Proliferation Press

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

Archive for the ‘Putin’ Category

Thursday Morning Tea

Posted by K.E. White on November 1, 2007

Mirroring the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country, the new counter-proliferation teams “will bring together the prosecutors, the investigating agencies, the export licensing agencies, and the intelligence community to coordinate their efforts against export theft on both the strategic and an operational level,” Wainstein said.

  • The American Interest tackles American grand strategy. Key-word: restraint. But what about solving two thorny dilemmas: stabilizing Iraq and keeping Iran nuclear-weapons free.
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Posted in Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Department of Justice, GNEP, HR 1400, Nukes of Hazard, Putin, Russia | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Putin’s Nuclear Proposal To Iran

Posted by K.E. White on October 18, 2007

Why were Putin and Ahmadinejad smiling so much? 

Could it have been owing to a break through on Iran’s nuclear program? 

The Associated Press reports on this nuclear speculation:

Russian President Vladimir Putin made an unspecified proposal about Iran’s nuclear program at a private meeting with the country’s supreme leader during a brief trip to Tehran, Iran’s state news agency said Wednesday.

Russian officials could not immediately be reached to verify the report and the Iranian news agency provided no details on what Putin had proposed.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all government matters, said Iran will give Putin’s proposal serious thought before giving a response, the news agency said.

“We will ponder your words and proposal,” IRNA quoted Khamenei as saying.

But before getting excited, remember that Russia has tried this before. CNN.com reports on a 2005 Putin proposal that Iran shot down

Moscow had offered to enrich uranium in Russia for nuclear fuel and have it sent to Iran. The offer was backed by the United States and by Britain, France, and Germany, which have tried to negotiate a solution to the Iranian issue.

Posted in Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran, Nuclear, nuclear proposal, Putin | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Russia Update: Still Denying Blame for the Georgia Missile Flap; Russia Expels British Diplomats; Joint China-Russia Terror Exercise Performed

Posted by K.E. White on August 22, 2007

Summary: The bear is roaring in Russia. Russia is maintaining its hard-line stance in Georgia and on the Alexander Litvinenko murder. The reason? Russia is reasserting its diplomatic weight. And, in even more SCO news, China and Russia hold their first joint terror drills.

Two independent groups agree with Georgia in the missile dispute between Russia and Georgia.

But, if accurate, what was the rationale for this peculiar action?

The most recent PINR report delves into this issue. Seeing Georgia as a “catalyst of Russo-Western tensions in the wider Black Sea region” Dr. Federico Bordonaro confirms the ‘missile’ verdict: finding Russia guilty of violating Georgian airspace.

The reason? Push back against Western influence in the region. Russia has taken harder positions on Kosovo and US-backed plans for a European missile shield. There seems to be a battle for influence: with Russia preferring OSCE to be the central playing ground in Europe, not NATO. The reason? Russia’s veto power in OSCE. The Western preference is NATO, naturally.

From the PINR report:

