• May 10, 2010

    FISSILE MATERIAL
    Surprise dinner fails to break Iran nuclear deadlock
    AFP by Lachlan Carmichael

    Clues suggest NKorean sub behind warship attack
    AP by Eric Talmadge

    India, Japan working on nuclear deal to boost 123 Agreement
    Business Standard by Jyoti Malhotra

    Pakistan tests 2 missiles, wants nuke recognition
    AP by Munir Ahmed

    Obama hopes Senate will ratify START by November
    Reuters by Ross Colvin

  • May 7, 2010

    By Chris Jones

    Over the past year, the debate about tactical nuclear weapons in Europe has heated up immensely.  After a wave of reports and analysis arguing for and against removal of TNW’s from Europe in the lead up to the NPR, there have been a few more significant developments in the last couple weeks.  Secretary Clinton stated in Tallinn that, “We should recognize that as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance."  Such a statement was considered quite strong, for better or worse depending on your point of view.  Meanwhile, Germany and other Western European nations used the Review Conference as a platform to reiterate their calls for removal of weapons.  The AP reports:

     Germany and other West European nations at the U.N. nonproliferation conference are calling for elimination of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe — "leftovers from the Cold War" — as a way to advance global arms control. "They no longer serve a military purpose and do not create security," German state minister Werner Hoyer told fellow delegates to the 189-nation session to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Belgian disarmament official Werner Bauwens, speaking Thursday, the fourth day of the monthlong conference, urged the U.S. and Russia to launch negotiations "as soon as possible" to reduce their shorter-range nuclear weapons.

    The approach taken by Germany and other West European nations is a problematic one.  In the context of the NPT Review Conference, it sets high expecations in the short term that will likely result in disappointment should NATO be unable to deliver. It also provides an easy opportunity for the NAM and others to play Alliance members off of one another depending on their view on TNW's.  Perhaps due to the public discord between the Alliance over the issue the past few months, Iran made sure to include removal of TNW's as the 10th item on their list of proposals. 

    These Western European statements at the Review Conference are an example of a larger problem: countries in favor of eliminating TNW’s from Europe getting out in front of the NATO Strategic Concept. Secretary General Rasmussen was clear in March that:

    It is important that anything that affects NATO’s nuclear policy or posture be decided by the Allies together, without any unilateral moves. Solidarity is very important when it comes to this issue

  • May 7, 2010

    FISSILE MATERIAL
    Head of Atomic Agency Asserts Right to Scrutinize Iran
    NYT by William J. Broad and David E. Sanger

    Too Much Mr. Nice Guy
    NYT by R. Jame Woolsey

    Obama Plans Revival of Russian Nuclear Deal
    NYT by Peter Baker

    Solving Tokyo's Nuclear Conundrum
    WSJ by George Perkovich

  • May 5, 2010

    PONI is happy to announce the next "PONI Debates the Issues" live event.  Taking up whether they left off in Survival during the fall, Scott Sagan and Keith Payne will be debating U.S. declaratory policy.  The details for the event are as follows: 

    Date: Tuesday, May 25

    Time: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm (*Note: this is different from past events which usually occur in the evening)

    Location: CSIS B1 Conference Center

    To RSVP for the event, please contact Chris Jones by e-mail or phone at (202-775-3234).  Seats are filling up quickly so we encourage people to RSVP as soon as possible.  Don't miss out on what promises to be an excellent event.  

