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Archive for the ‘Nuclear Weapons’ Category

Does Obama’s Vision of “Nuclear Zero” Score a Zero?

Posted by K.E. White on May 21, 2010

Having no nukes might be the last thing America—or the world—needs right now.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Abram Shulsky (a better if outdated bio is here) and Douglas J. Feith slam Obama’s goal “nuclear zero” (a commitment to eventual global disarmament).

Douglas J. Feith

While Shulsky and Feith point out logical flaws with the Obama paradigm, they conflate wonkish policy discussion with diplomatic strategy.  Contradiction is no stranger to American foreign policy: look to the Bush Doctrine that combined commitment to expanding global freedom with reliance on authoritarian regimes like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.  Likewise, a world without nuclear arms does present problems.  But the question remains, does this policy plank bring American closer a more secure world.

If the vision of “nuclear zero” corrals Chinese and Russian support for curbing Iran’s nuclear program, or prevents a nuclear tripping point, we can save concerns over a “nuclear zero” world for a distant, and far more secure, future.

Abram N. Shulsky

From Feith and Shulsky’s editorial:

Endorsing nuclear zero makes it even harder for the U.S. government to maintain the nuclear  infrastructure that the president says is essential for our security. Why should a bright young scientist or engineer enter a dying field—especially when innovation is discouraged by support for a permanent ban on weapons testing, and by the renunciation of new weapons development? The NPR states that the administration aims to “enhance recruitment and retention” of technical personnel, but its policies seem sure to drive them away.

The NPR stresses that the world’s nonproliferation regime requires a strong U.S. nuclear umbrella. Yet the proposal can hardly increase confidence in America’s determination to maintain its longstanding global role. U.S. friends overseas worry about their security in a world where America seems determined to shed its burdens as a nuclear power. This will likely spur nuclear proliferation—not discourage it.

President Obama has constructed U.S. nuclear-weapons policy on the assumption that it is helpful to set our goal as the complete abolition of such weapons. But the NPR makes clear that not even the Obama administration can really imagine a world without nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the president’s visionary notions appear likelier to undermine rather than further his own goals of nuclear nonproliferation and stability.

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Obama’s Nuclear Count-Down: What Will the Nuclear Posture Review Yield?

Posted by K.E. White on March 2, 2010

Last fall President Barack Obama rejected the Pentagon’s first Nuclear Posture Review, suggesting that the initial plan was too timid when it came to cutting back America’s nuclear weapons stock-pile.

Six months latter a final posture review seems eminent, though some details remain to be settled.

The New York Times reveals the key sticking point: how far should the United States limit when to use its nuclear weapons?  While some suggest nuclear weapons should only used to deter other nuclear threats, the post-9/11 world has others suggesting it should be used in response to biological or chemical attacks.

But, as pointed out by NYTimes, a third option may leave both sides satisfied:

Mr. Obama’s reliance on new, non-nuclear Prompt Global Strike weapons is bound to be contentious. As described by advocates within the Pentagon and in the military, the new weapons could achieve the effects of a nuclear weapon, without turning a conventional war into a nuclear one. As a result, the administration believes it could create a new form of deterrence — a way to contain countries that possess or hope to develop nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, without resorting to a nuclear option.

But what are non-nuclear prompt global strike (PGS) weapons?  Walter B. Slocombe and Keith B. Payne offer this informative (and readable) report on the subject, which they presented to Rethinking Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Elements of Deterrence, a 2007 conference.

PGS refer to the “capability to strike any point within an hour of authorization” within a bounded set of targets.  Basically, trade the massively destructive power of a nuclear bomb for the pin-point precision of a non-nuclear missile.

Slocombe and Payne’s paper reviews the topic in depth, and points out some draw-backs of swapping nukes for PGS.  Also, this Arms Control Association 2008 article illustrates past Russian objections to such a program.

But, most pressingly, will trading one type of military superiority (nuclear weapons) for another (tactical missile strikes) really change the incentives countries may feel towards gaining nuclear weapons? If not, fewer U.S. nukes could result in spurring more nations to start nuclear programs.  (But the most likely accelerant to proliferation remains Iran and its continuing nuclear brinkmanship.)

In any case, regardless of the nuclear posture review it should be pointed out Obama has already taken steps to change U.S. nuclear weapons policy.  The Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation illustrates the funding increases the White House has proposed for threat reduction and nonproliferation programs. The biggest winner? The Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, funded through the Department of Defense.