The timing of the incident also raises questions. Russia is saber-rattling: strategic bombers are now regularly flying again beyond Russian airspace, like in the Cold War years; military expenses are on the rise; Moscowannounced a moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and openly accuses\nWashington of unilaterally destroying the\nEuropean strategic balance by setting up a B.M.D.\nsystem without consulting Russia. At the same\ntime, the Kremlin has adopted rigid stances on\nKosovo, Transnistria, and Georgia. The impression is that Russia wants to\nreposition itself clearly as a re-established\nglobal power before the United States elects a\nnew president in the fall of 2008. American\npre-election tactics, Washington’s difficult\nMiddle East campaign, and high oil and gas prices\ngive Russia an opportunity to accelerate its\ncomeback. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that\nMoscow will seek an extreme diplomatic crisis\nwith Washington in the coming months and years.\nInstead, it will presumably formulate a broad\nproposal, designed to re-negotiate its strategic\nrelations with the West. Briefly said, Russia\nwants to re-negotiate what it had to do in\n1990-1992 from a weak position, during its deep\npolitical, economic, and military crisis that\nfollowed the perestroika years. The Tsitelubani incident\nand the following inquiry have some important\nramifications and implications for both global\nand regional actors. The U.S. and E.U. low-key\nprotests signal the weakness of the Euro-Atlantic\nalliance at this moment. Apart from some\nsensationalist articles in the press, which try\nto validate the theory of a full-blown neo-Cold\nWar, Western diplomatic reactions have been\ncautious. Western divisions, which\nstem from the different security and strategic\ncultures in Europe and the United States,\ncontinue to hamper the birth of a comprehensive\nAtlantic geostrategy in the wider Black Sea\nregion — notwithstanding the sea of printed\nproposals and studies on the issue. Russia is\nsuccessfully exploiting such a void, especially\nat a time of U.S. fatigue in the Middle East and\nAfghanistan. As a consequence of such\nWestern tactical difficulties and strategic\ndilemmas, Russia will remain confident and at\ntimes threatening in the South Caucasus, despite\ninternational condemnation for actions such as\nthose carried out in Upper Kodori or South\nOssetia.”, and openly accuses Washington of unilaterally destroying the European strategic balance by setting up a B.M.D. system without consulting Russia. At the same time, the Kremlin has adopted rigid stances on Kosovo, Transnistria, and Georgia.

The results of the missile incident’s ongoing inquiry appear to contradict Russian claims and will presumably augment Moscow’s negative image among Euro-Atlantic decision-makers. However, this seems to be a calculated risk by Russia. At the moment, the Kremlin gives less importance to its international image than to its ability to put pressure on some geostrategic hotspots.

Driving a wedge between pro-Western elites in former Soviet states and the enlarged N.A.T.O. is critical for Russia’s geopolitical interests. Therefore, look for Moscow to insist on a series of negotiations on the wider Black Sea region’s frozen conflicts and Kosovo, which will seek to secure Russian interests and influence. The and E.U. will now have to make a fundamental decision: either they opt for a harder stance and try to continue the expansion of the Euro-Atlantic geostrategic realm deep inside, or they will need to take Russian interests seriously. This latter possibility would mean that the broad arc of instability extending from Belarus to Central Asia through the wider Black Sea region will assume a bipolar structure (the Euro-Atlantic combine and Moscow being the two poles), where Russia will be able to project power and influence, notwithstanding the E.U. and N.A.T.O.’s enlargement.

Now an accommodation can be made, but the Russian broadcast is clear: Europe will have to take Russian interests into account.

In other news, China and Russia are conducting joint terrorism exercises next month in Moscow:

China‘s armed police and the interior forces of Russia will conduct for the first time a joint anti-terrorism drill in Moscow in early September.

“Cooperation 2007” will be the first international anti-terrorism exercise for China’s armed police outside the country.

The drill was in accordance with the principles of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and related agreements signed by the two countries, Xinhua news agency reported.

And remember the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko? Britain does. And Britain’s demand for answers continue to brew trouble against the countries. But fret not:

“I think British-Russian relations will develop normally. We are interested in the development of relations both from the Russian side and from the British,” Putin said on the sidelines of an ethnic festival in western Russia.

“I am sure that this mini-crisis will be overcome,” he added.

Posted in Alexander Litvinenko, Britain, China, Federico Bordonaro, Georgia, missile, NATO, OSCE, Putin, Russia, SCO | Leave a Comment »

Russia Roars: Putin Blasts NATO Missile Defense; Diplomatic Combat Over Kosovo

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

Numerous news-sites commented on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to withdraw from The Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe arms treaty (CFE), voiced during his final annual address to the Federation Council (Russia’s upper house of Congress).

Reuters offers a succinct summary of what such a diplomatic withdrawal would mean. The treaty restricts armaments throughout Europe–from Atlantic and Russia’s Ural mountains. But more important is the treaty’s symbolic significance: to foster a cooperative security environment between Europe and Russia.

