• Apr 28, 2010

    Gates "very satisfied" with planning on Iran
    Reuters by Adam Entous and Phil Stewart

    Brazil urges Iran to issue nuclear pledge
    Yahoo!News by AFP

    Clinton to Head U.S. Team at NPT Review Conference
    Global Security Newswire

    Ahmadinejad coming to America?
    Foreign Policy (Turtle Bay blog) by Colum Lynch

    'Stray S.Korean mine could not have sunk warship'

  • Apr 27, 2010


    Last Thursday, PONI Debates the Issues hosted the second event of 2010.  The event featured a panel discussion the NPR with remarks by Ivan Oelrich, Clark Murdock, and Doug Feith.  The audio for the event can be found here and the video is below.  

  • Apr 27, 2010

    Iran Reactor-Fuel Swap Floated by Brazil, Tied to Cooperation
    Bloomberg by Ali Sheikholeslami

    U.S. prepared to take action if N. Korea behind ship sinking: Campbell
    Yonhap News by Kim Young-gyo

    Russia Open to Joint Missile Defense With NATO, Medvedev Says
    Global Security Newswire

    Using Virtual Reality To Make Nuclear Reality Safer
    NPR by Mike Shuster

    South Korea at Sea on Response to Boat Sinking
    Asia Sentinel Op-Ed by Lee Byong-Chul

  • Apr 23, 2010

    On April 6th PONI brought together a group of graduate students in the U.S. with a delegation of graduate students from India’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University for a day of talks on several timely and important issues. PONI Director Clark Murdock chaired the day’s talks, which focused on five general topics: the implications of the planned expanded use of nuclear power worldwide, current proliferation challenges, the threat of nuclear terrorism, stability-instability dynamics in South Asia, and nuclear disarmament.

  • Apr 22, 2010


    By Joe Lardizabal and Mark Jansson

    On 8 April 2010, the New START Treaty was signed in Prague by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev.  The treaty promises to reduce 1,550 warheads, 700 deployed ICBM’s, SLBM’s and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments, 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers and improve the verification and transparency regime. President Obama gave a speech shortly after the signing, drawing attention to the symbolic significance of the agreement. :

    “Together, we have stopped the drift, and proven the benefits of cooperation. Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and non-proliferation, and for U.S.-Russia relations... this day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia - the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons - to pursue responsible global leadership. Together, we are keeping our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which must be the foundation of global non-proliferation.”

    Moving past symbolism, below is a recap of the specific arms limits established by the New START. .

    1) Reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. In the end, some reductions are better than none. Below is a breakdown of the nuclear arms reduction in terms of aggregate limits.

  • Apr 21, 2010

    Going back to my last post, the lack of progress on a Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone is highlighted in the Review Conference working papers of both Egypt and the New Agenda Coalition, which Egypt currently heads.

  • Apr 21, 2010

    By Andrew St. Denis

    Much of the real work at last week’s Summit occurred in the bilateral meetings behind the scenes, with an eye toward the NPT Review Conference next month. The Non-Aligned Movement is going to play a key role in deciding the outcome of the RevCon, which reflects in the makeup of President Obama’s bilateral schedule - which included NAM/NPT members Malaysia, Jordan, South Africa and Nigeria, NAM members India and Pakistan, and NAM observer states China, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine - among his dozen or so appointments.

  • Apr 21, 2010


    CSIS Senior Adviser and PONI Director Clark Murdock did a pair of short interviews for CSIS today as part of the CSIS iTunesU series.  Check them out:

    Murdock on the "Nuclear Spring"

    Murdock on the purpose of PONI






  • Apr 21, 2010

    PONI is taking its turn to parse out what experts think is good and not so good about the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review in the "PONI Debates the Issues" series tomorrow night.  There is still some space available for folks interested.  Event details and RSVP instructions:

    Date: Thursday, April 22, 2010
    Time: 5:30 - 7:45 pm
    Location: CSIS B1 Conference Center (1800 K St NW)

    Douglas Feith, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
    Clark Murdock, Senior Adviser, CSIS
    Ivan Oelrich, Vice President, Strategic Security Program, Federation of American Scientists

     To RSVP for the event, please contact Chris Jones here or by phone at (202) 775-3234.

