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All five permanent members of the UN Security Council (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, and China) as well as Pakistan, India and Israel have nuclear weapons. North Korea has exploded three nuclear devices. 

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Peace Action is working to  cut nuclear weapons spending, accelerate the process of dismantling nuclear weapons slated for decommissioning and push the Obama administration to declare its strategy for fulfilling its pledge set the world on a path to nuclear zero, a goal that MAPA also strongly supports.  Nuclear weapons make the world less safe. As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of use also exists, whether intentional or accidental. Nuclear materials also remain vulnerable to theft or sale for illicit purposes. While states cling to their nuclear arsenals saying they are necessary for their security and the security of their allies, other states will also seek these weapons for their own security. And whether or not you believe deterrence “worked” during the Cold War, it is impossible to believe nuclear weapons could deter non-state actors or terrorists, who by definition have no territory or population to threaten with nuclear retaliation. 

 The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 2011 (New START) negotiated between the U.S. and Russia was a clear victory in progress towards nuclear disarmament. The Obama administration initiated a nuclear weapons modernization plan over the next three decades that under President Trump was increased to nearly $2 Trillion.

Modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal will involve the construction of new submarines and refurbishment of old warheads. It will also mean the continued maintenance of 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles. The one trillion dollar estimate for what modernization would ultimately cost may end up being too low. All of this money going towards construction of new weapons could do enormous good right now for pandemic relief and a host of other health care, social services, housing, and education.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also referred to as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), codifies a 3-part bargain: 1) nuclear weapon states parties are obligated to negotiate in good faith toward nuclear disarmament; 2) non-nuclear weapon states parties will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons; and 3) all states have the right to use nuclear energy – under international monitoring – for peaceful purposes. Negotiations began in 1968 and the Treaty was opened for signature and entered into force in 1970. 

 

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