Putin’s move signals to Europe and America his unhappiness with the geopolitical status quo, and perhaps a willingness to shake that norm up.

PutinReuters points out that lately Russia has felt the CFE has become a diplomatic tool to box Russia in and accept pro-West policies.

But Putin pointed specifically to NATO’s missile defense plans—spearheaded by the United States—as a reason for possible CFE withdrawal.

This issue directly relates to speculation over the possibility of a new nuclear arms/war technology race.

If large regional powers—China and Russia—feel their nuclear deterrents are no longer effective, their security concerns could derail cooperation with the United States and their allies on a host of over issues.

And Kosovo may be the first casualty. Russia is currying opposition to Kosovo independence, contrary to American and European aims. While Russian opposition has other–and more substantial–roots, the feuding over missile defense certainly does not help.

And to top things off, a WWII monument is severely souring relations between Russia and Estonia.

The Russian bear is roaring, and putting the world community on note.

Posted in Kosovo, missile defense, NATO, Putin, Russia | Leave a Comment »

START Treaty Expiration Road: Is the Bush Administration Jettisoning Arms Control Completely?

Posted by K.E. White on March 7, 2007

The Washington Times reports today on the looming expiration of the START Treaty, and the failure of Russian and American diplomats to agree on extending the agreement.

From the Washington Times: Where have the good times gone?

The Bush administration has rebuffed Russian overtures to negotiate a legally binding replacement of the 1991 START I treaty that reduced the two countries’ strategic nuclear forces but is set to expire in 2009, U.S. and Russian officials said yesterday…

While the Russians insist on a legally binding agreement, the Americans have focused on “transparency and confidence-building measures” that would still allow both sides to verify each others’ arsenals and capabilities.

The Washington Times provides this historical overview:

START I, signed by President George Bush in 1991, obliged Moscow and Washington to cut their deployed strategic nuclear forces of about 10,000 warheads apiece down to 6,000 each. The treaty can be extended, but either side must notify the other one year before it expires on Dec. 5, 2009.


START II, which was negotiated in 1993, never entered into force because the U.S. Senate and the Russian parliament ratified two different versions. Moscow repudiated the accord a day after the June 13, 2002, U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) that banned strategic missile defense systems.

To replace the ABM, the current Bush administration negotiated SORT, which obligated the United States and Russia to reduce their deployed offensive nuclear forces to 1,700 to 2,200 strategic warheads each by Dec. 31, 2012, when the accord expires.

 

So why the divide? It actually is nothing new: The Bush administration has consistently sort to revise the arms control regime. Supporters of the approach laud it’s focus on the real threats facing America—international terrorism, in particular—and the move away from important, but largely irrelevant features like the number of warheads dismantled.

Jeffrey Larsen advocated this view in his 2005 publication, “National Security and Neo-Arms Control in the Bush Administration”:

The Bush administration’s preemptive policy and the NPR’s recommendations all meet Schelling’s and Halperin’s criteria. They represent a new, radically different means of handling international challenges formerly dealt with through arms control. In effect, and in what will seem to many a counterintuitive concept, the NPR and its related documents are arms control – but what we might call “neo-arms control”. Paradoxically, the administration itself does not seem to recognise it as such, and have accordingly failed to mount a good public relations effort to highlight their approach.

But to critics, it’s anything but a “neo-arms control.”

This is a selection from Michael Krepon’s 2004 publication, “The Bush Administration’s Record on Proliferation and Arms Control”:

 

The unbalanced approach adopted by the Bush administration has not fostered the conditions necessary for the progressiveMichael Krepon reduction and elimination of the most deadly, indiscriminate weapons. The pursuit of greater U.S. military supremacy only builds confidence in those pursuing it, but not where that dominance might someday be applied. As a consequence China and Russia are hedging their bets, and without their active support, the toughest proliferation cases will get tougher. If Beijing and Moscow perceive that the pursuit of even greater U.S. dominance is designed to negate their deterrents, they will take compensating measures. They will also confine their cooperation with U.S. efforts to stem, reverse, and eliminate deadly weapons to very narrow definitions of national interest.

