On 6 August 1945, a US Air Force bomber dropped a bomb known as “LIttle Boy” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima and destroyed it. This week, states party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) started a 4-week meeting in New York to review the Treaty, 52 years after it entered into force. The NPT is both an arms control and a disarmament treaty. Today, arms control is weak, disarmament seems far off, war rages in Ukraine and crisis builds over Taiwan. It is time to remember just how destructive Little Boy was. Retrospectively, it is clear the first nuclear weapon used in war was well-named for what happened to Hiroshima is the least of what we can expect if a nuclear war were to start today.Continue reading
The extension of the US-Russian New START agreement on strategic nuclear weapons was achieved through the exchange of two sets of diplomatic notes between the respective governments, on 26 January and 3 February. The process was super-straightforward. Both President Putin of Russia and Joe Biden while US President-elect made clear they would each favour extension. The day after inauguration President Biden officially confirmed the position. A few days later, it was done. This was the lowest of low-hanging fruit. Good to have gotten it out of the way (and stupid that the previous administration let it go down to the wire) but now the real work starts.Continue reading
There are so many crucial items on the global agenda that one struggles to keep up (though I do wonder whether there really are more now than there used to be or does it just feel that way?). Covid-19 and its economic consequences, the likely increase in extreme poverty and hunger, climate change and the rest of the compound environmental crisis, the attack on democracy in the world’s richest and most powerfully armed state, rising inequality, toxic geopolitics, intractable armed conflicts. And more. This does not seem to be a happy age that we are living through.
In this (rather lengthy) post, I focus on prospects for arms control in 2021. The big challenge is how to make progress against such an unpromising backdrop.Continue reading