Nuclear Disarmament 2024

Nuclear Disarmament 2024

The invasion of Ukraine increased the salience of nuclear weapons policy, with the president himself talking in apocalyptic terms about how the war in Ukraine means that a “miscalculation could occur… and it could end in Armageddon.” However, the nuclear weapons disarmament and arms control forces were largely unable to turn that into forward momentum. On the contrary, the war and tensions between Russia and the U.S. caused additional damage to the already fraying arms control regime. Russia “de-ratified” the CTBT and suspended participation in the New START treaty. These measures are largely, but not entirely. symbolic and in response to earlier withdrawals by the U.S., such as from the INF Treaty. Russia still intends to abide by the CTBT’s testing moratorium and the weapons limits of New START. But these withdrawals show that nuclear diplomacy has seriously broken down. The U.S. should prioritize putting it back on track.

In 2024, Peace Action will make the case that the U.S. and Biden need to do more to protect us from nuclear dangers, with pressure from the public and concerned members of Congress. All our campaigns in 2024 will be impacted by a volatile foreign policy environment which includes a stalemate in the war in Ukraine, uncertainty about diplomatic alternatives, and renewed attention on the Middle East with the war in Gaza and its eventual aftermath. We struggle to find public and decision maker attention on nuclear issues but we have to emphasize that it is at precisely this sort of volatile moment that we most need to strengthen nuclear diplomacy.

Peace Action is participating in and helping lead several collaborative efforts with nuclear disarmament allies, and with Congressional leaders as well as some in the Administration. PA was asked by a leading funder to help recruit more U.S. grassroots and also international colleagues to join in collaborations on policy advocacy, communications and organizing for nuclear disarmament. There are numerous legislative vehicles in play in this Congress. With some, such as the Warheads to Windmills effort, there have been modest campaigns behind them. Peace Action may have to decide if there is one that rises above and that deserves ongoing campaigning behind it.

As to the Biden Administration, while it has been disappointing in mostly promoting the nuclear status quo, the president himself has stated progress on nuclear diplomacy with Russia must get back on track despite strained relations including the war in Ukraine. PAEF will push the Administration to engage in diplomacy with Russia, but also to take internal steps to improve nuclear weapons policy. Joe Biden probably knows more about nuclear weapons, overall national security policy, diplomacy and treaties than perhaps any US president ever. Should he choose, with sufficient grassroots pressure, to use that vast experience to lead on nuclear disarmament, he would likely have broad public support to do so. At a minimum, re-instituting New START inspections with Russia needs urgent attention, but further reductions in strategic arsenals as well as adopting no first use and ending sole authority for a president to initiate a nuclear war must also be on the table.

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