Environment Nuclear Abolition

Nuclear Power Transition

Google Maps Image of Duane Arnold Energy Center

In 2018 NextEra Energy Resources announced plans to retire the Duane Arnold Energy Center (DAEC) — a 615-MW nuclear power plant located in Palo, Iowa — before the end of 2020.

NextEra’s main customer at DAEC, Alliant Energy, will buy out its contract in September for $110 million, sourcing electricity instead from NextEra’s wind generation fleet. The move is expected to save Alliant Energy customers $300 million over 21 years.

There are no plans to replace Duane Arnold with new nuclear generating capacity.

Two essential problems with nuclear power plants are they cost too much, and a lack answers to the question of what to do with spent nuclear fuel. These problems are political. In our current political climate that makes them unsolvable, practically speaking, even though potential solutions exist for both.

Certain environmental groups favor nuclear power to replace coal as an emissions reduction tactic. On its face this is belied by the urgency of the climate crisis.

“Nuclear, especially next-generation nuclear, has tremendous potential to be part of the solution to climate change,” climatologist James Hansen said on Dec. 3, 2015. “The dangers of fossil fuels are staring us in the face. So for us to say we won’t use all the tools (such as nuclear energy) to solve the problem is crazy.”

The challenge for nuclear energy is the timeline for market penetration in the industrial age. It will take too long.

Cesare Marchetti of the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis did research which suggests the historical trend on implementation of new technologies such as wood, coal, oil and gas takes 40-50 years to go from one percent to 10 percent of market share. Nuclear energy occupies about 12 percent of current global market share. It will take almost a century for an energy source to occupy half the market. The world doesn’t have 50 years, and likely longer, to wait for nuclear energy sources to gain acceptance and growth the way coal, oil and gas have.

Even if political issues surrounding nuclear waste disposal could be resolved, the financial cost of building out a fleet of new nuclear power plants would likely follow the course of the Georgia Power Vogtle Plant expansion, which, when they broke ground, was the first nuclear power plant contemplated in 30 years. Despite proclamations of “making American nuclear cool again,” by then Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the Georgia Public Service Commission questions whether the plant will be economically viable if going on line is delayed much longer. New nuclear energy remains too expensive, especially when compared to renewables and natural gas.

Renewable energy (wind, solar, hydroelectric) is further along than nuclear in its evolution as an energy source. At 31 percent of global market share, we remain decades away from achieving 50 percent market penetration, according to Marchetti’s analysis. At the rate we are going, elimination of coal, oil and natural gas from the energy production mix for electricity won’t occur in my lifetime, and likely not the lives of the millennial cohort. By then all of this electricity talk may be rendered moot by the climate crisis.

There are no big-picture answers to the trouble of an over-heating planet in a 500-word blog post. What remains clear is our problems are driven more by politics than by technology and reason.

It is critical we root out influence and corruption in government. To do that it will take voters who care about our future and are willing to make the hard choices necessary to address the climate crisis.

In any case, from my vantage point, it seems unlikely nuclear power plants will be part of our energy future.

Nuclear Abolition Social Commentary

Anniversary No One Wants to Remember

Wildflowers – Summer 2019

Friday will be the anniversary of one of the most sensational mass murders in United States history.

While the Aug. 9, 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan was far worse in terms of premeditation, number of human deaths, and physical destruction, I’m talking about the 50th anniversary of the murders of actress Sharon Tate and friends, followed the next night by the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

I’d be willing to bet major news media coverage mentions the Tate-LaBianca murders and not Nagasaki. We’ll see grainy images of the late Charles Manson whose colleagues committed the crimes. Then the narrative will move on, perhaps to one of the president’s posts in social media, or some both-sider discussion of administration policy.

No one was prosecuted for the bombing of Nagasaki, even though it was the greater crime. Who will even remember Nagasaki other than nuclear abolition advocates and the few remaining people who were there?

Here is bomber co-pilot Fred Olivi’s account of his experience dropping the atomic bomb on Nagasaki:

Suddenly, the light of a thousand suns illuminated the cockpit. Even with my dark welder’s goggles, I winced and shut my eyes for a couple of seconds. I guessed we were about seven miles from “ground zero” and headed directly away from the target, yet the light blinded me for an instant. I had never experienced such an intense bluish light, maybe three or four times brighter than the sun shining above us.

