuclear policy. For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack.

There are five declared nuclear states — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. Three states with nuclear weapons have refused to sign — India, Pakistan and Israel — and North Korea renounced the treaty in 2003. Iran remains a signatory, but the UN Security Council has repeatedly found it in violation of its obligations, because it has hidden nuclear plants and refused to answer questions about evidence it was working on a warhead.

The shift of the nuclear deterrent toward combating proliferation and the sale or transfer of nuclear material to terrorists or nonnuclear states is to be reflected on the in focus of this week's Nuclear Security Summit hosted by the President. A major declaration outlining international cooperation against the trafficking of nuclear weapons or materials is expected.  

The release of the Nuclear Posture Review opens an intensive nine days of nuclear diplomacy geared toward reducing weapons. Mr. Obama flew to Prague to sign a new arms-control agreement, START, with Russia on April 8th and then from April 12-13, he hosts 47 world leaders in Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit.

In May, the 2010 Review of the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty will be held at the UN in New York City. See this Congressional Research Service report for a run down Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog of Treaties and Agreements.

For further research:


Arms Control Association (ACA)
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace - Nuclear Policy Program
Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation
Federation of American Scientists - A World Free of Nuclear Weapons
Harvard University - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: Managing the Atom
Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS)
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS)
Nuclear Threat Initiative
Ploughshares Fund
Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
Stanford University - CISAC, Preventing Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism
Union of Concerned Scientists - Nuclear Weapons and Global Security

United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Nuclear Suppliers Group
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO
Wassenaar Arrangement

Global Security Newswire
Arms Control Wonk
Strategic Security Blog

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