October, 2011

  • Oct 31, 2011

     

    TOP NEWS
    Allies toughen stance against NK
    Korea Times, by Kim Young-jin
     
    Iran scoffs at US 'contradictions' in dialogue offer
     
    Diplomats: Syria Nuke Probe Stalled
    NYT, by George Jahn
     
    Report: Israel seeking to upgrade its nuclear weapons capabilities
     
    The Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget
     
  • Oct 29, 2011
    PONI is seeking an intern to support the program’s efforts to develop the next generation of leaders in nuclear science and policy. The intern’s primary responsibilities will consist of supporting PONI staff in organizing events, reviewing and editing papers submitted for publications, regularly authoring posts on nuclear news for the PONI Debates the Issues blog, and assisting with general program management activities.
     
    The most competitive applicants will have a serious interest in nuclear weapons and national security policy, strong analytic and writing skills, and the ability to efficiently multitask.
     
    The internship is full-time, paid, and will begin in late November/early December.
     
    To apply, send a cover letter, resume, and short writing sample of no more than three pages to poni@csis.org. 
  • Oct 28, 2011

     

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    A Washington Times op-ed written anonymously by a former CIA spy in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard contends that Iran has secretly acquired nuclear weapons. The evidence for this claim is shaky, to say the least. More significantly, though, the belief that Iran has had nuclear weapons for almost 20 years starkly contradicts the author’s implication that the current situation calls for military action against the regime.
     
  • Oct 28, 2011

     

     
    By Stephanie Spies
     
    On Wednesday, the Brookings Institution hosted an event entitled “The United States and Russia: The Prospects for Missile Defense Cooperation and Arms Control” featuring two panels of esteemed experts on Russia policy. Steven Pifer, Director of the Arms Control Initiative at Brookings, moderated the first panel’s discussion between former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley on U.S.-Russia missile defense cooperation, while Angela Stent, Senior Fellow at Brookings, moderated the second panel on arms control and U.S.-Russia relations featuring former Undersecretary of Defense Walter Slocombe and Strobe Talbott, President of Brookings. Although these experts discussed many important issues in U.S.-Russia missile defense cooperation, all seemed to agree that Russian fears about strategic stability and the possibility of a U.S. first strike serve as a major obstacle in current negotiations. Track II dialogues are attempting to assuage such Russian fears, but according to these former representatives’ statements, suspicion may prove impossible to eradicate, at least in the short-term. The biggest point of controversy amongst all of the presenters, however, was the question of whether strategic stability, or mutually assured destruction (MAD), should be the focal point of future U.S.-Russia cooperation.
  • Oct 28, 2011

    TOP NEWS

    Allies to write defense plan on N. Korea
    South Korea and the U.S. agreed to establish a joint operational plan to counter North Korean provocations within this year and strengthen bilateral cooperation in dealing with cyberspace threats, the allies’ defense chiefs said Friday.

    In Japan, Provocative Case for Staying Nuclear
    TOKYO—Many of Japan's political and intellectual leaders remain committed to nuclear power even as Japanese public opinion has turned sharply against it. One argument in favor rarely gets a public airing: Japan needs to maintain its technical ability to make nuclear bombs.

    U.N. agency in Syria nuclear talks, no word on outcome
    VIENNA (Reuters) - Senior U.N. nuclear inspectors held talks with Syrian officials in Damascus this week to try to kick-start a long-stalled probe into suspected atomic activities in the Arab state, but it was not immediately clear whether any progress was made.

    Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable stealth missile
     
    ISLAMABAD — Pakistan said it had successfully test-fired a stealth cruise missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads on Friday.
     
  • Oct 27, 2011

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    A recent op-ed in the Atlantic (“What Kim Jong-Il Learned from Qaddafi's Fall: Never Disarm”) proposes that North Korea’s Kim Jong-il has learned from the overthrow and death of Gaddafi that he should not negotiate away his nuclear weapons. The argument is that Libya makes it clear to unfriendly states that a nuclear capability is the only reliable guarantor against West-led regime change. While it’s certainly true that a nuclear arsenal increases the costs of regime change, this argument misses a few crucial nuances.
     
  • Oct 27, 2011

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    An event co-sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Union of Concerned Scientists was held yesterday to discuss the rocky nuclear dialogue between the United States and China. The two presenters were Dr. Gregory Kulacki and Dr. Li Bin; the former focused on the problems in current U.S.-China nuclear dialogues and the latter suggested some techniques to improve them. The information presented was, in many ways, eye-opening, particularly the suggestion that bureaucratic procedures in the U.S. and China play a substantial role in obstructing and complicating such discussions.
     
  • Oct 27, 2011

    TOP NEWS

    Pentagon chief doubts N. Korea will give up nukes
    AP, by Robert Burns

    Iran ready for fruitful nuclear talks with P5+1: spokesman
    Xinhua

    U.S. keeps major lead over Russia in nuclear weapons
    The Washington Post, by Walter Pincus

    The "Underground Great Wall:" An Alternative Explanation
    The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, by James M. Acton

  • Oct 26, 2011

    TOP NEWS

    Panetta Says North Korea Remains a ‘Serious Threat’
    SEOUL, South Korea — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Wednesday called North Korea a “serious threat” and told American and South Korean troops here that they were on the “front line” of defense.

    Russia, China pressuring IAEA on Iran: diplomats
     
    Russia and China are urging the UN atomic agency to soften or even not issue an eagerly awaited report detailing Iran's suspected efforts to develop nuclear weapons, diplomats told AFP on Tuesday.

    Budget Cuts Could Limit Counter-nuclear Fight
    A quiet fight is being waged across Eastern Europe and the Baltic states between smugglers who are taking advantage of porous borders with relatively low-tech defenses to smuggle nuclear materials out of Russia, and the U.S., which is sending money, equipment and advisers to help authorities stop them.
     
    Defence Cuts Imperil US Asia Role
    Rep. J. Randy Forbes, The Diplomat
     
    But unnoticed by many is the fact that US military power and its alliances have underwritten the region's security for the last seven decades, creating a stable environment that continues to enable success. However, after passage of a budget act that slashed defence – and with more potentially on the way at the hands of the Congressionally-mandated Supercommittee – all this could change. Worse yet, just as the United States is choosing to dismantle its military, the People's Republic of China is continuing to modernize its military at a rapid pace. The result is an impending shift in the regional balance of power that is raising alarm amongst China’s neighbours and has called into question the United States’ long-term security commitments. In short, further defence cuts will imperil the future prosperity and stability of the Asia-Pacific.
  • Oct 25, 2011

    PONI is currently looking for submissions for the next issue of Nuclear Notes. Nuclear Notes is a semi-annual publication of the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) that seeks to contribute innovative ideas to the broader discussion on nuclear weapons strategy, arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament.

  • Oct 25, 2011

     

    By Stephanie Spies
     
    In a recent op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, Raphael Israeli, a professor of Islamic, Middle Eastern and Chinese history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote that MAD, or “mutually assured destruction”, is an outdated and inapplicable model of deterrence in today’s security environment due to the existence of irrational leaders such as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Due to the emergence of religiously-based national policies, he argues, certain countries, and the leaders who represent them, may be more likely to use nuclear weapons, regardless of the international consequences, because of revolutionary sentiments. However, Israeli fails to make a compelling case for the failures of MAD deterrence, specifically in the case of Iran. Even if Ahmadinejad is “mad” or not deterred by the possibility of extinction, he does not control Iranian nuclear policy, nor has the international community granted him the “legitimacy” necessary to “dismantle the MAD safety net” globally, as suggested by Israeli’s op-ed.
     
  • Oct 25, 2011

     

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    Nuclear security analysts are becoming increasingly worried about China’s development of a 3000-mile underground “Great Wall” to shelter their nuclear weapons. The tunnel network introduces serious doubts about the United States’ ability to carry out a disarming nuclear first strike against China, by introducing uncertainty about the number of Chinese weapons, their location within the underground fortress, and the capability of U.S. weapons to penetrate into the bunker.
     
    Despite complicating the effectiveness of a U.S. first strike, the Chinese construction of a tunnel system validates the strategy of seeking nuclear primacy over China. By forcing the Chinese pursuit of numerous defensive measures to ensure second-strike capability, the United States reduces the amount of money China can spend to improve their nuclear weapons. The resulting relative lack of appealing first-strike options may make China think twice before escalating from conventional to nuclear war and, more significantly, may dissuade China from creating conditions that could produce conventional conflict in the first place.
     
