After decades of progress on limiting the buildup of nuclear weapons, Russia’s war on Ukraine has prompted renewed nuclear tensions between Russia and the U.S.
The U.S. State Department told Congress on Jan. 31, 2023, that Russia is not complying with the countries’ last remaining nuclear arms agreement, which was renewed for five years in 2021. Russia has denied these accusations and accused the U.S. of violations as well.
This agreement, known as New START, is critical to nuclear cooperation and preventing a new arms race. It is the only remaining agreement between the U.S. and Russia limiting the development of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. It allows both countries to regularly, and with limited advance notice, inspect each other’s nuclear weapons arsenals.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly ignited concern that Russia’s setbacks during its nearly year-old war with Ukraine – as well as Western involvement in the conflict – could result in Russia launching a nuclear attack on Ukraine or another country in the West.
A single nuclear weapon today in a major city could immediately kill anywhere from 52,000 to several million people, depending on the weapon’s size.
A history of nonproliferation
The Soviet Union, U.S., United Kingdom, France, Israel and China had active nuclear weapons programs in the 1960s.
Countries recognized the risk of a nuclear war in the future.
Sixty-two countries initially agreed to what’s been called the “Grand Bargain” in 1967, an essential element of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. One hundred and ninety-one countries eventually signed this treaty.
The agreement prevented the spread of nuclear weapons to countries that didn’t already have them by 1967. Countries with nuclear weapons, like the U.S. and the U.K., agreed to end their nuclear arms race and work toward eventual disarmament, meaning the destruction of all nuclear weapons.
This landmark agreement laid the groundwork for agreements between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to further reduce their nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. It also stopped other countries from developing and testing nuclear weapons until the end of the Cold War.
There have been major achievements in preventing countries from gaining nuclear weapons and dramatically reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles since the Cold War.
The global nuclear stockpile has been reduced by 82% since 1986, from a peak of 70,300, with nearly all of the reductions in the U.S. and Russia, who held the largest stockpiles at the time.
Several other countries have nuclear weapons, and most of them have a few hundred weapons each, including the United Kingdom, France and China – though China has been building up its nuclear stockpile. Newer nuclear countries like India, Pakistan and Israel have around 100 each, while North Korea has around 20.
Starting in the late 1960s, countries agreed to more than a dozen legally binding agreements, or treaties, that limited new countries from getting nuclear weapons and prohibited nuclear weapons testing, among other measures.
U.S.-Russia cooperation declines
U.S.-Russia engagement on nuclear weapons changed when Russia forcibly annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
The U.S. and NATO then accused Russia of violating a 1987 nuclear agreement on short- and intermediate-range land missiles. From Russia, these could travel between 500 to 5,500 kilometers (311 to 3,418 miles), hitting targets as far as London.
The U.S. also terminated this agreement in 2019 due to reported Russian violations. Now, there are no international nuclear agreements in Europe.
The New START agreement, signed by Russia and the U.S., remains the one main strategic nuclear weapons agreement in place. It was to continue until at least 2026. But, the recent State Department report to Congress on Russia’s alleged violations of the treaty raises questions about whether this agreement will survive.
The U.S. says that it cannot make certain that Russia is in compliance with the deal since Putin is “refusing to permit the United States to conduct inspection activities on Russian territory.”
The U.S. and Russia halted all inspections of each other’s nuclear weapon sites and operations in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In November 2022, Russia canceled talks to resume inspections. The U.S. considers these violations of the agreement, but not an altogether outright material breach of the treaty.
Impact of Ukraine war
The U.S. and Russia’s arms control regime was successful in the Cold War because it included significant verification mechanisms – direct inspections of each party’s nuclear arsenal with less than 24 hours’ notice.
Russia and the U.S. have conducted 306 inspections since New START took effect in 2011. Without New START, all inspections of nuclear bases and support facilities will end.
During nuclear talks in 1987, President Ronald Reagan translated a Russian maxim, saying, “trust, but verify,” the foundation of the nuclear arms control regime.
If the U.S. and Russia are no longer transparent about their nuclear arsenals and developments, pressure for both countries to develop new nuclear weapons and delivery systems will increase, along with the risk of miscalculations.
