The Trump administration recently announced it intends to walk away from an important agreement that reduces the risk of nuclear war—the INF Treaty. US officials said concerns about China were an important factor in deciding to scrap a nuclear arms control pact intended to last in perpetuity. But there is no evidence the Trump administration consulted Chinese leaders about its plans to withdraw or the concerns that supposedly made it necessary. Read more >
February 6, 2019 2:07 PM EDT
February 6, 2019 1:38 PM EDT
On February 1st, the Trump administration announced that the United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. The next day, Russia responded by doing the same. These withdrawals will take effect in six months, if nothing is done to save the treaty.
This course of events was no surprise, since President Trump has been threatening withdrawal for months, but the lack of surprise makes the decision no more welcome and no less dangerous. Withdrawal from the treaty undermines the security of the United States and its allies, and opens the door to a new era of arms racing, threatening US-Russian nuclear stability. Read more >
January 23, 2019 1:05 PM EDT
US analysts and officials often refer to North Korea as China’s ally, as if it were a diplomatic or military asset. History suggests it’s more like a rock around China’s neck. Chinese President Xi Jinping may find it too heavy to bear.
Or, he may succeed in solving one of the most intractable security problems in East Asia. The denuclearization of North Korea is the UN benchmark both Xi and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to meet. They reiterated that promise in their most recent get together in Beijing earlier this month. Read more >
January 8, 2019 4:58 PM EDT
The Trump administration plans to build new “low-yield” nuclear weapons that would be launched from Trident submarines. Its rationale? It insists they are needed to counter Russia’s low-yield weapons.
This plan has resulted in a lot of confused—or perhaps deceptive—verbiage on the part of some of our elected officials. They seem not to know or neglect to mention that the United States already deploys a wide array of low-yield nuclear weapons.
Or it could be that they have their own set of alternate facts? Read more >
December 21, 2018 4:28 PM EDT
Many people trusted that Secretary of Defense Mattis would be able to rein in the dangerous impulses of his erratic boss who, as commander-in-chief, has the authority to order the use of military forces—including nuclear weapons.
Indeed, General Mattis may have privately assured some members of Congress that he would get into the loop to restrain President Trump if it looked like a nuclear crisis was brewing. So people are naturally worried that Mattis’ resignation will put Trump back in full control of US nuclear weapons.
But regardless of what Mattis may or may not have told members of Congress, the secretary of defense is not in the decision chain for a nuclear launch and has no ability to stop a launch order from going through. Perhaps Mattis could have talked Trump out of ordering an attack in the first place, assuming he knew the president was considering such an attack, but he had neither the legal authority nor the ability to prevent one from being carried out. Read more >