Posted in Nuclear Posture Review, Nuclear Weapons | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Biden Talks U.S. Nuclear Strategy: Pushing Increased Funding, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and START Renewal

Posted by K.E. White on February 18, 2010

Biden talks up the Obama administration’s spending on the US nuclear arsenal. The apparent contradiction:  the President who has pledged to work toward nuclear abolition is now seeking to increase U.S. spending on their nuclear arsenal by $624 million. Total spending in Obama’s proposed budget would sit at $7 billion.

Watch Biden’s speech at WhiteHouse.gov.

So where does this play in the Obama administration’s play-book?  Most immediately are ongoing negotiations over renewing START—key senators have pegged approval to increased spending on America’s nuclear deterrent.  The Obama White House is also hoping to finally ratify the nuclear test ban treaty—perhaps sensing the dwindling time they will enjoy 59 votes in the Senate.  Ratifying the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and (at least) signing a START renewal would (under a best-case scenario) precede a Nuclear Security Summit next April Obama will host in Washington D.C.  And this all sets the backdrop to the main event: the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Conference this summer.

And pushing a robust nuclear arms reduction program doesn’t hurt as the Iranian nuclear dilemma drags on.

Karen Travers at ABC.com provides concise and informed coverage of Biden’s speech, specifically linking the funding announcement to START and hopes to ratify the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty:

Biden said that while the both Republicans and Democrats have questioned element of the Obama Administration’s nuclear nonproliferation agenda, including the costs and the reductions, he said he and the president “respectfully disagree.”

“As both the only nation that ever used a nuclear weapon, and as a strong proponent of nonproliferation, the United States has long embodied a stark, but inevitable contradiction,” the vice president said. “The horror of nuclear conflict may make its occurrence unlikely, but its very existence, the very existence of nuclear weapons leaves the human race ever at the brink of self destruction, particularly if the weapons fall into the wrong hands.”

Biden said that U.S. and Russian negotiators were “completing an agreement” on extending the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (START), which expired in December.

Posted in Nuclear Weapons, Obama administration | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Positive Take on the Evans-Kawaguchi Nuclear Threat Report

Posted by K.E. White on January 16, 2010

Last month “Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers”—a joint Australian-Japanese project—was released. While much reaction has been critical, Haaretz correspondent Amir Oren writes this positive editorial:

It is no longer possible to dismiss as negligible the possibility that a fanatical organization will get nuclear arms, materials or know-how from one of its patrons, take advantage of a gap in security and carry out a mass suicide attack. This could happen on a plane, a ship anchored in an American port with a missile launched from the sea, or a truck racing in from Mexico to the American side of the border in California or Arizona. It could also happen if an American who has converted to Islam or is the son of immigrants (like Maj. Hasan) does what Timothy McVeigh did with different motives when he blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, but this with a nuclear weapon.

To deal with nuclear terror it will be necessary to deal with states that sponsor it. To do so, it will be necessary to update the proliferation regime worldwide. Israel will also have to be included in this. Though this is an apocalyptic vision, there is scope for immediate action.

In April Obama will host an international nuclear security summit. It is not clear who will represent Israel there. If the representative is at the very highest level, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also chairs the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, and not the commission’s director general, he will have to defend Israel’s position and not merely recycle the demands concerning Iran.

In May, shortly after Obama’s summit, a committee will meet – as it does every five years – to review the state of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime. Israel is not a signatory to this treaty and is therefore not subject to the regime, but there is significance for Israel in the conjunction of the nuclear meetings and what happens in advance of them.

Last month the report “Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers” was published by the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. Heading the commission were former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans and former Japanese foreign minister Yoriko Kawaguchi. Also on the committee were 13 statesman and experts, among them former American defense secretary William Perry, retired German chief of staff General Klaus Naumann (a good friend of Israel who served as head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Military Committee) and Turki Al Faisal, who headed Saudi intelligence for a quarter of a century. This group of people is privy to many secrets and have access to all the latest information…
The report treats it as fact that Israel is a country in possession of nuclear weapons outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty with an estimated 60 to 200 weapons, some of which are positioned. It mentions a very common assumption that Israel has ceased to produce fissile material but will not explicitly relinquish this route before there is a significant improvement in its security environment. The report recommends applying pressure on Israel – as well as India and Pakistan – to do so.

