global issues

Nuclear and
Other Weapons Issues

Nuclear and Other Weapons Issues

"At a time when the United States brands as 'evil' certain countries based, in part, on their pursuit of nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction, we must be careful as we consider our own options and contingencies regarding nuclear weapons." (Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, July 16, 2003)

The use of nuclear weapons remains the most alarming issue of our time and the single largest threat to humankind. The Foundation believes in halting the proliferation of these weapons, while preserving and ratifying treaties aimed at total disarmament.

Despite the Cold War being over for more than a decade and the Soviet Union no longer in existence, the nuclear legacy of that time period still remains. There are currently nine countries that have or are believed to have nuclear weapons: the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. Much more troubling, the U.S. is actively pursuing strategies, such as new nuclear weapons and a missile defense system, that seriously jeopardize the current international, treaty-based system.

Recent U.S. History and Current Policies

For more than a decade the U.S., through the Nunn-Lugar Program, has worked with the former countries of the Soviet Union to secure their fissile materials and to reduce the nuclear threat. In 2002, the U.S. signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty with Russia to reduce arsenals, which was a small step toward disarmament. It was also consistent with each country's obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. That step, however, has been more than offset by other decisions that, in our judgment, encourage proliferation. MORE...

Weapons Development

The pursuit of unilateral nuclear and space supremacy by the U.S. has the potential to undermine international cooperation toward disarmament and spark a new arms race. Further, the development of new technologies undermines the system of international treaties that has successfully inhibited the design and use of new nuclear weapons since World War II.

The Foundation opposes any new development of nuclear weapons, delivery systems, or missile defense systems. New research, testing, or deployment not only undermines treaties, it could generate reciprocal responses from countries not wanting to be left vulnerable by technological developments elsewhere. We discuss missile defense, weapons in space and new nuclear weapons. MORE...

Arms Control Advocacy Collaborative

The Kirsch Foundation and the San Francisco-based Ploughshares Fund jointly fund a public policy lobbying effort in Washington, D.C. Called the Arms Control Advocacy Collaborative, or AC2 ("AC-squared"), this project advances a common nonproliferation and arms control agenda. During the past several years, AC2 has significantly affected Congressional deliberations on issues ranging from new nuclear weapons to missile defense to nuclear terrorism. MORE...

Security of Nuclear Material

Most arms control experts agree that unsecured nuclear material poses the greatest threat to global security. In the post-Cold War era, where terrorism remains a constant threat to the U.S. and other nations, nuclear weapons and fissile material storage as well as the safety of nuclear reactors have become increasingly important. The current state of nuclear materials protection makes clear the vulnerabilities faced by the U.S. and other countries. We discuss the situations in Russia, India and Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, North Korea, China, the United Kingdom and the U.S. MORE...

Treaties: A Chronology

Bi-lateral and multi-lateral treaties have been, for more than 40 years, the backbone of efforts to reduce and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. The history of the United States' participation in these international protocols has ranged from leadership in their development to abandonment for political and national gain. We believe that the world needs strong international treaties to ensure the security and safety of all people and to protect the world we inhabit. We discuss the major treaties that sustain the non-proliferation regime. MORE...

Chemical and Biological Weapons

The threats associated with a chemical and/or biological release are very real, with more attention now focused on these types of weapons since the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, in the U.S. The Kirsch Foundation feels strongly that there must be an international effort to combat the risk of a chemical or biological attack on any nation. While the Foundation is not actively engaged in efforts to control or eliminate these weapons, we provide a basic overview and links to many resources. MORE...

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