I’ve never seen anything like it! Biggest explosion I’ve ever seen…This plume of smoke I’m seeing is hard to explain. A great white mass of flame is seething within the white mushroom shaped cloud. It has a pinkish, salmon color. The base is black and is breaking a little way down from the mushroom.

One would think the “light of a thousand suns” eclipses sensational coverage of a gruesome murder binge fifty years ago. We’ll see if major news outlets see it the same way on Friday.

Nuclear Abolition

Deteriorating Trust on Hiroshima Day

Summer flowers by the front door – August 2019

President Ronald Reagan famously said, “trust but verify,” about the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), quoting a Russian proverb.

The Trump administration believes Russia can’t be trusted, was in violation of the treaty, and formally withdrew last week. The Russian Federation accused the United States of being in violation and declared it was open to dialogue to resolve differences. It’s over now.

A background article on the INF by Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association is here. Reif explains what our country has been doing to prepare for exiting the treaty, including exploration of options regarding new intermediate-range missiles capable of delivering nuclear bombs.

We knew we were in for the worst regarding foreign policy when Donald Trump won the 2016 general election. Our knowledge didn’t help us through the appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor, described as a malign influence on U.S. arms control and international security objectives. With Trump we entered a new arms race.

Last year, President Trump told reporters he wanted to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin “to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control,” according to Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. This seems all talk. Trump may be the first president since John F. Kennedy to fail to conclude any form of agreement with Russia regarding nuclear weapons. Without treaties, the door is open to a new and dangerous arms race, Kimball said.

In a time of America first, the administration has little appetite for elimination of nuclear weapons and wants more of them. They seem likely to let the New START Treaty expire and in so doing would create an arms control regime with no legally binding, verifiable limits on the U.S. or Russian nuclear arsenals for the first time in nearly half a century. Both countries are required to eliminate nuclear weapons by Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty signed by 188 nations, the Holy See and the State of Palestine.

Dr. Maureen McCue, coordinator of Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility, emailed a group of Iowans favoring nuclear abolition and her colleagues around the country this disheartening report:

At our booth at the county fair we spoke to almost 3,000 individuals and found that of all the issues and concerns out there, concern about nuclear weapons their costs, and risks was just not on the minds of very many.  On a list of seven concerns, it came in far to the bottom, dead last — even given the dangerous moves of this administration to increase spending on nuclear weapons updates and delivery systems… We live in dangerous times, but the opportunities to engage and educate a new generation are sorry lacking.

We must prevent what we cannot cure and eliminate nuclear weapons. The Trump administration seems intent on doing the opposite, opening the door to a new nuclear arms race. With every new nuclear weapon developed our likelihood of using them by intent or by accident increases. This is no kind of world to leave our children and grandchildren.

Aug. 6 is the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Who will notice what we should never forget?

Nuclear Abolition

Iran Deal Update

Photo Credit: Des Moines Register

Except for the president and members of his administration, the world supports the Iran Deal negotiated by the Obama administration with key allies and Iran.

On June 28, Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, which are not party to the agreement, issued a statement supporting the Iran Deal:

“(We) attach the utmost importance to the preservation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by Iran and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council, as a key instrument for the non-proliferation regime and a major contribution to stability in the region.”

The purpose of the agreement was to restrict Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon. The United States, under President Donald Trump, chose to violate the JCPOA because the chief executive thought it was a “bad deal.”

Last week the president authorized new sanctions against Iran, but they already felt economic pain from previous ones. What this round of sanctions tells Iran and the rest of the world is the U.S. is running out of options, according to Jarrett Blanc at Politico,

With Iranian oil sales down to 300,000 barrels per day (from 2.5 million before sanctions were reapplied) and Iran’s economy suffering, the United States has effectively cut Iran out of international commerce already. The real signal Iran will take from the new sanctions is that the Trump administration either does not understand this reality or cannot come up with a more effective option to improve upon it.