  • Oct 25, 2011

     

    TOP NEWS
    U.S.-North Korea Talks Resume After Delay
     
    AP Exclusive: Note shows big power split over Iran
    Associated Press, by George Jahn
     
    NATO official rejects Russia's joint missile defense proposal
     
    US's most powerful nuclear bomb being dismantled
    AP, by Betsy Blaney
     
    How Many Nukes Does China Have?
    Wall Street Journal, by Bret Stephens
     
    MAD deterrence is being foiled by mad leaders
    Jerusalem Post, by Raphael Israeli
     
  • Oct 24, 2011

    TOP NEWS

    N. Korean and US negotiators begin nuclear talks
    AFP

    EU threatens Iran with new sanctions over nuclear drive
    AFP

    What Kim Jong-Il Learned from Qaddafi's Fall: Never Disarm
    The Atlantic

  • Oct 21, 2011

     

     
    By Stephanie Spies
     
    On Tuesday, the Stimson Center hosted an event entitled “Deterrence and Regional Stability in South Asia” featuring Pakistani Ambassador to the UN Zamir Akram. In addition to discussing many other important issues for Pakistan’s security and regional stability, Ambassador Akram emphasized Pakistan’s “fear of encirclement” and the need for “credible deterrence” in South Asia. In particular, he defended Pakistan’s investment in strategic forces, including upgrading its nuclear capabilities, in the face of Indian conventional arms build-up and implementation of its offensive Cold Start doctrine. Rather than sign treaties like the FMCT, which could erode Pakistan’s credible deterrent, he argued, the country would like the IAEA and the international community to adopt an “objective, criteria-based” approach to dealing with proliferation, as opposed to its current unbalanced programs, including recognizing Pakistan as a legitimate nuclear weapons state. Although Akram consistently emphasized the importance of credible deterrence, he was unable to explain the exact specifications and conditions necessary to achieve this type of security environment. Does deterrence suffer a credibility problem in South Asia, particularly between India and Pakistan? If so, what effects will Pakistani nuclear modernization, in addition to Indian conventional build-up, have on the overall effectiveness of this deterrence relationship?
     
  • Oct 21, 2011

     

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    Yesterday the American Association for the Advancement of Science hosted an event about the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP). Victor Reis, the former head of the SSP, gave the keynote presentation on the history of the program, and Daryl Kimball, Everet Beckner, and David Overskei participated in a panel discussion of Reis’s presentation. The discussion proved extremely interesting and occasionally contentious. It left little doubt that Stockpile Stewardship will prove crucial to the continued success of the American nuclear deterrent.
     
  • Oct 21, 2011

     

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    Budgetary pressure has raised a great deal of controversy concerning the nuclear triad of bombers, silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. This debate has, to date, pitted pro-cuts Representatives with no sense of nuclear strategy (one prominent proponent compared U.S. nuclear weapons to Lady Gaga’s outfits) against pro-triad generals with no sense of budgetary dynamics. As a result, the literature suffers from a shortage of strategy-focused deliberation about how best to trim the triad. Taking a perspective that begins with an assessment of the highest priority missions of the nuclear arsenal, it’s clear that, if one leg needs to go, it should be the ICBMs.
     
  • 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.
  • Oct 20, 2011

     

    By Stephanie Spies

    Despite over a decade of negotiations, U.S.-China nuclear dialogues appear as deadlocked as ever. China maintains a “no first use” of nuclear weapons (NFU) pledge, yet U.S. officials refuse to acknowledge such a pledge as credible and continue to accuse their Chinese counterparts of maintaining secrecy over the country’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, China continues to seek similar reassurances, including an NFU commitment, from the U.S., fearing a decapitating nuclear first strike during a conventional conflict. Intransigence on both sides seems to be rooted in conflicting interpretations and views of nuclear declaratory policy, with one side preferring to evaluate policy based on intentions while the other is focused on operational details.
     
  • Oct 20, 2011

    TOP NEWS

    New U.S. Envoy to Talk With North Koreans
     
    WASHINGTON — The United States will resume exploratory talks with North Korea next week in Geneva and has appointed a full-time envoy with a background in nuclear issues, the State Department announced Wednesday.

    Iran Encounters Nuclear Problems
    New reports by Western experts say Iran’s nuclear program is faltering because of poorly functioning equipment. But they say Iran has the capability to build at least one atomic weapon in about six months’ time, if it chose to do so. But, it is believed that Iran’s leadership has not yet decided to take that final step.

