Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities: A Catalog of Recent Events

Publication Date: January 2006

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Military and defense



This report contains brief descriptions of the most prominent arms control and nonproliferation efforts in which the United States has participated during recent years. The entries describe the substance of each arms control effort, the period in which the effort occurred, and the status of the effort at the end of 2004.

The first section of this report describes arms control efforts between the United States and the states of the former Soviet Union. Among the agreements described here are the START Treaties that impose deep reductions on strategic offensive nuclear weapons in the United States and former Soviet Union. START I entered into force in late 1994; both the United States and Russia approved START II, but it did not enter into force and has fallen aside with the negotiation of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. It also describes the debate over the ABM Treaty, U.S. policy on missile defenses, and the U.S. withdrawal from the Treaty. The second section reviews efforts, by the United States and its allies, to assist the states of the former Soviet Union with the elimination and enhanced security of their nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and the associated materials.

The third section of this report describes several agreements that affect conventional weapons. These include the CFE Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty, along with efforts to control or ban anti-personnel landmines.

The fourth section of this report focus on multilateral nonproliferation efforts, such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This section also describes non-nuclear nonproliferation efforts, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention, and efforts to control the proliferation of conventional weapons and dual-use technologies.

The final section of the report highlights specific regions and countries that pose challenges to the nonproliferation regimes. These include China, where the United States has sought to discourage activities that might help other countries acquire weapons of mass destruction and to encourage China's participation in nonproliferation regimes; North Korea, where the United States continues to seek to stop the acquisition of nuclear weapons; Libya, which agreed in 2004 to eliminate its WMD programs; Iraq, where the United States and United Nations continue to seek to dismantle and contain WMD programs; Iran, which many experts believe is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons; and South Asia, where the May 1998 nuclear weapons tests raised concerns for both the international Nuclear Nonproliferation regime and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The appendices at the end of the report contain a more comprehensive list of arms control treaties and agreements, a list of arms control organizations, and additional information about the U.S. treaty ratification process.

This report is updated annually, at the beginning of the calendar year.