Nuclear Policy News - October 21, 2011

Oct 21, 2011

TOP NEWS

NK to hold onto nukes after Gadhafi fall
 
But experts said that for the Pyongyang leadership, the bloody images of the fallen colonel no doubt gave fresh reason to hold on even tighter to its nuclear weapons and drag out diplomatic disarmament proceedings to stave off a similar event on its own soil.

Iran to soon move nuclear material to bunker – sources
Iran plans to soon start moving nuclear material to an underground site for the pursuit of sensitive atomic activities, diplomatic sources say, a move likely to add to Western fears about Tehran's intentions.

INTERVIEW - Growing U.S. interest seen for nuclear test ban pact
(Reuters) - U.S. politicians are showing growing interest in a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests, the head of the agency set up to monitor the ban said on Thursday, but it is uncertain when or whether lawmakers will adopt a pact that they rejected in 1999.

China’s Overhyped Sub Threat
David Axe, The Diplomat
The Song submarine’s surprise appearance alongside the USS Kitty Hawk helped stoke fears of Chinese undersea dominance that were further fuelled by a brief surge in PLAN sub acquisition. Today, with more US and allied submarines entering service and fewer Chinese boats on the slipways, those fears – and the policies and assumptions they produced – warrant reconsideration. China isn’t building a world-class, globally-deploying submarine force. It’s building a mostly defensive, regional undersea force – and a smaller one than once predicted.
EAST ASIA
 
NK to hold onto nukes after Gadhafi fall
But experts said that for the Pyongyang leadership, the bloody images of the fallen colonel no doubt gave fresh reason to hold on even tighter to its nuclear weapons and drag out diplomatic disarmament proceedings to stave off a similar event on its own soil.
 
North Korea plays diplomatic musical chairs
North Korea has made considerable diplomatic steps recently that experts would have called "groundbreaking" just a few years ago. But today, all that can be said is, "We'll see."
 
S. Korea stays cautious about N. Korea-U.S. talks: FM
South Korea's foreign minister said Thursday he remains cautious in general about the prospects for next week's bilateral nuclear talks between North Korea and the U.S., acknowledging the difficulty of persuading the North to give up its atomic weapons ambition.
 
Ex-nuclear envoy says outlook slightly improving for NK-US talks
 
The former chief South Korean envoy to the stalled six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons programs said Friday he was less pessimistic than before about the prospects for next week's bilateral nuclear meeting between Pyongyang and Washington.
 
Stars align for North Korean progress
SEOUL - The American baseball player, Yogi Berra, may not have had United States-North Korean talks in mind when he remarked, "This is like deja vu all over again," but the phrase would seem to catch the spirit of the dialogue coming up Monday and Tuesday in Geneva.
 
China, U.S. see Guam as militarily central
WASHINGTON -- Among the news media tracking the U.S. military buildup on Guam is the People's Daily Online, an organ of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.
 
MIDDLE EAST
 
Iran to soon move nuclear material to bunker – sources
 
Iran plans to soon start moving nuclear material to an underground site for the pursuit of sensitive atomic activities, diplomatic sources say, a move likely to add to Western fears about Tehran's intentions.
 
New virus threatens Iran's nuclear program
 
First there was the Stuxnet computer virus that wreaked havoc on Iran's nuclear program. Now comes "Duqu," which researchers on Tuesday said appears to be quite similar.
 
Russia fears UN's Iran report to hurt nuclear diplomacy
Russia fears a planned U.N. report which is expected to heighten suspicions about Iran's atomic aims will undermine Moscow's initiative to resolve the major powers' nuclear dispute with Tehran, diplomats said on Wednesday.
 
SOUTH/SOUTHEAST ASIA
 
Leak at Pakistani nuclear plant, but no damage
A Pakistani nuclear power plant imposed a seven-hour emergency after heavy water leaked from a feeder pipe to the reactor, but no radiation or damage has been reported, an official said on Thursday.
 
India, France discuss military, civil nuclear deals
 
India and France on Thursday discussed military contracts and civil nuclear safety during an interaction between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his visiting counterpart, Alain Juppe.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE
 
UK deflects fears over nuclear deterrence policy
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has deflected concerns that its new defence secretary may be less committed to renewal of the country's nuclear deterrent than his predecessor.
 
MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL AND NONPROLIFERATION
 
Nations Urged Not to Wait on U.S. to Ratify Nuclear Test Ban
A group of holdout states to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty should not wait for the United States to take the next step toward bringing the prohibition on nuclear blasts into force, a top nonproliferation official told Reuters on Thursday (see GSN, Oct. 11).
 
IEA ministers resolve to address global energy challenges with collective work
The ministerial meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wednesday resolved in Paris to address global energy challenges.
 
U.S., EU agree to curb WMD
 
The United States and European Union signed a joint declaration aimed at developing measures to prevent the spread of WMD, the U.S. State Department said.
 