Iran recently announced it would exceed the 300-kilogram limit on low-enriched uranium required by the Iran Deal. They did exceed it, which was widely reported on Monday. Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association made this June 27 press release with Kelsey Davenport, ACA director for nonproliferation policy, which summarizes where we stand regarding the Iran Deal (emphasis mine):

(Washington, DC)—Iran’s announcement that it may soon breach the 300-kilogram limit on low-enriched uranium set by the 2015 nuclear deal is an expected but troubling response to the Trump administration’s reckless and ill-conceived pressure campaign to kill the 2015 nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

It is critical that President Donald Trump does not overreact to this breach and further escalate tensions.

Any violation of the deal is a serious concern but, in and of itself, an increase in Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile above the 300-kilogram limit of 3.67 percent enriched uranium does not pose a near-term proliferation risk.

Iran would need to produce roughly 1,050 kilograms of uranium enriched at that level, further enrich it to weapons grade (greater than 90 percent uranium-235), and then weaponize it. Intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections would provide early warning of any further moves by Iran to violate the deal.

Tehran is not racing toward the bomb but rather, Iran’s leaders are seeking leverage to counter the U.S. pressure campaign, which has systematically denied Iran any benefits of complying with the deal. Despite Iran’s understandable frustration with the U.S. re-imposition of sanctions, it remains in Tehran’s interest to fully comply with the agreement’s limits and refrain from further actions that violate the accord.

If Iran follows through on its threat to resume higher levels of enrichment July 7, that would pose a more serious proliferation risk. Stockpiling uranium enriched to a higher level would shorten the time it would take Iran to produce enough nuclear material for a bomb–a timeline that currently stands at 12 months as a result of the nuclear deal’s restrictions.

The Trump administration’s failed Iran policy is on the brink of manufacturing a new nuclear crisis, but there is still a window to salvage the deal and deescalate tensions.

The Joint Commission, which is comprised of the parties to the deal (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Iran) and oversees implementation of JCPOA, will meet June 28. The meeting is a critical opportunity for the state parties to press Iran to fully comply with the nuclear deal and commit to redouble efforts to deliver on sanctions-relief obligations.

For its part, the White House needs to avoid steps that further escalate tensions with Iran. Trump must cease making vague military threats and refrain from taking actions such as revoking waivers for key nuclear cooperation projects that actually benefit U.S. nonproliferation priorities.

If Trump does not change course, he risks collapsing the nuclear deal and igniting a conflict in the region.

If interested in following the progress of the Iran Deal, discussions with North Korea, and potential extension of the New START Treaty between Russia and the United States, follow Daryl Kimball on twitter @DarylGKimball.

~ Written for Blog for Iowa. Paul Deaton is, among other things, a member of the Arms Control Association.

Nuclear Abolition

Prevent What We Cannot Cure

Hiroshima, Japan after U.S. Nuclear Attack. Photo Credit: The Telegraph

I’m mad about nuclear weapons spending.

The Trump administration plans to spend far more than President Obama on the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. Depending on time frame, the administration will see Obama’s trillion dollars and raise it another half trillion.

Why do we continue to spend money at all on a weapons system we are required by treaty to eliminate? Why do we spend money on weapons that should never be used?

I’m mad and that’s not the half of it.

I’m mad at President Harry Truman for dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. I read Truman’s explanation in his memoir, Year of Decisions, and understand he thought it was a good idea. However, after Hiroshima, when our government understood the destructive capacity of nuclear weapons, dropping a second on Nagasaki was criminal.

I’m mad at the greatest generation for failure to comply with Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which was signed in 1968 and went into effect two years later. By now, we should be finished with nuclear weapons. The treaty binds us as follows:

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

The United States and Russia continue to hold the largest number of nuclear weapons even though reductions were made through treaty negotiations. Treaties are being dismantled by the current administration. If nuclear states had disarmed as the Non-Proliferation Treaty compels us, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

I’m mad at my generation of baby boomers. As the torch of nuclear non-proliferation was passed to us, my cohort chose to focus instead on personal liberation and financial well-being.

