Promoting Dialogue on Arms Control and Disarmament


The rapid deterioration of relations among China, Russia, and the United States has significant and worrisome consequences on the stability and security of the current global nuclear order. Differently from the Cold War, the current nuclear age is characterized by a simultaneous collapse of arms control agreements and the absence of any strategic dialogue among the three main nuclear players that would serve to minimize and reduce the potential risks of a nuclear escalation. But as was demonstrated throughout the Cold War years, the creation of working group platforms for creative brainstorming on areas of common ground is an essential step to reduce tensions and promote a more cooperative intentional environment.  

The Academy has partnered with The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs to convene a series of meetings, which began in 2018, to explore potential directions for a larger project to foster dialogues between nuclear experts and former officials from the United States, China, and Russia. One strand of project work consists of a series of bilateral U.S.-Russia and U.S.-China dialogues designed to identify critical goals in arms control. Project meetings seek to:

  • Identify immediate priorities and overlapping interests among US, Russian, and Chinese experts and former officials to reduce tensions and promote strategic stability.
  • Promote conceptual thinking of measures to reduce the significant dangers of nuclear weapons being used in the future.
  • Produce a range of recommendations that can contribute to rebuilding trust and predictability among the rival Great Powers.   

A second strand of work will build on the Academy’s experience organizing educational sessions for the United States Congress on a range of issues including cybersecurity, disaster response, and federal research policy in addition to nuclear issues. Through a series of engagements with Members of Congress and their staffs, the project will:

  • Deepen knowledge in Congress on key issues and challenges facing the United States in arms control and international security.
  •  Develop recommendations for policymakers for avoiding the dangers of a world without nuclear constraints.   



Kathryn Moffat

American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Program Officer for Global Security and International Affairs
Project Activities

Project Activities

This project convened a set of exploratory consultations beginning in late 2018 through mid-2019, held in Moscow, Washington, New York, and Shanghai to engage partners and assess the appetite, thinking, and priorities of the U.S. and Russian strategic communities. In particular, these meetings were designed to develop a list of key issue-areas and themes for future dialogue.

Upcoming activities include:

  • The project is preparing to begin a series of (virtual) briefings for Members of Congress and their staffs, with a primary focus on conveying the urgency of extending the New START Treaty, which is due to expire in February 2021.