‘Building Back Better’ on Arms Production and Weapons Sales?

November 27th, 2021 - by Daryl G. Kimball / Inside the Arms Control Association

Can Biden ‘Build Back Better’ on Arms Control?

President-elect Joe Biden possesses a strong personal commitment to effective nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament that dates back to his early days in the Senate.

In 1979, during the height of the Cold War, then-Sen. Biden spoke at the Arms Control Association Annual Dinner about “The Necessity of Nuclear Arms Control,” noting that “pursuing arms control is not a luxury or a sign of weakness, but an international responsibility and a national necessity.”

He wrote a feature article for Arms Control Today in 1986 titled “The Five Myths of Reagan Arms Control,” criticizing the administration for its lack of progress at the bargaining table with the Soviets and he proposed concrete solutions.

Biden spoke again at our 2004 annual meeting on “Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy.”

In a Jan. 2017 address, then vice president Biden said: “As a nation, I believe we must keep pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons—because that is the only surety we have against the nightmare scenario becoming reality.”

Even as the nuclear danger looms, Biden and his team must also address several other huge challenges in their first days in office, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, securing an economic stimulus package, improving health care, pursuing racial justice, and combating climate change.

You can count on the Arms Control Association be working hard press for smart and swift presidential action and congressional support for the critical, early first steps that are needed to reduce the nuclear danger, including:

  • A U.S.-Russian deal to extend New START within 16 days of inauguration day and before the treaty expires Feb. 5;
  • The start of follow-on talks to cut the still bloated U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals;
  • A White House decision to pause certain costly and unnecessary nuclear weapons modernization projects while the new administration reviews the program; and
  • Reaching agreement with the leaders in Tehran to return Iran and the United States to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal that is needed to keep Iran’s program in check.

A Message from the Disarmament Community

Arms Control Association executive director Daryl Kimball and Board Chair Tom Countryman, along with leaders representing more than two dozen U.S. nuclear disarmament and environmental organizations have written to the President-elect Biden’s transition team to outline “several key steps in the areas of nuclear arms control, policy, budget and multilateral diplomacy that we believe the new administration can and should pursue to restore American leadership to reduce nuclear weapons dangers.”

Our Nov. 19 memo–and specifically our message about the need to extend New START–was the subject of a Dec. 1 Reuters news report “Biden urged to extend U.S.-Russia arms treaty for full 5 years without conditions.” On these and other issues, our senior policy team, including Kimball, Kingston Reif, and Kelsey Davenport,  have briefed key transition team members on what we see as some of the key challenges and opportunities in the weeks and months ahead. 

Vatican Dialogue on Eliminating Nuclear Weapons

Director for nonproliferation policy Kelsey Davenport joined a Dec. 16 virtual discussion sponsored by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to inspire diplomatic action toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. This virtual symposium follows Pope Francis’ rejection of nuclear deterrence as morally unacceptable at a historic Vatican conference in 2017. The entire session is available online via the Vatican News YouTube channel: