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- Sep 30, 2011TOP NEWSNorth Korea unlikely to give up nuclear arms, outgoing British ambassador saysIran: We've produced domestic version of S-300 anti-aircraft missilesIndia test fires Agni-II missileRussia successfully tests new strategic missileNATO missile defense to get interim capability by next May
- Sep 29, 2011By Stephanie SpiesIn a Newsweek exclusive released this Monday, Eli Lake revealed that President Obama secretly authorized the transfer of “GBU-38 Hard Target Penetrators”, or bunker buster bombs, to Israel. Although this revelation may come as a shock to anyone not privy to classified military information, the most puzzling issue at stake is the timing of this story. According to the article, Obama sold these weapons to Israel in 2009…so why are we just hearing about it now? Some experts believe the leak is nothing more than a ploy to bolster Jewish support of Obama before the next election, while others contend it is meant as a warning to Iran in light of new information confirming the acceleration of the country’s nuclear activities. Then again, it could just be an unapproved disclosure from a notoriously leaky Obama administration. Regardless of the motivations behind such an information leak, it could also have interesting effects on the Obama administration’s attempts to prevent Iranian nuclear proliferation. While the transfer of bunker busters to Israel could reveal the U.S.’s true commitment to stopping Iran’s nuclear program, it could also undermine the administration’s credibility on nonproliferation issues, especially in the Middle East.
- Sep 29, 2011TOP STORIESNo N.Korea-U.S. Talks Until After Lee's Visit to WashingtonHigh-level talks between North Korea and the U.S. will not happen until after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visits Washington next month.Israeli bunker-busters cause Mideast alarmThe disclosure that U.S. President Barack Obama approved the sale of 5,000-pound bunker-buster bombs to Israel, which wants them for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear installations, has sent ripples of alarm across the Middle East, including Israel itself.Russia seeks 'guarantees' on Euro shieldUNITED NATIONS, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Moscow needs "solid legal guarantees" that a European missile defense shield wouldn't alter the balance of power, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says.Global Zero: Obama's Distant Goal of a Nuclear-Free WorldZachary Roth, The AtlanticJust ten weeks after Inauguration Day in 2009, President Obama used his first overseas trip in office to announce his intention to rid the world of nuclear weapons. The U.S. "must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist: Yes we can," he told a cheering crowd of 20,000 in Prague's Hradcany Square, rhetorically linking the no-nukes push to the sky's-the-limit idealism that had electrified supporters during his recent presidential campaign.Sep 28, 2011By Eli JacobsArguments for nonproliferation are often made from the perspective of stability. One country’s acquisition of a bomb will prompt others to act similarly, heightening regional tensions and increasing the danger that conflicts will be nuclear. A second, much less frequent argument is made from the perspective of U.S. freedom of action. The range of military options available to the United States is constricted by an adversary’s possession of nuclear weapons. Regime change options are especially circumscribed, as decision-makers find largely ineffectual engagement strategies less risky than military operations that could cause desperate, collapsing regimes to lash out with nuclear weapons. The contrast between the Kim Jong-il’s North Korean regime, whom we continue to engage, and Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan regime, which has been all but overthrown, is instructive. Many commentators argue that an agreement to dismantle Gaddafi’s nuclear program and long-range missiles was instrumental in allowing NATO the latitude to pursue regime change.Certainly the prospect of regime change in Kim Jong-il’s North Korea is scarier than it was in Gaddafi’s Libya, but is a nuclear capability really the death-knell to U.S. military ambitions, most notably regime change? I think not. The United States could, given the proper military capabilities, pursue military objectives, including regime change, against even nuclear-armed adversaries. The presumption that such a scenario would guarantee nuclear use by the desperate regime under attack is mistaken.Sep 28, 2011
