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Policy Briefs on Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

The Presidential Nuclear Initiatives of 1991-1992

Policy Brief  No 23 - October, 2018

On 27 September 1991, U.S. President George H.W. Bush announced unprecedented changes to U.S. nuclear forces and practices. Known as the Presidential Nuclear Initiative (PNI), the measures were unilateral-reciprocal—the U.S. would act on its own, but also challenge the Soviet Union to take comparable steps. Bush declared additional PNI actions on 28 January 1992. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev responded on 5 October 1991, and Russian President Yeltsin on 29 January 1992.i The U.S. nuclear stockpile fell by 50 percent between 1990 and 1994. No other period in U.S. nuclear history saw such a large numerical reduction in so short a time. The extent of Soviet and Russian implementation, however, remains uncertain. Given the current political and military environment between the U.S. and Russia, any return to the PNI approach seems unlikely.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

The Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, 1991-1992: An Assessment of Past Performance and Future Relevance

Policy Brief  No 21 - October, 2018

The fabric of US-Russian nuclear arms reductions is unravelling. Among the indications of the tenuous nature of the current bilateral arms control regime are: Diminished prospects for extension of New START, which is set to expire in 2021. Increased probability that the 1987 INF Treaty will collapse under the weight of mutual accusations of noncompliance. Pursuit by both the United States and Russia of nuclear force modernisation. Uncertain prospects for continuation of bilateral consultations on strategic stability. Unusually vitriolic exchanges between the two former nonproliferation partners at the 2018 NPT Preparatory Committee meeting. At the same time, there have been occasional signs that arms control progress is not impossible. At a time when re-starting formal arms control negotiations is likely to meet major resistance, especially in the United States, it is worthwhile to recall less formal options for pursuing nuclear arms reductions. These include measures that can be undertaken by the Executive without Congressional/Parliamentary approval. The most relevant example of that approach is the 1991/1992 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs), which resulted in deep reduction of tactical (non-strategic) nuclear weapons.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Nuclear Battleground: Debating the US 2018 Nuclear Posture Review

Policy Brief  No 16 - June, 2018

This Policy Brief compares and contrasts the Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review with past reviews and its Obama predecessor. It concludes that this review offers a much harsher assessment of the security environment; it posits a more expansive role for nuclear weapons; and proposes a substantial de-emphasis on arms control. In tone and direction, the 2018 NPR signals a nuclear environment that is more menacing and more competitive, less regulated by negotiated agreement, and marked more by modernization than by reductions in forces. It focuses too much attention on Russian threats, sees weaknesses in the US deterrence posture and believes that deterrence will be bolstered by providing the president with additional usable nuclear options. While there are continuities between this NPR and earlier ones what makes this one particularly worrying is the incumbent Commander in Chief who seeks to blur past distinctions between conventional and nuclear forces.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Summary Report: Harmonizing the NPT and the Nuclear Ban Treaty

Summary Report  No 15 - May, 2018

In collaboration with the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network (APLN), European Leadership Network (ELN), and with support from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Toda Peace Institute convened a workshop in Seoul on 22 and 23 March under the title of ‘Closing the Gap: Harmonizing the NPT and the Nuclear Ban Treaty.’ The aim of the initiative was to enhance convergence between the NPT and Ban Treaty, to inform the 2020 NPT Review Conference and strengthen the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime. In preparation for the workshop, APLN and the Toda Institute commissioned several background Policy Briefs.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

The Iran Nuclear Deal: Europe to the Rescue?

Policy Brief  No 13 - May, 2018

Whether or not President Trump unilaterally withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal on 12 May, Europe will face an uphill battle to save it. If sanctions are applied immediately, or threatened every 120 days, that will undermine one of the fundamental tenets of the agreement. Businesses will be unwilling to risk investing in an economy under the threat of sanctions. This will mean Iran will be denied the benefits to which it is entitled to under the agreement and will have little incentive to continue complying with its nuclear obligations. In fact, current statements from Tehran indicate that Iran might walk away from the deal entirely. Europe is making last-ditch efforts to meet Trump’s challenge but it needs a backup plan to salvage the nuclear deal if the U.S. withdraws or carries out its part of the bargain half-heartedly. This policy brief identifies a series of European options that will protect the JCPOA from both a U.S. withdrawal and continued uncertainty. It argues that a package of positive incentives aimed at persuading the Iranian leadership of the benefits of compliance with the JCPOA outweigh the potential costs of noncompliance and retaliation.