Nuclear Policy News - May 17, 2012

May 17, 2012
North Korea Resumes Work on Nuclear Reactor, Group Says
US is ready to attack Iran, says ambassador
Iran nuclear concession would test big power unity
Schwartz stands behind U.S. nuclear deterrent
North Korea Resumes Work on Nuclear Reactor, Group Says
North Korea has resumed construction of a nuclear reactor that can be used to expand the country’s nuclear weapons program, an American-based institute said Thursday, citing the latest satellite imagery of the building site.
US is ready to attack Iran, says ambassador
The United States has said it considers military force a last resort to prevent Iran using its uranium enrichment to make a bomb. Iran insists its nuclear programme is for purely civilian purposes.
But remarks by ambassador Dan Shapiro were the bluntest warning so far to Tehran that its refusal to cooperate could lead to the use of military force by the US or Israel.
The US military option for Iran is ‘ready,’ American ambassador to Israel says
The United States has completed its planning for a military strike on Iran, the US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said in remarks at a closed conference in Tel Aviv that were broadcast on Israel TV on Wednesday night.
India to test Akash surface-to-air missile defence system this week
According to the Indian armed forces, the Akash surface-to-air missile will be tested this Sunday, from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, Orissa.
The missile, which was first inducted in to the Indian Armed Forces in 2008, underwent several tests later, as technical issues and flaws were discovered later. During the test, which is estimated to take place this Sunday, a Pilot-less Target Aircraft (PTA) will be intercepted and destroyed by the missile launched from a wheeled platform.
SKorea: Myanmar halting arms purchases from NKorea
Myanmar's president has confirmed that his country bought weapons from North Korea during the past 20 years and assured his South Korean counterpart that it will no longer do so.
In a meeting with visiting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Myanmar President Thein Sein said his country never had nuclear cooperation with North Korea but did have deals for conventional weapons, Lee's presidential Blue House said in an announcement Tuesday.
Experts Report Massive Cost Increase
The B61 is the last remnant of the Cold War in Germany. An estimated 10 to 20 of the atomic bombs are thought to remain in storage at a German Air Force base in Büchel, a village in the Eifel mountains of western Germany. Should war break out, the Tornado aircraft belonging to the German Air Force could immediately be armed with the weapons for sorties under US control.
Iran nuclear concession would test big power unity
Facing an imminent toughening of sanctions, Iran is hinting at a readiness to give some ground in its long nuclear stand-off with world powers, but any flexibility could split their ranks and lead to protracted uncertainty about how to respond.
The stakes are high, for the longer the impasse goes on, the closer Iran will get to the technological threshold of capability to develop atomic bombs, raising the odds of last-ditch Israeli military strikes on its arch-foe and the risk of a new Middle East war a troubled global economy cannot afford.
Spending on nuclear weapons continues despite calls to cut stockpile
The United States is mulling a drastic reduction of its nuclear arsenal -- but Congress continues to push spending on the weapons.
An influential retired general on Wednesday added his name to a growing call to dramatically reduce the nation's nuclear stockpile. Gen. James E. Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a report commissioned by Global Zero, an international disarmament movement, calling for slashing the number of deployed nuclear warheads by two thirds to 450.
Schwartz stands behind U.S. nuclear deterrent
The Air Force’s top officer on Wednesday criticized a report conducted by an influential retired general that recommends the U.S. reduce its nuclear stockpile.
The study was led by retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright, who oversaw the military’s nuclear weapons during his military career and stepped down last year as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It called for cutting the strategic nuclear stockpile to 900 warheads. The report also calls for eliminating U.S.-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are operated by the Air Force.
Unilateral Cuts to U.S. Nuclear Arsenal Only Encourages Enemies
Max Boot
Retired generals have been noticeably silent even as the threat of sequester, with devastating consequences for American military preparedness, draws nearer. Perhaps they are afraid they will be derided as “militarists” for standing up for a strong defense. Retired generals are more likely to be applauded for calling for defense cuts, especially to programs they once oversaw–a “man bites dog” story that provides predictable fodder for the news media.
A relic of another era
David E. Hoffman
President Obama promised in his 2008 campaign to embrace the idea of "de-alerting," or taking U.S. strategic nuclear weapons off high alert. In one of his position papers, Obama said:
The United States and Russia have thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. Barack Obama believes that we should take our nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert -- something that George W. Bush promised to do when he was campaigning for president in 2000. Maintaining this Cold War stance today is unnecessary and increases the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear launch. As president, Obama will work with Russia to find common ground and bring significantly more weapons off hair-trigger alert."
Fewer nukes, more security
Clausewitz Blog

HAVING based much of his recent re-election campaign on strident anti-Western rhetoric, President Vladimir Putin has decided to boycott this weekend’s G8 meeting at Camp David and is only sending a mid-ranking diplomat to the follow-on NATO summit in Chicago. It is a pity on a number of counts, but perhaps most of all because Barack Obama was keen to build on last year’s ratification of the New START treaty by beginning a conversation with his Russian opposite number about further deep cuts in both countries’ still-bloated nuclear arsenals. Unlike his predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev, who Mr Obama found to be a constructive interlocutor, Mr Putin seems to see in nuclear weapons a symbol of Russia’s former superpower status.