• Mar 8, 2010

    By Mark Jansson and Joe Lardizabal
    A few overdue thoughts on developments with Iran and Hilary Clinton’s comments about Iran moving towards a “military dictatorship.”
  • Mar 8, 2010

    Obama must decide degree to which U.S. swears off nuclear weapons
    WP by Mary Beth Sheridan and Walter Pincus

    A sober approach to sanctioning Iran
    WP by David Ignatius

    NKorea says ready to 'blow up' SKorea, US
    AP by Hyung-Jin Kim

    Western sanctions draft targets Iran's banks abroad
    Reuters by Louis Charbonneau

  • Mar 5, 2010

    By Chris Jones

    For some time now, there’s been serious concern that the “nuclear bureaucracy” is slow rolling Obama’s ambitious Prague Agenda, particularly through the NPR. While that might be part of the explanation, there’s another interesting possibility to consider: what if the President agrees with the purportedly terrible options presented in the NPR? Mary Beth Sheridan and Walter Pincus’ report in the WP today:

    Does he substantially advance his bold pledge to seek a world free of nuclear weapons by declaring that the "sole purpose" of the U.S. arsenal is to deter other nations from using them? Or does he embrace a more modest option, supported by some senior military officials, that deterrence is the "primary purpose"? . . . The president was briefed on the document this week and requested additional intermediate options, officials say 

  • Mar 5, 2010

    By John K. Warden

    In an article that focused primarily on the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), New York Times columnists David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker note that the Obama administration is beginning discussions with European allies about withdrawing non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNW) from Europe:

    Other officials, not officially allowed to speak on the issue, say that in back-channel discussions with allies, the administration has also been quietly broaching the question of whether to withdraw American tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, where they provide more political reassurance than actual defense. Those weapons are now believed to be in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey and the Netherlands.

    The Obama administration is committed to reducing the role of nuclear weapons on the way to global disarmament.  And as part of the NPR process, the Administration has been consulting key allies, hoping to receive their approval to phase out capabilities that are no longer necessary.  This process seems to be paying dividends.  A couple weeks ago, Kyodo reported that the United States plans to retire its nuclear Tomahawk cruise missiles, which were once considered critical to extended deterrence in East Asia.

    In Europe, the push to withdraw nuclear weapons is gaining momentum.  Last month, the foreign ministers of Poland and Sweden wrote an op-ed calling for substantial reductions in nuclear weapons in Europe.  The piece argues that “The focus now must be on deep reductions and their eventual elimination.”  Now, Kent Harris of Stars and Stripes reports that a group of NATO countries will soon make a more forceful push for withdrawal, hoping to reinvigorate debate in Europe:

    A group of NATO allies plans to call on the U.S. to take its nuclear arsenal out of Europe.
    The countries — Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway — will discuss the issue with the rest of their NATO allies at a November summit in Lisbon, Portugal.
    “This does not mean a call for an immediate withdrawal for all these weapons,” Bart Ouvry, spokesman for Belgium’s Foreign Ministry, said by telephone on Thursday.
    Ouvry declined to elaborate, saying he would reserve further comments for his partners at the NATO meetings.
    Media outlets in France and Germany touched on the issue in recent articles. German reports said that a letter signed by the foreign ministers of the five countries was to be sent to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Der Spiegel magazine reported that German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also asked for the removal of 20 nuclear weapons from his country.
    “Presumably, there will be an initiative from certain foreign ministers in order to put the subject of nuclear weapons on the agenda of the next NATO meeting,” Maike Tribbels, a spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

    2010 is an important year for those who hope to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in NATO and potentially withdraw nuclear weapons from Europe.  NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Estonia in April, and near the end of 2010, NATO Heads of State and Heads of Government are scheduled to meet in Portugal to determine NATO’s next Strategic Concept.  A couple days ago, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that nuclear weapons policy will be on the agenda at the upcoming meeting in Estonia:

  • Mar 5, 2010


    China Looks to North Korea Nuclear Talks Before July

    Reuters by Huang Yan and Chris Buckley 

    U.S. criticized on Iran sanctions

    WP by John Pomfret and Colum Lynch

    Pakistani, Indian Leaders Could Meet in Washington


    Iran in Its Intricacy

    NY Times by Roger Cohen

    How to Read Brazil's Stance on Iran

    CFR First Take by Matias Spektor

  • Mar 4, 2010


    By Chris Jones

    Picking up on a post earlier this week about grading the NPR, Jeffrey Lewis further clarified his statment about the declaratory options in the NPR being the choice between the plague and cholera.  For the most part, I take his point.  The difference between "sole" and "sole goal" is fairly significant in that there is an arguably limitless number of items that can be snuck under the goal umbrella.   Part of it very well may have been my misreading but I will note that Borger's wording of the "sole goal" is rather confusing:

    The US goal is to the deterrence of nuclear attack the "sole purpose" of its arsenal

    I think that may have intended to read "The US goal is to make the deterrence.." but as currently written could have goal referring more to deterrence than "sole purpose."

    Regardless, Lewis' point about the declaratory policy options reportedly being included in the NPR not doing much to reduce the role of nuclear weapons is entirely fair.  That said, the much larger point from Tuesday's post still holds true: the entirety of the NPR needs to be graded in the context of the entirety of the Prague speech.  Declaratory policy appears to be one of the areas where the NPR will come up shortest from the left's view but that does not meant the NPR should therefore be considered all for naught.



  • Mar 4, 2010

    NATO allies want U.S. nuclear weapons out of Europe
    Stars and Stripes by Kent Harris

    Delayed U.S. Nuclear Review Likely To Call For Cuts
    NPR by Mike Shuster

    The feeling on Iran? Watch NAM
    Reuters by Sylvia Westall

    Isolated China will need payback for Iran sanctions
    AFP by D'Arcy Doran

  • Mar 3, 2010

    By Chris Jones

    According to Laura Rozen at POLITICO, don’t expect a new START treaty anytime soon. Concerns about whether the treaty has a chance to pass the Senate this year are still up for debate but there is yet another wrench in getting a new START treaty signed: domestic politics fueling Russian intransigence. Rozen explains:

    But now sources in and out of the administration are saying Russia may not feel it needs to sign a new agreement soon. And perhaps not in time for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference that the Obama administration is hosting in New York in May. There are a number of issues holding up a new treaty but the primary overarching concern is that Russia may not feel it needs to sign a new agreement, a Washington nonproliferation hand who asked for anonymity said. As the U.S. has its domestic political dimension to START in terms of ratification, so too does Moscow. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir “Putin may not be so eager for [President Dmitry] Medvedev to achieve a foreign policy success,” the foreign policy hand said. “They are haggling, fighting internally, and trying to figure out how to get more water out of a stone,” a former senior U.S. official knowledgeable about Russia told POLITICO. “Also, wondering when the next shoe will drop -- i.e., what country will announce that it is also a site for US missiles/interceptors. Also, thinking that the President is weak and may not be able to get this damn treaty thru Congress, so there is no rush to agree -- especially if it's not likely to get thru before the NPT Review Conference” in May.

  • Mar 3, 2010

    U.N. council ready to tackle Iran nuclear issue
    Reuters by Louis Charbonneau

    India, Pakistan to attend US nuclear summit

    Dead or alive? Top senators weigh in on nuke treaty's chances
    The Cable by Josh Rogin

    American Envoys in Beijing to Mend Relations
    NYT by Michael Wines

  • Mar 2, 2010

    By Chris Jones

    The NPR received some considerable press attention in the past week, for nuclear issues anyway. Laura Rozen discussed the NPR in the context of Vice President Biden’s speech at NDU while Josh Rogin reported the further delay to late March/early April which appears to be due in large part to figuring out the fundamental role of nuclear weapons. These pieces were followed up by a Sunday NYT article by David Sanger and Thom Shanker that provided some of the most in-depth previews to date about where the NPR will come down on a number of issues. What to make of all this? Depends who you ask. As Plutonium Pages notes, “the pundits, wonks, and national security reporters are all trying to read the tea leaves regarding these delays.” While the final grade for the NPR can’t be given until the document is actually released, criticisms about what a failure the NPR is shaping up to be should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, consider Jeffrey Lewis’ take on the NPR. Despite this skepticism about what a disappointment the NPR will be, there a few things to keep in mind.

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