Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for January, 2007

Blog-on Blog—Olmert’s China Wrap-Up: Sorry, No Big News on Iran

Posted by K.E. White on January 11, 2007

Olmert wrapped up his visit to China by chatting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Ehud Olmert
Hu Jintao
Nothing groundbreaking from China on Iran; Olmert potentially retreating from Sharron’s policy of withdrawal; and Iran’s nuclear negotiator OKs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

From Reuter’s coverage, appearing in multiple publications:

His [Olmert’s] discussions with Hu proved “satisfactory beyond expectations”, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters on departure from Beijing, without elaborating…

“The fact that they (joined the resolution) is significant,” Olmert said.

His aides said that in his meeting with Hu he praised China for coming out strongly against Iran, which insists its atomic ambitions are peaceful but whose virulent rhetoric against Israel has raised war fears abroad.

“But while we are happy with the diplomacy so far, the prime minister did make clear that, ultimately, tougher economic sanctions may be needed,” one Olmert aide said.

Hu’s office had no immediate comment on the talks.

But on another front—Israel’s stance on unilateral withdrawal, the policy Ariel Sharron endorsed—there is some possibility important news:

In an interview with Chinese news agency Xinhua, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seemed to signal a sudden shift in policy with his statement that unilateral withdrawal has proven to be a failed policy.

Olmert, who began a three-day visit to China on Tuesday, told the news agency that while he was willing to negotiate a withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria, it would only be done in the framework of bilateral negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

On the face of it, Olmert’s remarks contradict the unilateral withdrawal, or “convergence,” plan that he’d been promoting since becoming prime minister.

Not really shocking with Olmert’s slipping popularity in Israel.

And getting back to the Iran nuclear dilemma, we have this from Xinhua:

Iran‘s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said on Tuesday that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is “good” if it is enforced justly, the official IRNA news agency reported.

 Larijani made the remarks at a joint press conference with visiting Chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee Mushahid Hussain Sayed.

Iran has criticized the NPT before as unfairly monopolizing nuclear technology its depository powers—aka the recognized nuclear states: the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France, and and China.

Posted in China, Diplomacy, Ehud Olmert, Hu Jintao, Iran, Israel, WMD | 1 Comment »

Massive, Grassroots Action Against the Iraq Escalation?

Posted by K.E. White on January 11, 2007

Will we see a resurgence?Here’s an interesting post on Campus Progress showing the surprising “surge” of anti-war sentiment after President Bush’s announcement.

He’ll be going to the protest at LaFeyette, in Washington, D.C. reporting for He’ll send any extra information and photos our way.

How will the Democratic Congress respond? Will it be non-binding resolutions or more committee meetings?

Or will there be a more muscular response, such as cutting off funding?

And how does this growing dissent effect President Bush’s ability to handle America’s international affairs?

Posted in Bush administration, Congress, Iraq, Iraq Protest, Security Studies, Wartime Powers | Leave a Comment »

Blog-on-Blog: Olmert Goes to China, What Will He Get?

Posted by K.E. White on January 10, 2007

“Shocking” news update: China does not a support a nuclear weaponized Iran.

That is the main thrust of the coverage on Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s press conference with the Chinese Prime Minister.

Yes, there is other news than President Bush’s predicted call for a troop “surge” in Iraq—with the most recent reports putting the number at 22,000.

In short, the following press read brings out the following points:


  • China (and Russia’s) support of sanctions against Iran are necessary to any effective effort to curtail Iranian nuclear weapons
  • These two countries have a different view of the Iranian threat and reactions to it than the United States:

a) chiefly that the United States in attempting to maintain influence in the region by using the nuclear issue, to the detriment of China and Russia

b) both countries are ready to “play ball”—the question what do they get for cooperation on Iran at a time when America considers China a “strategic rival” and Russia (over American objections) is forcibly restoring their influence in Eastern Europe

So, the question from them to the United States: You can’t have your diplomatic cake and eat it too, but you can have a slice—pick one.

The Jerusalem Post offers a good story on Olmert’s ongoing diplomatic visit to China, today meeting Prime Minister Wen Jiabao:

Olmert’s trip also marks the 15-year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and China, whose good relations have been marred by occasional political and trade tensions.

From an AP story appearing in the China Daily:

Both Israel and China have emphasized that Olmert’s visit is aimed at strengthening economic and trade ties.

Olmert and Wen met for more than an hour, and aides said the two signed three agreements. The first was a cultural agreement from 2007 to 2010. The second was on protocol requirements for the export of citrus fruit from Israel to China, and the third was a memorandum of understanding on water power between the Beijing city government and the Israeli Ministry of Trade, Industry and Labor.