TOP NEWSNK blames Libyan regime collapse on absence of nukes: outgoing British envoyNorth Korean officials believe the Libyan regime would not have collapsed had it held on to its nuclear weapons, the outgoing British ambassador to Pyongyang said Wednesday, casting doubts on the likelihood that the North will relinquish its nuclear capabilities.Iran nuclear drive heightens risk of strikeFrance’s UN envoy warned late Tuesday that Iran faces the risk of a military strike if it pursues its nuclear drive because certain countries would not accept it having an atomic weapon.Russia wants missile defense guarantees, says US statements on program won’t doUNITED NATIONS — Russia voiced concern Tuesday about U.S. missile defense plans and said it needs “solid legal guarantees” that American deployments will not upset the strategic and regional nuclear balance.AP EXCLUSIVE: Officials say crime ring has uraniumInvestigators following up on a nuclear sting in eastern Europe suspect that a crime syndicate was trying to sell weapons-grade uranium to buyers in North Africa.Sep 27, 2011Sep 26, 2011
Dr. Keir Lieber, an Associate Professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University (affirmative) vs Dr. James Acton, a Senior Associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (negative)
Thursday, October 6 - 6-8 PMSep 23, 2011TOP NEWSNorth Korea says wants more talks with U.S.North Korea wants to hold a second round of dialogue with the United States, possibly next month, as part of renewed efforts to restart talks on disabling the North's nuclear weapons programme, a South Korean official said on Thursday.EU gives blanket offer to resume Iran nuclear talksThe EU offered Thursday to resume face-to-face talks with Iran over its nuclear activities, "without pre-conditions," a spokeswoman for foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said.Pakistan has taken steps to augment security of its N-weapons: Hina Rabbani KharFacing international pressure over safety of its nuclear weapons, Pakistan has said it has taken steps to augment their security as it shares concerns that "non-state actors or terrorists" may acquire and use them.Israel feels heat at U.N. atomic agencyIsrael found itself on the sharp end Friday of an Arab-sponsored resolution adopted at the U.N. atomic agency's annual meeting criticizing the country for its alleged nuclear weapons arsenal.Sep 22, 2011
By Jonah Friedman
Last month Belarus declared that it would no longer be following through with its commitment to send its remaining highly enriched uranium (HEU) to Russia, as agreed upon in December 2010. At the time, some 440 pounds of the material remained in Belarus, and the agreement called for it to be transferred to Russia by the end of this year. The stated reason for the move was the U.S. decision to impose sanctions on the country to punish the government for continuing political repression. For its part, the United States expressed its dismay and its hope that Minsk would reverse its decision and “responsible contribution to global security.” A new wrinkle in this story may have come last week when Western officials accused Belarus of helping Iran avoid sanctions and acquire sensitive technologies – a claim Belarus denies. At the root of this spat are a number of domestic and regional political considerations, and those may be serving to drive it forward as well.Sep 22, 2011By Stephanie SpiesEarlier this week, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley pronounced the importance of maintaining the U.S. nuclear triad, which is composed of bombers, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and submarine-launched missiles (SLBMs), in the face of impending defense budget cuts. The debate over which defense programs can be sacrificed in the current era of austerity has been controversial, leaving many nuclear programs in particular vulnerable to budget cuts. Yet, these reductions in funding may prove devastating to the Obama administration’s plans for refurbishing and modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, particularly the aging Minutemen III ICBMs. The possibility of these funding reductions has brought a larger question to the forefront of the defense world: does the U.S. still need a triad for nuclear deterrence, or do the costs, both fiscal and security-related, of maintaining and upgrading this system outweigh the benefits it provides?Sep 22, 2011
By Eli JacobsYousaf Butt’s recent IHT op ed, which criticizes U.S. efforts to develop missile defense, hits on one important point but misses on several others. It is true, as Butt advocates, that the United States must act to assuage Russian (and Chinese) fears of U.S. missile defense. However, Butt’s conclusion – that the United States should abandon the missile defense endeavor altogether – either misunderstands or ignores the strategic and political benefits to such a system. The best option is to continue pursuing missile defense while increasing transparency about our intentions and collaboration with Russia – the very solution that Butt critiques.Sep 22, 2011
Obama warns N. Korea of more "pressure, isolation"
Iran 'in talks' with Russia over new nuclear sites
Russia to Extend Life of Aging Reactors
