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Consequences of nuclear disarmament proposals. Adam Mount, Ph.D . LLNL, 4 May, 2014. Nuclear disarmament proposals. 1968 : npt 1977: Carter, un 1986: Reagan, Reykjavik 2009: Obama, Prague 2009: S/RES/1887 2011: Nuclear Posture Review.

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consequences of nuclear disarmament proposals

Consequences ofnuclear disarmament proposals

Adam Mount, Ph.D.

LLNL, 4 May, 2014

nuclear disarmament proposals
Nuclear disarmament proposals

1968: npt

1977: Carter, un

1986: Reagan, Reykjavik

2009: Obama, Prague

2009: S/RES/1887

2011: Nuclear Posture Review

Theu.s.has periodically issued commitments to disarm, sometimes in response to transnational activism or multilateral initiatives.

Less studied is the effects of different types of disarmament proposals.

  • Multilateral treaty
  • Nuclear weapons ban
  • Obsolescence
  • Unilateral disarmament
  • 1945: Truman, November
  • 1946: A/RES/1
  • 1946: Baruch to unaec
  • 1961: Kennedy, au
  • 1961: Kennedy, un (gcd)
  • 1961: McCloy-Zorin accords
  • 1964: Johnson, State of the Union (gcd)
multilateral disarmament treaty
Multilateraldisarmament treaty


A negotiated treaty containing provisions for verified dismantlement and continued inspections


Voluntary bilateral u.s.-Russia reductions lead to P-5 participation for further reductions. Progress on related agreements (ctbt, fmct, npt) build confidence. Once at low numbers, disarmament is verified simultaneously in all nations.


Perkovich& Lewis (2009)

Fetter & Oelirch (2010)

Acton (2011), Holloway (2011)

  • Modest steps could have major benefits for related agreements
  • Exerts pressure on proliferants/ pariahs
  • Incentivizes interest in verification (ukni), diplomatic sequencing
  • Multilateral agreements are more popular
  • Some types of stockpile funding could be supportive of disarmament commitments

ukni (2007-12)

prepcom (5/14)


Nuclear weapons ban

  • The u.s. is not part of the hinwinitiative, or it might have prevented movement toward a ban
  • Diplomatic/public opinion benefits from participation
  • Movements interested in a ban can be productive on related issues
  • Enthusiasm for a ban could affect the 2015 nptrevcon or the discussions on a Middle-East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone
    • (and therefore on nonproliferation efforts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and others)


A legal prohibition proposed by a international group with moral authority


A transnational activist group or multilateral movement gathers sufficient support for its weapons ban to have bearing on international law or public opinion and nuclear countries accede to the statement. The text could directly mandate disarmament or apply it indirectly (through moral criticism of deterrence, for example).


hinw, Nayarit (2014)

icj (1996)


Disarmament through obsolescence


Nuclear capability is eliminated when the u.s.can no longer certify its nuclear assets safe and reliable for deployment.


Intentionally or unintentionally, stockpile management decisions lead to decreased nuclear capability. A lack of knowledge or resources, brought on by a protracted test-ban or Congressional decisions, render the arsenal too unsafe or unreliable to deploy.


National Research Council (2012)

Unless made explicit, unlikely to have significant diplomatic benefits for nonproliferation, reciprocity

Complex doctrinal questions

Could weaken nuclear security efforts

New surety funding thought contrary to disarmament commitments


Unilateral disarmament


Theu.s.voluntarily eliminates its nuclear arsenal without reciprocity or inspection requirements


A Presidential decision abandons nuclear deterrence, demobilizes nuclear forces, and begins warhead dismantlement.


Podvig, bas (2013)

Krauss, nyt (2013)

Gaffney, wt (2012-3)

  • Never a significant part of the u.s.debate, though some recent stirrings
  • Significant proposals will affect domestic politics more than diplomatic outlook
  • England has shown more interest
  • English disarmament could have major effects on disarmament diplomacy and strategic stability—or none at all


  • Disarmament proposals differ in their effects
  • The United States must involve itself in disarmament debates or risk being backed into a corner
    • Politics can be path dependent. Proposals can:
      • support institutional arrangements
      • direct funding
      • direct research
  • Modest steps may yield substantial benefits
      • Planning on diplomatic sequencing
      • Steps on stockpile management, weapons systems for credible commitment
      • (Implicitly) endorsing treaty could constrain discussion
      • Historically, policy was more proactive