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Forecasting a spring thaw on prospects of a nuclear winter    

By Jim Hannah

Are you discouraged by the growing threat of nuclear weapons?

There may be en-couraging news on the horizon.

A recent Politico article raises hopeful prospects that a new Biden administration could reverse the Trump administration’s trend toward heightened nuclear tensions and a renewed nuclear arms race.

The full article can be found at:

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/27/biden-nuclear-weapons-policy-463335

The headline offers a foretaste of what may come:

‘This is going to be quite a show’: Biden’s arms control team eyes nuclear policy overhaul

The article forecasts the possibility of a “renaissance in nuclear restraint, after President Donald Trump withdrew from three arms control pacts, threatened a nuclear war with North Korea, and expanded the role of nuclear weapons in war planning.” Such restraint could include scaling back expenditures for modernization of the US nuclear arsenal and its three delivery systems, slated to cost a trillion dollars in the next decade alone.

The most immediate effect of the Biden administration’s nuclear restraint has been a 5-year renewal of the New START treaty with Russia that was due to expire in February. That treaty limits each country to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads—and President Biden has signaled his interest in negotiating further reductions.

Additionally, as Politico’s Bryan Bender reports, “the group of arms control experts he is enlisting to carry out his agenda represents the vanguard of a decades-long progressive push to pull back from the nuclear brink and seek the elimination of atomic weapons.”

One leading player on Biden’s national security team, Politico reports, is Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, who recently called for a “no first use” policy for nuclear weapons. A veteran of the Obama State Department, Jenkins will be part of “a national security team with an unusually ambitious agenda to negotiate new arms control treaties, scale back the nuclear arsenal, and review decades of military doctrine.”

All such efforts, Politico predicts, will be met with opposition, and indeed objections have already been raised by those who see nuclear abolition as naive, even dangerous.

But for those who yearn for a nuclear weapons-free world, there’s a renewed glimmer of hope that the hands of the Doomsday Clock might be moved backward from its current setting: 100 seconds to midnight.

—Opinion by Jim Hannah, member of the PeaceWorks-KC Communication Team

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