One Senate Vote Has Broad International Implications
Media coverage of last month’s vote by the US Senate to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia focused on President Obama’s political victories in the post-election weeks of a lame duck Congress. This kind of who’s-up, who’s-down scorekeeping is ever-changing, but the ratification itself has lasting significance for nuclear nonproliferation and international cooperation more broadly.
New START is the latest in a series of bilateral agreements—tracing back to before the breakup of the Soviet Union—limiting numbers of long-range missiles, strategic bomber aircraft, and the nuclear weapons they carry. As the Cold War has become a matter for the history books, the standoff between US and Russian nuclear forces is no longer the source of worry that it once was. Even so, the legacy of the nuclear arms race leaves the two countries with thousands of nuclear weapons (and tons of material for making bombs). The New START ceiling of a combined 3,100 deployed strategic warheads hardly qualifies as skeleton forces, but it is a far cry from the Cold War-peak of more than 25,000.
As a general matter, the key point is for countries with nuclear weapons to reduce their arsenals—both to reduce the risk of the devices falling into terrorist hands and to preserve their own credibility on matters of nuclear nonproliferation. Since the United States and Russia possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear arms, they have a special responsibility to make reductions. The 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s (NPT) key provisions represent a grand bargain—nations that did not have nuclear weapons would forswear them if nations already possessing nuclear arsenals would ultimately disarm. Nations without nuclear weapons would also get assistance with the technology’s civilian uses, like energy or medicine, assuming they walled these activities off from possible military uses.
The NPT grand bargain has always been a delicate arrangement, and it has started to fray in recent years. The requirement for countries with nuclear weapons to disarm was left vague and open-ended, in contrast to the firm and explicit obligations of the have-nots. Given the modest disarmament steps by the haves and the passage of four decades (two since the Cold War’s end), the perceived failure to live up to their end of the bargain has fueled impatience with the countries that have kept thousands of weapons for themselves. In other words, the lack of arms reductions has made it harder to mount pressure on new nuclear weapons-possessing nations like North Korea or would-be proliferators like Iran.
These were the underlying stakes for the debate over New START in the Senate. Even beyond the context of nuclear nonproliferation, the debate raised doubts in the rest of the world about the ability of the US political system to ratify any treaty—and about the country’s basic capacity to make commitments to the world community. And the stakes could hardly have been higher for the ongoing effort to keep pressure on Iran over its nuclear activities. Aside from the issue of the NPT’s double standard, the newfound support from Moscow for sanctions has been the lynchpin of recent successes in keeping the heat on Iran diplomatically. Snubbing Russia by rejecting New START could have unraveled the broad international support for using sanctions to pressure Iran. Thankfully, the Senate vote for ratification of the treaty means not having to revisit the cooperative strategy for preventing a nuclear armed Iran.
The latest issue of Courier features "Climate Change – After Paris, What Next?" a look at the COP21 Paris agreement and what it means for the future of our planet’s environment. The second article is about the science and numbers of climate risk, and the need to reduce emissions and by how much. This issue also highlights a trip to South America taken by the teacher who most recently won the Catherine Miller Explorer Award, and finally we highlight a new tool for leaders and policymakers for implementing the third pillar of the Responsibility to Protect. The full Winter 2015 issue. PDF (2.0 MB) Subscribe for FREE.
Event Specialist: The Stanley Foundation is looking for a dedicated, dynamic individual who has a passion for working in the field of event planning and prefers a small-business atmosphere with opportunities for international travel.
Policy Program Officer, Nuclear Security: The Stanley Foundation seeks a program officer to plan, implement, and assess the impact of the foundation’s nuclear security policy programming.
Policy Program Associate, Nuclear Security: The Stanley Foundation seeks a program associate to join its Policy Programming Department.
|PARIS & BEYOND: COP21
Launching Global Climate Actions
The world recently looked to Paris for the most important global climate change negotiations for achieving a safer climate world: the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As a helpful reference we have compiled this summary of the major work of the Stanley Foundation and its collaborators in an active global role during the past year preparing for this historic event…and the important continuing work ahead. More.
Our bimonthly newsletter is filled with resources to keep you up to date with our work at the Stanley Foundation. Each edition includes news about recent publications and stories as well as features our people and partners.
You will also find many extras, from upcoming events to multimedia resources. Sign up for the latest to stay engaged on key global issues.
|Stanley Foundation Annual Conferences
The Stanley Foundation holds two annual conferences, UN Issues and the Strategy for Peace Conference. These bring together experts from the public and private sectors to meet in a distraction-free setting and candidly exchange ideas on pressing foreign policy challenges.
Divided into roundtable talks, the cutting-edge discussions are intended to inspire group consensus and shared recommendations to push forward the debate on the foundation’s key policy areas.
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues. To reduce our carbon footprint and cut waste, we almost exclusively, use electronic distribution for our publications. Sign up to receive our resources via e-mail.
|Nuclear Security Video
The Stanley Foundation produced a 13-minute video looking at what needs to be done to stop terrorist groups from acquiring enough fissile material to make a bomb. The foundation talked with over a dozen diverse and distinguished experts from the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group and the Fissile Materials Working Group to see how today's patchwork of voluntary arrangements can be forged into a long-lasting system. Watch the video.
|Watch and Learn
Stanley Foundation events, talks, video reports, and segments from our Now Showing event-in-a-box series can now be viewed on YouTube. To receive regular updates on our video posts, please subscribe today.