Wall Street Journal, By David Crawford And Rebecca Smith
A Few Words With Iran's President
The New York Times, By Nicholas D. KristofSep 21, 2011TOP NEWSKoreas fail again to agree terms for nuclear talks restartIran won't "retaliate" for nuclear scientist killingsIAEA General Conference Focuses on Nuclear SafetyIAEA, by Peter Kaiser
Planned Defense Cuts Endanger Nuke Spending PlanNational Journal, by Global Security Newswire StaffSep 21, 2011
By Eli JacobsRecently there has been an unexpected flare up in debate about Syria’s nuclear weapons program. This is related largely to Bob Woodward’s op ed on Dick Cheney’s support, described in his recent memoir, for a strike against an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor at al Kibar. Woodward describes the intelligence presented by then-CIA director Michael Hayden, most importantly Hayden’s low confidence that the facility, which was likely a reactor developed with some North Korean assistance, was involved in a nuclear weapons program. Given such uncertainty, Woodward argues that Cheney’s desire to strike shows his poor judgment. Of course, Israel ended up striking the facility shortly after the Bush administration decided not to – an event that, to Cheney, vindicated his earlier predilection. Another recent op ed is more sympathetic to Cheney’s argument.But this assessment is counter-factual rather than forward-looking. The motives behind the Bush administration’s inaction are interesting matters of historical concern, but an important and often overlooked question is the danger of Syria’s nuclear ambitions going forward. This danger is in the short term relatively small and in the intermediate to long term tied extensively to the scale of North Korean involvement in the Syrian weapons reactor project.Sep 20, 2011
By Jonah Friedman
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi called on participants of the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula to work toward “creating conditions” for resumption of those talks, which have been suspended since 2008. While this is an admirable goal, and one which is shared by the United States, the language used was interesting. Indeed, it is a reminder of how distant an objective North Korean denuclearization is that the parties involved are having talks about resuming talks. Yang went on to describe both the reconciliation of the Korean peninsula as well as its denuclearization as a “historical process” which cannot be achieved immediately. This language is notable not only for what it says about the dismal state of the negotiations, but how it may also be an intentional imitation of the phraseology used by proponents of global nuclear abolition. It may be splitting hairs, but if the connection exists, then what does it say about how the Chinese see the timeline (and prospects) for eventual denuclearization of the Korean peninsula?Sep 20, 2011Sep 19, 2011
China urges making of conditions for resumption of six-party talks
Iran security chief holds nuclear talks in Russia
India, US urged to prepare for ‘worst case Pakistan scenarios’
Dawn, By Anwar Iqbal
Rosatom eyes Siemens cooperation despite nuclear exit
Two treaties. One Congress. No time to wait.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Miles A. Pomper and Kingston ReifSep 16, 2011
By Jonah Friedman
On Wednesday the Elliott School at the George Washington University hosted an event about United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540. UNSCR 1540, adopted in 2004, creates “binding obligations on all UN member states under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to take and enforce effective measures against the proliferation of WMD, their means of delivery and related materials.” The U.S. State Department cites several obligations in particular:Sep 16, 2011By Stephanie SpiesAlthough to what extent nuclear weapons should be prioritized in extended deterrence strategy is hotly contested, it is clear that they play a significant role in current alliances and security dynamics in the Asia. While some experts argue that nuclear guarantees are crucial to assuage allies’ fears about new security threats and prevent them from acquiring their own destabilizing nuclear deterrent capabilities, others believe that nuclear threats are both unnecessary and potentially destabilizing in that they inflate the perceived value of nuclear weapons to regional actors. The question is whether or not the current security environment mandates a change in U.S. deterrence strategy. As the North Korean nuclear program and Chinese military modernization accelerate, cooperation with allies and effectively implementing extended deterrence will be more important than ever in preserving Asian stability.Sep 15, 2011
