Proliferation Press

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

Archive for October 12th, 2007

Blog-On-Blog: Strategic Security Blog Tackles RRW and More

Posted by K.E. White on October 12, 2007

The Strategic Security Blog offers this very insightful entry on the Reliable Replacement Warhead. The post explores the shortfalls of the Bush administration backed proposals for creating a new warhead for America’s nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, the comments—and the speedy answers—are definitely worth the scroll down.

I want to highlight this reply to a comment that 1) that sees the RRW as necessary for WMD deterrence and 2) strike down any notion of an American ‘first strike’ capability:

The argument that nuclear weapons are necessary to deter attack by chemical and biological weapons assumes some equivalence. This is an unfortunate consequence of the wildly overused and misleading term “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” which lumps all all of them together. A contagious disease could have worldwide effect comparable to a nuclear attack but is not a useful battlefield weapon. Other biological and chemical weapons are not in the same class as nuclear weapons. And the assumption that nuclear weapons are needed to deter chemical or other unconventional attack is unsupported. One could make exactly the same argument about any form of attack, whether conventional military or roadside bombs; if the US were attacked by any means it could reply with nuclear weapons, but we don’t. We don’t always need nuclear weapons to deter even nuclear attack. If N. Korea used a nuclear weapon against the US or its allies, I am confident we would destroy and probably occupy the country. We might or might not use nuclear weapons during that process but whether we do or not is hardly relevant to N. Korean deterrence calculations. The commenter rejects a minimal deterrent doctrine. During the Cold War, the US needed to maintain a nuclear arsenal to (among other things) deter conventional attack against NATO. Today, with conventional superiority, any use of nuclear weapons works against US interests so the only use of nuclear weapons that contributes to US security is to try to deter their use.

Concerning first strike capabilities: The commenter lists the weapons we have retired, which is not the right measure. We have to look at what US weapons remain compared to the targets. Remaining US weapons are formidable and are on constant alert. I know of no other mission that could justify US nuclear force posture. The commenter may wish to consult a recent paper in International Security. It is true that Russia still has the huge SS-18s but these are considered beyond their life span and are being steadily replaced but, again, even if the Russians had a disarming first strike capability (which they do not) does not mean that the US does not have such a capability. The comment on damage limitation seems to suggest a distinction between a first strike capability and a disarming first strike capability.

Posted in Federation of American Scientists, Ivan Oelrich, Reliable Replacement Warhead, RRW, Strategic Security Blog | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Belarus To Build A Nuclear Plant

Posted by K.E. White on October 12, 2007


One of the world’s most repressive regimes wants nuclear energy. How will the world community respond?

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has announced plans to build a nuclear plant:

Map of BelarusThe creation of a domestic nuclear energy source was essential to guarantee “national security”, Interfax news quoted Mr Lukashenko as saying.

Work on the reactor would start in 2008, he said. It is expected to be ready in four to eight years.

Belarus relies heavily on Russian gas for its energy, and rows over payments have prompted threats of supply cuts.

The small eastern European nation—boasting a population just under 10 million—has strong ties with Russia, China and Syria.

The nation has also garnered attention as one of the world’s most repressive regimes. From the Freedom House 2005 Report on Belarus:

The prospects for democratization faded in Belarus with the election of the country’s first president, Alexander Lukashenka, in 1994. Amendments to the Constitution, adopted in a highly controversial referendum in 1996, fully institutionalized the system of unlimited presidential authority. International criticism of Lukashenka’s antidemocratic policies was ignored. The Belarusian economy remains unreformed and extensively bureaucratized. However, the economy recently recorded sound growth owing to the economic upturn in neighboring countries, most of all Russia, and a large-scale economic crisis does not seem imminent. The government preserves social stability through welfare and industrial policies that provide the population with minimally acceptable standards of living and full employment.

Posted in Belarus, Nuclear, Nuclear power | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

News Alert: US-India Nuclear Deal Slipping Away?

Posted by K.E. White on October 12, 2007

Manmohan Singh

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has—for the first time—publicly discussed the possible failure of the US-India nuclear deal.

From AFP:

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday ruled out early elections amid a political uproar over a controversial Indo-US nuclear deal, but admitted the accord may never gain approval.

The communists have repeatedly threatened to withdraw their support for the minority Congress-led coalition government if it proceeds with the landmark pact, which would allow energy-hungry India to buy civilian nuclear technology.

Singh said he hoped that “reason and common sense” would ultimately prevail on the Indo-US agreement, which he described as “an honourable deal that is good for India and good for the world.”

But “if the deal does not come through, that is not the end of life,” Singh added.

“It will be a disappointment. In life, one has to live with some disappointments.”

It was the first time that Singh, who had staked his political credibility on the nuclear agreement seen as a cornerstone of warmer Indo-US ties, had publicly evoked the possibility that the deal might not go ahead.

It marked a sharp change in stance from two months ago, when Singh dared the communists to withdraw their support for the coalition if they were unhappy with the deal.

Voice of America explores the roots of Indian opposition to the US India nuclear deal:

London-based journalist Vijay Rana says some of the opposition to the deal in India stems from doubts about the United States dating back to the Cold War period when India was allied with the former Soviet Union.“The Indian opinion can be divided into two broad sections, says Dr. Rana.” One is the young India, the educated India, the high-tech India, rising and shining India. These younger people have no reservations as far as America is concerned, and they increasingly look forward to strengthening this relationship, which is based on economic ties largely. But then there is an older India, India of the cold war years, and these communists, in fact, largely survive on that part of public opinion.”

India’s opposition Bhartiya Janata Party, or B-J-P, also opposes the deal, even though the previous government, which was led by the B-J-P, laid the groundwork for cooperation between India and the United States. Experts say the B-J-P’s opposition is largely due to internal party politics, as well as to shortsightedness on the part of some B-J-P leaders. These politicians aspire to fresh elections that might result if the communists withdraw support from the Congress-led government over the nuclear deal.

Posted in India, U.S. India Nuclear Deal, United States | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »