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Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog of Treaties and Agreements

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Technical Report

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Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress Washington United States

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Arms control and nonproliferation efforts are two of the tools that the United States has occasionally used to implement its national security strategy. Although some believe these tools do little to restrain the behavior of U.S. adversaries, while doing too much to restrain U.S. military forces and operations, many others see them as an effective means to promote transparency, ease military planning, limit forces, and protect against uncertainty and surprise. Arms control and nonproliferation efforts have produced formal treaties and agreements, informal arrangements, and cooperative threat reduction and monitoring mechanisms. After the end of the Cold War, the pace of implementation for many of these agreements slowed during the Clinton Administration. The Bush Administration usually preferred unilateral or ad hoc measures to formal treaties and agreements to address U.S. security concerns. The Obama Administration resumed bilateral negotiations with Russia and pledged its support for a number of multilateral arms control and nonproliferation efforts, but succeeded in negotiating only a few of its priority agreements. The Trump Administration has offered some support for existing agreements, but has withdrawn the United States from the INF Treaty, citing Russias violation of that agreement, and has not yet determined whether it will support the extension of the 2010 New START Treaty through 2026. It has also considered withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty. It has advocated discussions on a future treaty that would limit all types of U.S., Russian, and Chinese nuclear weapons, but most arms control analysts doubt that China would participate in this process. The United States and Soviet Union began to sign agreements limiting their strategic offensive nuclear weapons in the early 1970s. Progress in negotiating and implementing these agreements was often slow, and subject to the tenor of the broader U.S.-Soviet relationship.

Subject Categories:

  • Nuclear Warfare
  • Government and Political Science

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