TOP NEWSAdvanced US drone set to watch over N. Korea: reportSEOUL — The United States is close to deploying an advanced unmanned spy plane over South Korea which could provide a much more detailed view of North Korea's military activities, a report said.Arabs to avoid targeting Israel at U.N. atom meetingArab states will refrain from targeting Israel over its assumed nuclear arsenal at a global meeting of U.N. atomic agency member countries next week, diplomats said on Thursday, an unexpected gesture of restraint sure to be welcomed by the West.Russia Restates Demand for Pledge on NATO Missile ShieldRussia on Tuesday reaffirmed its demand for a legally enforceable pledge that a planned NATO antimissile system would not be aimed against the nation's nuclear weapons, Interfax reported (see GSN, Sept. 12).Flawed Air Force ICBM Count Shows Need for Better Books: GAOThe U.S. Air Force’s property accounting system overstates by 105 the number of assembled nuclear missiles in service, according to congressional investigators and Air Force documents.Sep 14, 2011By: Eli JacobsOn September 13, Joshua Pollack (SAIC) presented his paper Ballistic Trajectory: The Evolution of North Korea’s Ballistic Missile Market, published in the Nonproliferation Review. In addition to summarizing the report, Pollack commented on the implications of North Korea’s case for the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The event also featured Dennis Gormley (University of Pittsburgh), who commented on Pollack’s presentation.Talking points central to the discussion included the change in trajectory of North Korea’s ballistic missile sales over time, the importance economic and other factors in combating such sales, the efficacy and potential synergies of approaches based upon persuasion and coercion, and the role of the United States in the MTCR.Sep 14, 2011Sep 13, 2011By Stephanie SpiesOn Friday, September 9, the CSIS hosted a Military Strategy Forum with Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA), Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee, entitled “America’s Commitment to Asia”. A diverse audience composed of policymakers, corporate representatives, defense officials, journalists, and academics gathered to hear Congressman Smith’s thoughts about current American strategy in Asia and how it must adapt to preserve stability in the region. The speech, emphasizing the importance of the U.S. commitment to its allies in such a crucial region of the world, outlined several key components of American strategy in Asia, including but not limited to trade, immigration, diplomacy, and military-to-military contacts. However, the most notable and interesting aspect of Congressman Smith’s speech was his insistence that extended deterrence can and should be used to prevent both the rise of challengers in Asia and the outbreak of conflict. Although nuclear weapons were by no means the central focus of the speech or even the U.S. policy outlined, many argue that they play a crucial role in this deterrence strategy, and therefore in preserving stability in Asia. The U.S. uses extended nuclear deterrence, or the threat of potential nuclear use against any state that initiates aggression against the U.S. or its allies in the region, to discourage conflict and to maintain American leadership in Asia. Yet, how important are nuclear weapons to preserving deterrence in the region? Do they provide a credible threat of destruction such that potential aggressors are deterred from attacking the U.S. or its allies in Asia, or do they only magnify the importance of nuclear weapons and thereby make a regional arms race more likely?Sep 13, 2011
Fukushima reactors now "stable": IAEA
Reuters, By Fredrik Dahl
Iran stresses its nuclear "rights" in letter to EU
Reuters, By Fredrik Dahl
EU to monitor French nuclear waste plant after blast
Keeping Nuclear Terrorism a Threat Only in Theory
The Huffington Post, By Mark Fitzpatrick and Nigel InksterSep 12, 2011By Eli Jacobs“Should the purpose of nuclear weapons in a post-cold-war world be essentially to deter a nuclear attack on the United States? Or should nuclear weapons be developed for fighting wars, including conflicts with nonnuclear adversaries?”The 2001 Nuclear Posture Review, which advocated the development of low-yield nuclear weapons for strategic use, concerned many critics with its apparent decision to use nuclear weapons to fight wars rather than for deterrence. These critics relied on a false distinction: between weapons and doctrines for deterrence and weapons and doctrines for warfighting. In fact, all nuclear weapons and doctrines are for warfighting. Crucially, however, that does not mean that warfighting strategy must exclusively dictate nuclear policy.Sep 12, 2011
By Jonah Friedman
