Proliferation Press

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

Archive for September, 2007

Nuclear Dust-Up: Bhutto Gets Blow Back for Backing IAEA Questioning of AQ Khan

Posted by K.E. White on September 27, 2007

Benazir BhuttoAbdul Qadeer Khan (or AQ Khan), founding father of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and suspected of exporting nuclear technology to North Korea and other nations, is making headlines again. And this nuclear dust up shows just how divergent perspectives on nuclear proliferation can be.

Benazir Bhutto, who will return to Pakistan on October 18th, has started a firestorm by stating the following: if Prime Minister, Bhutto would allow IAEA officials to question AQ Khan.

The Australian notes the harsh response from other Pakistani political figures:

In a rare show of unanimity, leaders from across Pakistan’s political spectrum rounded on Ms Bhutto yesterday.

They insisted that Dr Khan was a hero across the Muslim word. The rogue scientist is responsible for Pakistan’s becoming the only Muslim state with a strategic nuclear capacity.

“It is our internal affair and he is still a national hero,” senior cabinet minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said yesterday.

“We cannot compromise on it and the statement of Benazir Bhutto is highly condemnable. It’s the wrong statement at the wrong time, and its sole purpose is to please the United States.”

Cricketer-turned-political leader Imran Khan condemned Ms Bhutto’s promise, while Liaquat Baloch, a senior member of the Muttahida-Majlis-e-Amal religious front party, accused her of “doing everything to appease the US. She wants to gain power and the people of Pakistan know that to achieve her objective she is ready to compromise the country’s nuclear program.”

Bhutto, in exile for years and perceived as a favorite of Washington, isn’t helping herself with Pakistani domestic base. We’ll see how this affects her return to Pakistani politics—and thus the direction of this volatile nuclear power.

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Posted in Abdul Qadeer Khan, AQ Khan, Bhutto, Nuclear, Pakistan, proliferation | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Typo Thrusday: The Hill On McCain and Islamic Extremists

Posted by K.E. White on September 27, 2007

I just couldn’t pass this up.

From Klaus Marre’s article in The Hill:

However, McCain also said that no matter what course the U.S. chooses, victory of Islamic extremists is inevitable.

“While our ultimate victory is not in doubt, the length and intensity of this struggle remain to be determined,” McCain said. “It’s up to us.”

I bet they were looking for “victory over,” not “victory of.”

Unless, of course, McCain really believes “victory of Islamic extremists is inevitable.”

Posted in McCain, The Hill | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

US-India Nuclear Deal Derailed and Threatening India’s UPA Government?

Posted by K.E. White on September 25, 2007

The Asia Times Online reports on the imperiled nuclear deal, and how it might just take down Prime Minister Manmohan Singh:

A speeded-up negotiation process with the IAEA and the NSG is likely to muddy the waters of the UPA-left talks and might lead to their collapse. The Communist Party of India recently warned that if the government held talks with the IAEA on a safeguards agreement at its general conference in Vienna, the CPI would regard it as a “breach of trust”.

Indian Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar did address the IAEA meeting last week, but refrained from making a specific mention of the US-India nuclear deal during his speech. However, he held informal consultations with IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei and nuclear officials from different countries.

It is uncertain, however, if the deal will sail smoothly through the IAEA, and especially the NSG.

Although the IAEA bureaucracy, and ElBaradei in particular, is sympathetic to the deal, the agency’s board of governors may not be unanimous in conceding India’s demand for a special safeguards protocol, which limits inspections on Indian facilities to the period during which they receive imported supplies. Typically, the IAEA demands safeguards in perpetuity.

Reuters reports on an October deadline for Singh’s government to approve the deal, lest new elections are to be called:

India’s government and its communist allies are eyeing ways out of their face-off over a nuclear pact with the United States, but failure to grasp these straws will spark a fresh crisis next month, officials said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition faces an informal end-October deadline to start working on the next steps needed to clinch the deal, and if the row with left parties opposed to it is not resolved by then early polls may be called, they said.