    //IvoShandor under a Creative Commons License
     

  • May 5, 2010

    FISSILE MATERIAL
    Nukes, trade underpin NKorea leader's China visit
    AP by Christopher Bodeen

    Iran accepts Brazil mediation to revive atom deal
    Reuters by Parisa Hafezi

    China must seek NSG exception, says U.S.
    The Hindu by Ananth Krishnan

    Nuke-free Mideast idea rises on global agenda
    AP by Charles J. Hanley

    Russia Seen Under Pressure to Disclose Arsenal Details
    Global Security Newswire

  • May 4, 2010

    FISSILE MATERIAL
    Iran Angrily Defends Nuclear Program
    NY Times by Neil Mac Farquhar

    Obama administration discloses size of U.S. nuclear arsenal
    WP by Mary Beth Sheridan and Colum Lynch

    Israel's stance on nuclear arms complicates efforts against Iran
    WP by Walter Pincus

    China to press North's Kim on economy, nuclear talks
    Reuters by Royston Chan

    GOP Senators Remain Wary of U.S.-Russian Arms Control Deal
    Global Security Newswire by Rachel Oswald

  • May 4, 2010

    By John K. Warden

    At PONI’s 7th Live Debate, Ivan Oelrich, Vice President for Strategic Security Programs at the Federation of American Scientists; Clark Murdock, PONI Director and Senior Advisor at CSIS; and Doug Feith, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, expressed their opinions on 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).  While it was designed as a more traditional panel, the discussion turned into one of the more lively debates of the series.

  • May 3, 2010

     

    By Chris Jones

    Day 1 of the 2010 Review Conference is in the books. The main fireworks of the first day were the speeches by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Secretary of State Clinton. Ahmadinejad’s statement proved particularly controversial as the P3 and other European states followed past tradition and left during the speech while others in the room applauded his remarks. It is too early to tell what impact the opening moves by the U.S. and Iran to curry favor with the “swing states” but there are two signs worth noting that could benefit the United States.

    First, Secretary-General Ki-moon’s remarks both took note of recent U.S. efforts to move toward Article VI and made detailed comments about Iran. He applauded the signing of the New START treaty and acknowledged the Nuclear Security Summit, though also pointing out key outstanding issues such as ratification of CTBT. With respect to Iran, he stated:

    With respect to the Iranian nuclear programme, I call on Iran to fully comply with Security Council resolutions and fully cooperate with the IAEA.
    I encourage Iran to accept the nuclear fuel supply proposal put forward by the Agency. This would be an important confidence-building measure.
    And I encourage the President of Iran to engage constructively. Let us be clear: the onus is on Iran to clarify the doubts and concerns about its programme.

    That is pretty strong language to get out of the Secretary General for the opening statement at the Review Conference. Meanwhile, Iran did little to directly address claims of noncompliance beyond saying there was “not a single credible proof.” Instead, Ahmadinejad’s remarks centered around themes such as the destructiveness of nuclear weapons, the threatening actions of the United States and “the Zionist regime,” and the greatness of Iranian culture.

  • May 3, 2010

    By Andrew St. Denis

    A short while ago, the Department of Defense released previously classified figures on the size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. From the document (found here):

  • May 3, 2010

     

    By Chris Jones

    Glimpsing at the sound bytes on Iran over the past couple weeks, it would seem Secretary Gates could be criticized for flip flopping a la the Kerry campaign.  The NYT reported a couple weeks back that:

    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has warned in a secret three-page memorandum to top White House officials that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability, according to government officials familiar with the document.

    Yet Gates was quoted in the Washington Post last week as saying:

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday he was satisfied with Pentagon planning to counter the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program.
    "I'm very satisfied with the planning process both within this building and in the inter-agency. We spend a lot of time on Iran and we'll continue to do so," Gates told reporters at a press conference with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

    What gives? Probably a few things. First of all, there is a crucial three month period between when the memo was written and leaked. Presumably, that would provide a window in which the Administration could work to address Gates’ concerns in the original memo. Second, there have been important backtracks on both of these stories. Shanker and Sanger published a piece the day after the original NYT piece featuring Gates’ “push back” on the claim the memo was a “wake up” call. Meanwhile, the Pentagon had a little trouble clarifying the intention of Gates’ most recent statement. Undersecretary Flournoy stated that the military option is a “last resort” that “is not on the table in the near term” while Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell later clarified that “military action has never, ever been taken off the table.”

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