There was a resurgence of interest in non-proliferation during the nuclear freeze movement in the 1980s. This global advocacy contributed to negotiation of the INF Treaty between the United States and Soviet Union on the elimination of their intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. It was signed by President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev on Dec. 8, 1987. The current administration announced plans to abandon the INF Treaty.

Why am I so mad? The problem of the existence of nuclear weapons should have been solved soon after society found their destructive capacity. I don’t want to pass that problem along to our daughter and her generation.

Our community has outgrown our fire station and tax levies aren’t sufficient to build a new one. Fire fighters are determined to raise the funds and implore us to “fill the boot” they leave at local businesses. If we had eliminated nuclear weapons, we might have enough money to build thousands of fire stations. Where are our priorities?

As a society we must create a nuclear weapons free world. There is no cure for a nuclear war. We must prevent what we cannot cure.

~Published on May 5, 2019 as a guest opinion to the Cedar Rapids Gazette

Nuclear Abolition

No First Use

B-61 Nuclear Bombs

On Jan. 30, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced companion bills in the 116th Congress to establish the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.

That’s the bill, 14 words, “It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.”

Sounds like a no-brainer for rational people. Nuclear weapons should never be used. Under what circumstances would our country ever consider using them first? No rational person could come up with a scenario to do so that would stand the light of public scrutiny.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would only use its nuclear weapons in response to an incoming missile attack. He acknowledged the global catastrophe that would result from a nuclear war. “We can’t be those who initiated it,” Putin said.

H.R. 921 has 25 house co-sponsors, all Democrats. S-272 has six co-sponsors including five Democrats and one Independent. None of the six members of the Iowa delegation to the 116th Congress has signed on as a co-sponsor. That is unfortunate.

The reason Iowa’s lack of co-sponsors on this no first use policy is unfortunate includes:

Iowa’s agricultural industry would be particularly hard hit in the aftermath of a limited nuclear war elsewhere in the world. Smoke and debris thrown into the upper atmosphere would disrupt the growing season. Crop yields in Iowa and other Midwestern states, as well as in other parts of the world, would plummet according to a 2012 study, due to declines in precipitation, solar radiation, growing season length, and average monthly temperature. As many as two billion people would be at risk of food insecurity.

There is no adequate medical response to a limited nuclear war. “We know from the International Committee of the Red Cross’s first-hand experience in Hiroshima in 1945 that the use of even a relatively small number of nuclear weapons would cause death, injury and destruction on a massive scale, that there would be no effective means of providing aid to the dying and wounded, and that those exposed to radiation would suffer life-long and fatal consequences to their health,” Kathleen Lawand, head of ICRC arms unit said.

Preparing for a limited nuclear war, one which should never be fought, is costly. The Trump administration is planning to spend more than a trillion dollars to upgrade the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including improved weapons, delivery systems and labs. They are even considering development of so-called “low-yield” nuclear weapons which were phased out at the end of the Cold War. Those funds could be better used elsewhere or could even pay for tax cuts.

My ask is modest. The Iowa delegation to the 116th Congress should sign on as co-sponsors to the no first use bills. It is a rational first step in reducing global tensions surrounding the use of nuclear weapons. Those of us in the nuclear abolition community would ask for a lot more, but a no first use policy is something upon which people could agree without even considering more controversial aspects of a ban on nuclear weapons.

There is no cure for a nuclear war. We must prevent what we cannot cure.

Nuclear Abolition

Does Nuclear Weapons Spending Make Sense?

Garage Sign

Does it make sense for our federal government to spend almost one and a half trillion dollars on a nuclear weapons system that should never be used?


The Trump administration plan is to rebuild the entire American nuclear arsenal, including development of new, so-called “low-yield” nuclear weapons. During military training we prepared for deployment of such “tactical” weapons.

After spotting the signature flash or mushroom cloud of a nuclear detonation, while maneuvering among people’s farms, towns and businesses, we were to avert our eyes, find a low spot on the ground and cover ourselves as best we could with our poncho to prevent radioactive fallout from touching our skin and clothing. If we survived, we could go on fighting.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, and elimination of tactical nuclear weapons, developing them again sounds crazy. We could build thousands of new community fire houses with that kind of money.

