- Dec 23, 2009
11. Santa’s sleigh provides key test of missile defense radar capabilities- While General Cartwright and Lt Gen O’Reilly have testified this year that they have over 90 percent confidence in the ability of the ground-based interceptors located in Alaska and California to shoot down an incoming ICBM, others have decried purported test success due to unrealistic test conditions. This upcoming Christmas, conditions could not possibly be more real with Santa’s sleigh visiting millions of homes domestically within a night. The Missile Defense Agency issued a press statement confirming the importance of this Christmas to test the radar and tracking capabilities of our system.
10. Obama administration recants zero pledge after accounting error—The White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement that revised Obama’s pledge at Prague to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Gibbs explained, “There was an accounting error. We believed the U.S. had 2,200 nuclear weapons, but later discovered that only accounted for those that are operationally deployed.” Because of the accounting error, the Administration underestimated the cost of dismantling the weapons. In this economy, the cost of disarmament is too high.
9. "CTR 2.0" top new Facebook game—In response to the ever popular “Farmville” game played by 11 million avid Facebook users, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s response, CTR 2.0, has quickly climbed the Facebook games chart and now stands at number 3. Facebook user Tim Smith noted this game is the “best invention ever” and declined going out this weekend so that he could engage in faux bilateral scientific exchanges with the Pakistanis over water purification technology. Intrade predicts that CTR 2.0 taking over Farmville by mid-March 2010.
- Dec 23, 2009
Hopping on the list-mania as the year (and decade) quickly come to an end, PONI has put together the nuclear year in words. The list represents a collaboration of quotes that represent some of the major issues and discussions on things nuclear in 2009. Without further ado:
10. “Let’s sanction Iran, marry Pakistan, and bomb North Korea”- Joe Cirincione, November 30
Talking on the Colbert Report’s “Better Know a Lobby” feature, Colbert made Ploughshares President Cirincione play sanction, bomb, or marry at the end of the interview despite his protest that he does not want to bomb anyone. The game begins at the 4:50 clip below although the entire interview is a great watch. Not to mention covering 3 of the major nuclear hotspots, the clip speaks to the fact nuclear issues are starting to creep back into the mainstream media and will likely continue to do so over the next year.
9. Hair-trigger “conjures a drawn weapon in the hands of somebody” but the "reality of our alert posture today" is that "the weapon is in the holster" and “has two combination locks on it” - General Kevin Chilton, February 27
As reported by the ever reliable Global Security Newswire, STRATCOM Commander Kevin Chilton has worked hard this year to dispel the notion that our nuclear weapons are on "hair-trigger alert." At the same time, working “with Russia to move nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert” was a campaign promise of the Obama administration and increasing decision times was mentioned in the “Gang of 4” follow-on 2008 op-ed. The East West Institute also did a great deal of work on the issue in 2009. This may be one of many issues stuck between the rock and hard place of the NPR and Review Conference heading into 2010.
- Dec 23, 2009
- Dec 22, 2009
The Gareth Evans/Yoriko Kawaguchi co-chaired ICNND commission released their final 231 page final report titled “Eliminated Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers” to give folks some light reading over the holidays. The report is filled with recommendations that will be applauded by some and criticized by others. One of the areas where the study breaks the most ground is the creation of two different periods, somewhat similar to the 4 Phase Global Zero action plan, on the road to zero: "minimization" from now until 2025 and then elimination which does not have a specific timetable attached. The minimization phase is broken down into a short term action plan through 2012 and a medium term action plan through 2025. Highlights of the short term plan include ratification of START follow-on, declaration of a “sole purpose” doctrine by nuclear armed states, entry into force of CTBT, conclusion of FMCT negotiations, and “satisfactory negotiated resolution of the North Korea and Iran nuclear program problems.” Extreme skepticism achieving any of those spare START before 2012 aside, efforts in the 2025 medium term agenda include 2,000 nuclear warheads in the world, full NFU declared by all nuclear states, resolution of outstanding issues including missile defense and conventional arms imbalances, and FMCT entry into force.