Singh does not need to have the Indian parliament approve the deal, but he risks forcing elections if he does not get his Communist allies on board with the deal. Will Singh get an agreement from the left, or will he risk snap elections which could not only shoot down the deal but take him out of a job?

And just in case you were wondering, the US-India nuclear deal is a top priority of the fading Bush administration. From Condoleezza Rice’s interview with Reuters:

“I am not worried about my legacy. With 14 months to go, I’m worrying about what we’ve yet achieved on the Palestinian-Israeli track, the North Korean nuclear issue, the India civil-nuclear deal and trade agreements. We have got a big agenda,” Rice told Reuters Editorial Board in an interview, text of which was released by the State Department.

Let’s have a little score-card:

Israel-Palestine peace process = fat chance

North Korea Nuclear Crisis = contained after years of botched policy, but also greatly intractable

Trade Agreements = Democrats run Congress

US-India Nuclear Deal = no means a sure bet

But it is nice to here that Iraq isn’t dominating Rice’s agenda; there are other issues that could use a year of smart policy.

Posted in Condoleezza Rice, IAEA, India Nuclear Deal, Monmohan Singh, NSG, Nuclear | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Monday Afternoon Tea: TNR on the Israeli Strike, and Norman Podhoretz’s Worldview Courtesy of Politico

Posted by K.E. White on September 24, 2007

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud OlmertSummary: The New Republic’s Dennis Dennis Ross gives an excellent explanation of what brought about and what effect was wrought from Israel’s Syrian strike. Meanwhile, Politico’s David Paul Kuhn brings focus to Neo-con patriarch Norman Podhoretz.Syrian leader Bashar al Assad

Ross argues that Israel’s Syrian strike reinforces Israel’s deterrent capability and is a response to Syria’s arms build-up (and–of course–a possible message to Iran). Ross endorses Israel’s move, considering it a stroke of hard-power precision—getting the desired results, without fanning a great conflict.

Ross delves into Israel’s penchant for secrecy, but misses the critical issue: What will be Syria’s next move? Is Syria as isolated as we think? And could Arab silence on Israel’s strike be another blow their fragile legitimacy at home?

Meanwhile, Kuhn reveals two aspects of meeting Norman Podhoretz held with George W. Bush and Karl Rove: 1) that he urged them to strike Iran and 2) they seemed to admit that negotiations with Iran were pointless.

Norman PodhoretzKuhn also fleshes out Podhoretz’s Middle East position: that the war in Iraq is necessary for American security, and is part of a greater conflict between Western liberalism and Islamofascism (a Podhoretzian turn of phrase).

Segment of interest: Podhoretz stands by his prediction that the Bush administration will strike Iran. Is this all part of a well constructed bluff on the part of the administration to alter Iranian calculus? Could Bush be simply building the best bargaining position possible for the next President?

Check out this Campus Progress biography for more on Podhoretz’s monumental contribution to the neoconservative movement–from an opposing viewpoint.

Posted in Bashar al Assad, Ehud Olmert, Iran, Israel, New Republic, Norman Podhoretz, Politico, Syria | Leave a Comment »

“[T]he Asian Century”: Kaplan and Chang Duke it Out

Posted by K.E. White on September 21, 2007

Is America slipping? Is this century Asia’s?

Robert Kaplan says yes.

Gordon Chang critiques.

Posted in America, Asia, Gordon Chang, international relations, IR, Robert Kaplan | Leave a Comment »

Cat’s Out of the Bag: Sources Confirm Israel’s Syrian Air Raid Sought Out Suspected Nuclear Site

Posted by K.E. White on September 21, 2007

Condensed form: The Israel air-force struck a suspected Syrian nuclear site thought to be constructed with North Korean aid earlier this month.

Thought of the day: Times have changed at the White House. Regime change in North Korea has morphed to quiet, but firm diplomacy in regards to North Korea. (Read Bush’s muted response to questions yesterday.) But does it signify a change of heart or merely differing priorities, with the White House squarely focused on Iran?

