The nuts and bolts of the treaties don’t always lend themselves to sound bite summaries, but each provides an opportunity for the US to lead the world towards nuclear abolition through its own commitment to disarmament. And over the next four years Peace Action will use these advocacy opportunities as stepping stones towards the longer term goal of zero nuclear weapons worldwide.
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
The Non-Proliferation treaty, started in 1968, is the most comprehensive nuclear weapons treaty. It includes three pillars 1.) disarmament by nuclear weapons states 2.) non-proliferation of nuclear weapons by non- nuclear states and 3.) peaceful use of nuclear energy. The NPT comes up for review every five years. The next review conference will be in 2010 in New York City. Peace Action will advocate for the Obama administration to put forward strong multilateral measures to strengthen the NPT and commit the United States to nuclear disarmament.
Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)
START began in 1982 under Reagan, largely as a response to the public pressure of the nuclear Freeze campaign (which with SANE later gave birth to Peace Action). START laid the groundwork for nuclear arms reductions goals between the US and USSR, and now Russia. START is now in its third iteration as START III, but expires December 5 2009, providing another opportunity for the peace movement to press world leaders on nuclear disarmament.
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
Under the CTBT, signatory nations commit to refraining from creating any nuclear explosions and aims ultimately for nuclear disarmament. Started in 1996 by the UN the treaty has been signed by 180 nations including the United States. However the United States has yet to ratify the CTBT so that it is legally binding, undermining global non-proliferation efforts
Nuclear Posture Review
NPR stands for Nuclear Posture Review. The Obama administration is required by Congress to draw up a Nuclear Posture Review to outline U.S. nuclear weapons policy for the next five years. For months the Department of Defense has been leading efforts in the administration to finish the NPR by mid January. The contents of the NPR should reflect President Obama’s Nobel Prize-winning vision for a nuclear weapons-free future, and will show whether the Administration is ready to take concrete steps towards disarmament, turning impressive anti-nuke rhetoric into reality.
The NPR will specifically lay out the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. foreign policy, determine the size of our nuclear arsenal, and shape the role and size of the nuclear complex (research, production, and waste sites across the U.S.). The Bush Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review was a disturbance internationally, as it revealed U.S. plans to advance nuclear technology with the creation of smaller, more “usable” nuclear weapons to be potentially used against seven named foreign countries. The current NPR is expected to break with its predecessor, yet the Pentagon and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have been pushing for increased resources to the nuclear weapons complex for “modernization,” which would enhance nuclear warhead production capabilities and further entrench the primacy of nuclear weapons in U.S. foreign policy.