  • Apr 21, 2010

    Iran seeks to persuade Security Council not to back tough nuclear sanctions
    WP by Thomas Erdbrink

    US official: Iran military strike 'off the table'
    AP by Alex Kennedy

    US hopes Pakistan will join fissile material talks
    Reuters by Jonathan Lynn

    Seoul rejects redeployment of US nuclear weapons

    Global Insights: Countering Nuclear Terrorism through Better Integration
    World Politics Review by Richard Weitz

  • Apr 20, 2010


    The Union of Concerned Scientists has a relatively new blog up, "All Things Nuclear."  Check it out.



  • Apr 20, 2010

    By John K. Warden

    Speaking at the NDUF-NDIA Seminar Series, Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) discussed the NPR and New START, outlining what it would take to get him to support the treaty.

    On more than one occasion, Kyl said the NPR was not as bad as it could have been.  As he put it, in most areas, the NPR changes terminology, but maintains old doctrine and force structure.  The NPR supports:  a sizable deterred based on a nuclear triad; maintaining weapons on alert; continuing nuclear sharing with NATO allies; modernization of the U.S. nuclear infrastructure; and increases in missile defenses and conventional global strike.

    In other areas, Kyl was critical.  He described the revised negative security assurance as “bad news,” arguing that it “muddled the waters,” making deterrence of biological attacks more difficult. 

    However, he was more concerned with the NPR’s limitations on nuclear modernization, which he described as “alarming.”  According to Kyl, the NPR does not make an adequate commitment to life extension for the W-78.  He further argued that the formulation in the NPR that requires Presidential approval and Congressional authorization for replacement could “chill the labs,” preventing them from pursing the best possible options.

    On New START, Kyl’s bottom line was that he is “not yet convinced that ratifying the treaty is in the best interest of the United States.” 

  • Apr 20, 2010

    North Korea readying for 3rd nuclear test:report
    Reuters AlertNet by Jack Kim and Jon Herskovitz

    U.S. open to Iran nuclear fuel deal despite doubts
    Reuters by Andrew Quinn

    Egypt to Demand Talks on Nuke-Free Middle East
    Global Security Newswire

    Iran Holds a Nuclear Forum And Gets Prodded by Moscow
    St. Petersburg Times

    How to React to a Reactor: Using Syria’s Nuclear Program to Engage Damascus
    Foreign Affairs by Andrew J. Tabler

  • Apr 20, 2010


    In the second installment of the "Nuclear Reactions" feature of the PDI blog, reactions from top nuclear experts will be posted in response to the following question about the recently released 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (pdf): 

    What significance do you attach to the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)? On balance, do you think it contributes positively or negatively to American security?

    Expert reactions by:

    Clark MurdockFostering a Centrist Consensus
    Clark Murdock- CSIS Senior Adviser and PONI Director 


    By elevating nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism to the forefront of U.S. nuclear strategy, the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review represents a significant adaptation to the nuclear dangers of the 21st century. Of more significance, however, is the effort to form the basis for a new national consensus in support of an integrated approach to nuclear disarmament and arms control, non-proliferation and deterrence. The 2010 NPR attempts to do this by striking several carefully nuanced balances between conflicting factors:

    •  Reducing U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons and the numbers of U.S. nuclear weapons, while maintaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent for as long as nuclear weapons exist;
    • Adopting a less ambiguous and more restrictive declaratory policy with respect to the circumstances under which a U.S. President might authorize the use of a nuclear weapon, while hedging against those potential adversaries and non-nuclear capabilities that could warrant a nuclear deterrent;
    • Fulfilling President Obama’s commitment that the U.S. would produce “no new nuclear weapons,” while significantly increasing investment in the nuclear complex and adopting a robust life extension program for sustaining a safe, secure and reliable stockpile.
  • Apr 19, 2010

    Gates Pushes Back on Report of Memo About Iran Policy
    NY Times by Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger

    Iran to talk with Security Council members on nuclear deal
    AFP by Farhad Pouladi