From WaPo:

Israel’s decision to attack Syria on Sept. 6, bombing a suspected nuclear site set up in apparent collaboration with North Korea, came after Israel shared intelligence with President Bush this summer indicating that North Korean nuclear personnel were in Syria, U.S. government sources said.

The Bush administration has not commented on the Israeli raid or the underlying intelligence. Although the administration was deeply troubled by Israel’s assertion that North Korea was assisting the nuclear ambitions of a country closely linked with Iran, sources said, the White House opted against an immediate response because of concerns it would undermine long-running negotiations aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Ultimately, however, the United States is believed to have provided Israel with some corroboration of the original intelligence before Israel proceeded with the raid, which hit the Syrian facility in the dead of night to minimize possible casualties, the sources said.

The target of Israel’s attack was said to be in northern Syria, near the Turkish border. A Middle East expert who interviewed one of the pilots involved said they operated under such strict operational security that the airmen flying air cover for the attack aircraft did not know the details of the mission. The pilots who conducted the attack were briefed only after they were in the air, he said. Syrian authorities said there were no casualties.

Posted in air strike, Bush, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Nuclear, September 6, Syria, White House | Leave a Comment »

Bush on Israel’s Syrian Strike: “I’m not going to comment on the matter.”

Posted by K.E. White on September 20, 2007

Just watched this enlightening response from President George W. Bush to NBC’s David Gregory.

Should the public know what was behind Israel’s air-strike on Syria? And when should they know it?


Bush on North Korea-Syria link: “We expect them not to be proliferating.”

More from the response:


“We have made it clear and we will continue to make it clear to the North Koreans through the six party talks that we expect them to honor their commitment to give up weapons and weapons programs. And to the extent that they are proliferating, we expect them to stop proliferating.”

“It matters whether they are, but the concept of proliferation is equally as important as getting rid of programs and weapons.”

“We expect them not to be proliferating.”


Posted in Bush, Israel, North Korea, strike, Syria, White House | Leave a Comment »

Rice Criticizes IAEA Iranian Plan: “The IAEA is not in the business of diplomacy.”

Posted by K.E. White on September 19, 2007

Guess not everyone guess with the NYTimes that the ElBaradei is an “indispensable” figure. Today Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took aim at the IAEA–and indirectly its chief Mohamed ElBaradei. From Reuters:

“The diplomatic track can work but it has to work both with a set of incentives and a set of teeth,” she said.

The United States has criticized a deal International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei has made with Iran to answer long-standing questions about its nuclear activities.

Washington and its European allies argue the IAEA moves divert attention from U.N. Security Council demands that Iran suspend uranium enrichment and grant broader inspections.

Rice, who in June accused ElBaradei of “muddying the message” to Iran, voiced strong irritation with the IAEA chief, without naming him.

“The IAEA is not in the business of diplomacy. The IAEA is a technical agency that has a board of governors of which the United States is a member,” Rice told reporters traveling with her to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

“It is not up to anybody to diminish or to begin to cut back on the obligations that the Iranians have been ordered to take.”

Now this brings up an interesting question. What is the role of the IAEA? Rice argues the the IAEA should not be crafting independent deals with countries it wishes to inspect. Rather, according to Rice, the IAEA should step back: leaving the decision of whether inspections occur to international diplomacy, with the IAEA then merely implementing the inspections will occur.

This does run into a problem, though. What happens when a nation of focus—Iran—is not having formal talks with the United States? Suddenly intermediaries like the European Union or the IAEA become necessary.

And at a time when American credibility is at an all time low, it’s hardly surprising to see the IAEA’s stock go up—especially with ElBaradei’s notorious and exceptionally long stint as IAEA director general.

Posted in Condoleezza Rice, IAEA, Iran, Mohamed ElBaradei, United States | 3 Comments »

Shinzo Abe Leaves: What Next?

