nuclear weapons


Nuclear Weapons and the 2020 Presidential Race: High Demand, Little Debate, Little Knowledge

, manager of strategic campaigns

Last year, I spent a couple of hours at a park in Cambridge, Mass asking passers-by who they thought was involved and had the authority to launch US nuclear weapons. Not surprisingly, most people incorrectly assumed that “Congress,” the “military,” the “Joint Chiefs of Staff” or “the experts” had some say.  And when they learned that under current policy, the US president has sole decision-making authority over nuclear weapons their responses included “spooky,” “worried” and “not good.”  Not good, indeed.
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Iran, the United States, and Nuclear Weapons: Questions and Answers

, analyst

Just a few days into the new year, 2020 began with high tensions between the United States and Iran. Kicked off by a US airstrike that killed a leading Iranian general and followed by Iranian missile strikes on bases in Iraq housing US troops, many feared that military conflict could be imminent. One question that raised particular alarm was the prospect that nuclear weapons might be involved. The situation has, fortunately, calmed down, but confusion about the relationship between Iran’s nuclear power program and its ability to build a nuclear weapon, as well as US options for using nuclear weapons against Iran, remains.

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The Human Side of Nuclear Weapons Issues in the FY20 Defense Bill

Lilly Adams, , UCS

Editors Note: January 27, 2020 is the “National Day of Remembrance for Downwinders”—a day to acknowledge the extreme harm caused to those exposed to radiation and fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests conducted in the United States. UCS stands with these communities in their fight for compensation, through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), for the health consequences and deaths resulting from this testing. Join us in calling on members of Congress to support legislation to expand and extend RECA, which is currently set to expire in 2022. You can read more about recent developments and current legislation on RECA below.

Tonight, President Trump is expected to sign the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)  at Joint Base Andrews, a defense budget bill totaling a stunning $738 billion. Much attention has been given to the many ways that Democrats lost out on progressive priorities in this bill. The nuclear arms control and disarmament community lost hard-fought battles over issues like the low-yield warhead, and overall spending levels on nuclear weapons systems.

UCS’s President Ken Kimmel put out an important statement on these issues, urging members of Congress to vote “no” on this dangerous bill. But many nuclear weapons-related issues have been flying under the radar, especially those relating to the communities directly impacted by nuclear weapons production and testing. Here’s a run-down of the issues nuclear policy wonks might have missed in their analysis of the NDAA.

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Have I got a Deal for you! Let’s get this STARTed.

, Washington representative and senior analyst

President Trump claims to be a deal-maker. Russian President Putin has offered him a deal that no reasonable person would turn down – the chance to ensure that the United States and Russia continue to both limit the size of their nuclear arsenals and allow an array of verification measures that allows the two countries to have confidence in what the other is doing. Read more >

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Pope Francis Condemns Nuclear Deterrence

, China project manager and senior analyst

Pope Francis turns to bless the rosary of a Japanese peace activist before speaking in Nagasaki on Sunday, November 24, 2019.

The leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics came to Nagasaki to deliver a sermon on nuclear weapons.

Together with Japanese colleagues working to eliminate those weapons, I waited in a steady rain as Pope Francis offered a long silent prayer in front of the black obelisk marking the epicenter of the nuclear explosion that obliterated the city on August 9, 1945. The visibly shaken pontiff then turned towards us and issued an unequivocal repudiation of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence. Read more >

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