Proliferation Press

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

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

UAE and South Korean Nuclear Regulatory Bodies Sign Nuclear Implementing Agreement

Posted by K.E. White on March 15, 2011

The potentially devastating nuclear crisis in Japan isn’t putting off the UAE’s nuclear plans.

Building off their 2009 nuclear facilities production agreement, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and South Korea nuclear regulatory bodies today signed a nuclear cooperation agreement.  What does the agreement do?  AMEInfo.com provides this answer:

Under this Implementing Arrangement between the two regulatory bodies, FANR and KINAC will exchange information, experience, staff and technology related to ensuring a peaceful nuclear programme under international non-proliferation obligations. It is based on a UAE-Republic of Korea Government-to-Government agreement signed in 2009.

In short, with the UAE having a Korean consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) to build four reactors, the UAE must development effective measures to track nuclear materials and secure these new faculties.

From The National:

“This is important in terms of the experience of the Korean regulator in regulating the Korean reactors and plants in Korea,” said Hamad al Kaabi, the UAE representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a global nuclear watchdog based in Vienna. “The goal is to develop capabilities.”

The UAE, like other nations in the region including Saudi Arabia, is counting on nuclear power to help meet growing electricity demand as well as free up oil and gas currently used for power generation to more lucrative uses, such as exports of petrochemicals. Abu Dhabi hopes nuclear power will provide a quarter of its of its electricity within the next decade.

Is the UAE ignoring the lessons of Japan’s current nuclear crisis?  Perhaps.  But, as James M. Acton argues at ForeignPolicy.com, nuclear energy is worth the risk if done prudently.  And part of responsible nuclear energy generation must be safely securing facilities from natural and man-made disasters, and preventing nuclear materials from slipping into the wrong hands.

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Two Upcoming WMD Events

Posted by K.E. White on March 10, 2011

Just a quick blurb to Washington D.C. readers:  The Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. will be holding a discussion on WMD threat reduction tomorrow.

And for all readers, tomorrow will also be the House Armed Services Committee’s hearing on the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the DoD agency responsible for reducing the threat to America and it’s allies from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.  The hearing will be available online.

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Proliferation News Blurb: America’s Iranian Strategy and A Critical View of U.S. Pakistan Relations

Posted by K.E. White on March 26, 2010

Politico and Foreign Policy offer must-read articles relating to American foreign policy.

Politico offers this editorial from Britain’s U.S. ambassador Nigel Sheinwald.  Sheinwald points out to positive factors in the U.S.-Iranian bargaining positions:  1) Since Obama’s election, international suspicion has shifted from U.S. motivations to Iran’s secretive ambitions, 2)  develops in Iraq have strengthened America’s bargaining hand (at least from its 2006 low point), 3)  that Iran’s internal strife has diplomatically isolated the nation.

But can economic sanctions—and not a more aggressive option—deter Iran from the bomb?  From Sheinwald’s article:

Third, economic pressures are increasing, as a result of years of mismanagement and the sanctions. The statistics are significant. Inflation is close to 20 percent. Iran’s oil production and exports both fell by 10 percent last year. Iran’s banks are feeling the heat of the sanctions, with huge reductions in foreign currency transfers.

All this has driven up the cost of imports by 25 percent. Iranian bazaaris — an important political class that allied with the clerics to bring down the shah — are bearing much of the cost.

We must not, of course, be complacent. Tehran remains defiant. But its discomfort is increasing.

In international relations, there are rarely overnight solutions to complex problems. But our long-term strategy of trying to alter fundamentally the cost-benefit equation for Iran remains the right approach. We still have time to increase the pressure — including the early adoption of sanctions — and bring Tehran to the negotiating table. The key — for all of us — is to use this time smartly.

One critique:  Sheinwald conveniently overlooks India and Pakistan’s nuclear trajectories.

And Foreign Policy offers a critical look at U.S.-Pakistan relations from a Pakastani journalist.  The main point:  Pakistan’s regime still fails its citizens.

From Huma Imtiaz’s article:

At the end of the day, even if the United States promises the moon (which it won’t), and even if the Pakistani government comes back empty handed, or laden with promises, the situation in Pakistan will remain the same. Even with a lull in recent terror attacks, Pakistanis are braced every single day for the worst to happen. The current electricity shortfall in the country is now at 5,000 megawatts, meaning electricity cuts off from anywhere between 4 – 12 hours a day. Prime Minister Gilani is promising the world to Pakistanis at the moment, saying the delegation will discuss everything from power plants to Afia Siddiqui’s case. The media wing of Pakistan’s army — the Inter Services Public Relations — sends daily dispatches reporting such events as: “X number of militants was killed in army operations in the tribal areas,” in an attempt to show that all is well in the country.

While this dialogue between the U.S. administration and the Pakistani government will surely continue, one wonders if all that is promised will be delivered. And with Pakistan’s current government’s record being so dismal on everything from implementing constitutional reforms to infrastructure development, it is highly likely that the Pakistan-U.S. talks will remain just that: talk.