As Iowa ramps up for the first in the nation caucuses, we should ask presidential candidates, “Will you oppose current plans to spend upwards of one and a half trillion dollars on a plan to rebuild the entire American nuclear arsenal?”

Voters will likely welcome the responses.

~ Published in the Solon Economist on April 11, 2019.

Nuclear Abolition

Will Lady Conductors Sing Karaoke for Kim Jong Un?

On June 14, 2018 PSR Board member Ira Helfand, MD met with South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon in Seoul, urging South Korea to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The main nuclear weapons threat on earth is increasing tension between the United States and Russia over Syria, Ukraine, Crimea and other issues. Not far behind is the ongoing dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Either conflict, if escalated to nuclear war, could end life as we know it.

So what the hell was the Hanoi Summit between Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un?

As a drill sergeant in the U.S. Army often described our duty performance when it did not meet his refined standards, it was a “goat screw.”

We don’t know what preparations the North Korean dictator made, in fact we know little about his country except what we might read in books like Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. He presumably prepared for the summit, and had a 60-hour train trip from Pyongyang, North Korea to Đồng Đăng, Vietnam, in case last minute changes and consultations were required. Kim traveled by rail for security considerations according to Associated Press.

Air Force One’s 20-hour trip to Hanoi, with two refueling stops, was also very long. We don’t know what preparations the U.S. President made either, but it was clear from the news coverage it wasn’t much. Here’s CBS News reporter Mark Knoller:

Couldn’t this have been discovered and vetted long before the actual, expensive in person meet up? Isn’t that why we have diplomats? Why elevate this meeting to a “summit” if we didn’t know the basis for an agreement beforehand?

While Air Force One was enroute home, North Koreans disputed this characterization of the summit. Why cut the meeting short before agreeing what happened and would be said to the press? Seems like basic diplomacy is missing from this administration.

What a bunch of knuckleheads. I’m not referring to the North Korean dictator and his staff. Why would the U.S. elevate this guy to this level of prominence on the world stage? Importantly, it was a staged distraction from Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton’s dismantling of the U.S. – Russia arms control protocol. There is other stuff going on the the country to be distracted from as well. The tail is wagging the dog.

We don’t know but Kim must have been feeling good on the long trip home to Pyongyang after the president failed to find common ground for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We do know something about his green, bullet-proof train with yellow trim on the cars.

“Kim Jong Il, who was Kim Jong Un’s father, was known to have hated flying and traveled by train on several trips to China,” Eric Talmadge and Adam Schreck of AP wrote. “He is said to have fitted his train out to accommodate lavish parties and karaoke sessions.”

His father is also said to have kept four female singers on the train when he traveled, referring to them as “lady conductors.” Will lady conductors sing karaoke for Kim Jong Un on the trip home? Since the U.S. president won’t hold him to account, there may be something for a dictator to celebrate.

Environment Nuclear Abolition Politics

Day to Day Politics

2018 Top Instagram Photos

Last June I broke publicly from our state representative Bobby Kaufmann and endorsed Democratic candidate Jodi Clemens for House District 73 in a letter to the editor of the Solon Economist.

With a circulation of less than 1,000 weekly copies, I’m not sure my endorsement was widely read.

I went on to post three additional pieces critical of Kaufmann before the midterm elections. I am confident he saw the ones in the local newspaper. He won the election without breaking a sweat.

Today’s question is whether I should drive to town to attend his town hall meeting. The 88th Iowa General Assembly convenes tomorrow.

Yesterday I emailed Kaufmann my priorities for the session, mentioning three things:

  • The legislature should support ways farmers can produce more revenue per acre.
  • I questioned the need for more tax relief and encouraged him to find a permanent solution to the back fill problem Republicans created in 2013 when they altered property taxes for farmers and corporations.
  • I reminded him of our local issue of keeping the restriction on larger horsepower boat motors on Lake Macbride during boating season.

Of everything on my political wish list, these three things seem possible yet also insufficient. The better way to impact the legislature would have been for Clemens to have won the election. We came up short. It’s time to accept the results and move on.

