Nuclear Policy News - May 23, 2012

May 23, 2012
TOP NEWS
 
Satellite Images Show More Work at North Korean Nuclear Site
 
Pakistan speeding up work on 4th N-reactor at Khushab
 
Russia tests new missile after NATO summit
 
American Nuclear Primacy: the End of MAD or a New START?
David J. Elkind
 
EAST ASIA
 
Satellite Images Show More Work at North Korean Nuclear Site
 
North Korea warned on Tuesday that it would have to take “countermeasures” if the United States insisted on sanctions, while the latest satellite imagery of the country’s nuclear test site suggested heightened preparations for a possible underground nuclear test.
 
S.Korea to Build 500-600 More Missiles
 
South Korea plans to increase the number of ballistic and cruise missiles with a view to incapacitating North Korea's nuclear weapons and long-range missiles in an emergency. The government and military aim to spend some W2.5 trillion (US$1=W1,170) over the next five years to secure 500-600 new cruise and ballistic missiles.
 
MIDDLE EAST
 
Briefly: Israelis skeptical of U.N.-Iran nuke deal
                    
Israel’s defense minister voiced skepticism Tuesday over an agreement by Iran to open up its nuclear facilities to U.N. inspectors, saying the Iranians are trying to create a “deception of progress” to stave off international pressure.
 
SOUTH ASIA
 
Pakistan speeding up work on 4th N-reactor at Khushab
 
Pakistan is half way through the construction of its fourth nuclear reactor at Khushab, which will give it capability to speed up plutonium manufacturing, latest US satellite imagery has revealed, US media reported on Wednesday.
 
Construction Progressing Rapidly on the Fourth Heavy Water Reactor at the Khushab Nuclear Site
 
Construction of the fourth Khushab reactor and supporting buildings is progressing with the reactor building about halfway to completion. The fourth reactor, located 200 kilometers south of Islamabad, is the latest addition to the Khushab nuclear site and is dedicated to the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. In addition to the fourth reactor, the Khushab site includes two reactors similar in shape to the fourth one, a heavy water production plant, and an original, nominal 50 megawatt-thermal (MW-th) heavy water reactor completed in 1998 (see figure 1). The completion of the fourth Khushab reactor would constitute a significant increase in Pakistan’s ability to make plutonium which appears related to its goal of building a large number of smaller nuclear weapons.
 
RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE
 
Russia tests new missile after NATO summit
 
Russia on Wednesday staged the first successful test-launch of a new intercontinental missile designed to penetrate the defence system now being deployed by NATO despite Moscow's fierce complaints.
The highly-symbolic launch came just days after alliance formally activated the first stage of a missile defence shield whose deployment Russia has bitterly opposed out of fears that it may target its own vast nuclear arsenal.
 
U.S. Held 5 Inspections of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces - SMF Commander
 
U.S. military inspectors have conducted five inspections of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) arsenal over the last six months as part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3), SMF Commander Lt. Gen. Sergei Karakayev said on Monday.
 
UK steps closer to renewing nuclear firepower
 
Britain moved a step closer to renewing its Trident nuclear weapons system on Tuesday, awarding 350 million pounds worth of contracts to design a new generation of submarines that critics say are the result of outdated, Cold War thinking.
 
MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL AND NONPROLIFERATION
 
Iran Nears Deal on Inspecting Atomic Site, U.N. Chief Says
 
Iran signaled a willingness on Tuesday to allow potentially intrusive international inspections of secret military facilities, raising expectations that it was searching for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over its nuclear program.
 
U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY
 
NRC chairman resigns amid battle over lessons from Fukushima
 
Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, announced Monday he would resign from the five-member commission that oversees US nuclear power plant safety after a tenure in which he wrangled with other members of the commission over the direction of safety regulations..
 
OPINIONS
 
Secret US Trip To Pyongyang?
Jeffrey Lewis
 
Well, this is very interesting.
This, as far as I can tell, a YouTube clip from ResetKBS! claiming that US officials apparently made a secret trip to Pyongyang on April 7, apparently in a last-ditch, ultimately unsuccessful effort to head off North Korea’s missile launch. (I hasten to add that I suspect the video is all stock footage to spruce up the report.)
 
HASC Bill Shows GOP Stuck in Cold War; Reduce SSBN-X, Nukes
Robert Gard and Kingston Reif
 
There is broad bipartisan agreement that few national security issues are as critical as how to deal with America's crippling debt. This means we should spend scarce dollars on the weapons we need for current threats and not on programs with diminishing strategic relevance.
 
American Nuclear Primacy: the End of MAD or a New START?
David J. Elkind
 

This article is composed of several parts. The first is a brief overview of Lieber and Press’s model of a counterforce nuclear strike on Russia and their assumptions. This includes an assessment of the key features of the US-Russian strategic balance that have shifted since their article’s publication in 2006, and the (sizeable) limitations of their analysis. Second, I adapt Lieber and Press’s model for the current force deployments as the two nations bring their arsenal into compliance with New START, as their original plan is no longer possible. Third, I assess the likelihood of a successful first strike under this modified version of Lieber and Press’s model. My analysis shows that reducing the number of weapons assigned to each target dramatically increases the likelihood of target survival and, in my view, confirms that the United States no longer possesses nuclear primacy (and perhaps never did, but that is a separate question). Sensitivity analysis amplifies these concerns. Even after making dramatic accuracy improvements, the odds of a target surviving remain far too high to claim that the United States has achieved nuclear primacy or that it will be within reach for the foreseeable future. Finally, I conclude with some remarks on the desirability of nuclear primacy.