    Don't mess with N-power Pak, Gen Kayani warns US
    ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON: Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has warned Washington to "think 10 times" before launching any unilateral offensive in the restive North Waziristan tribal region even as an angry and frustrated US is lining up its artillery on the Afghan border facing Pakistan.

    Micah Zenko: After Qaddafi, every dictator will want to get his hands on a nuclear weapon
    Micah Zenko, Foreign Policy
    The world has entered an era characterized by two contradictory dynamics. The first is the "responsibility to protect" (R2P) doctrine, which states that each government is individually responsible for protecting its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. If a government cannot -- or will not -- meet its R2P obligations, then the international community can use military force to protect that state's populace and, potentially, to ensure the removal of offending regimes -- as has happened in the Ivory Coast and Libya this year.
  • Oct 19, 2011

     

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    Reports have surfaced recently that the government of Australia is contemplating a reversal of their ban of uranium sales to India. Political groups in Australia have decried this move as counter to Australia’s commitment to the NPT. More significantly, the situation reveals the emerging politicization of the NPT in response to India – a trend that threatens to undermine its effectiveness.
     
  • Oct 19, 2011

    TOP NEWS
    N. Korea operating second uranium enrichment facility: lawmaker
    Yonhap, by Kim Eun-jung
     
    Sanctions 'successfully hindering' Iran's nuclear progress
     
    Key general opposes eliminating one arm of nuclear triad in next round of cuts
    The Hill, by John T. Bennett
     
    U.S. invites Russia to measure missile-defense test
    Reuters, by Susan Cornwell and Jim Wolf
     
    First came Stuxnet computer virus: now there's Duqu
    Reuters, by Tabassum Zakaria
     
  • Oct 18, 2011

    By Jonah Friedman

    In recent months there have been a number of calls for building diesel-powered submarines for the United States Navy. In two separate Defense News articles in June and September Gary Schmitt and J. Scott Shipman, respectively, urged the Navy to build such vessels. They cite a number of advantages for diesel subs, both operationally and in terms of cost. However, while diesel submarines may enjoy some advantages over nuclear bots, the significant drawbacks to this form of propulsion should be kept in mind as well.

  • Oct 18, 2011

    TOP NEWS

    Seoul skeptical of nuke talks unless U.N. acts on North's uranium enrichment
    Yonhap News

    Iran produces 70 kg high-grade enriched uranium
    Xinhua

    The alarm bells behind Iran’s alleged assassination plot
    The Washington Post, by Richard Cohen

  • Oct 17, 2011

     

     
    By Stephanie Spies
     
    On Friday, the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces held a hearing entitled “Nuclear Weapons Modernization in Russia and China: Understanding Impacts to the United States” which featured testimony from Dr. Mark Schneider, Senior Analyst at the National Institute for Public Policy, Mr. Richard D. Fisher, Jr. Senior Fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, and Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, the Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. These three experts discussed the status of Russian and Chinese nuclear modernization efforts and how these programs should affect U.S. nuclear weapons decisions, especially in light of impending budget cuts. While these three experts all held slightly different views on the likely dangers of Russian and Chinese modernization, they agreed on one overriding principle: the U.S. must maintain a strong nuclear deterrent in order to prevent the outbreak of a nuclear conflict.
  • Oct 17, 2011

     

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    Last month at the United Nations, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposed the cessation of Iran’s production of 20% low-enriched uranium (LEU) if Iran could secure the material necessary to run its research reactor in Tehran through international sale. This proposal has acquired a surprisingly large amount of support, although recent controversy over the attempted assassination of Saudi Ambassador Abdel Al-Jubeir may make acceptance a political impossibility for Obama.
     
    Nevertheless, the United States should pursue this deal. An agreement reached in the presence of a firm consensus among international powers could create clear redlines to indicate when Iran is pursuing a military as opposed to purely civilian nuclear capability. This clarity would increase the diplomatic cost to Iran of moving further towards creating the conditions for a break out nuclear weapons capability. It would also ensure greater unity in response should such further progression occur.
     
  • Oct 17, 2011

    TOP NEWS

     

    North Korea and U.S. to meet in Geneva next week: report
     
    North Korea and the United States will hold a second round of talks in Geneva next week to discuss ways to restart regional talks on disabling North Korea's nuclear weapons program, South Korean media reported Monday.
     
