Front and Center: 11/22-12/6

FRONT & CENTER

An update on arms control, national security & politics from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

November 22 – December 6 WHAT’S NEW:

Diplomacy Extended: On November 24th, Secretary of State John Kerry stepped to the podium in Vienna to report that negotiations have brought the parties very close to achieving a comprehensive deal to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, but that more time was needed. The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation released a statement praising the progress made by our negotiators, and urging Congress to stand this one out. Read the press release on our website, and read more about the extension on our blog. [12/24]

The Bulldozers in Congress: As soon as news of the extension hit, a few of the likely suspects in Congress began calling for yet more sanctions on Iran—which would effectively scuttle the negotiations. To learn more about how their plans are already backfiring, read our blog on Wednesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, which featured these bulldozers. Want to help us foil their plans to throw a wrench in diplomacy? Sign the Council for a Livable World’s petition to urge Congress to let the experts at the table do their jobs.

How Low Can We Go: The current U.S. stockpile of 5,000 nuclear weapons is an improvement compared to the 30,000 we once maintained during the Cold War. But in reality, our nuclear force is still significantly higher than what is needed for deterrence, and much more costly than what we can afford. In a recent article published in the National Interest, Center Chair Lt. Gen. Robert Gard and Scoville Fellow Greg Terryn make a convincing case for adopting a minimal deterrence strategy in order to save big both in terms of risk and in budget. [12/1]

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Center & Council Board Members Defend the Extension With Iran
We’re beyond fortunate to have Council Board Member Jim Walsh and Center National Advisory Board Member Ed Levine as respected voices on the complex negotiations with Iran. Since the announcement of the extension last week, Jim has offered his expert analysis, including in this op-ed and article. For his part, Ed went live at the Brookings Institution to discuss the road ahead. Stay tuned for more from Jim and Ed as the negotiations go forth!

What You Need To Know About This Year’s NDAA
The NDAA is the single largest authorization bill that Congress considers, and gives the Pentagon and the national security programs of the Department of Energy the legal authority to fund and operate their activities. Although the House passed its own version in May, the Senate has not, and both chambers have agreed behind closed doors to a 1600-page compromise defense bill for Fiscal Year 2015. Luckily, our policy experts have put together a “Cliff Notes” version to tell you all you need to know about the final bill. Be sure to check out the NDAA FY 15 summary on our website. (You can thank us later!) [12/4]

Senator Feinstein Speaks Out on Nuclear Reductions
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a longtime ally on our issues, has yet again proved her dedication to reducing the threat of nuclear weapons by publishing an op-ed in the Washington Post. (Spoiler alert: The current arsenal is unaffordable and unnecessary.) Not coincidentally, this week, Council for a Livable World was one of nine organizations to have had the honor of awarding the Senator for her leadership on nuclear security issues. Read more about Senator Feinstein’s article and her tremendous leadership on our blog. [12/5]

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Climbing the Ladder toward Nuclear Security
Yesterday, Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller took the stage in Prague—the same place where in 2009, President Obama announced his pledge for a nuclear-weapons free world—to announce a new disarmament project. The State Department will partner with the Nuclear Threat Initiative to bring together experts on disarmament verification from around the world to “better understand the technical problems of verifying nuclear disarmament, and to develop solutions.” On our blog, Sarah Tully points to this project as a rung on the tall ladder that Obama must climb to solidify a strong legacy on nuclear security. [12/5]

How to Save $160 Billion
Yesterday, Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller took the stage in Prague—the same place where in 2009, President Obama announced his pledge for a nuclear-weapons free world—to announce a new disarmament project. The State Department will partner with the Nuclear Threat Initiative to bring together experts on disarmament verification from around the world to “better understand the technical problems of verifying nuclear disarmament, and to develop solutions.” On our blog, Sarah Tully points to this project as a rung on the tall ladder that Obama must climb to solidify a strong legacy on nuclear security. [12/3]

Obama Tells Chuck: To the Left, To the Left
To put it simply, November 24th was a busy day at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation office. Just as news of an Iran extension surfaced, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced his resignation. Be sure to read as Sarah Tully discusses how Hagel’s successor (likely the recently nominated Ash Carter) will be forced to deal with a tight ship at the White House, and a projected budget that’s on course to bust the caps. Stay tuned for more analysis on what Carter may do for our issues. [11/26]

Front and Center: 11/22

FRONT & CENTER

An update on arms control, national security & politics from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

November 8 – November 22 WHAT’S NEW:

The Disillusioned Babysitters of America’s Nuclear Weapons
Last Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gave a lengthy press conference in which he pledged to invest billions to repair a U.S. nuclear enterprise that’s falling apart at the seams. Hagel’s comments were made seemingly in response to in-depth assessments of the nuclear silos and personnel from Mother Jones and New York Magazine, both of which offered the same conclusions: the U.S. nuclear fleet is out of date, and so is its mission. Angela Canterbury, executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, articulates it well in the Wall Street Journal, “They’re going to throw billions of dollars at this problem, which is like saying they’re going to throw billions of dollars at dial-up Internet.”

