Nuclear security has been an important component of American foreign policy ever since President John F. Kennedy called the spread of nuclear weapons “one of the greatest hazards to mankind.”
The next program in the Arizona Senior Academy presentation of the Foreign Policy Association’s “Great Decisions” series will explore the main nuclear threats to American security at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday (March 15) in the ASA Great Room. The facilitator for this session is Neil Kochenour.
The two nations currently considered the greatest threats are Iran and North Korea. Through international cooperation, Iran appears to have taken steps away from nuclear weapons. This progress has been largely due to enforcement of crippling sanctions. That approach has not been successful with North Korea, primarily due to China’s unwillingness to enforce sanctions. North Korea has nuclear weapons and continues to enhance its delivery systems.
In addition to threats from rogue states, the danger of terrorist groups obtaining nuclear materials is significant. The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism is a voluntary international partnership of 86 nations pledged to prevent, detect and respond to nuclear terrorism.
The US is also faced with decisions regarding its own nuclear arsenal, which rests on three platforms: land based missiles (ICBMs) last produced in 1977; strategic bombers, manufactured in the early 1960s; and submarine launched ballistic missiles now carried in a fleet at the end of its operational lifespan.
America’s nuclear warheads are also aging, as no new warheads have been produced since the early 1990s. The cost to modernize the nuclear arsenal has been estimated at over $1 trillion.
The session will include contextual comments by the facilitator, a DVD presentation on the topic (provided by the Foreign Policy Association), and an audience discussion of relevant questions.
Written by Neil Kochenour, Academy Village Volunteer