    Iran unveils air defense system as U.S. defends policy
    LA Times by Julian E. Barnes and Borzou Daragahi

    SKorea's Lee vows strong action in ship sinking
    AP by Hyung-jin Kim

    When Your Best Friend Gets Angry
    NY Times/IHT Op-ed by Martin Indyk

  • Apr 16, 2010


    By Chris Jones

    As preview at ACW, Thomas Schelling talked today at the New America Foundation on Iran. The video for the event can be found here. Schelling’s primary argument was that there has not been enough thinking about what happens if Iran develops a nuclear weapon. Looking back at the history of the United States, Schelling gave a number of anecdotes about the massive security problems facing the United States nuclear arsenal. A nuclear weapon on a truck with two people and one goes in a gas station to buy a drink. A nuclear weapon on a runway in Europe guarded by a soldier who said he would phone his boss, from a phone 300 feet away, to figure out what to do if someone tried to wheel the weapon away. Justice can’t be done to Schelling’s stories here but needless to say the work of Fred Ikle at RAND in late 50’s and others exposed some serious problems with the security of U.S. nuclear weapons at the time.

    Schelling's worry about Iran is that there is nobody thinking about these issues for a nuclear Iran, especially within Iran. Where would weapons be stored? Who would be in charge of them? How do you ensure their security? What type of declaratory policy would you adopt? Do you test? How do you create and promote strategic communication between a nuclear Iran and other nuclear powers? These type of questions deserve series thought given the fairly reasonable chance we might not be able to stop what Iran wants to do.

    Check out the video- well worth the watch.


  • Apr 16, 2010


    Malaysia warns Iran after cutting off gasoline supplies
    AFP by P. Parameswaran

    Obama's Nuclear Gambit: Complex Calculus Governs Doomsday Weapons
    Global Security Newswire by James Kitfield (National Journal)

    Cold War Nuclear Fears Now Apply to Terrorists
    NY Times by Scott Shane

    Missile Shield to Completely Cover Europe by 2018, U.S. Says
    Global Security Newswire

    Washington Watch: Sen. Chambliss raises a new nuclear concern
    Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Bob Keefe

  • Apr 16, 2010

    By John K. Warden

    This morning, Ambassador Linton Brooks, former director of the NNSA and negotiator of START I, gave a talk on "Nuclear Deterrence Perspectives" as part of the NDUF-NDIA Seminar Series.  Here are some key takeaways:

    On New START --

    • Those evaluating the New START should not use Cold War standards.  During the Cold War, the United States did not trust the Soviet Union, was in the middle of an arms race, and though that the likelihood of nuclear use was high.  The United States hoped to use arms control to get Russia to restructure its forces to enhance strategic stability.  The current treaty, recognizing past failure, does not try to alter Russia's force structure, but instead aims to decrease suspicion, increase predictability through transparency, and improve political relations.  It also, unlike past arms control treaties, hopes to show the world that the United States is committed to the legal constraints of the NPT and the President's vision of a world without nuclear weapons.
    • Comparing the number of "warheads" allowed by arms control treaties is a mistake.  All of the treaties, including New START, the Moscow Treaty, and START I, use different standards to determine what "warheads" count toward treaty limits.
    • The verification part of the treaty is unique.  In past arms control treaties, a limit was decided upon, then both sides determined what verification measures would be needed.  In this treaty, access to unencrypted telemetry has nothing to do with verification; instead, telemetry exchanges serve as a transparency mechanism, which is a positive development.
    • While the administration is correct that the treaty has no limits on current or planned missile defense programs, it does include a limit on missile defense.  The treaty forbids using converted ICBM silos or SLBM tubes for missile defense capabilities (grandfathering in current U.S. deployments).  Brooks noted that these deployments are not currently planned and are not a good idea.  Arming subs with missile defense would force them to be in a fixed location, close to the surface, making them less survivable and therefore, a less effective deterrent.  Deploying missile defenses in ICBM silos would be similarly impractical because using the assets could threaten Americans ("there's a reason the United States has never test launched an ICBM from a silo"). 
  • Apr 15, 2010


