Tag Archives: Arms Control
Nuclear Explosion

We Can Still Work with Russia for Nuclear Disarmament

In college, I spent a semester working at a London-based Jewish non-profit that focused on development projects within Ukraine’s marginalized Jewish population, and during that semester I found myself learning a great deal about Ukraine and the people who live there. As someone who cares about the people in Ukraine, and as someone who cares about the world around Ukraine, the violence that erupted this summer is scary and depressing. The news was at times hard to believe, from hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians being displaced, to ever-bleaker prospects among the LGBT community there, to the still-unresolved tragedy of the Malaysia Airlines jet being shot down by pro-Russian separatists.

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Update on Iranian Nuclear Negotiations

This past Sunday, July 20th, marked the original deadline set by the P5+1 countries (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany) and Iran to reach an agreement after months of nuclear negotiations in Geneva.  As many people, including politicians, journalists, and faith leaders, predicted, the countries agreed to extend the negotiations for an additional six months.  (This extension comes seven months after P5+1 and Iran reached an interim agreement in late November.  That agreement, which was implemented beginning on January 20, resulted in a roll back of a few sanctions against Iran in exchange for limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, including halting production at Arak, Iran’s heavy-water reactor.) Read more…

President Obama Speaks at Nuclear Security Summit

President Obama spoke last week at a news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte during the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. They addressed the news conference together, highlighting the importance of both preventing nuclear terrorism and working with other nations with the same goal.  Read more…

Sec. Kerry shaking hands

Iran: An Update

On November 24, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry and other leaders of the P5+1 negotiations with Iran announced an interim agreement between the parties.  The six-month deal reached in Geneva between the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, Germany  and Iran rolls back some of the sanctions against the Iranian government in exchange for limitations on Iran’s nuclear program.  Another crucial part of the deal is that Iran agreed to freeze construction on its heavy-water reactor, Arak.  Read more…

JFK signing test ban treaty in the treaty room

50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) by President John F. Kennedy.  The treaty was signed by President Kennedy on October 7, 1963, and took effect on October 10, 1963.  The signing and implementation of the treaty came after many hearings and nearly three weeks of floor debate in the Senate, after which it passed with a vote of 80 to 19.  Since the three original signatories to the treaty – the United States, the United Kingdom and the USSR – ratified the treaty, 123 active nations have also ratified or acceded to the treaty.  Read more…

Rowhani Wins Iranian Election

All eyes were on Iran last week as 36 million citizens went to the polls to vote for their next president. With 50.7% of the vote, Hasan Rowhani was declared the surprise victor.

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Obama in Berlin

Nukes in the NDAA and Beyond

Over the last week I and my colleagues have brought you some of the highlights from the debate on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 in the House. For my final post on the matter (for now) I want to talk about an issue that has long been pillar of the Reform Movement’s advocacy, but which rarely gets much play in the press these days – nuclear disarmament.

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U.N. Passes Landmark Arms Trade Treaty

The national debate around how to best prevent gun violence took on an international dimension when, on Tuesday, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a treaty to regulate international trade in small arms. The Obama Administration has played a critical role in crafting and developing this treaty and the United States joined 154 countries that voted for it; only three countries voted against it (Syria, Iran and North Korea), and twenty others abstained.

The treaty – which includes tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber weapons, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and launchers, small arms and light weapons – would require that sellers of munitions take steps to ensure that the weapons are not likely to be used in the abuse and violation of human rights.

Much of the discussion around this treaty has focused on Bashar Asad and the Syrian government who, despite well-documented human rights abuses and killing of countless civilians, have continued to receive arms shipments from abroad. Anna McDonald, an analyst for Oxfam International, said of this treaty, “This treaty won’t solve the problems of Syria overnight, no treaty could do that, but it will help to prevent future Syria, It will help to reduce armed violence. It will help to reduce conflict.” Syria was joined by North Korea and Iran in an attempt to block the treaty from coming to a vote late last week.

In order for the treaty to take effect it needs to be ratified by at least fifty countries, and that is likely to be a difficult fight. President Obama, who has repeatedly expressed support for the treaty, will likely face intense resistance in the Senate, where it must pass with a two-thirds majority. The National Rifle Association has come out strongly against the bill saying that it could infringe on the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. There is likely to be considerable resistance from arms manufacturers as the United States is the leading exporter of arms around the world. Finally, there is little appetite for any international treaty for some in Congress, as particularly in light of last year’s disappointing vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Religious Action Center has been engaged in a number of actions to help prevent gun violence over the past several months (make sure to call your Senator through Faiths Calling on April 9th in advance of their vote on a domestic gun violence prevention package! ) and we will continue that work as the attention of U.S. lawmakers turns toward considering this treaty.