Closing in on a Deal
With just a few days until the November 24 deadline to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, Policy Director Laicie Heeley has been busy keeping the media fully apprised of the latest on the negotiations, and of course her expert analysis. Watch her interview on Voice of America, and read her quotes in the International Business Times and Bloomberg News.

Recognizing Our Allies on Capitol Hill
On the evening of November 18th, the nuclear security community gathered to recognize our Congressional allies in support of more sensible nuclear weapons policies. On behalf of the Center and the Council, executive director Angela Canterbury presented the award to Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), who co-founded and chairs Congress’s Nuclear Security Working Group. Other award recipients included Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

WATCH:

The Highest Priority Mission?
Watch Senior Fellow John Isaacs give his analysis of Hagel’s press conference and the Pentagon’s plans to overhaul the nuclear weapons enterprise on HuffPost Live. [11/18]

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Slush Fund
Laws are made for a reason–but then sometimes the government finds a way to circumvent them: the Overseas Contingency Operations account is a poster child. Angela Canterbury and Sarah Tully take to the blog to show that, with Obama’s recent request, the Pentagon and Congress are poised to use this off-budget account as a slush fund and to evade the budget caps yet again. Is this necessary? Read more here. [11/21]

Making Good on Prague Promises
This year, Obama has gone under fire for continuing to stumble in the wrong direction over U.S. nuclear weapons policies. Last week, however, the Obama Administration finally made some forward progress by announcing the U.S. will attend the 2014 Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in early December. Read our press release and learn more on our blog. [11/10]

Thawing the Ice
Ever since Putin’s hasty seizure of the Crimea last spring, nearly two decades of U.S.-Russia nuclear cooperation has deteriorated to an icy standstill, with diplomats on both sides of the Atlantic folding their arms and turning their backs on nuclear security teamwork. Scoville Fellow Greg Terryn provides analysis from various experts who all agree that new approaches are needed to bridge the impasse. [11/17]

Thawing the Ice
Along the same vein, this week marked the twenty-year anniversary of Project Sapphire, a major diplomatic success in removing and down-blending loose nuclear material from the former Soviet Union in 1994. Programs intern Sarah Tully writes, “Fissile material across the country was stored in rooms and warehouses easy for an amateur burglar to crack…with a Civil War padlock…The threat of nuclear war isn’t our greatest danger, loose nuclear material and weapons are.” The point bears repeating: diplomacy with Russia is our best chance of keeping the world’s most dangerous weapons out of the wrong hands. [11/21

Front and Center

FRONT & CENTER

An update on arms control, national security & politics from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

October 11-October 26 WHAT’S NEW:

An Evening in Boston
Save the date: On the evening of November 6th, we’ll be in Boston for a night of expert analysis, substantive discussion, and fun! We’ve invited Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, among other notable speakers, to lead our Election Forum and Reception on the Future of National Security. Best part? It’s free! We hope you can join us. Space is limited, so RSVP today.

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Growth in Pentagon Spending Since 2001
We’ll start with the good news: the overall trend for the U.S. defense budget is on a downward slope. That said, the U.S. is spending $7-10 million per day on its new war in the Middle East against the Islamic State, meaning Congress may decide to up the ante in Fiscal Year 2015. Check out our reporton the center site to learn more. [10/20]

2001-2015 budget

Window of Opportunity to Change US Nuclear Spending:
“Folks are understandably confused by the juxtaposition of the exorbitant price tag attached to current plans to upgrade all three legs of the triad at once, and the waning U.S. budget,” writes Katie McCarthy on the Nukes of Hazard blog. That’s why, rather than modernize the triad, the time is now to reassess exactly what we need and what we can afford. [10/24]

But What About Grandma?
It’s a well-known fact that Western sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran were key in bringing the Iranians to the negotiating table. What’s less well-known is exactly how these sanctions have impacted your everyday Iranian citizen. Sarah Tully provides a few personal accounts of the effects of these sanctions and the domestic pressure that has arisen. Rouhani may have no choice but to stay at the table until a deal is reached. [10/21]

BE SOCIAL:

Infographic: Not Getting a Deal Won’t Make Us Any Safer
Remember BiBi’s infamous “red line?” Well, this week, one former US official put the kibosh on Israel’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” rhetoric. The highly respected former Under Secretary of State, Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat told the Jerusalem Post that failing to get an Iran deal should not be considered a success. We loved Eizenstat’s argument so much, we made an infographic. Don’t forget to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or by email! [10/24]

No Iran Deal Is Not a Success