    As the dust settles from the NPR, New START, and the Nuclear Security Summit, PONI Debates the Issues is happy to announce the next "PONI Debates the Issues" event on the Nuclear Posture Review.   The panelists will be: 

    Douglas Feith, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute

  • Apr 15, 2010


    By Chris Jones

    Jim Miller, Principal Deputy Undersecretary for Policy, spoke today at the NDUF breakfast series. He gave some remarks about the NPR and new START and then fielded questions from the audience. While much of his remarks about the NPR were similar to other NPR briefings made by Administration officials to this point, there were a few interesting points raised in the Q&A session:

    1. What determines compliance? Miller made clear that the decision is one made by the United States, not the IAEA Board of Governors. He also said that the determination of compliance will not be a “checklist” but that Iran and North Korea are “without a doubt” not in compliance. In a preview of things to come, Miller said that the Administration does have more things to say on the record about what compliance means but not for the time being.

    2. Syria- Following up on the compliance question, Miller was asked whether Syria receives the revised negative security assurance in the NPR. Miller said that Syria would be well advised to clarify their current capabilities, intentions, and plans. He didn’t respond to a follow-up asking whether Syria is in a “grey area.”

    3. The B61 full scope LEP-- On the question of TNW’s in Europe, Miller was asked if NATO decided to remove the weapons in Europe whether the United States would continue with the LEP for the B61. Miller didn’t walk down the hypothetical route but did state that the B61 bomb is not just for the F35 but also the B2. He also said that the United States intends to keep the capability to forward deploy.

    4. De-MIRVing-- Miller was asked whether De-MIRVed ICBM’s will still retain an upload capability. He said that they will but that the NPR states that preference would be given to uploading submarines and bombers should that need to occur. It was also clarified by an audience member that uploading the ICBM’s in North Dakota would take years.

    Linton Brooks will be speaking tomorrow at the NDUF breakfast series. More info on the FCNL Nuclear Calendar.


  • Apr 15, 2010

    By Andrew St. Denis

    Yesterday, CSIS’ Southeast Asia program - along with Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia - hosted Dato’ Sri Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, for a seminar titled “U.S.-Malaysia Relations: Looking Ahead at Key Pillars of Cooperation.” The Prime Minister gave a speech covering a wide variety of topics including trade, terrorism, regional and international cooperation on security issues, and - following on the heels of the Nuclear Security Summit - global nonproliferation efforts.

  • Apr 15, 2010

    Russia shuts last weapons-grade plutonium reactor
    Reuters by Conor Sweeney

    Naval Disaster Hampers Efforts to Revive 6-Way Talks
    Korea Times by Kang Hyun-kyung

    Officials Say Iran Could Make Bomb Fuel in a Year
    NY Times by David E. Sanger

    U.S. urges U.N. Security Council to impose arms embargo, other measures on Iran
    WP by Colum Lynch

    Iran fights back against UN sanctions
    Independent by Katherine Butler and David Usborne

  • Apr 14, 2010

    Seoul summit to pressure N. Korea
    Korea Herald by Kim So-hyun

    Medvedev: Iran 'ignoring questions' about nuclear program
    CNN by Jill Dougherty

    U.S., Russia sign deal to cut plutonium stocks
    Reuters by Andrew Quinn and Steve Gutterman

    Nations Back Four-Year Plan for Nuclear Security
    Global Security Newswire by Martin Matishak

    Iran complains to U.N. over U.S. nuclear "threat"
    Reuters by Patrick Worsnip

  • Apr 14, 2010

    By Chris Jones

    Michael Turner, ranking member on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, has published a piece echoing the complaints about the NPR’s decision to take nuclear weapons “off the table.” He writes:

    Last May, President Obama clearly stated, "I don't take options off the table when it comes to U.S. security, period." Unfortunately, his new Nuclear Posture Review does just that. It delivers a muddled message that weakens the strength of our deterrent . . . Our nuclear deterrent serves an important role in protecting the United States from would-be aggressors. Telling our adversaries that we are unwilling to use the full extent of our assets to protect our nation is either disingenuous or dangerous. Also, the U.S. extends this protection to over 30 allies and friends who have agreed not to acquire nuclear weapons in exchange for U.S. nuclear guarantees. This policy affects them as well. When it comes to defending the United States against a devastating attack, our message should be clear and simple: If our nation is attacked, we will use all means necessary to defend ourselves. Period. This is the essence of nuclear deterrence: The message should be that the cost of attacking the United States will be greater than the benefit.

