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Confronting the New Nuclear Peril: Ernest Moniz and Sam Nunn in Foreign Affairs

NTI Board Co-Chair and CEO Ernest J. Moniz and NTI Board Co-Chair Sam Nunn have co-authored an article in Foreign Affairs (“Confronting the New Nuclear Peril: How a Global Fail-Safe Can Prevent Catastrophe”) about the need to find new avenues for preventing nuclear weapons use at an increasingly dangerous time. The authors highlight an “effective form of global threat reduction” already underway in the United States: a nuclear “fail-safe” review. They call on other countries with nuclear weapons to follow suit.

Mandated by Congress and ordered by President Biden, the independent review of U.S. nuclear systems is designed to prevent the accidental, mistaken, or unauthorized use of a nuclear weapon at a time when a host of factors have combined to heighten the risk of nuclear blunder.

With the erosion of arms-control agreements and other security mechanisms, the authors write: “In today’s perilous era, every nuclear weapons state has a vital national interest in using all available tools to prevent a mistake or security breach from turning into a disaster. The same dangerous and potentially deadly dynamics that have spurred Washington to pursue a fail-safe review almost certainly exist in other capitals.”

Acknowledging that the war in Ukraine and other geopolitical tensions may make the “the ultimate nuclear fail-safe measure”—the verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons—unrealistic in the near term, Moniz and Nunn write: “Even if the goal of global disarmament remains elusive, there is still much that nuclear-armed states can do now to prevent a potential catastrophe. The world cannot afford to wait for more peaceful times to reduce the risks of nuclear use.”

Read the article at ForeignAffairs.com.

Related resources from NTI:

Advancing Global Nuclear “Fail-Safe,” statement from Euro-Atlantic Security Leadership Group (EASLG) leaders Des Browne, Wolfgang Ischinger, Igor IvanovErnest J. Moniz, and Sam Nunn, along with 34 dignitaries from 12 countries, calling for all nuclear-weapons states to conduct internal reviews of their nuclear command-and-control and weapons systems. February 16, 2023

NTI Statement on the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review, October 28, 2022

Video on cyber-nuclear risks narrated for NTI by national security expert and former White House cyber czar Richard A. Clarke explains why the risk of cyberattacks on nuclear weapons systems should have us all concerned—and what we can do about it. October 21, 2022

“Biden should do more to prevent the accidental launch of nuclear weapons. Here’s How.” The Washington Post, by Sam Nunn and Ernest J. Moniz. November 17, 2021.

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