    To Isolate Iran, U.S. Presses Inspectors on Nuclear Data
     
    WASHINGTON — President Obama is pressing United Nations nuclear inspectors to release classified intelligence information showing that Iran is designing and experimenting with nuclear weapons technology. The president’s push is part of a larger American effort to further isolate and increase pressure on Iran after accusing it of a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States.
     
    Russia without tactical nuclear weapons
     
    According to the U.S. ambassador in Moscow Michael McFaul, Russia is ready to discuss the reduction of its tactical nuclear arsenal with the United States. It links this issue to the concessions on missile defense systems in Europe. The experts interviewed by Pravda.ru said that in case Russia agrees, it would lose one of its last trumps allowing resistance to NATO aggression. Obama actively forces the reduction of tactical nuclear weapons arsenal on Russia. It is interesting that Moscow has not ruled out this scenario. Speaking at a recent hearing before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Senate of the U.S. Congress, the new American ambassador in Moscow Michael McFaul stated that Russia warned the U.S. that it would not reduce its tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) if there is no agreement on missile defense. This means that under a certain scenario Russia would be ready to reduce its tactical nuclear weapons arsenal.
     
    House GOP, Senate battle over allocation of $8.3 billion in nuclear funds
    Senate aides are pushing back on a House GOP charge that the upper chamber is trying to divert $8.3 billion in nuclear weapons funds to water projects, saying such a shift is impossible.

     

  • Oct 14, 2011

     

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    A recent event prompted me to read Dennis Gormley’s Missile Contagion. This book about the startling and destabilizing spread of cruise missiles has been praised for its technical detail and broad accessibility to audiences ranging from novice to expert. I agree with these reviews wholeheartedly; the book was an enjoyable and enlightening read. This post will summarize some of its major points, make an argument for the suitability of the “contagion” metaphor to characterize the phenomena that Gormley describes, and suggest an avenue for further research.
     
  • Oct 14, 2011

     

    TOP NEWS
    Lee stresses alliance, N.K. denuclearization in rare Congress address
    Yonhap, by Chang Jae-soon
     
    U.S. Eyeing New Sanctions Against Iran
     
    Wish list for a nuclear world
    BBC News, by Richard Black
     
    US acknowledges Russia-US missile defence talks face insurmountable difficulty
     
  • Oct 13, 2011

    TOP NEWS
    U.S. Takes Iran Case to UN After Assassination Plot Against Saudi Diplomat
    Bloomberg, by Flavia Krause-Jackson and Bill Varner
     
    Pakistan rejects new nuclear treaty
     
    Nuclear lesson from Libya: Don't be like Qaddafi. Be like Kim
     
    Iran and US edge toward confrontation
    Asia Times, by Mahan Abedin
     
  • Oct 12, 2011

    TOP NEWS
    Lee reaffirms S. Korea's principled stance on N. Korea
    Yonhap, by Chang Jae-soon
     
    Iranian plot stirs US hawks
    Asia Times, by Jim Lobe
     
    A farewell to nuclear arms
    Reuters, by Mikhail Gorbachev
     
    U.S. should call Iran's bluff
    LA Times, by James Acton
     
  • Oct 12, 2011

     

     
    By Stephanie Spies
     
    As the deadline for the supercomittee’s decision on the national budget looms, pundits, policymakers, and experts alike are voicing their opinions about the potential impacts of impending defense cuts. A s a result, a controversial debate over cuts to the U.S. nuclear triad in particular, including deployed nuclear weapons and pledged modernization funding, has spread throughout the arms control community and the media at large. Most recently, Congressman Markey proposed cuts to nuclear bombers and submarines in order to resolve the deficit crisis. In addition to undermining the effectiveness of the nuclear triad, discussed in an earlier post, this method of deficit reduction poses significant political and international risks for the U.S. If the Obama administration does not follow through on its promise to adequately fund U.S. nuclear capabilities in exchange for Republican support for New START, domestic political support for future arms control treaties may weaken, if not disappear altogether. Moreover, if domestic budgetary concerns appear to constrain the exercise of U.S. foreign policy, particularly national defense, adversaries and allies alike may alter their own policies accordingly, undermining U.S. defense priorities and international security. Cuts to nuclear weapons in particular could weaken extended deterrence and U.S. nonproliferation policies, causing other nations to question the credibility and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Although deep cuts in the nuclear arsenal or to the robust U.S. nuclear infrastructure may provide a cost-effective way to resolve the budget crisis, the economic benefits of such a strategy do not seem to outweigh the significant costs to U.S. foreign policy and global stability.
     