    Before getting to the main argument, it should be pointed out that the context of the Obama quote is about Iran. According to Newsweek , the preceding sentence from that quote is “I've been very clear that I don't take any options off the table with respect to Iran,” which is entirely consistent with the NPR did and something the NPR has been criticized for.

    Regardless, the real discussion to be had is one about deterrence. The new declaratory policy espoused by the NPR has been criticized for curtailing the “all options on the table approach” in response to non-nuclear CBW attacks.  As noted on the blog Friday, the shift is subject to a number of caveats that limit just how much the NPR impacts nuclear deterrence vis-à-vis CBW threats. But that doesn’t really get at the real issue: are nuclear weapons needed to deter CBW attacks from non-nuclear states? The answer to that question involves both the capability needed to deter such an attack and the credibility of a possible U.S. response. Discussing capability, Secretary Gates explained over the weekend that while the nuclear option may have deterred Iraqi CBW use during the Gulf War, new capabilities place enough capabilities in the tool bag that nuclear weapons don’t need to be on the table:

    GATES: Well I think what's happened is the situation has changed. We have more robust deterrents today, because we've added to the nuclear deterrent missile defense. And -- and with the phased adaptive approach that the president has approved, we will have significantly greater capability to deter the Iranians, because we will have a significantly greater missile defense.  We're also developing this conventional prompt global strike, which really hadn't gone anywhere in the -- in the Bush administration, but has been embraced by the new administration. That allows us to use long range missiles with conventional warheads. So we have -- we have more tools if you will in the deterrents kit bag than -- than we used to.

    On the credibility question, former Secretary of State Schultz explains in the WSJ:

    The NPR carefully calibrates the circumstances when states might face the use of nuclear weapons to "defend the vital interests of the United States, our allies and partners." States are encouraged to be non-nuclear by assurances that we would not use nuclear weapons against them. The document recognizes that deterrence is not necessarily strengthened by overreliance on nuclear weapons. These weapons have not been used since 1945 and successive presidents have shown little appetite for using them except as a last resort. Instead, deterrence can be strengthened through more effective intelligence and through precision in the targeting of conventional weapons. We also have the capacity to target those individuals who might authorize the use of weapons of mass destruction. This 21st century version of deterrence is more relevant than one that is over-reliant on weapons that indiscriminately destroy large numbers of innocents. But fundamental changes in the international security environment in recent years – including the growth of unrivaled U.S. conventional military capabilities, major improvements in missile defenses, and the easing of Cold War rivalries – enable us to fulfill those objectives at significantly lower nuclear force levels and with reduced reliance on nuclear weapons. Therefore, without jeopardizing our traditional deterrence and reassurance goals, we are now able to shape our nuclear weapons policies and force structure in ways that will better enable us to meet our most pressing security challenges.

    The constant them in the NPR alterations to declaratory policy endorsed by Gates and Schultz is one of flexibility. Technological developments and strategic trends have interacted over the past two decades in such a way that the United States does not need to the overwhelming power, and therefore unlikely use, of nuclear weapons to deter non-nuclear states hypothetically thinking about a CBW attack. Past examples can be parsed to provide arguments for and against whether the threat of nuclear attack deterred CBW attacks but those have to be mapped onto the threats facing the United States and the capabilities to counter them over the next 5-10 years. In today’s context, Bruno Tertrais argued that

    This author could think of only one not-so-incredible scenario: one where Syria, assuming it had abandoned all nuclear ambitions, would feel slightly more comfortable to threaten Israel with chemical weapons in a conflict than before the NPR. But even that one is an intellectual stretch