No details on the agreements were released.

China is now Israel’s third-largest trading partner, following the United States and Germany. According to the federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, Israeli exports to China jumped 31 percent to $740 million (euro565 million) in the first 11 months of last year, compared to $565 million (euro432 million) in the year-earlier period. Imports also rose 29 percent to $2.2 billion (euro1.68 billion) from $1.7 billion (euro1.3 billion) the previous year.

The Israeli official said talks will also center on “the intention of both sides to increase trade to … US$10 billion (euro7 billion) in 2010.”

But Dan Williams over at Swiss Info helps with the bigger part of the story—China’s position on the diplomatic minefield of a nuclear Iran:

Where Olmert get a public statement from China on Iran favorable to their position? Probably not—though this is what is driving the press coverage: Tomorrow Olmert meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

“I believe Iran will try to reach it (threshold), and I believe international pressure will prevent it,” Olmert, whose nation is assumed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal, told reporters.

“My talks (with Wen) were of great depth. I heard surprising things — things both positive and unexpected,” he said. “China made it absolutely clear that it opposes Iran going nuclear, in the sense of obtaining nuclear bombs.”

Olmert, who is to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday, declined to elaborate on what Wen said in the meeting.

Where Olmert get a public statement from China on Iran favorable to their position? Probably not—though this is what is driving the press coverage: Tomorrow Olmert meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

If any momentous shift occurs, Proliferation Press will be here to report it and survey the coverage it gets around the globe.

Posted in China, Diplomacy, Iran, Israel, Proliferation News, WMD | Leave a Comment »

Blog-on-Blog: Dickerson’s Misread on McCain and the Troop Surge

Posted by K.E. White on January 8, 2007

John DickersonI saw John Dickerson—okay, okay I heard him from the back rows—at the AEI meeting where Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and John Lieberman (I-CT) endorsed Frederick W. Kagan’s plan for a troop surge of 30-40,000 troops.

After the event, I posted my piece on the event at Campus Progress, meandering afterwards to read Dickerson’s take at Slate.

Anyone can read Dickerson’s article, but they might not know where he got it from.

  • He makes no mention of the particular troop surge plan McCain endorsed at AEIInstead he quotes for the event without any sort of reference.

Instead Dickerson writes, without any reference:John McCain

“He told the audience that everyone in America should read Fiasco, the book that details those many failures. Pointing out that the job was botched is both an act of truth-telling and an act of political defense. If the surge doesn’t work, he will be able to say the Iraq war has been so mismanaged that it was too far gone for the McCain-backed last-ditch attempt.”

What audience? The only McCain talks Dickerson alludes to are:

“Recently he has advocated for a surge in private conversations with the president and at greater length with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who is heading up the administration’s policy review.”

  • Dickerson neglects the likely difference between “the McCain-backed last-ditch attempt” and the likely Bush proposal.

Kagan’s plan calls for 30-40,000 troops. Most sources peg Bush’s surge to be 10-20,000.

In other words, half that being advocated by McCain and Lieberman.

And he forgets to include these words of McCain: “The troops surge should be significant and sustained, if not don’t do it.”

  • Dickerson misses what will be the McCain Iraq Strategy

Obviously McCain is giving himself wiggle room, but of a different sort: He will not just say Bush messed up, but that he picked the wrong strategy.

And this strategy–“the right plan wasn’t adopted”–might be just the ticket to beating an anti-war or war-waffling Democrat in 2008.

I enjoyed the talk, and a fair amount of Dickerson’s article. But perhaps Slate should be on the look-out for another contributor…how does Adjunct Second-Look Contributor sound?

I won’t hold my breath for their call.

Posted in Bush administration, Congress, Diplomacy, Iraq, John McCain, Think Tank | Leave a Comment »

Book Guide–John Mueller’s “Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats and Why We Believe Them.”

Posted by K.E. White on January 8, 2007

Professor Mueller has penned a eye-opening and troubling account of not only America’s post 9/11 approach to homeland security, but to our nation’s overall approach to international security.

Mueller highlighting the waste of our government’s current anti-terror spending; charts our nation’s history of overreaction in foreign policy; and, pointedly asks, how large is the terrorist threat–and how should we fight it?

Read Proliferation’s Book Guide here.

Posted in Afghanistan, Bush administration, Homeland Security, Iran, Iraq, James Gilmore, John Mueller, WMD | Leave a Comment »

Book Fact Sheet–John Mueller’s “Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats and Why We Believe Them.”

Posted by K.E. White on January 8, 2007

Professor Mueller has penned a eye-opening and troubling account of not only America’s post 9/11 approach to homeland security, but to our nation’s overall approach to international security.