Anatoly Antonov, the Russia ambassador to the U.S., for example, has said that Western assistance to Ukraine impacts the New START treaty. “There can be no progress on arms control without the United States reconsidering its policy of inflicting strategic defeat on Russia,” he said.
While Putin has not followed through on his threat of a nuclear strike, the potential for a nuclear attack has meant the U.S. and NATO have responded to Russia’s attack on Ukraine with this lingering threat in mind.
The U.S. and NATO members announced in January 2023 plans to escalate their military assistance to Ukraine, sending 120 to 140 Western-made tanks, alongside other war machinery. This might signal a change to the U.S.‘ and NATO countries’ strategy, so far, of limiting their direct support to Ukraine and avoiding further escalation with Russia in the conflict.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on April 8, 2022.
Nina Srinivasan Rathbun does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.congress pandemic covid-19 testing spread deaths india europe france russia ukraine china
Canadian dollar edges higher as retail sales rebound
Canada retail sales climb 2% The Canadian dollar has posted losses on Friday. In the European session, USD/CAD is trading at 1.3446, down 0.28%. Canada’s…
- Canada retail sales climb 2%
The Canadian dollar has posted losses on Friday. In the European session, USD/CAD is trading at 1.3446, down 0.28%.
Canada’s retail sales jump
Canada’s retail sales rebounded in impressive fashion on Friday. Retail sales in July jumped 2% y/y, following a -0.6% reading in June and beating the 0.5% consensus estimate. On a monthly basis, retail sales rose 0.3%, up from 0.1% in June but shy of the consensus estimate of 0.4%. The good news was tempered by the August estimate, which stands at -0.3% m/m and would be the first decline since March. The Canadian dollar showed little reaction to the retail sales release.
The Bank of Canada doesn’t meet again until October 25th and policy makers will have plenty of data to monitor in the meantime. The BoC has been walking a tightrope that will be familiar to most central banks, that of trying to balance the risks of over and under-tightening. The difficulty in finding the right balance was highlighted in the BoC summary of deliberations of the policy meeting earlier this month.
The BoC decided to hold the benchmark rate at 5.0% after concluding that earlier rate hikes were having an effect and slowing economic growth. The summary indicated that policy makers were concerned that a pause might send the wrong message that rate cuts might be on the way. With inflation still above the BOC’s target, the central bank is not looking at rate cuts and stressed at the September meeting that rate hikes were still on the table and that inflation remained too high.
- USD/CAD is testing resistance at 1.3468. The next resistance line is 1.3553
- 1.3408 and 1.3323 are the next support lines
Quantitative Tightening Is Not Biggest Threat To Global Yields
Quantitative Tightening Is Not Biggest Threat To Global Yields
Authored by Simon White, Bloomberg macro strategist,
The Bank of England’s…
Authored by Simon White, Bloomberg macro strategist,
The Bank of England’s quantitative tightening program shows that unwinding central-bank bond portfolios, even with outright sales, need not be disruptive for markets. The greater risk for US and global yields comes from positive stock-bond correlations driving risk premia wider.
The BOE has been a pioneer and a thought leader in QT. While the Fed and ECB have only allowed bonds to run off naturally to help achieve their balance-sheet contraction goals, the BOE has sold gilts outright in addition to allowing bonds to mature.
So far, it has not led to any significant market disruption. This enabled the BOE Thursday to increase the pace of reduction in the Asset Purchase Facility (APF) from £80 billion last year to £100 billion over the coming 12 months from October (while holding Bank Rate steady). As colleague Ven Ram also noted, the schedule of maturing bonds next year allowed the bank to keep gilts sales unchanged from last year while increasing the total amount of the APF’s decrease.
The QT watchwords from the bank are “gradual and predictable.” If gilt sales are conducted in such a way, then market disruption should be minimized. The chart below shows the BOE’s own assessment of the impact of bond sales on the market.
The BOE estimates that of the ~40 bps of term-premium increase since the MPC voted to begin QT in February 2022, about 10-15 bps comes from QT specifically – small in comparison to the overall rise in yields since that time.
QT or bond sales, though, are not the most critical risk facing bond prices in the current cycle. Rising and now positive stock-bond correlations threaten to lead to a structural rise in bond risk premium, and lower prices. The correlation is now positive in the US, Japan, and the UK.