The Next Generation Working Group (NGWG) at PONI recently came out with a report entitled “Beyond New Start: Advancing U.S. National Security Through Arms Control.” One of the issues cited by the report was Russia’s intention to develop a new liquid-fueled, silo-based, MIRVed ICBM. The NGWG noted how destabilizing such a missile could be, and pointing specifically to how inconsistent the move seems in light of Russia’s “recent emphasis on the important of strategic stability.” Yet, leaving aside concerns for strategic stability, it is difficult to understand the value of such a missile for Russia given its significant drawbacks. Russia’s new “Liner” missile is liquid-fueled, and the Global Security Newswire has pointed out that “Liquid-fuel ballistic missiles are more expensive and complex to use than their solid-fuel counterparts.” An article by Dr. Igor Sutyagin of the Royal United Services Institute also notes that liquid-fueled ICBMs also have longer boost-phases, potentially leaving them more vulnerable to interception (especially if the United States pursues options for boost-phase intercepts). Finally, liquid-fueled missiles are necessarily harder to put on alert in a crisis. So the question becomes, “why is Russia developing such a missile?”Sep 12, 2011TOP NEWSUN nuke agency meets on Iran, Syria, NKorea, JapanAssociated Press, by George JahnCheney: Israel would strike Iran to prevent it from achieving nuclear weaponsHaaretz, by Shlomo Shamir‘Iran reserves right to defend itself against any aggression’1 dead, 4 hurt in explosion at French nuclear siteAssociated Press, by Jenny BarchfieldSep 9, 2011By Stephanie SpiesThe prospect of a nuclear Iran has been debated and feared for quite some time in the international community, but have any strategies proven effective at combating this scenario? A variety of powerful countries, led by the United States, continue to perseverate over the consequences of this emerging nuclear threat but have so far been unable to alter the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities. Although much intelligence is classified and what is publicly available is somewhat vague in terms of tracking Iran’s progress in acquiring nuclear weapons, recent information indicates that the rather haphazard international strategy of sanctions, diplomacy, and veiled military threats has not convinced Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Rather, the latest reports seem to illustrate that Iran is closer than ever to being able to field, albeit initially limited in numbers, nuclear weapons.Sep 9, 2011Sep 8, 2011By Eli JacobsOn September 6, cochairs James Acton and Michael Gerson presented the CSIS Next Generation Working Group’s (NGWG) report Beyond New START. The project, organized by PONI’s Clark Murdock and John Warden, was based on a discussion of 14 young professionals about how to advance U.S. national security through arms control with Russia.The working group’s report concluded that an additional round of U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control is in the national security interest of the United States, but will be extremely difficult, given the two sides' divergent capabilities, interests, and objectives. In particular, some of the new conclusions and perspectives were…Sep 8, 2011
By Jonah Friedman
A few weeks ago, Gareth Cook wrote an article in the Boston Globe about the scholarly historical work of Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, a historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Hasegawa argues that the Second World War was not terminated, as is often believed, by the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but by the Soviet Union’s entry into the Pacific theater of the war. This suggests that the Japanese leadership was not compelled to cease fighting even by the destruction of their cities. This observation has in turn led Cook, and others, to question the efficacy of nuclear deterrence, based as it is on the assumption that the threat of catastrophic damage to an enemy’s civilian population (in one way or another) will prevent war. While it may be true that Japan was not brought to the negotiating table by the bombing of its cities, this example does not have the dire implications for nuclear deterrence that it might suggest. Nuclear weapons represent (in some ways at least) a significant enough departure from past weapons to induce caution in states where conventional weapons cannot. Moreover, the Japanese experience is rooted in the historical context of the Second World War, and is therefore less constructive for present and future deterrence than it seems.Sep 8, 2011
Ex-PM feared for Japan's survival in nuke crisis
In face of Iran threat, Saudi Arabia mulls nuclear cooperation with Pakistan
Haaretz, By Yossi Melman
Paris court drops probe into health problems blamed on Chernobyl accident fallout
A funding cut that endangers America
The Baltimore Sun, By Robert G Gard, Jr.Sep 7, 2011
by John Warden and He Yun
John Warden [JWarden@csis.org] is a research assistant and program coordinator for the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) at CSIS. He Yun [email@example.com] is a research fellow at Tsinghua University’s arms control program and a Ph.D. candidate in international security.