In a Sept. 24, 2016 opinion piece in the Cedar Rapids Gazette I articulated what is most important in society: follow the golden rule, nuclear abolition, and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Under President Trump, none of these is going well in our government. My work continues regardless of who my elected officials might be. Politics by its nature will almost always disappoint and party affiliation of our leaders does nothing to change the primacy of these focal points for action.

I’m left wondering why I would attend today’s town hall meeting when there is other, more important work to do.

The legislative agenda is being set by Republicans. If Democrats were in charge, it would be much different. I don’t accept the mental construct that the opposition party should resist the party in power as an end goal for the Iowa legislature. Likewise the idea we are “holding elected officials accountable” by constantly calling and emailing them is off the mark. I’ve been in Senator Chuck Grassley’s D.C. office when such calls came in and the impact was a tick mark in a pro or con column on a tally sheet to be read by staff. Grassley gets his legislative feedback directly from Iowans in his annual tour around the state, and from the Washington, D.C. community of which he has long been a part. So it is with with local representatives. That’s a case for showing up today, although not a strong one.

When I wake each day I don’t think about politics until I read the newspapers. As humans we are attracted to conflict and there’s plenty of it recounted in news media. Republicans have been a long time coming to power. Now that they have it, they are remaking the state in their eyes, changing long-standing policy. That’s the nature of political power. The longer conservative Republicans maintain control of government the harder it becomes for Democrats to undo policy changes. With two more years under Republican hegemony it seems unlikely there is any going back to what used to be.


Snow stopped falling overnight. The driveway needs clearing then there’s community organizing work for the coming year. Our infrastructure needs maintenance and if we don’t do it, no one will. Isn’t that always the case?

It reduces to a simple maxim that guides me through life: there is no other, just the one of which we are all a part. That perspective gets lost in today’s political culture. Working to improve our culture is as important as anything else we do. Such work starts at home where I expect I will spend the day.

Nuclear Abolition

Nuclear Disarmament in Trump World

B-61 Nuclear Bombs

Elimination of nuclear weapons remains a priority for many of us who followed disarmament progress through the years. Our work hasn’t ended. What should be our priorities in Trump World?

To a large extent, society answered that question in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to which the United States is a party. Article VI has been and remains a sticking point in meeting treaty obligations. Here’s the text,

“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

Nuclear states have taken inadequate steps toward compliance with Article VI. U.S. backpedaling on disarmament treaties began when in 2002 President George W. Bush removed the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) signed by President Richard Nixon in 1972. Under Donald Trump, the United States is expected to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), and negotiations for renewal of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) have yet to commence. The Trump administration is heading the opposite direction of good faith negotiations to end the arms race. It is creating a political environment for a new arms race, a complete refurbishment of the U.S. nuclear triad, and development of new nuclear weapons.

Where should disarmament advocates focus their efforts? Here’s my list.

As the two largest nuclear states, the U.S. and Russia should de-escalate nuclear competition and establish a regular dialogue on strategic stability. At a minimum, we should make a mutual decision to extend the New START Treaty before it expires in 2021.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said publicly Russia would not make first use of nuclear weapons. The United States should adopt a no first use policy regardless of what Russia says or does.

During negotiations for U.S. Senate ratification of New START, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl negotiated a refurbishment of the nuclear weapons complex. Under President Trump, this budget has grown to over a trillion dollars. We should encourage the new U.S. House of Representatives leadership to cut back on the administration’s plan to upgrade the nuclear complex.

There has been talk of developing new types of more usable nuclear weapons. We should advocate to block administration plans to develop such weapons.

As President Trump withdraws from the Iran Nuclear Deal we should encourage and support our international partners to implement it without us.

Now is the time to implement realistic, action-for-action steps toward disarmament with North Korea. Any dialogue with North Korea should proceed with that goal as the basis for talks.

Finally, advocates should promote compliance with Article VI in the run up to the 2020 NPT Review Conference.

A nuclear weapons-free world remains possible. In Trump World making progress toward that goal will continue to be challenging. Like most citizens we have limited resources and a large number of issues wanting our attention. This list serves to focus on what’s most important politically, and look for opportunities to advance each item as they present themselves.

To learn more about nuclear disarmament efforts in the U.S., check out the Arms Control Association website by clicking here.