- Dec 22, 2009
Talks on N. Korean nukes should resume before March: FM
Yonhap by Lee Chi-dong
South Korea let off for nuclear deceptions
Asia Times by Gareth Porter
Obama Administration Prepares Iran Sanction Options
Washington Independent by Spencer Ackerman
Help Iranians. Stop worrying about the bomb
London Times by Nader Mousavizadeh
- Dec 21, 2009
- Dec 18, 2009
- Dec 17, 2009
China calls for efforts to resume nuclear talks
AP by Kwang-tae Kim
Fears of nuclear arms race as nations gear up to follow Iran
London Times by James Hider, Tony Halpin, and Hugh Tomlinson
Russia says US slowing down nuclear talks
AFP by Anna Smolchenko
U.S. Disarmament Is Dangerous for Asia
WSJ by Franklin C. Miller and Andrew Shearer
- Dec 16, 2009
Obama wrote a personal letter to North Korea's Kim Jong Il
WP by Glenn Kessler
Iran tests missile, warns opposition leaders
Reuters by Fredrik Dahl and Parisa Hafezi
Inside the Iran sanctions debate
Foreign Policy (The Cable) by Josh Rogin
No plans to sign Russia nuclear deal this week: U.S.
WP by Jeff Mason and Conor Sweeney (Reuters)
- Dec 15, 2009
- Dec 14, 2009
- Dec 11, 2009
NKorea says it understands need for nuclear talks
AP by Jae-soon Chang
Gates, EU leaders say Iran to face new sanctions
Reuters by Adam Entous
Verifying START Successor Pact Might Demand New Levels of Openness
GSN by Elaine M. Grossman
Obama's non-nuclear dream dissolves in politics
The Age by Warwick McFadyen
- Dec 10, 2009
Since Obama’s Prague speech, the outline of his disarmament agenda has been clear: a new START treaty, ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, then begin negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. Today, where the CTBT fits is less clear.
According to Bill Gertz in the Washington Times, the Obama administration is beginning its push to get the treaty ratified:
The Obama administration has launched a new effort to win ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, known as CTBT, which was voted down by the Senate in 1999.
The effort is being led by Jon Wolfsthal, an arms-control specialist at two think tanks until he became a national-security aide to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a staffer on the White House National Security Council in January.
Mr. Wolfsthal was making the rounds in the Senate on Wednesday, checking to see if the administration can drum up the 67 votes needed - a two-thirds majority - to ratify the treaty, which prevents underground nuclear tests.
The GSN, citing the above article, ran a similar story.
- Dec 10, 2009
- Dec 9, 2009
After doing some work on missile defense over the past few weeks, I attended a screening of Heritage’s 33 minutes film last night. The film is geared toward the general public and emphasizes just how bad a nuclear and/or EMP attack would be. Fair enough. After the event Jamie Fly and James Carafano provided some remarks about missile defense. Two of Carafano’s major themes were that the threat has not changed and but that the program has changed (in a negative way). Those in favor of the administration's policy would obviously disagree with both but an in-depth look at the 24 September SASC hearing on the issue provided some good back and forth on the issue.
- Dec 9, 2009
US Assures NKorea of 'Robust' Direct Talks Channel
NYT by AP
N. Korea mum on Bosworth's trip, spawning media speculation
Yonhap by Lee Chi-dong
UN nuclear watchdog to supply 20% fuel to Tehran reactor - Salehi
U.S. to unveil biological threat strategy
WP by Mary Beth Sheridan and Spencer S. Hsu
- Dec 8, 2009
Bosworth Offers No Concessions in Pyongyang Talks
Bloomberg by Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Stuart Biggs
Iran rules out Turkey's mediation on nuclear row
Erdogan resists US calls for Iran sanctions
AP by Desmond Butler
Verification Holding Up New START Deal, Diplomat Says
Radio Free Europe by Reuters
- Dec 7, 2009
Pyongyang's nuclear-backed grand strategy
UPI by Mitsuo Takai
AP sources: US eyes January for new Iran sanctions
AP by Matthew Lee and Jennifer Loven
Iran Will Not Quit Treaty, Its Nuclear Chief Asserts
NYT by Nazila Fathi
START I treaty ends: what lies ahead?