  • Oct 11, 2011

     

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    Last Thursday Professor Keir Lieber of Georgetown’s Security Studies program debated Carnegie’s Dr. James Acton on the merits of a nuclear strategy of damage limitation at the CSIS. Lieber took the affirmative, arguing that such a strategy is desirable, while Acton took the negative. The event made for quite lively debate. Indeed, one of the only facts the two debaters agreed upon was the definition of damage limitation: counterforce strikes designed to eliminate an adversary’s ability to deliver nuclear weapons against the U.S. or its allies. In what follows I will summarize the proceedings and propose some of my personal views on this issue.
     
  • Oct 11, 2011

    TOP NEWS

    As compensation payouts begin, Tepco pays the price for its nuclear disaster
    The Washington Post, by Chico Harlan

    IAEA seen giving more detail on Iran atom bomb fears
    Reuters, by Fredrik Dahl

    Visegrad Four presidents say no alternative to nuclear power
    Xinhua

    How to disarm a nuclear North Korea
    The Washington Post, by Victor D. Cha

  • Oct 7, 2011

     

     
    By Stephanie Spies
     
    North Korea’s recent rejection of U.S. preconditions for a new round of the stalled Six Party Talks should not come as a surprise to anyone. Rather, this move is emblematic of the North’s consistent approach of re-starting negotiations in order to preserve diplomatic leverage on particular issues, but refusing to make any concrete concessions, especially on its nuclear program. Despite North Korea’s intransigence throughout the history of the Six Party Talks, the U.S. and its allies continue to pursue these talks as the least bad option for dealing with North Korea. Despite the optimism of some experts and politicians that “this time will be different”, the North has again rejected the preconditions set forth for this round of talks, instead arguing that “it is essential to set preconditions on the basis of equality for all” or to have no preconditions whatsoever.

  • Oct 7, 2011

     

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    A nuclear-powered bomber was considered by both the U.S. and the Soviets during the Cold War. The idea behind this project was similar to that behind a nuclear submarine: a mobile nuclear-armed vehicle that could be deployed for an extended period of time, signaling the guaranteed capability to mount a nuclear second strike. For better or for worse, the weapon never came to fruition due to concerns about protecting the crew from radiation and technical issues associated with carrying a very heavy nuclear reactor aboard an airplane.
     
    However, the idea of a nuke-powered airplane resurfaced in 2003 in the form of a nuclear drone. Unlike the unmanned nuclear bombers advocated by James Cartwright and others, this drone would not carry a nuclear payload, but it would be fueled by an on-board nuclear reactor. Given the importance of drone strikes to U.S. counterterror policy and the increasing uncertainty of access to drone bases in the Middle East and Africa, research on such a drone capability may prove a useful hedge against geopolitical changes that further erode the United States’ ability to conduct drone strikes in these regions.
     
  • Oct 7, 2011

    TOP NEWS

    N.Korea could conduct third nuclear test: Seoul
    SEOUL: North Korea could conduct a third nuclear test or missile launch before next year's US and South Korean presidential elections if nuclear disarmament talks fail, a senior Seoul official said Friday.

    Cables Say Syria, Iran Illegally Moved Cash to North Korea
    WASHINGTON—As it sought to stop North Korea from spreading its nuclear technology, the U.S. uncovered signs in 2007 that the country was channeling funds through a major Middle Eastern bank based in Jordan, one of its closest regional allies, according to diplomatic cables posted online by document leaking website WikiLeaks.

    Central Asian countries urge to adapt the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons
     
    The Central Asian countries called on nuclear nations to reaffirm their commitment to "negative assurances" of security for non-nuclear states. They expressed the need to strengthen the legal barriers to stop proliferation and suggested to adapted multilateral agreements to new realities, including the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the UN News Center reports.
     
    Obama should test Iran’s nuclear offer
    Graham Allison, Washington Post
     
    President Obama should take a page from Ronald Reagan’s playbook in winning the final inning of the Cold War. Obama can challenge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to put his enriched uranium where his mouth is — by stopping all Iranian enrichment of uranium beyond the 5 percent level.
     