Missile defense has become an area of controversy in the US-China relationship. The US government sees an enduring role for a range of relatively limited missile intercept capabilities, designed to protect the US homeland, deployed forces, as well as allies and partners by: 1) dissuading other countries from acquiring and deploying ballistic missiles by reducing their perceived value; 2) deterring the use of ballistic missiles by introducing the possibility of operational failure; and 3) defeating a missile attack. China, by contrast, questions US motives in developing such a system and is particularly concerned with the potential evolution of the technology.Sep 7, 2011
TOP NEWS'No sign of progress on NK talks yet'Snap checks not part of inspections offer, Iran nuclear chief clarifiesRussia Says No Plans to Build Nuclear Power Stations in Iran After BushehrSafeguards for the Next 40 YearsThe undimmed danger of Iran’s nuclear programSep 6, 2011
Iran offers 'full supervision' of nuclear program
Iran's nuclear chief on Monday proposed to allow the U.N. nuclear watchdog "full supervision" of its nuclear activities for five years provided that sanctions against Tehran are lifted, but the official did not give details of his offer.
S. Korea eyes talks on N. Korea during nuclear security summit next year
On the sidelines of next year's nuclear security summit in Seoul, North Korea's nuclear weapons programs could be discussed among nations involved in the stalled multilateral talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear drive, Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said Monday.
S. Korea's nuclear envoy to visit U.S. this week
South Korea's chief nuclear envoy will travel to the United States this week, Seoul's foreign ministry said Tuesday, after North Korea reportedly promised to impose a moratorium on nuclear testing if the six-party talks resume.
COMMENTARY: Kansas City Here It Comes: A New Nuclear Weapons Plant!
Lawrence S. Wittner, Huntington News
Should the U.S. government be building more nuclear weapons? Residents of Kansas City, Missouri don’t appear to think so, for they are engaged in a bitter fight against the construction of a new nuclear weapons plant in their community.
Sep 2, 2011
By Talitha Dowds
According to an article by NPR, the DPRK obtains its funds through various legal and illegal industries. The article begins by highlighting the legal means in which the DPRK receives funding. This includes exporting coal, magnesium and fish to China. Additionally, it sends North Korean citizens to Russia to “chop down trees and to special South Korean factories near the border that need cheap labor.” The Russian and South Korean companies pay in dollars to the North Korean government for such labor who intern pays the workers in near worthless local currency. These legal industries generated roughly $2billion in 2009, however in addition to such a sum the DPRK resorts to illegal means that include drug dealing, counterfeiting and smuggling. In addition to revenue obtained from illegal industries, the DPRK exports numerous weapons.Sep 2, 2011Sep 1, 2011
The 2008 Defense Authorization Act stipulated that the Secretary of Defense, in cooperation with the Secretary of Energy and Secretary of State, conduct a “comprehensive review of the nuclear posture of the United States for the next 5 to 10 years” and to submit a report summarizing its findings to Congress along with its Quadrennial Defense Review in 2009. Accordingly, the Department of Defense carried out what would be its third Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) in 2009 and submitted its final report to Congress, after some delay, in March of 2010.