RIA Novosti by Vladimir Yevseyev
- Dec 4, 2009
Whether through sanctions, diplomatic pressure, or a negotiated solution, Russia and China are two countries critical to the international effort to curb Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. has been lobbying both countries on the matter, and the IAEA vote censuring Iran – which both nations signed on to – was seen as a diplomatic victory for U.S. efforts to generate consensus on the issue. Recently, both countries have been more willing to address the Iran nuclear issue in their own ways.
- Dec 4, 2009
- Dec 3, 2009
After a trip to Asia that did not include a stop in New Dehli, the Obama administration was quick to bring Prime Minister Singh to DC for a visit to foster a relationship with the country Fareed Zakaria termed the real prize in the "AfPak" discussion. One of the central areas of possible cooperation between the two countries is the India Deal inked by the Bush administration. As Singh prepared for his Wsahington meeting, he made sure to emphasize India’s pristine credentials when it comes to respecting non-proliferation norms, telling Fareed Zakaria (via Lexis) on 22 November that
We are a nuclear weapons state, but we are responsible nuclear power. We have an impeccable record of not having contributed to unauthorized proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction.
At this same time, the Jumbo-sized elephant lurking in everyone’s mind is the not so minor nonproliferation treaty that only India, Pakistan, and Israel have refused to sign. In a follow-up video clip expounding on the statements a week later on CNN, Zakaria directly asked about the issue:
Despite its status as a nuclear nation, it has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India's ultimate goal is actually to sign the treaty, but it does not have official status as a nuclear weapons state yet. China was given that status in 1992, and that's what India wants. How do I know this? Well, Manmohan Singh told me. So, I'm going to play to you that bit of the interview -- and we were not able to play this last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Is it fair to say that one of the ultimate objectives of India would perhaps be to become a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty system, but to be invited in as a nuclear weapons state in the way that China was?
MANMOHAN SINGH, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA: Well, if we were to go that way, that would be a very positive development from our point of view. And we are a nuclear weapons state, but we are a responsible nuclear power. We have an impeccable record of not having contributed to unauthorized proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction.
So, I think India does require, I think, greater consideration of the global community.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that the United States should try to press the issue and have India brought into the system as a nuclear weapons state?
SINGH: Well, I hope it will happen.
Singh’s measured response makes a lot of sense. He emphasized India’s good behavior but “if we were” and “hope it will happen” highlight some much needed caution about the prospects of India being given an invitation to join the NPT as a nuclear weapons state.
- Dec 3, 2009
- Dec 2, 2009
The old START is about to expire, and new START negotiations are entering their final stage. While negotiations are unlikely to be finished by the self-imposed December 5th deadline when the old treaty expires, they will likely be completed by the end of the month (or at worst early next year). In the interim, there will likely be some sort of bridging agreement (though some, such as Pavel Podvig, are less optimistic).
So in the final days and hours of negotiations, what’s the biggest hold-up? Is it the number of operationally deployed warheads? The number of strategic missile launchers? Restrictions on missile defense? How to restrict conventional capabilities? It appears that the answer is none of the above. Instead, the biggest obstacle remaining is verification.
- Dec 2, 2009
- Dec 1, 2009
Iran enrichment plans largely bluster, experts say
AP by Ali Akbar Dareini and Jason Keyser
Iran hints at diplomatic solution to nuclear crisis
AFP by Aresu Eqbali and Farhad Pouladi
Measuring the Return on Diplomacy
WSJ by Gerald F. Seib
US hopes to clinch draft START deal by end December