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Proliferation Press Round-Up: New START Agreement At Hand? Reorganizing State’s Arms Control Team and Susan Burke–America’s Top NPT Representative–Talks to Arms Control Today

Posted by K.E. White on March 17, 2010

  • Close to START II?

AFP reported yesterday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Russia where sources “have confirmed she will have bilateral negotiations on START with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.”’

Global Security Newswire (GSN) sheds light on the key sticking point in an excellent article posted yesterday.

The main sticking point in negotiations?  According to GSN, “[t]he Obama administration’s plans to deploy missile defenses in Europe remains the top issue of contention, according to defense analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. Moscow wants the nuclear treaty to address the matter, but any restriction is not likely to gain approval from U.S. senators who must ratify the agreement.”

The NYTimes portrays the long and winding road these talks have traveled.

  • State Brings Back Arms Control—In Title

Global Security Newswire reports today that the State Department has started reviewing how to better “strengthen” their arms control bureaus.

Currently three bureaus—Verification, Compliance and Implementation (VCI), International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) and Political-Military Affairs Bureau—make up the ‘T’ of the State Department’s arms control bureaus.

The White House plans to better divide responsibilities between these three bureaus, and will change VCI’s name to Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.

Only five years ago, the Bush administration oversaw a similar restricting.  In 2005 two of the then four arms control bureaus—Arms Control and Nonproliferation—were merged into today’s ISN.  The rationale?  The bureaus, separately, did not reward staff with opportunities for advancement and failed to attract staffers.  (This is when Arms Control—at least in name—was stricken from the title of any State Department arms control bureau.)

But a 2009 GAO report found that this reorganization failed to solve either problem.

So the Obama Administration is trying again.

Main take-away:  Reorganizing agencies is tough work, and can determine the effectiveness of critical branches of the U.S. diplomatic and national security apparatus.  Hopefully, the United States can at least enjoy a smooth-running arms control team for the last half of his administration.

  • Susan Burke Interview at Arms Control Today

Susan Burke, who finally received Senate approval in June, talks with Arms Control Today about the upcoming Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference.  Susan highlights what will be the ‘big picture’ goal of the United States at the conference that takes place only once every five years:

What we have been discussing with our partners as we engage in diplomatic outreach is the importance of full compliance with the treaty to maintaining the integrity of the treaty and the corrosive effect that noncompliance has on the treaty itself and on the understandings that other countries have had. We expect that this will be discussed in May. It has to be discussed—full compliance, full support for safeguards, and all those other measures. Exactly how it will be discussed is up in the air at the moment. There are different views on how to handle the issue. But I don’t think there is any disagreement among parties—certainly not in my consultations—that full compliance is absolutely essential.

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Morning News Round-Up

Posted by K.E. White on December 23, 2009

Well, I’ll just underline the reason to be alarmist. If the rest of the world sees that North Korea can keep its nuclear weapons, they see that Iran is capable of defying United States and getting nuclear weapons, they see Hugo Chavez still completely unplugged and growing closer and closer to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran — let’s not forget Venezuela has its own uranium deposits — then the lesson, I think, for would-be proliferators around the world is clear. You can get nuclear weapons, and the United States and others will not act to stop you.

And if those constraints don’t have any force, then I think we’re going to see a lot more countries with nuclear weapons, and I think that raises the risk of global instability by an enormous factor.

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Critical Mass: News from Around the Web

Posted by K.E. White on June 30, 2009

BBCNews on-line reports on the stifled diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program. Interesting highlight: “Currently [Iran] is under inspection by the IAEA, which has stated that there has been no diversion of inspected materials to any secret programme.”

Still dealing with the AQ Khan Network: Switzerland destroys nuclear documents from the illicit nuclear ring.

The Taliban have abrogated all peace deals with Pakistan. And C. Christine Fair insists that the key to stability in Iraq is an effective Pakistani police-force: “[T]he army can’t fix what ails the nation…The army’s past and recent track record in clearing and holding territory is not encouraging.”

Reuters probes China’s rhetorical shift on North Korea. Don’t expect any big policy changes, but China could be laying the ground work for bigger changes down the road: “…the overt expression of disenchantment suggests the Chinese government wants to prepare public opinion for harsher policies toward a country long lauded as a plucky communist friend.”

PONI launches Fissile Material—and today’s round-up is a must-read. Particular thanks for highlighting former UN inspector Charles A. Duelfer’s editorial on weapons inspections and the nuclear dilemmas of North Korea and Iran: “From the experience in Iraq, we have seen the ability of the international community to hide behind inspectors in some circumstances and to expect too much from them in others.”

Peter Wehner slams Obama for contradictory responses to developments in Honduras and Iran.

And check out Foreign Policy’s 2009 Failed State Index.

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Proliferation Press Round-Up: Cheney and Obama Butt Heads Over Torture and GITMO; PONI Gives START its Due; Obama Signs US-UAE Nuclear Deal; China Modernizes Its Nuclear Arsenal

Posted by K.E. White on May 22, 2009

P. Press verdict: With these considerable monitoring stipulations attached, DeThomas’ practicality wins out. While it would be preferable to grant American nuclear technology assistance by a generalizable formula applicable to all nations and keep all dangerous nuclear technology out of the Middle East, these are unrealistic policy positions.  With the NPT conference approaching and Iran’s continued nuclear defiance, strong inducements exist for America to showcase its commitment to assisting the peaceful spread of nuclear technology—especially to nations in the Middle East.

