Passed by the US House of Representatives as part of the annual defense authorization bill in May 2011, provisions of the New START Implementation Act (NSIA) represented an attempt by Congress to exercise more robust involvement in US nuclear policy, an area historically subject to a great deal of deference to the executive branch. The bill sought to implement the “grand bargain” that preceded the ratification of the New START treaty—namely, that the treaty's seven-year window of reductions to US nuclear forces should be made in tandem with a 10-year modernization program of both the weapons themselves and their aging delivery systems. The context of this arrangement was growing concern about the ability of the United States to retain a sustainable nuclear deterrent for the indefinite future. Although the NSIA provisions were abandoned during conference with the Senate in December 2011, their underlying concerns remain unresolved, and the sustainability of the nuclear enterprise is certain to reappear as a future point of controversy.
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