Nuclear Weapons

The Cold War is over, but the United States and Russia still keep thousands of nuclear weapons on alert and in reserve. Understand the issues with our technical and political analysis.


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Latest Nuclear Weapons Posts

Why a National Day of Remembrance for Downwinders is Not Enough

Lilly Adams, , UCS

Peaceful Demonstration with Trinity Downwinders at the Trinity Site Open House in New Mexico, ( L-R): Tina Cordova and Laura Greenwood. Trinity downwinders have been fighting for inclusion in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act for over 15 years. Source: Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium.

There’s no question that the US government killed and sickened many of its own people through explosive nuclear testing: estimates of the death toll in the United States from nuclear testing vary widely, from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. But the harm doesn’t stop there. Other nuclear weapons activities, like uranium mining, production, and waste storage and cleanup, have also caused unknown deaths and illnesses. As is so often the case, the people who have borne the heaviest burden of these activities are often people of color, Indigenous communities, women and children, and those living in poor, rural communities. These people are the largely ignored, often forgotten casualties of the Cold War and the US nuclear weapons program.  

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The Unheard Voices of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Daniel Puentes, , UCS

The beginning of 2021 marks a prominent time in the world of arms control. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) enters into force today, January 22, 2021. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is set to expire on February 5, 2021. Both the Biden administration and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have expressed their wish to extend New START unconditionally for five years, signaling the US and Russia’s commitment to arms control. Most people don’t know that over 58 years ago, another important event in nuclear security occurred in January 1963: the formal end to the Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis. While those fateful 13 days (October 16–28, 1962) brought the world near the brink of a thermonuclear war, danger persisted for the remainder of the year. This event was one of the dangerous periods in recent history.
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The TPNW, Equity, and Transforming the Nuclear Community: An Interview with Nuclear Scholar Dr. Aditi Verma

, senior scientist

In anticipation of the entry into force of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on Friday, I had the honor of corresponding with Dr. Aditi Verma, a Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard University Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom and the International Security Program.  Dr. Verma, who holds undergraduate and doctoral degrees in Nuclear Science and Engineering from MIT, is broadly interested in how nuclear technologies can be designed in collaboration with publics such that traditionally excluded perspectives can be brought into these design processes. She’s one of the five authors of the essay, “A call for antiracist action and accountability in the US nuclear community.”

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A 75-year Rally Against Nuclear Weapons Brings the World Closer to Justice

Miyako Kurosaki, Nuclear policy research consultant, , UCS

Finally, the day is coming. On January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will enter into force. This treaty, the first comprehensive ban of nuclear weapons, sets an important precedent in its recognition of the humanitarian consequences of using nuclear weapons. The movement to center the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons has gained momentum over the last ten years. However, the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, called hibakusha, have tirelessly given witness to this humanitarian perspective for 75 years in order to convince the world to eliminate nuclear weapons.
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MI and WI Voters Determined Last Two Elections, New Administration and Congress Would be Wise to Understand Their Spending Priorities

Michigan and Wisconsin together are part of the epicenter of political power in the US. Indeed, these two states form the core of a region—the “Midwest”—that plays a perennial outsized role in US electionsThree of the four people to hold the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives in the first two decades of the 21st century hailed from a state with Great Lakes shoreline. Michigan and Wisconsin have twice recently shifted the direction of presidential elections by awarding their twenty-six electoral votes to President Trump in 2016 and subsequently President-elect Biden in 2020. Joe Biden may not have won the presidency without their key electoral votes.
City councilors, members of Congress, and presidents have won or lost elections in swing areas of these states through their conduct at small, local events,  and a common recurrence during elections in both states is that of razor-thin election margins. 

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