Posted by K.E. White on September 19, 2007

AEI’s The American explores the effect of Shinzo Abe’s abrupt departure from Japanese politics. The first section delves into the Japan’s foreign policy struggle. It seems the leader of Japan’s resurgent opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, Ichiro Ozawa favors shifting Japan away from its close relationship with America. And the weakness of Abe’s successor, Taro Aso, doesn’t augur well for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)–Japan’s ruling party.

But as earlier blogged, one must remember the LDP’s historical hold on the Japanese government.

What does the Japan-US relationship bring? Michael Auslin’s piece plunges into the politics of fueling allies of the multinational peacekeeping force in Afghanistan:

Back in the 1990s, Ozawa championed a more assertive Japanese foreign policy: one not as subservient to the United States, and yet one that gave Japan a global role commensurate with its economic power. But since the July upper house poll, he has refused to consider an extension of the anti-terrorism law that allowed Japanese maritime forces to provide thousands of gallons of fuel to coalition ships operating near Afghanistan. This was a puzzling move, since the election had focused on domestic issues. Abe, however, had declared his intent to get the renewal passed; otherwise Tokyo would have to withdraw its ships from the Indian Ocean starting on November 1st.

Privately, some U.S. government officials are furious with Ozawa for playing politics with the anti-terrorism law. But they are equally furious with Abe for his helplessness. The Japanese have supplied millions of dollars worth of high-grade fuel, which the U.S. cannot deliver, to Pakistani and British ships. The fear is that Pakistan will withdraw its ships if the Japanese leave, thereby eliminating the one Muslim nation in the Afghan coalition.

This is the result of the globalization of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Washington’s desire for a reliable, go-to partner may have made strategic and even tactical sense, but it appears that Koizumi and Abe’s willingness to fill that role put them far ahead of their fellow citizens. Neither Koizumi nor Abe made a particularly compelling case for why it was in Japan’s best interests to dramatically expand its international activities, especially when those activities required military forces. Some folks in Washington and Tokyo even allege that Japan joined the war on terrorism solely as a down payment for U.S. support against North Korea’s nuclear programs.

Ozawa is now insisting that Japan only join UN-run operations, and that it put less emphasis on the U.S. alliance. This is a risky ploy, both diplomatically and electorally. Washington is unlikely to significantly alter alliance promises, but a more independent approach on Tokyo’s part may, if maintained long enough, slowly drive the two partners apart, as was the case with America and France during the Cold War. If Japanese voters get a chance to see what such isolation is like, they may well punish Ozawa for doing unnecessary damage to Japan’s most important alliance. In either case, it will have an impact on Washington’s dealings with the rest of Asia, where some believe the U.S. is moving closer to China.

Japan is now at a crossroads. Abe’s likely successor, Foreign Minister Taro Aso, does not have deep political support among the populace, and is suspected by Japan’s neighbors of being a hardliner. Aso—or whoever becomes premier—faces serious challenges. Will economic reform continue? Will Japan’s bold, yet so far largely rhetorical, new diplomacy survive? Is this the beginning of a true two-party system in Japan? Will Washington give its Asian ally the space to sort out these developments? There’s a lot more riding on it than free gasoline.

Posted in Afghanistan, Ichiro Ozawa, Japan, Michael Auslin, Shinzo Abe, Taro Aso | Leave a Comment »

What Was Behind Israel’s Strike on Syria?

Posted by K.E. White on September 19, 2007

Putting aside conspiracy theories and Bolton’s North Korea twist aside, the Christian Science Monitor explores possible reasons behind the air-strike

The article in condensed form: 

1)      Israel reaffirming its deterrence capability—one that took a big hit in last summer’s Lebanon operation

2)      Warning signal to Iran: a military strike on Syria provoked muted international reaction. Would international reaction to an Iranian air strike be the same?

3)      Off that rift, proof of the durability of relations between Israel and Turkey, and other moderate Muslim nations in the Middle East

4)      The forerunner to a European-US air-strike on Iran, which can be inferred from the El Baradei-Western split over Iranian diplomacy

 Read this for more information on Israel’s air-strike capabilities

Posted in Christian Science Monitor, IAEA, Iran, Israel, Syria | 1 Comment »