Evans, Kawaguchi and their partners are aiming at a practical solution. They write: “Recognizing the reality that the three nuclear-armed states now outside the NPT – India, Pakistan and Israel – are not likely to become members any time soon, every effort should be made to achieve their participation in parallel instruments and arrangements which apply equivalent non-proliferation and disarmament obligations.”

The most creative idea in the report is this establishment of a parallel structure, the meaning of which is recognition of the atom’s settlement blocs – a next-generation NPT…

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Britain’s Nuclear Future—And Nuclear Payment to Australia’s Aboriginals

Posted by K.E. White on January 15, 2010

With the Iraq War fallout, Britain has been forced to reassess its military posture. The Financial Times offers an aged—but still—fantastic panel discussion on Britain’s military future.

For this blog, David Davis’ contribution on Britain’s nuclear arsenal merits particular note:

In January, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, former chief of the defence staff, General Lord Ramsbotham and General Sir Hugh Beach described it as “virtually irrelevant” and argued for the funds behind it to be used to provide the army “with what they need to meet the commitments actually laid upon them”.

I do not agree with this argument. It seems to me perverse that we have a nuclear deterrent when we face one or two hostile nuclear powers, both with stable (albeit unpleasant) governments, but abandon it when we have a proliferation of relatively unstable nuclear antagonists.

But that does not mean we should squander money on an upgrade. The reason we decommissioned the cheaper air-dropped WE177 nuclear bombs in the 1990s and kept Trident was because the Trident system was designed to survive an all-out Soviet attack with sufficient power to retaliate. That threat is much reduced, and the bigger threat is of one or two probably inaccurate nuclear weapons from a rogue state…

Is Davis right? Are nuclear weapons useful tools to deter or punish terrorist actions? Or does preventing nuclear terrorism require nuclear-armed nations to reduce or disarm their stockpiles?

Note that the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council also represent the only five legally recognized nuclear-armed states under the NPT. Would one of the P-5 disarming, however small their arsenal may be, help reinforce international norms against proliferation?

Whatever the answers, by avoiding it Davis fails to prove the worth of a U.K. nuclear deterrent.

P.S. Britain and Australia have completed decontaminating and returning aboriginal lands used for 1950s nuclear tests.

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Pakistan’s Nuclear (In)security: Fact or Fiction?

Posted by K.E. White on May 19, 2009

Fears over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal have flooded the wires. But how real is this threat?

NPR’s May 6th report paints a worrisome, but not catastrophic picture, of Pakistan’s nukes: stating that the arsenal is secure, but as long as extremists operate in and control more of Pakistan, the risk of theft becomes more likely.

Steven R. David considers the nuclear threat from Pakistan more dangerous than the Cuban missile crisis. He views Pakistan’s refusal to add US-manufactured safety devices and divulge, combined with the real possibility that the Pakistani military and government collapse, makes shoring up Pakistan’s civilian government and command-and-control procedures an American foreign policy imperative.

(Note: I believe David’s article betrays a facile reading of history regarding today’s Pakistan vs. yesterday’s Cuba. Vasili Alexandrovich Arkipov’s, Russian submarine B-59’s second captain, voted against the use of nuclear weapons even though in the face of intense U.S. depth-charging. Arkipov’s dissent from his ship’s captain and chief political officer “saved the world from a nuclear cataclysm.” [Michael Krepon’s Better Safe Than Sorry: The Ironies of Living with the Bomb, page 36])

But Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at Center for American Progress, urges caution. He points to various reasons why the fear of the army collapsing, cooperating with extremists or the Pakistani state collapsing are overblown.

Korb’s key points:

  • “the Pakistani military, which numbers about 1 million soldiers, has enough brute force to prevent the Taliban from breaking out of the rural areas of the frontier provinces and into the heart of Pakistan
  • “It’s also important to note that Islamabad’s intelligence service, or ISI, which has been a renegade operation for nearly two decades, has been brought under the army’s control.
  • the Pakistani Army is composed mostly of Punjabis, and the Taliban insurgents are entirely Pashtun. Therefore, the army won’t let these insurgents, who they see as outsiders, take control of the heart of Pakistan (as opposed to the frontier areas) or the nuclear weapons.
  • The Pakistani Army jealously guards its reputation. In fact, it places a higher priority on its reputation and its interest than that of the country.”

Posted in Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Costs of Love: Building Off PONI’s Response to ‘Learning to Love the Bomb’

Posted by K.E. White on March 24, 2009

K.E. White builds on PONI’s recent discussion of Adam B. Lowther’s recent editorial ‘Learning to Love The Bomb’. Here he suggests there is a middle ground between the two extremes Lowther presents as America’s choices on nuclear policy: dominance or abolition. Instead, looking to Michael Krepon’s recent book ‘Better Safe Than Sorry,’ White contends there is a middle ground between nuclear dominance and abolition: one where nuclear weapon states cooperative to minimize the dangers of nuclear accidents and exchanges, and work assiduously against nuclear proliferation.

PONI recently explored Adam Lowther’s article ‘Learning to Love the Bomb,’ where Lowther argued against unilateral cuts to America’s nuclear arsenal. While PONI problematized Lowther’s arguments against nuclear abolition, but does get to the central weakness of Lowther’s editorial. Lowther insists on a bifurcated approach to America’s nuclear policy: either America seeks nuclear dominance or weak-kneed nuclear abolition. But there is a middle ground between these choices, one that recognizes the incomplete security afforded by nuclear weapons and the risk that America nuclear dominance may very well set off a new era of nuclear proliferation.

In carving out this middle ground, I am heavily indebted to a book I recently completed—Michael Krepon’s recent book, ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’. There Krepon explores nuclear weapon history, the history of arms-controls and lays out a framework of Cooperative Threat Reduction to minimize nuclear dangers.

Lowther’s argument will be reviewed over three categories: the role played by nuclear weapons over the last 60+ years, the current state of America’s nuclear arsenal and, finally, contrasting the nuclear futures of dominance vs. cooperative threat reduction.

i.                    Nuclear History 

Lowther underplays the danger of accidents involving nuclear weapons. His ‘proof’ that nuclear weapons aren’t dangerous is that no nuclear or radiological device has been set-off since the nuclear detonations closing out WWII. 

a.        Russia and America did have a very close call: the Cuban Missile crisis. Most people would consider going back to that era unacceptable. Also America has had a history of nuclear accidents: a warhead crashing into the sea and another falling in the continental United States. All this is to say, that America and Russia were fortunate to get through the Cold War without a nuclear exchange or accidental detonation. Such a result was not predetermined, and reflected a period of decades through which the United States and the Soviet Union matured their diplomatic relations–and had good luck. 

b.       Today nine countries possess nuclear weapons. As this number increases, so too would the risk of accidental detonation or nuclear exchange. The United States and the Soviet Union were ‘ideal’ nuclear competitors: both spent huge sums of money producing and protecting their nuclear arsenal, and were internally stable. Can one say this about North Korea or Iran? 

c.        Lowther presents an inverted measure of nuclear success. The absence of a single nuclear detonation or accident is ‘proof’ of nuclear stability. But he does not concede the inverse: that a single successful detonation or nuclear accident is, to many, an unacceptable occurrence. Never having a nuclear detonation is not success; reducing that possibility in the present and future is success. Lowther simply proves America’s nuclear approach has been sufficient, not ideal or even the best approach towards international security. 

ii.                    America’s Nuclear Arsenal Today 

a.        Lowther gives credit to past arms control agreements and American nuclear policy without showing that the world has changed. Yes, America has cut its nuclear arsenal. But at the same time decisions over redesigning nuclear warheads or investigating nuclear-tipped bunker-buster bombs would signal a growing American nuclear policy, not reducing.

b.       While America does not fly 24-7 nuclear missions, it still holds nuclear-weapons on hair-trigger alert. In 15 minutes America—and Russia—could launch thousands of nuclear weapons. Is this really required for American or Russian security?

c.        America’s nuclear decisions impact the calculus of other nation’s nuclear policies. If America modernizes or grows its arsenal, other nations (nuclear and non-nuclear) would react. At the very least, America failing to limit its nuclear-weapons umbrella undercuts the very diplomatic support needed to reverse the Iranian nuclear program.

iii.                 The Problems With Nuclear Dominance

Lowther pushes America policymakers to maximize any advantage it has over nuclear weapons, aka pursue nuclear dominance. This logic suggests that America can only find security in arming itself. Yet one may suggest that the utility of nuclear weapons—at least for the world’s current nuclear powers—are limited. No nation can afford nuclear war. And at the same time conventional weapons have the ability to decapitate the regime of a nation in a single precision strike.  It seems our competition with China and Russia is not really well-served by nuclear weapons stockpiles, but rather in avoiding these costly decisions and working together to limit nuclear proliferation to other nations. 

History has show that the nuclear dimension to nation-state relations is a key component to overall relations between nuclear states.  When nations use a ‘go it alone’ approach on nuclear weapons, not only do relations with other nations suffer—it tends to cause ‘nuclear’ reactions that undercut the goal of limiting nuclear proliferation. For example, recent reports that the Obama administration would consider pulling back on a missile shield in Eastern Europe will return for Russian assistance with the Iranian nuclear program. This diplomatic development shows 1) nuclear dominance does not stop nuclear proliferation and 2) that nuclear cooperation can advance international security far better than nuclear weapons. 

Lowther presents America’s nuclear weapons policy in a vaccum. In so doing, Lowther refuses to admit the complicated and crosscrossing issues involved America’s nuclear deterrent. A hypothetical: If the United States modernizes its nuclear arsenal, its likely not only that China and Russia will follow–but that relations will be strained. This, as a result, then impacts others dimensions of our nuclear policy: whether that clamping down dangerous materials, insisting on nuclear inspections or stopping nations from developing nuclear weapons.

As the world’s largest holder of nuclear weapons predominant nuclear power*, America’s nuclear choices  heavily shapes the nuclear dimension of our international system.

Conclusion

Lowther constructs a straw-man against a rational approach to nuclear weapons in America. The United States can conclude agreements that minimize the danger of nuclear terrorism, a  nuclear weapons exchange or nuclear accidents.

Such a approach does not sacrifice America’s nuclear deterrent; such an approach, in fact, fosters the cooperation needed to 1) limit nuclear weapons proliferation and 2) keep nuclear materials out of terrorist hands.

Again, there is a middle-ground to Lowther’s nuclear dominance and sudden nuclear abolition: cooperative nuclear policy between nuclear nations. Nuclear proliferation is the greatest threat to global security. Defending a bloated nuclear arsenal and alienating possible counter-proliferation partners does nothing to minimize that threat. 

*Correction: Russia, not the United States, holds the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. But America clearly enjoys a predominant nuclear deterrent. From the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review: “Russia maintains the most formidable nuclear forces, aside from the United States, and substantial, if less impressive, conventional capabilities. There now are, however, no ideological sources of conflict with Moscow, as there were during the Cold War. The United States seeks a more cooperative relationship with Russia and a move away from the balance-of-terror policy framework, which by definition is an expression of mutual distrust and hostility. As a. result, a [nuclear strike] contingency involving Russia, while plausible, is not expected.” (p. 17) 

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Michael Krepon’s ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’ Makes The Economist

Posted by K.E. White on February 12, 2009

Picture of Michael Krepon

The Economist gives a glowing summary of Better Safe Than Sorry: The Ironies of Living with the Bomb, by Michael Krepon–“one of America’s most sensible specialists in nuclear-risk reduction”.

Michael Krepon is co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center. He also teaches politics at the University of Virginia, where I had the pleasure to be one of his students. 

From the book review:

Mr Krepon picks out five principles from the cold war that can still apply in lesser but still dangerous circumstances today: deterrence (an irrational set of theories that, ironically, grew out of attempts to think seriously about the bomb); conventional military strength; containment; diplomatic engagement; and, one useful result of all of the above, a readiness on both sides to engage in arms control. An equal achievement was the durability of the nuclear non-proliferation regime: most governments took the rational decision in seemingly irrational times that nuclear abstinence was the safest route to security.

It was the combination that counted: a lesson forgotten after the September 11th 2001 attacks, when George Bush sought America’s safety at first, not in diplomacy, containment and the judicious use of preventive strikes, but in military dominance and a disdain for diplomacy as a strategy. It was this new sort of “better safe than sorry” approach, whatever intelligence mistakes were made over Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, that led Mr Bush to launch the world’s first preventive war for non-proliferation.

America’s new president is ready to re-engage on arms control, argue for still more radical weapons cuts and make “zero” the guiding thought of his nuclear policy. But Mr Krepon, a radical but no dove, counsels caution: zero may yet prove a better guide for the journey than a destination. Disarmament, like nuclear abstinence in the first nuclear age, has to be a rational calculation, not an act of faith; impatience can be the enemy of radicalism. Much, he argues, will depend on how those five key principles are now applied to Iran, whose nuclear ambitions are the greatest challenge to stability in the second nuclear age.

Purchase the book via Amazon here, and read his recent article Does Threat Reduction Require Threat Inflation here. A Proliferation Press review is on its way.