U.S. NUCLEAR WEAPONS STRATEGY AND POLICY
 
INTERVIEW - Growing U.S. interest seen for nuclear test ban pact
 
(Reuters) - U.S. politicians are showing growing interest in a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests, the head of the agency set up to monitor the ban said on Thursday, but it is uncertain when or whether lawmakers will adopt a pact that they rejected in 1999.
 
U.S., Thailand finish nuclear workshop
 
U.S. and Thai authorities have announced the completion of the first training workshop to combat nuclear proliferation.
 
GE-Hitachi Fined for "Significant" Security Breaches in Nuclear Fuel Effort
Elaine Grossman, GSN
WASHINGTON—GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy has paid more than $45,000 in penalties for "significant" violations of federal regulations in its effort to develop a new means of producing atomic fuel, Global Security Newswire has learned.
 
OPINIONS
 
Tehran's Domestic Discontents
RAY TAKEYH, NYT
 
For a regime that cannot reform its economy, establish its legitimacy through free and fair elections or anchor its power on a convincing nationalist narrative, the pursuit of nuclear weapons makes a degree of political sense. In time they may provide Iran with a path back to global acceptability, rekindle international investment and become the only means by which Khamenei can salvage his republic.
 
China’s Overhyped Sub Threat
David Axe, The Diplomat
 
The Song submarine’s surprise appearance alongside the USS Kitty Hawk helped stoke fears of Chinese undersea dominance that were further fuelled by a brief surge in PLAN sub acquisition. Today, with more US and allied submarines entering service and fewer Chinese boats on the slipways, those fears – and the policies and assumptions they produced – warrant reconsideration. China isn’t building a world-class, globally-deploying submarine force. It’s building a mostly defensive, regional undersea force – and a smaller one than once predicted.
 
U.S. Must Not Accept Russia’s Restrictions on Missile Defense
Baker Spring and Michaela Bendikova, Heritage Foundation
“The missile defense system we are establishing in Europe is not directed against Russia. We have said that publicly and privately, at many levels. We are prepared to put it in writing,” stated Ellen Tauscher, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. This approach is headed in the wrong direction for many reasons and could negatively impact U.S. missile defense program in the future.
 
China-India: In nuclear denial
Understanding the asymmetry in Sino-Indian relations is critical to evaluating just how dangerous the nuclear factor is. China is quite relaxed about India and sees little threat from its southern neighbour. India, on the other hand, is very concerned about the Chinese threat.
 
French Nuclear Expert Stresses US Role in Talks with N. Korea Next Week
[Reporter : Choi You-sun] "Can we expect progress out of the high-level talks between North Korea and the US that is expected to take place next week[Interview : Camille Grand, Director
Foundation for Strategic Research] "North Korea has always put a lot of emphasis on the dialogue with the US, that it values the most because it sort of upholds its status as a big player. They also think that whatever security guarantees they are seeking, they will obtain from the US, and not from the South. Having said this, it's also important that we stick to, as an international community to, sort of principle of where we are heading. For that, I hope that the US has a clear agenda of what it wants to achieve with these bilateral discussions."
 
Pakistan’s upright stance on FMCT
Air Commodore ® Khalid Iqbal, The Frontier Post
It is refreshing that Pakistan has once again articulated it’s just stance on fissile material management at the United Nations. Since the utopian slogan of ‘Global Zero’ by President Obama, the cartel of major stock holders of fissile materials, led by America, has been pursuing a concerted campaign, to bulldoze a Pakistan specific Fissile Material Cut off Treaty (FMCT).
 
A new line-up for North Korea talks
Mike Green, Foreign Policy
This shift demonstrates several things about the Obama administration's diplomacy. First, it signals the end of candidate Obama's promise of dramatic new engagement strategies with the world's most difficult regimes. High profile special envoys (Mitchell to the Middle East, Grayson to Sudan, Holbrooke to Af/Pak, Bosworth to North Korea) are being replaced by steady but low-profile professionals from within the foreign service. Davies is only the most recent example. It turns out, as John McCain warned in 2008, that the problem with these regimes is NOT that we lack unconditional high-level negotiations. The Obama team realized that early on, but it takes a little time to reverse signature foreign policy promises.
 
The Nike Doctrine: A New American Security Policy
Joan Johnson-Freese, AOL Defense News
The important advantage of unilateral declarations is that they do not seek to control the actions of other countries. Instead, they are meant to show America's willingness to take responsibility for its own actions, and to encourage others to do the same -- or even shame them into it. The United States can alleviate security dilemmas in the space and nuclear arenas that have lingered long past the ending of the Cold War by demonstrating leadership. The rest of the world worries about the same problems, of course, but does little beyond wringing its collective hands, debating and issuing increasingly weighty but irrelevant reports. To wait for international organizations to take even the most basic actions toward a world more secure from space and nuclear weapons will mean a very long wait.