In a positive stock-bond correlation world, bonds lose their portfolio-hedge and recession-hedge capabilities, and thus become less sought after. The penny has not fully dropped yet, but the negative term premium for bonds is increasing, and is prone to rising much higher as they become less desirable.
Yields of developed market countries are biased structurally higher, but QT is unlikely to be the culprit. Instead, it allows central banks to reload their capacity for a future time when they may need to restart quantitative easing, in order to stabilize the market from sharply rising term premia.
How ducks, geese and swans see the world – and why this puts them at risk in a changing environment
Our airspace has only started to become cluttered recently – many birds are struggling to navigate through it.
Each year, millions of birds fly into power lines, wind turbines and the other man-made structures that litter the open air space. These collisions frequently result in the death of birds and, if power systems go down, disrupt our lives and pose financial challenges for power companies.
Numerous bird species, including macaws in Brazil, geese and swans in the UK, and blue cranes in South Africa have been found to be susceptible to collisions with power lines. But any flying bird can fall victim to such a collision.
In some places, these collisions happen so often that they can jeopardise local populations of endangered species.
But birds are highly evolved flying machines. They can fly in tightly packed flocks that weave and turn to our delight and wonder. So why do they fly into things?
How birds see the world
Exploring the reasons behind why birds are victims of collisions has led to new ideas that challenge our fundamental perception of what birds are. In the past, scientists have described birds as “a wing guided by an eye”. This implies that flight has been central to moulding bird vision throughout their evolution.
But now it is safe to conclude that a bird is instead best characterised as “a bill guided by an eye”. Rather than flight, the main driver of the evolution of bird vision has been the key tasks associated with foraging, in particular detecting food items and getting the bill to the right place at the right time in order to seize them. Alongside the detection of predators, this is the task that bird vision has to get right day in, day out.
Birds differ in how much the view from each eye overlaps (called the binocular field of view). The more the eyes look straight ahead, the more the view from each eye will overlap – much as human eyes do – thus broadening the binocular field. For a bird such as a duck, with its eyes positioned high up on either side of the head, the view from each eye will be very different (with smaller binocular field).
We measured binocular field size across a broad range of 39 species of duck, geese and swans. We found that the key driver of diversity in vision between species is their diet and how they forage for food.
Birds that primarily use their vision to locate foods such as seeds, or selectively graze on plants, tend to have broader binocular fields.
However, the binocular fields of species like mallards and pink-eared ducks are much narrower. These birds rely less on their eyes for foraging and more on touch cues from their bills. The vision of birds like these instead provides them with a comprehensive view of the region above and behind their heads.
Birds certainly need to have some visual coverage in front of them. But with eyes placed high on the side of the head, resulting in a very narrow binocular field, they are restricted to retrieving rather scant detail from the distant scene ahead. What matters to them more is placing their bill accurately at a close distance and seeing who is coming at them from the side or from behind.
This finding is not confined to ducks, geese and swans. It probably generalises to all birds, except perhaps some owls (which have more front-facing eyes and rely upon sound to locate prey). The great majority of birds are therefore vulnerable to collisions.
However, it is larger birds like geese, swans and bustards that face real problems. Their restricted forward vision is compounded by flying fast and being unable to change direction quickly. These birds also often fly in flocks, and at dusk and dawn when the light level is lower.
Warning birds of hazards ahead
Understanding the vision of birds from the perspective of foraging and predator detection improves our understanding of what causes collisions. But, more importantly, it allows us to do something about it.
We must not assume that a bird’s view of the world is the same as ours. We are specialised primates with eyes on the front of our heads, and we see the world in a very different way to birds, not only with respect to visual fields but also acuity and colour vision. So, we must try to take a proper “birds’ eye view” of the problem.
Birds are also flying fast. But, as they do so, they are taking in only gross information of what lies ahead – much as we do when driving our cars. As with car hazard warnings, it is necessary to alert birds using markers that may seem excessive.
Birds that are vulnerable to collisions have evolved to fly in airspace that only recently has started to become cluttered. To be clearly visible to a bird, especially to species like ducks and geese, devices that warn birds about hazards ahead must be large, highly contrasting and produce flicker.
When marking hazards, there is no place for subtlety.
Jenny Cantlay received funding from NERC and the RSPB for her doctoral research on avian vision whilst at Royal Holloway University.
Graham Martin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.africa brazil uk
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