    Secretary Gates echoed this skepticism on CBS News by stating “First of all, try as we might, we could not find a credible scenario where a chemical weapon could have the kind of consequences that would warrant a nuclear response.” With preventing nuclear nonproliferation and terrorism headlining the priorities of the NPR, the modest benefits that reducing the role of nuclear weapons, albeit slightly, could have for these goals may outweigh the marginal, and perhaps not credible, deterrence benefits by leaving “all options on the table” against CBW threats from non-nuclear threats. These shifting priorities in the NPR reflect further change in thinking about the role of nuclear deterrence as well as deterrence more generally. In this context, the image of taking options “off the table” is not necessary a productive one. This creates the perception that a grandiose table with everything on it is automatically best and that removing anything off that table is deterrence X – 1, clearly inferior to deterrence X. This presumes, however, that just because something is on the table it automatically creates deterrence. That is not a given, as Schultz hints at above.  Moreover, thinking about what’s “on the table” begs a more fundamental question about the role of the “table,” so to speak, in national security. Presumably, the table lays out a range of responses that are meant to convince a possible adversary that undertaking an action is not in their interests. During the Cold War, many argue, the existence of nuclear weapons on that table helped induce caution in the Soviet Union, and vice versa. Today, however, the wide range of asymmetric threats facing the United States means that deterrence cannot be seen in a vacuum.  It must be evaluated in the larger context of U.S. national security goals and priorities.  The NPR explains, in a shift welcomed by Perry and Schlesinger, that nuclear proliferation and terrorism are the top priorites.  Nuclear deterrence still has a role to play, as well it should, but the pros and cons to changing, increasing, and decreasing certain types capabilities and declarations that create deterrence have to be analyzed not just for the sake of deterrence but how they interact with nuclear policy priorities as a whole.  When actions can be taken that could help the first two priorities while only slightly impacting deterrence, they should not be categorically dismissed for the bigger table is always better approach. 


  • Apr 13, 2010

    Obama, China discuss Iran at nuclear summit
    Reuters by Caren Bohan and Paul Eckert

    Ukraine Agrees to Eliminate Highly Enriched Uranium Stock by 2012
    Global Security Newswire by Martin Matishak

    Pakistan, Russia, U.S. need more nuclear security
    Reuters Analysis by Louis Charbonneau

    Europeans bring own nuclear security concerns to Washington summit
    Deutsche Welle by Nick Amies

    Debating Obama's New Nuclear Doctrine
    WSJ Opinion by George P. Shultz, Paul Wolfowitz, James R. Schlesinger, Fred C. Iklé, Richard Perle, and Richard Burt

  • Apr 12, 2010
    Leaders Gather for Nuclear Talks as New Threat Is Seen
    NY Times by David E. Sanger and William J. Broad
    Russia cast as nuclear security leader despite flaws
    Reuters by Steve Gutterman
    Scientific Collaboration Key to Eliminating Nuclear Arsenals, Groups Say
    Global Security Newswire by Chris Schneidmiller
    U.S., Israeli attack on Iran would be 'unacceptable' - Russia military
    RIA Novosti
    Experts Call for Additional Scrutiny of Proposed Enrichment System
    Global Security Newswire
  • Apr 9, 2010
    Obama, Medvedev sign nuclear arms treaty
    N. Korea willing to return to nuclear talks after meeting with U.S.
    Yonhap News by Byun Duk-kun
    Russia supports Iran sanctions, but with limits
    WP by Michael D. Shear and Glenn Kessler
    Pentagon Expects Years of Study Before Making Changes to U.S. Nuclear War Plans
    Global Security Newswire by Elaine M. Grossman
    Netanyahu Cancels Trip to U.S. Nuclear Summit
    NY Times by Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner
  • Apr 9, 2010

    By Chris Jones

    As the dust settles from the NPR, some on the right have taken hold of the NPR’s “grand bargain” to take nuclear weapons off the table in response to NPT-compliant non-nuclear states by using analogies to play up the supposed harm caused by the NPR. Charles Krauthammer argues:

    Imagine the scenario: Hundreds of thousands are lying dead in the streets of Boston after a massive anthrax or nerve gas attack. The president immediately calls in the lawyers to determine whether the attacking state is in compliance with the NPT. If it turns out that the attacker is up to date with its latest IAEA inspections, well, it gets immunity from nuclear retaliation. (Our response is then restricted to bullets, bombs and other conventional munitions.)
    However, if the lawyers tell the president that the attacking state is NPT-noncompliant, we are free to blow the bastards to nuclear kingdom come.
    This is quite insane. It's like saying that if a terrorist deliberately uses his car to mow down a hundred people waiting at a bus stop, the decision as to whether he gets (a) hanged or (b) 100 hours of community service hinges entirely on whether his car had passed emissions inspections.

    Meanwhile, Sarah Palin threw it back to the schoolyard to explain the NPR:

    "It's unbelievable. Unbelievable," said Palin on Wednesday evening while appearing on Sean Hannity's Fox News program. "No administration in America's history would, I think, ever have considered such a step that we just found out President Obama is supporting today. It's kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, 'Go ahead, punch me in the face and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.’

    While there are certainly bones to pick with some of the specifics in each analogy, it is more valuable to highlight a few major points to keep in mind when assessing the new declaratory policy in the NPR.

    1. It only applies to non-nuclear states compliant with the NPT.

    As the NPR states, “the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.” Translation: all options are on the table against NPT nuclear-weapons states (Russia, China, UK, France), parties that are not party to the NPT (India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea), and parties not in compliance with the NPT and “nuclear non-proliferation obligations” (Iran according the NPR, perhaps Syria although no officials have spoken to this). In other words, the question that should be answered by those who find the new declaratory policy unacceptable is: what are the credible large-scale chemical and biological threats by state actors that are not listed in parentheses above?

  • Apr 8, 2010


    The text of the New START treaty, signed by Obama and Medvedev in Prague earlier today, has been posted on the State Department's Website.  The Protocol was also posted.  Go forth and digest. 

  • Apr 7, 2010
    Obama’s Nuclear Strategy Intended as a Message
    NY Times by David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker
    Crackdown Sought on Nuclear Material
    WSJ by David Crawford and Peter Spiegel
    US wants better nuke transparency from China
    WP by AP

    Parties Split on Nuclear Posture Review
    Global Security Newswire by Megan Scully (CongressDaily)

    IAEA allowed access to Damascus research reactor
    WP by Veronika Oleksyn (AP)
  • Apr 7, 2010


    By Chris Jones

    As pundits everywhere try to dissect the NPR, PONI has put together an initial wave of resources for all things NPR.   Ideally, this will continue to be updated and placing withing each section is entirely random. Enjoy 

    Administration Resources

    Congressional Reactions

    International Reactions

    News Articles

    Bloggers and Op-Eds


    Administration Resources

    The NPR Itself 

    DoD Briefing (Audio/Video/Transcript on Left Hand toolbar)

    NPR Briefing Slides

    NPR Fact Sheet

    Obama Statement on the NPR

    Excerpts from the Obama Interview

    Vice President Biden’s LAT op-ed

    DoD Blogger Roundtable with Brad Roberts and John Roberti

    Congressional Reactions

    Kyl and McCain

    McKeon and Turner

    Skelton and Langevin


    International Reactions

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad


    News Articles

    The New York Times

    The Washington Post

    Global Security Newswire

    DoD Buzz

    National Public Radio

    USA Today

    Bloggers and Op-Eds

    New York Times

    David Hoffman- Foreign Policy

    Page van der Linden- Daily Kos

    Henry Sokolski- National Review Online

    Josh Rogin- The Cable

    Julian Borger- The Guardian

    Laura Rozen- POLITICO

    Josh Pollack- Arms Control Wonk

    Marc Ambidner- CBS News

    Spencer Ackerman- Washington Independent

    New Atlanticist- Damon Wilson

    Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Statement

    Fred Kaplan- Slate

    David Corn- Mother Jones

    Travis Sharp- CNAS

    Griff Jenkins- Fox News

    Ralph Peters- New York Post


  • Apr 6, 2010



    DOD has the NPR up here.