Mueller highlighting the waste of our government’s current anti-terror spending; charts our nation’s history of overreaction in foreign policy; and, pointedly asks, how large is the terrorist threat–and how should we fight it?

Posted in Afghanistan, Bush administration, Homeland Security, Iran, Iraq, James Gilmore, John Mueller, WMD | 1 Comment »

What Is Congress’s Wartime Role? Viewing 2002 Iraq Resolution

Posted by K.E. White on January 6, 2007

Did the United States Congress, in authorizing President George W. Bush to decide when to use force in Iraq, forfeit its wartime constitutional responsibity?
Who wins in war?

Many in today’s anti-war movement would heartily agree: bemoaning the complete lack of oversight by Congressional Democrats in the run-up to the Iraq War. If Congress is a co-equal branch, where was their voice?

But isn’t the President the “decider” in matters of war as our nation’s commander-in-chief?

Proliferation Press offers this report that explores wartime separation of powers looking to the works of three scholars–finding both sides in need of tweaking.

Congress’s pathetic role in checking a rushed war backed by a popular President was foreordained, White argues. While holding out hope for a future reversal, 2002 was not it and it seems 2007 won’t be either.

Read the full article

Posted in Bush administration, Congress, Constitutional History, Homeland Security, Iraq, Julian Zeilzer, Keith Whittington, Louis Fisher, Wartime Powers | Leave a Comment »

Blog on Blog: Negroponte’s Move

Posted by K.E. White on January 5, 2007

Soon-to-be Deputy NegroponteHeather Hurlburt, over at Democracy Arsenal, lays out some intriguing and entertaining thoughts on now-Intel Chief Negroponte’s move to the State Department.

Hurlburt 1) stresses the failure of the Intel Chief to coordinate our nation’s intelligence gathering, 2) sees it as more proof that–big shock–we’re staying the course in Iraq, 3) and offers some good conspiracy theories.

To me, her first point bares repeating: Negroponte, while seen as doing a credible job as Intel Chief, could not overcome the structural limitations of the position.

I find the Bush administration’s “game of musical chairs” (borrowed from WaPo’s Walter Pincus) shocking. Rice has operated without a deputy, just as Negroponte has operated throughout his tenure.

Shouldn’t there be a bi-partisan push to smooth this bureaucratic terrain, since this detail work– a) assembling and linking small data points,  b) building databases, and c) coordinating our nation’s 16 intelligence agencies–is critical to America’s homeland security?

Pinus told NPR that the position has not “gelled quite as quickly” as Congress would like with a undesired bureaucratic size (approx. 15,000 employees).

Clearly we won’t know the answer to the Negroponte puzzle for years—i.e. when the administration is relegated to the cottage industry of memoir-writing.

But this remains true: Politicians of both parties must pay more attention to the infrastructure of our nation’s intelligence gathering—and keep political posturing to a minimum.

Let’s hope that day isn’t scheduled with flying pigs.

Posted in Bush administration, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Security Studies, Terrorism | Leave a Comment »

U.S.-Japan Strengthen Ties, But Can Japan’s PM Abe Deliver?

Posted by K.E. White on January 4, 2007

Reports show America and Japan coming close to finalizing on coordinated security plans, another sign of the growing military partnership between the two countries.

The American-Japanese relationship is close: both view China as a strategic threat and both would prefer regime change in (now nuclear) North Korea. Yet when viewing this blossoming relationship, demanding reforms to the Japanese pacifist constitution and policies, one must consider the current Japanese regime crumbling domestic support.

The Associated Press (AP) reports on coordinated defense plans being drafted between Japan and America:

The U.S. and Japan are set to draw up joint contingency plans for a possible military conflict on the Korean peninsula — possibly using Japanese bases to attack North Korea — and for defending Taiwan against China, news reports said Thursday.

China quickly expressed concern over the Taiwan plans, reiterating its claims to the island. China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing considers the island a renegade province.

Another AP article reports on Shinzo Abe’s, Japan’s Prime Minister, determination to pursue an “independent” foreign policy:

Abe, who took office in September, has taken a tougher stance on the international stage than many of his predecessors, appealing to a greater sense of nationalism in Japan following more than a decade of economic stagnation.

“The security situation surrounding Japan has changed drastically with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles as well as a series of regional conflicts,” Abe said. “To protect Japan’s peace, independence and democracy and the lives of the Japanese, we need to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance.”

But behind such reports lingers Abe’s dwindling popularity at home, as the Financial Times reported in December:

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s popularity has plummeted in the past few weeks, according to polls published on Tuesday by leading Japanese media organisations.

