Year in Review: Reducing Global Nuclear Dangers and Improving U.S. Security

January 5, 2011
Nuclear Security Summit

About the Author: Ellen O. Tauscher is the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

On December 22, the United States Senate approved the New START Treaty, a mutually verifiable nuclear arms reduction pact with Russia. That bipartisan vote was the latest of the Obama Administration's many accomplishments this year to reduce global nuclear dangers and improve U.S. security.

The Senate approved the New START Treaty, which will establish lower limits on deployed strategic warheads and delivery vehicles, by a 71 to 26 vote. Once the Treaty enters into force, U.S. and Russian arms inspectors will resume their work that halted in late 2009 when the original START Treaty expired. Inspectors will be permitted to verify the actual number of warheads on a missile. The Treaty will build trust and enhance cooperation between the world's two largest nuclear powers as we move toward a world of mutual assured stability.

President Obama and President Medvedev signed this Treaty in April 2010, which was the beginning of a momentous two-month period in the Administration's efforts to reduce the danger posed by nuclear weapons.

Last Spring, President Obama issued a new Nuclear Posture Review and hosted nearly 50 world leaders in Washington, D.C., as part of the unprecedented Nuclear Security Summit to secure global stockpiles of fissile material and prevent nuclear terrorism. A few weeks later, the United States helped lead the world in bolstering the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), at a once-every-five-years review conference.

The new Nuclear Posture Review elevates stopping nuclear terrorism and proliferation to the top of the U.S. policy agenda, reduces the role and numbers of nuclear weapons in our defense posture, and ensures that we maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent. In this transformational document, President Obama put in place a new "Negative Security Assurance" to reinforce incentives for non-nuclear weapons countries to forgo developing such weapons. In doing so, the United States pledged not to use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations.

At the Nuclear Security Summit, President Obama made substantial progress on his goal of securing all vulnerable fissile material by 2012. Every participating country announced steps to prevent nuclear material from falling into the hands of terrorists and traffickers. The international community recognized the conference to be such a success that a second gathering is scheduled to take place in South Korea in 2012.

At the NPT Review Conference, the United States worked with its allies and partners to reaffirm the world's commitment to the nonproliferation regime. For the first time in 10 years, the conference ended with a consensus outcome and an action plan to further strengthen the NPT.

The Obama Administration also succeeded in strengthening our relationships with our allies and other partners. The Senate approved the Defense Trade Cooperation Treaties with the United Kingdom and Australia, improving our defense ties with those important allies. We achieved a key goal of our European Phased Adaptive Approach when our 27 NATO allies agreed for the first time to pursue missile defense protection for all NATO European territories. And we made progress with Russia in turning missile defense from an issue of contention to one of cooperation.

More broadly, we continued to work at the 65-member Conference on Disarmament toward launching negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) to end the production of fissile materials intended for use in nuclear weapons.

There is more work ahead of us. The United States will seek further nuclear reductions with Russia, including on non-deployed and non-strategic nuclear weapons. Our "to do" list also includes pursuing ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to end nuclear testing, negotiating an FMCT, and following through on the action plans from both the NPT Review Conference and the Nuclear Security Summit. And the Obama Administration will take steps to address chemical, biological, missile, and conventional weapons threats.

Working with Congress and our allies and partners abroad, President Obama has taken the concrete steps necessary to make the world a safer and more secure place. While that goal is a work in progress, I am proud of the progress we made this year and look forward to building on our momentum in 2011.



New Mexico, USA
January 6, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I don't know why it is my humble (chuckle), state capital's lot to be the retirement paradice of spies, must have been that the cold war started here when Soviets learned from the designs of the Manhattan Project how to construct their own bomb. Crossroads of the universe.
All this "trust but verify" jargon is only a variation on a theme that independant confirmation of plans and intentions is as critical as the physical and political designs matching, and the hardware is to count, as one counts on human inspectors.

How then to gage trustworthy-ness of a treaty partner?

Adherance to the process.

If, and it remains to be seen,...there comes a time when all mankind been created equally free of nuclear weapons, then and only then can this generation I am first-born into of my family (we children of the 60's), can hope to tell the next that this folly of man stops here with our generation, so they need not worry about doing what we must do for their children.

Yet nations build more as we speak of them in context to New Start, and while Russia and America reach sane agreement, others threaten nuclear war.

What then the calamity of men? And their families?

I want not that I fear not, for blindness is indeed folly.

To which, I must protest political stupidity.

For the sake of the living, and in the rememberance of the dead.

Ignorance is not bliss,

All it cause one to do is glow in the dark.

All we are is the stuff of stars, thus this stuff creates the one-ness between us,

Children of this nuclear age.

Spies like us, peering into the human condition, knowing no moral boundaries to waste and destruction, playing a "great game" while losing pawns at a whim and without a prayer of a clue,

What really matters.

