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An estimated 14,485 nuclear weapons exist on earth today — most are far more powerful than those that twisted railway ties, leveled buildings, and crushed, poisoned, and burned human beings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

 

The majority of these weapons belong to the United States and Russia. For some in the U.S. government, including Chris Ford, assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, this number represents significant disarmament progress since Cold War highs of over 70,000 nuclear weapons. They argue the current security environment means that further reductions are not possible at this time. In contrast, for many disarmament advocates and officials from non-nuclear weapons states, this number is still far too high. They are now clamoring to ban all nuclear weapons. Because of this divide, according to Ford, we currently face a “disarmament crisis.”

To address this crisis, Ford recently announced a new approach to nuclear disarmament. Rejecting the traditional step-by-step reductions that U.S. officials and allies have long promoted, and even more strongly rejecting the path offered by the 2017 Nuclear Ban Treaty (which he called “emptily divisive virtue-signaling”), Ford revealed the establishment of the “Creating the Conditions Working Group.”

The State Department plans to convene a set of multilateral working groups with 20 to 30 countries each to “identify aspects of the real world security environment that present major obstacles to further disarmament movement and to develop specific proposals for how those obstacles might be overcome.” The United States presented a working paper at the spring 2018 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) meeting with many of these “obstacles” or conditions listed. Ford argues this new path is necessary because current geopolitical tensions are not conducive to disarmament progress, and previous reductions leave little room for going lower while Washington and its allies continue to rely on America’s nuclear deterrent.  Read More

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