The polls by the Yomiuri, Asahi and Mainichi newspapers, as well as the public broadcaster, NHK, taken over the weekend show a widespread loss of public faith in the government’s commitment to reform and mounting concerns over Mr Abe’s lack of leadership and the direction of his government’s policies.

A poll by Japan’s most widely read newspaper, the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun, showed Mr Abe’s rating dropped sharply by 9.2 points to 55.9 per cent.

The more left-leaning Asahi Shimbun poll showed a larger drop to 47 per cent from 63 per cent when the Abe government was formed in late September, while the Mainichi poll had Mr Abe’s support rating down at 46 per cent down 7 percentage points from a month ago and 21 points from when he took office.

The Financial Times proves useful today as well, reporting on Abe’s decision not to prusue quick elections to shore up political support. This has put his plans for constitutional reform in a lurch:

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, on Thursday said he would put constitutional reform at the heart of this July’s critical upper house poll, but ruled out calling a general election to strengthen his faltering mandate.

Speaking at his first press conference of the year, Mr Abe said: “My cabinet will aim to revise the constitution and I intend to seek support for it during the upper house election.”

He has pledged to rewrite the pacifist constitution drafted by the US during its postwar occupation of Japan…

In 2005, Mr Koizumi won a massive majority and reversed his political fortunes by calling a snap general election on the divisive issue of postal reform. Some upper house members of Mr Abe’s Liberal Democratic party have suggested calling a general election as a way of putting the ruling party’s legendary electoral machinery into full swing.
Mr Abe hinted at the tough battle ahead, saying he would be “responsible for the cabinet”. Some political observers have speculated that he might have to resign if his party were badly defeated in an upper house election.

I am no expert of Japanese politics, but it seems that the American aim of a strong and remilitarized Japan may prove difficult to attain–though by no means impossible.

Only time and Abe’s response will tell show Abe’s recent slip in popularlity as a blip or the beginning of the end for his tenure as Prime Minister.

Posted in Diplomacy, Japan, News, Proliferation News, Security Studies | Leave a Comment »

The Fence Is Going Up! ( No, not the Mexican one–the fence between Pakistan and Afghanistan)

Posted by K.E. White on January 4, 2007

Pakistan is going ahead with plans to construct a fence along its Afghan border. The policy was confirmed publicly during a joint press conference with Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, and Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan.

VOA’s Benajmin Sand gives this brief recap of the tension between the two countries:

U.S. and Afghan officials claim pro-Taleban insurgents have established several bases in Pakistan that are used to mount raids in Afghanistan. Pakistan insists it is doing everything it can to help improve regional security.

It didn’t help much when Pakistan made “peace” last September with pro-Taliban forces settled along the Pakastani-Afghan border.

WaPo’s coverage:

Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 5 — The government of Pakistan signed a peace accord Tuesday with pro-Taliban forces in the volatile tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, agreeing to withdraw its troops in return for the fighter’s pledge to stop attacks inside Pakistan and across the border.

Under the pact, foreign fighters would leave North Waziristan or live peaceable lives if they remained. The militias would not set up a “parallel” government administration.

Radio Free Europe
and American Thinker’s Rick Moran offer up some good reporting on the deal.
The BBC gives a good strategic view of Pakistan–making it clear why America and Pakistan’s fate are tied, when it comes to the fight against Islamic extermism.

The government says everything is on schedule for the re-election of President Pervez Musharraf and general elections by the end of 2007.

Yet Pakistanis are still gripped with severe bouts of uncertainty and few believe the government’s assurances….Musharraf's headache

After his recent outbursts against extremism and the need for people to vote for moderates, rather than religious extremists, the long-running speculation that the army has struck a deal with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its leader in self-imposed exile, Benazir Bhutto, are rife.

Both sides deny any deal, despite the political buzz.

However Gen Musharraf has made it clear that the return of Benazir Bhutto is out of the question. So too, he says, is the return of the prime minister he deposed, Nawaz Sharif, the exiled leader of another faction of the PML…

If there is a compromise and a deal with the PPP, it would mean the military breaking of its alliance with the Islamic parties that presently rule the provinces of Balochistan and the North West Frontier.

It is something that many in the US and western Europe are desperate to see happen and would clearly applaud…

After seven years of Gen Musharraf and the military, people are tired of the army and looking for change.

Moreover only a genuine civilian government could begin the attempt to start a reconciliation process with all the alienated, angry elements of society such as the Baloch nationalists and the Pashtun extremists in the tribal agencies bordering Afghanistan.

Is such a transformative election likely?

Not really.

But on a lighter note, Pakistan now allows kite-flying.

drafted by kwhite

Posted in Afghanistan, Diplomacy, Pakistan, Terrorism | Leave a Comment »