  • Oct 6, 2011

     

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    Late last month, Arab states announced that they would not submit a resolution condemning Israel’s nuclear capabilities to the IAEA’s annual member state meeting. This move was a bit of a surprise, given the introduction of similar resolutions at each of the past two meetings, but it was described as an attempt to build goodwill in advance of a 2012 Middle East WMD Free Zone conference.
     
    This conference has been in the works for quite some time, as the date was agreed to as part of the deal that secured the indefinite extension of the NPT at the 1995 Review Conference. It was an issue of particular concern, at the time, to Egypt. Since 1995, despite periodic bouts of optimism, little progress has been made towards this goal. Unfortunately, although all stakeholders have the potential to benefit from the advocacy of such a treaty, deep distrust means that the crucial parties – Israel, Iran and, to a lesser extent, Syria – do not think they would benefit from its implementation. The proposal is, thus, doomed to die a slow death, with no party willing to accept less than total success or put it out of its misery.
     
  • Oct 6, 2011

    By Jonah Friedman

    Recent discussions on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) have focused not only on efforts to effect the treaty’s entry into force, but also on ways to secure the benefits which the treaty has already provided. It has been suggested that one way to do this is to remove words such as “preparatory” and "provisional" from the names of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and its Technical Secretariat. Several possible ways of doing so were recently discussed at an event on the topic at the Stimson Center. These options vary in their political and diplomatic complexity.

  • Oct 6, 2011

    TOP NEWS

    SKorea's new nuclear envoy heads to US for talks
    AP

    Spain will host US ships for missile defense plan
    AP, By Lolita C. Baldor

    Lynn: DOD Eying Cost-Cutting Options That Would Maintain Nuclear Triad
    Inside the Pentagon, By Christopher J. Castelli

  • Oct 5, 2011

     

     
    By Eli Jacobs
     
    Jeffrey Lewis and Elbridge Colby recently co-authored an op ed that advocated the development of a nuclear bunker buster capability to deter North Korean provocations. The argument, one that Colby has made in slightly different form before, is that Kim Jong-il is unafraid of U.S. retaliatory options so long as he can retreat to the safety of a hard and deeply buried target (HDBT – in this case a bunker), and that holding such targets at risk is necessary to deter North Korean aggression. Lewis and Colby suggest an accelerated B83 life extension program, including modification to the bomb’s external casing and altitude control systems, to enhance accuracy and earth penetrating capability. The argument is interesting and provocative. (Indeed, it prompted enough criticism that Lewis posted a response on Arms Control Wonk.) I have a number of thoughts on the issue that differ from those advanced by Lewis and Colby’s critics.
     
  • Oct 5, 2011

    TOP NEWS

    UN nuclear watchdog sees Syria talks end-October
    AlertNet, by Fredrik Dahl
     
    President criticizes plan to deploy missile shield in Turkey
     
    Fears an excluded Israel may strike Iran's nuclear sites
    Sydney Morning Herald, by Ruth Pollard
     
    Russia to lease fateful submarine to India
    Bellona, by Charles Digges
     
    NATO ministerial to discuss security guarantees to Russia
     
  • Oct 4, 2011

    PONI Debates the Issues: Damage Limitation

    The Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) is pleased to invite you to a debate on the importance of damage limitation options in U.S. nuclear war planning with Dr. Keir Lieber, an Associate Professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, and Dr. James Acton, a Senior Associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

  • Oct 4, 2011

     

    TOP NEWS
     
    N.Korea rejects preconditions for nuclear talks
    North Korea on Tuesday rejected US preconditions for a resumption of long-stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, saying Washington is trying to shift the blame for the failure to restart dialogue.
     
    Iran threatens to expand uranium enrichment if nuclear swap deal falls through
    Swap would see Iran's low-enriched uranium exchanged for nuclear fuel rods from France; international community says swap does not address key issue of uranium enrichment.     
        
    India-U.S. Nuclear Growth May See More Delays
    MUMBAI – U.S.-based companies hoping to cash in on India's plans to increase its number of nuclear reactors could face more delays despite the government's efforts to bring the country's liability rules for nuclear accidents in line with global norms.

    Nuke-Free World Optimism Fading Away

    Two and a half years after President Barack Obama pleaded for a nuke-free world, the U.S. nuclear-weapons policy and the nuclear posture in support of that goal appear to be in danger of stalling, experts say.