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Japan’s Top Hawk Calls for the United States to End Hair-Trigger Alert

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is not a peacenik. He sidesteps the pacifist constraints in Japan’s post-war constitution. He chafes at international criticism of Japan’s role in World War II and pressures publishers to soften descriptions of wartime Japan’s sexual enslavement of women. The conservative leader of Japan’s ruling party frequents a Shinto Shrine that lionizes convicted war criminals and glorifies the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He picks fights with Russia, China and South Korea over disputed islands and supports a significant increase in Japanese defense spending. Read More

Categories: Nuclear Weapons  

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Nuclear Hair-Trigger and Launch-on-Warning: The World Says “No”

Almost all the world’s nations gather today at the UN in New York City for the month-long Review Conference of the international treaty designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminate the ones that already exist.

The 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or “NPT”, divides the world into nuclear weapons haves and have-nots, with the five nuclear weapon states—the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, and France—committed to nuclear disarmament in exchange for which the other 186 parties have pledged not to acquire nuclear weapons. The treaty includes inspections to make sure that countries with nuclear power programs don’t use the technology to produce nuclear weapons materials.   Read More

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U.S. and Russian Generals Call for Reducing the Risk of Inadvertent Nuclear War

In an important New York Times op-ed, retired U.S. and Russian Generals James Cartwright and Vladimir Dvorkin call for the two countries to take steps to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons being launched by mistake, particularly during a time of crisis. Read More

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UCS Webinar on the Nuclear Deal with Iran

Last week we presented a webinar discussing key points of the recent framework agreement for a nuclear deal with Iran, which was announced on April 2. In case you missed it, you can watch a recording of it here. Read More

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An Interview with Eric Schlosser on the Risks of Hair-Trigger Alert

Eric Schlosser, author of the best-selling book Fast Food Nation, last year published a new book that details dozens of accidents that have occurred with U.S. nuclear weapons—some of which nearly led to a nuclear explosion. His book, Command and Control, makes clear that nuclear weapons systems—like all complex systems involving technology and humans—are not perfect. Things go wrong. Read More

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A First Look at the Iranian Nuclear Deal

The world got some good news yesterday. The countries involved in negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran announced they had agreed on many of the key issues they will need to formalize in a final agreement over the next three months.

So, how does that interim agreement look? So far, so good. Read More

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Hair-Trigger Alert: Some Risks are Not Worth Taking

We all take calculated risks, and justifiably so, when we judge the benefits of our action to outweigh the risks. I ride a bike to work when I can, for example. Sure, there’s a risk of injury but, to me, it is outweighed by the health, economic, and environmental benefits.

But the picture changes when we take risks with no real benefits. And when our political leaders do this, we have a duty to speak out and demand change. Read More

Categories: Nuclear Weapons  

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Nuclear War and the Science Experiment of January 25, 1995

On January 25, 1995—20 years ago Sunday—a routine scientific experiment in Norway led Russia to prepare to launch a nuclear attack on the United States.

The story of this event illustrates how coincidence, confusion, and nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert can be a deadly mix. Read More

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President Obama’s State of the Union: What to Expect, and What to Hope For

In his State of the Union speech next Tuesday night, President Obama is expected to focus heavily on challenges like economic inequality and international terrorism. But he is also likely to address at least some of the issues that UCS works on directly, such as climate change and energy. Here’s a quick take on what he may say on these issues, as well as some things he should say, but probably won’t. Read More

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Then vs Now: Progress on Nuclear Weapons since the End of the Cold War

The Cold War ended 25 years ago this month, according to many historians. On Dec. 2 and 3, 1989, Presidents Bush and Gorbachev met on a ship off the island of Malta in the Mediterranean and announced an end of hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The two presidents quickly turned to addressing the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War: the bloated nuclear arsenals in both countries. Within a few years, they cut their nuclear stockpiles in half, and have continued to cut them in the decades since. With U.S.-Russian tensions high again, it’s worth remembering what progress has been made. Read More

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