    Here is the briefing info:

  • Apr 6, 2010


    In anticipation of the NPR roll out later this morning, here are some of the pertinent news and blog articles on the subject from the last 24 hours:

    Exceprts from the NPR- NYT

    Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms- Sanger and Broad

    Excerpts from the Obama interview- NYT

    The Key to the Nuclear Posture Review- Marc Ambidner

    Obama to take middle course in new nuclear policy- Sheridan and Pincus

    U.S. Keeps First-Strike Strategy- WSJ

    All Quiet on the Nuclear Front- The Cable

    The Obama Nuclear Doctrine- Julian Borger

    Stay tuned for more updates and analysis throughout the day.


  • Apr 5, 2010
    Obama to unveil nuclear arms strategy on Tuesday
    WP by Reuters
    Seoul still keeping close watch on N.K. leader's possible trip to China
    Yonhap News by Byun Duk-kun
    Alarm over shortage of nuclear experts
    Boston Globe by Bryan Bender
    Iranian firm got parts to enrich uranium: report
    Romania defends role in US missile shield
  • Apr 2, 2010
    The last few days have seen a lot of activity from China on two fronts: sanctions discussions on Iran and wider nonproliferation goals - embodied by the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit. Yesterday, China announced that President Hu Jintao would attend the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Obama in DC on April 12-13.
  • Apr 2, 2010

    By Chris Jones

    As NPRologists are awash in fierce debates about questions like what should be the role of nuclear weapons and what “modernization” actually means, another important questions is what the NPR, rumored to be released next week, will have to say about China?  Taking a trip down memory lane, the Chinese were less than stoked with the 2001 NPR.  On this point, Jean Du Preez writes:

    In its response to the NPR, the Chinese government accused the United States of “nuclear blackmail” and vowed not to bow to foreign nuclear threats. The Chinese Foreign Ministry demanded that the United States provide an explanation of its targeting policy. The Chinese vocally objected to the parts of the document that advocated the development of new types of nuclear weapons and outlined contingency plans for using nuclear weapons against China and six other nations. Another Chinese complaint is that the NPR lists a military confrontation over Taiwan as one of the scenarios that could lead the United States to use nuclear weapons against China.

    Also check out Tian Jingmei’s analysis which highlights many of the reasons behind China’s significant concern over the 2001 NPR. Fast forward to 2010 and Hans Kristensen, in a recent publication about nuclear war plans, argues the big test is not whether sole, primary, or sole goal win out the declaratory policy battle but what we do with respect to Russia and China:

    Yet even if the Nuclear Posture Review eliminates the requirement to plan strikes against
    chemical and biological forces and reduces the mission to only deterring nuclear attacks, that
    would ironically not put an end to Cold War thinking; it would put and end to post-Cold War
    thinking. It would essentially reverse U.S. nuclear policy to its core mission against Russia and China, albeit at much lower levels than during the Cold War.  If the Obama administration truly wants to put an end to Cold War thinking, then the Nuclear Posture Review will have to reduce the role U.S. nuclear weapons serve against Russia and
    China. That role is what overwhelmingly dominates U.S. nuclear planning today, force levels,
    and weapons requirements, and it must be changed to facilitate a transition to deep cuts and eventually elimination of nuclear weapons.

  • Apr 2, 2010


    Iran must be responsible, Obama tells Hu
    New START Seen Facing Political, Technical Challenges in Russia
    Global Security Newswire by Martin Matishak
    Focus on safety of Pak's N-installation
    Economic Times by Nirmala Ganapathy
    France Poses Questions on NATO Missile Shield
    The Little Nukes That Got Away: What Obama's new weapons treaty left out.
    Foreign Policy by David E. Hoffman
  • Apr 2, 2010


    US hopes Kim trip leads to nuclear talks
    China ready for Iran UN sanctions talks: US
    AFP by Christophe Schmidt 
    Chinese President Hu to attend Washington nuclear meet
    Reuters by Emma Graham-Harrison
    China says it is under pressure on Iran
    The Revelation of Fordow+10: What Does It Mean?
    FAS Strategic Security Blog by Ivanka Barzashka