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Afternoon Tea: Holbrooke Goes Big; Thank Bush for Obama! (?); Fight Over America’s Future; Pakistan’s Still A Mess; Don’t Do This On The Queen’s Lawn and Other Exciting News

Posted by K.E. White on April 30, 2009

Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke’s Fat and Free-Wheeling Flotilla At State

Thank you President Bush! Obama’s First 100 Days

Lind vs. Bacevich on ‘The American Century’: Hello again United States of Ponzi? Or Good-Bye and Good Riddance?

While the Pakistani counter-extremist military operations appear successful, will their restraint just set in motion future déjà vu? The Economist probes Pakistani motivations, warning American officials not to harbor false hopes of a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s security outlook. (And yes, Obama meant it when he pledged assistance last night)

And in other news…

China and Japan wrap up their two-day meeting; China signals long road ahead on North Korea. And get to know the Chinese power couple ready to take the dollar down.

‘Ice, Ice Baby’: Russia puts talks of militarizing Antarctica on ice. But gets tough on pork and pirates!

US Attorney General Holder asks for European help to shut down Gitmo in Berlin.

The Dutch get tough on teens.

And what not to do on the Queen’s lawn.

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News From Around The Web: Being ‘frank’ with Frank Gaffney, Japan’s Nuke Itch, US-Russia Nuke Cooperation, Nuclear Abolition and What About the Trash?

Posted by K.E. White on April 21, 2009

Is Japan inching closer to nuclear weapons? Review their nuclear policy here.

PONI (politely) slams Frank Gaffney’s alarmist opt-ed against Obamaland nuclear policy. My attempt to build on PONI’s first critique:

What Gaffney calls ‘cold war nostalgia’ (Obama calls for eventual [i.e. in his life-time] nuclear abolition &cutting US-Russian nuclear stockpiles) is a response to the failed Bush administration policy of nuclear dominance. At this critical period-with Iran and North Korea both push the NPT to irrelevance-a comprehensive view (ie that looks at the role current nuclear stockpiles and nulcear policies have on nuclear proliferation) towards nuclear weapons is necessary. It’s exactly because a handshake between Russia and America no longer defines arms control that Obamaland is trying to resurrect a counterproliferation norm.

Worse case scenario: The attempt fails; and America reverts to dominance or mitigates proliferation fall-out. This out-come seems well worth a chance at preventing an Iranian bomb and mounting stockpiles in North Korea.

Yale lecturer Jonathan Schell goes over Obama’s nuclear speech, and lays out the case for nuclear abolition.

Jeffrey Lewis and Meri Lugo answer this critical question: where do nuclear weapons go to die?

Another shout-out to PONI: Debate on Obama’s goal of nuclear abolition.

And Robert Zarate reviews US-Russian nuclear cooperation and make recommendations for the way forward. One recommendation, in particular, deserves note:

Given that tomorrow’s nuclear threats are likely to arise in war-prone regions roiled by today’s nonproliferation failures, the U.S. should work with Russia, France, Japan, Germany and other key nuclear suppliers to build consensus on what should be the new “model” for civil nuclear cooperation in the Middle East, East Asia, and elsewhere. As NPEC executive director Henry Sokolski has argued, the proposed U.S.-UAE civil nuclear cooperative agreement provides an opportunity for creating greater consensus on these issues. In the version of the agreement that is publicly available, the UAE says it will voluntary forgo enrichment and reprocessing activities (ENR), and the U.S. says it reserves the right to terminate the nuclear cooperation if the UAE does pursue ENR. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described the agreement in January 2009 as “a powerful and timely model for the world and the region.” But if this agreement is to be the new “model” for war-prone regions, then the U.S. should make the ENR disavowal unambiguously legally binding and completely verifiable, and its termination of nuclear cooperation in the event of an ENR violation more automatic. And…the U.S. should ensure that France, Japan, Russia and other nuclear suppliers are willing to fully support this tougher model.

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Proliferation Press News Round-Up

Posted by K.E. White on April 10, 2009

Gates Plan: Zakaria’s “bold” and revolutionary vs. Kori Schake’s “conservative” and backwards-looking critique

Speaking of going backwards, pirates are back with a vengeance-and it’s not funny anymore. One French hostage is dead, while American forces still gather around lifeboat holding Capt. Richard Phillips. But neo-conservatives critics of Obama seem to be playing politics and fudging history. (America has paid off pirates before; and should America really go into Somalia again right now?)

Fear the Russian bear! But I thought it was changing colors? (And will Moldova freeze improving US-Russian relations?)

Think Obama’s goal of a nuclear-free world is ridiculous? Well you better get ready to rumble with Sen. John McCain.

And Michael Reiss pulls for North Korean “malign neglect.”

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