Bulletin of the American Physical Society
APS April Meeting 2023
Volume 68, Number 6
Minneapolis, Minnesota (Apr 15-18)
Virtual (Apr 24-26); Time Zone: Central Time
Session M07: Reducing the Danger and Spread of Nuclear WeaponsInvited Undergrad Friendly
Sponsoring Units: FPS
Chair: James Wells, University of Michigan
Room: MG Salon G - 3rd Floor
Monday, April 17, 2023
10:45AM - 11:21AM
M07.00001: U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Control Prospects Three Years Before New START's Expiration
Invited Speaker: Shannon Bugos
The prospect for a U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control arrangement to supersede the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) faced tough odds prior to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine about a year ago. The war has necessitated, to say the least, a re-assessment of what might be feasible for Washington and Moscow to achieve in the now three years remaining before New START expires in February 2026. This presentation will describe the state of U.S.-Russian arms control in the few years leading up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine as well as the effects of the war on existing and future arms control – to include an overview of New START implementation and the longstanding but paused U.S.-Russian bilateral strategic stability dialogue. This presentation will also identify the respective priorities in the U.S. and Russian arms control agendas, including tactical nuclear weapons, missile defense, China's nuclear arsenal, as well as suggest a potential course towards a new U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control arrangement.
Monday, April 17, 2023
11:21AM - 11:57AM
M07.00002: Are nuclear weapons obsolete? Nuclear policy lessons from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Invited Speaker: Pavel Podvig
The role that nuclear weapons played in shaping the conflict in Ukraine raise important questions about nuclear deterrence, proliferation, and disarmament. The evidence suggests that the utility of nuclear weapons as military and political tools is extremely limited. From the military point of view, this conflict showed that there are no military missions that nuclear weapons can accomplish on the battlefield. Even though nuclear weapons can be used to attack civilian targets in an attempt to change the strategic outcome of the war, the political cost of such an attack would be unacceptably high. The international community has unequivocally condemned nuclear threats, making nuclear use all but impossible. While it is true that Russia's nuclear status played the key role in enabling the aggression and in deterring the West from directly intervening in the war, it proved ineffective in preventing the West from providing military and other forms of assistance to Ukraine. As for the enabling role of nuclear weapons, it is clear that after the war Russia will be in a much weaker economic, political, and security position than it was in before the conflict began. Indeed, nuclear weapons proved to be detrimental to Russia's national security. This war also has a strong nuclear proliferation aspect to it. It is often argued that Ukraine would have prevented the conflict had it possessed nuclear weapons. However, even if nuclear weapons may have deterred the invasion, it is highly uncertain whether they could have prevented the annexation of Crimea. Finally, nuclear weapons are often credited with providing security to NATO states. The war in Ukraine demonstrated that this is not the case. While NATO may have protected itself from an invasion, it has not isolated itself from the war and bears an enormous risk of a catastrophic escalation that it cannot fully control. The war in Ukraine shows that nuclear weapons cannot be relied on to provide security and stability. This talk is co-sponsored by the University of Illinois Physics Department.
Monday, April 17, 2023
11:57AM - 12:33PM
M07.00003: The Global Nuclear Arms Control and Nonproliferation Regime: From the Perspective of Beijing
Invited Speaker: Tong Zhao
This presentation will introduce the mainstream view in the Chinese policy community about the driving forces behind the ongoing evolution of the global nuclear arms control and nonproliferation regime and its future challenges. It will discuss why China has been expanding its traditionally small nuclear arsenal at an unprecedented speed and scale; how China interprets Russia's nuclear saber-rattling during the Ukraine War; what considerations underlie China's position toward multilateral institutions such as the P-5 Process and the TPNW; as well as what role Beijing sees itself playing to address regional nuclear crises like over the Korean Peninsula and in South Asia. The presentation will also provide recommendations about how the United States and the rest of the international community can better engage with China to promote nuclear nonproliferation and arms control.
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