So who's going to care?

If there's no one left to?

While arms meachants of black repute, have no place to spend their profits?

For lack of longevity.

Cheat not, cheat not...for the treaty binds the future in peace and stability, may these be self evident in all applications,

As your decendants may praise your wisdom in maintaing the quest.

For peace all the time, not a fraction being acceptable.

Something clandestine on one's mind, is recipe for betrayal of your children's trust, and nations must act as such, globally.

I don't speak rhetoricly.

Then may be in place the treaty in which all nations abide, furthering resolutions and charters and instruments of diplomatic agreements made thus far,

To further humanity's continuity and evolution.

Well, we haven't blown ourselves to bits yet, we've rung in a new decade, and now it's for the other guy to ratify his end of it, if New Start is to become reality,

On common ground.

As for little dictaters becoming nuclear armed tyrants - terriblius infantius genocidialmanicaus, we don't need nore to destract us.

If we want to get to....from here.

Thank you all for all for being there,

And don't be late for dinner, economies won't like it.

Feeding people is the mark of a true super power,

All it takes is empathy.

Some choose to "get religion".

Whatever it takes to step back from the brink,

The alternative to "end times" is lessons learned.

Thanks for considering this quandry.


Ashim C.
January 6, 2011

Ashim C. in India writes:

Nuclear war heads as deterrants is good use of the most unwanted. Threat perceptions of certain countries make them aspire for them. Two leading nuclear powers have nuclear war heads many times more than they need. Why can't they share the surplus to provide nuclear shield to vulnerable countries like India and if such offer ever comes should not India accept that instead of spending her resources on building nuclear war heads are questions that should be debated and conceptual arrangement for their deployment should be worked out. Free deterrant under a shared arrangement is always a good option.

New Mexico, USA
January 6, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Ashim C. in India,

If you seek to propose that "if everyone has equal nuclear deterrant that this planet will be a safer place to raise your children up in", you are unwittingly seeking just the oposite.

The proof is in humanity's historical inability in developing social skills to keep pace with our tecnological ability to exterminate the species.

It is as if you were to ask the insane to run the asylum.

How then do you hope to achieve freedom from fear and peace of mind?

Rethink your calculus my friend, for it becomes recipe for disaster.


Donald M.
Virginia, USA
January 6, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

The world needs less Nuclear Warheads and more countries finding alternative energies without Nuclear Power Stations. What makes a country a "SuperPower" is the massive stockpile of Nuclear Weapons. The grave concerns around our environment, people talk about saving the earth while they build Nuclear Power Plants. (Oxymoran) statement.

New York, USA
January 6, 2011

Ron in New York writes:

Challenges for the New Millennium

Loose and suitcase nukes....dual-use nuclear materials...hand-helds and remote (cloud-computer) systems.....

The key is close coordination and infosharing among and between stakeholders...maybe time to subcontract with WikiLeaks...if we can get over our diplo-embarassment...we had better soon!

New Mexico, USA
January 6, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Donald in Virginia wrote:

"What makes a country a "SuperPower" is the massive stockpile of Nuclear Weapons."

In response to ( I assume ) my statement...interpreted out of context;

"Feeding people is the mark of a true super power,

All it takes is empathy."



I'm inviting nations to dinner and the main entre is composed of common sense.

One may feed hope to the masses, eliminate poverty and despair, as humanity is undernourished in its peaceful persuit of happiness.

Super powers become super-idiots the longer they play with the toys of genocide, I think we can all agree on this.

To hang on to stockpiles is to hang on to fear.

Whereas the option of hanging one's hat on feeding the future wins more friends and influence.

Thus becomes the mark of credibility of such status.

Best regards,


New Mexico, USA
January 6, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Ellen O. Tauscher, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

I couldn't think of an appropriate title to my initial post on this thread and while mixing third person prose and first-personal commentary into the contents as such, upon author's reflection may be non autobiographicly considered;

"Dr Stangelove's epiphany upon stumbling across the path to peace."

As a citizen, the best I can do is to inspire people to think, so you have my official author's permission in writing here to send it to any little dictator you wish.

With my best regards,


New Mexico, USA
January 26, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

News Item:

Russia's parliament has given its backing to the Start nuclear arms disarmament treaty.

The Federation Council (upper house) unanimously approved the deal signed by US President Barack Obama and Russia's Dmitry Medvedev in April 2010.

Under the agreement, the number of nuclear warheads deployed by each country will be cut to 1,550.

The US Senate approved the treaty by 71 votes to 26 last year, after months of wrangling.

Wednesday's vote by the Federation Council comes a day after the treaty was ratified by the Duma, or lower house, and represents the final step in its passage through parliament.



Congrats and thanks to those in the Russian Federation in favor of ratification of NEW START.

I'll chalk this up as a win for the world.



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