The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2021

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2021 31 T he nuclear arms control field has been in difficult shape in recent years. A series of treaties and agreements have ended with the prospect for new ones slim. The State Department’s institutional capacity has dimmed, as well, particularly as far as For- eign Service ranks are concerned. But the salience of the nuclear challenge has not lessened. Despite drawdowns of some 85 percent in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals from their historic highs, the two countries still maintain some 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weap- ons whose use would end life as we know it. While China’s Laura Kennedy, a retired FSO, served as ambassa- dor to Turkmenistan, ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and chargé d ’ affaires at the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna. She serves on various boards, including Foreign Policy for America and the Arms Control Association. nuclear arsenal is vastly smaller, it is by no means decreasing. The North Korean nuclear challenge is as real as ever. The U.S. decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal has gravely short- ened the time in which Iran could mount a nuclear weapons breakout. Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan continue to be at loggerheads. So as a new administration surveys the nuclear policy field in January 2021, nuclear arms control and nonproliferation remain critical national security issues. The Trump administra- tion outlined ambitious proposals for strategic nuclear arms control with Russia and China but pursued them in a ham- handed manner. A Biden administration can be expected to extend New START, the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, due to expire Feb. 5, 2021, and will almost certainly explore how further arms control measures with Russia and China might bolster U.S. security, presumably beginning with serious strategic security dialogues. The gravity of the stakes argues, further, that the State Department examine how it is equipped to deal with nuclear issues in the arms control, nonproliferation, security and Nuclear arms control and nonproliferation remain critical national security challenges. How prepared is the State Department to deal with these issues? BY LAURA KENNEDY GETTING STATE BACK INTO NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL AND NONPROLIFERATION FOCUS PHILFOSTER