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Chicago Tribune: ‘West is urged to accept Iran’s nuclear program’

Posted by proliferationpr on December 11, 2008

Attention-grabbing headline, though a bit misleading—the next line reads: ‘Arms-control expert says goal should be stopping Tehran from building a bomb

So is the best way to stop an Iranian nuclear bomb to accept Iranian enrichment of uranium and nuclear-energy production: thereby giving Iran the raw materials nessecary for nuclear weapons?

The Tribune brings attention to a recent IISS report  (download PDF here or read summary text without download) by Mark Fitzpatrick calling on Western nations shift their diplomatic energies from stopping Iran’s nuclear energy program to stymieing an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

 I would comment on the report, unfortunately it demands a reader’s fee. But my first reactions to such a shift in strategy are as follows:

1)      Isn’t the real problem in the Iranian nuclear dilemma the threat of Israel preemptively attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities? Would shifting U.S. foreign policy away from Iran’s nuclear enrichment only further the likelihood of such an attack?

2)      Fitzgerald’s approach seems very similar to the approach taken by Western nations towards India and Pakistan’s nuclear programs throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Though there is an important difference: Iran remains a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—concerned nations offering diplomatic leverage over Iran. Also the gradual evolution from ‘latent’ to ‘active’ nuclear weapons capability did provide time for the international system to respond, and in the case of Iran might hold out the following possibility: in five to ten years, the Iranian regime may look very different than it does today. And shifting focus from Iran’s nuclear energy program would play well to Iranian citizens, currently supporting what they believe to be their country’s fight for sovereignty and energy independence.

3)      President-Elect Obama’s task: To resolutely combat Iran’s nuclear program, while designing a new and appealing diplomatic posture towards Iran while preparing the American public for a world with another latent nuclear power. Iran successfully testing a nuclear bomb could very well box-in Obama’s ambitious foreign and domestic policies, mirroring the campaign against Truman when China went Communist under his watch. And such a Iran debacle comes with this added thorn: an anxious Israel one-step away from launching air-strikes against Iranian nuclear targets.    

The IISS report mirrors suggestions by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who holds out hope that Obama can turn the tide on what he considers the Bush administration’s failed approach towards Iran. From the Global Security Newswire:

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei last week said the international community has failed to contain Iranian atomic activities that could support a nuclear weapons program, the Los Angeles Times reported (see GSN, Dec. 4).
Iran has endured economic isolation over its nuclear drive but has repeatedly rejected offers of economic and security benefits to halt its disputed nuclear work, which it defends as strictly peaceful.
“We haven’t really moved one inch toward addressing the issues,” ElBaradei told the newspaper. “I think so far the policy has been a failure.”
Sanctions aimed at punishing Tehran’s defiance have ultimately contributed to “more hardening of the position of Iran,” he said. “Many Iranians who even dislike the regime (are) gathering around the regime because they feel that country is under siege.”
However, ElBaradei added that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has offered “lots of hope” by expressing willingness to diplomatically engage U.S. antagonists such as Iran and by making worldwide nuclear disarmament a goal of his political party.
“He is ready to talk to his adversaries, enemies, if you like, including Iran, also (North) Korea,” ElBaradei said, arguing that President George W. Bush has been slow to engage international foes. “To continue to pound the table and say, ‘I am not going to talk to you,’ and act in a sort of a very condescending way — that exaggerates problems.”
ElBaradei suggested that Washington and Tehran could launch talks addressing the nuclear dispute along with other points of contention dating back decades (Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 6).

Posted in Iran, nuclear energy, Nuclear Weapons | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Japanese Nuclear Flare Up Running Only On Fumes? Removed Air Force Chief Defends Revisionist Wartime History Views & Calls for Nuclear Weapon Debate

Posted by K.E. White on December 2, 2008

Gen. Toshio Tamogami, the former Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff who was fired after publishing an essay that opposed viewing WWII-era Japan as an aggressor nation, has now called for national debate over whether to develop nuclear weapons.

But does this comment merit sounding the nuclear alarm bell? No. Not only is Japan’s governing party—the LDP—backing away from Tamogami’s comments, polls for Japan’s upcoming elections suggest ballot-box disaster for the LDP and the military-nationalistic ambitions some LDP members hold.

Instead it appears any changes to Japan’s pacific constitution will be aimed at charting a ‘middle power’ path: where Japan aims to flex more military muscle, but within the confines of its alliance with the United States and current constitutional parameters.

Bloomberg News reports on Tamogami’s call for a nuclear weapons debate in Japan:

continue reading this article

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