Treaties and other international agreements that limit or prohibit the development, acquisition, testing, or deployment of certain types of weapons can make important contributions to national and international security. If properly crafted and verifiable, such treaties and agreements can minimize the costs and risks of arms competition, improve stability and reduce the likelihood of conflict, and minimize the scope and violence of conflict should it occur. These benefits are particularly significant for nuclear weapons, which have the potential to inflict massive and indiscriminate destruction.
Physicists have made major contributions to nuclear arms control treaties and agreements, for example by assessing the potential for clandestine violations and developing technologies to reliably detect, and thereby deter, violations. Such developments include ground and satellite sensors to detect and assess nuclear explosions, fissile material production, missile launches, and deployed nuclear delivery systems. These and other verification technologies can give national leaders confidence that other parties are complying with agreed limitations, increasing predictability and reducing the potential for worst-case assessments.
APS affirms the importance of supporting arms control efforts and maintaining robust research programs in verification science and technology for the benefit of peace and security. This requires investment in education, workforce development, and fundamental and applied research. The development of new verification technologies will provide leaders with the tools to not only increase confidence in the verification of compliance with current agreements, but also to negotiate future agreements that enhance international security.
Adopted by the Council on November 10, 2021
Category: National Policy