 

Thus for many arms control advocates, the START Treaty represents another Bush assault on cooperative arms reductions agreements. Daryl Kimball lays out the proper narrative in which to view this latest START crisis :

Daryl KimballThe Cold War may be over, but the nuclear-armed missiles and suspicions remain. Now, Washington’s plan to deploy ground-based missile interceptors in the former Eastern Bloc—coupled with the expansion of NATO and the Bush administration’s resistance to further offensive nuclear reductions—are increasing Moscow’s anxieties about U.S. strategic missile capabilities.

U.S. officials say their anti-missile systems are designed to deal with a potential Iranian missile force not Russia’s. They correctly note that even if 10 U.S.-controlled missile interceptors are eventually stationed in Poland, Russia’s missiles could overwhelm and evade the defenses with far cheaper countermeasures.

And as Valdimir Frolov adds to the drama surrounding Bush administration plans for a European missile defense shield. He compares the quiet mumbling that accompanied the death of the ABM Treaty in 2002 against the recent rancor between Russia and America.

Nuclear anxieties are back, and with a vengeance.

The Bush administration does have a legitimate strategic concern: if—not when, it seems—Iran obtains nuclear weapons, the United States must be prepared. The old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty bargain no longer works: Countries that want nukes are going to get them.

But, by undermining relations with Russia, Washington is making effective multilateral diplomacy with Iran impossible. Unless America can get Russia and China behind any Iranian diplomatic action, there will be no way to avert the nuclear crisis with Tehran.

The START Treaty drama, and the overall arms control dialog it plays a part within, shows that while the Bush administration may be written off by the American public, it still plays a large and precedent-setting role when it comes to America’s strategic posture and those of over nations.

What arms-control template—“neo” or “traditional”—the Bush administration is able to push through, will constrain the options of the next administration.

And may just make our world that much more prone to nuclear peril.

Posted in America, Arms Control, Bush administration, Daryl Kimball, Jeffrey Larsen, Michael Krepon, Nuclear Weapons, Putin, Russia, START Treaty, Washington Times | Leave a Comment »

India Goes Roos for Nukes: Has Bush’s U.S.-India Nuclear Gambit Failed?

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

President Bush, upon signing the India nuclear deal, told detractors that India becoming a stanch U.S. ally was well worth any unfounded proliferation concerns:American President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

“The United States and India are natural partners,” Bush said at a signing ceremony in the East Room attended

While that may be true, it seems that America’s decision to open up nuclear technology and material trade to India might be pushing India just as close to other countries: specifically, Russia.

Seems like those “rivalries” from the Cold War are back.

AKI news reports on Putin’s no-strings attached offer to India for nuclear materials and technology:

In an interview…on the eve of his departure for India, President Putin has said that this access should be available under the framework of international centres for nuclear fuel enrichment under the control of international organisations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He said that all countries had the right to access modern technologies “while simultaneously complying with the principles and requirements of non-proliferation.”

Putin said that he was referring not just to India but also to “threshold” countries like Iran, which should all be looked at as universal and not isolated cases. He made it clear that Russia did not want to be a superpower as it did not “wantRussian President Putin and the Indian Prime Minister to be the object of fear and be regarded as the enemy.” In the process, he has thrown open the doors for nuclear cooperation with India without attaching a single condition for a permanent and uninterrupted supply of nuclear fuel for the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, construction of additional nuclear reactors and transfer of reprocessing technology…

The US is now getting worried about the Russian strategy to not just open the doors for India, but to also set the pace for greater cooperation in the key nuclear and defence sectors. Unlike the other recent visits by President Putin to India, this one is very different, according to experts here, who see in it a top-level decision to give a new momentum to India-Russia relations for an era of accelerated cooperation.

The Times of India reports on what to expect from Putin’s New Delhi visit:

A statement of intent on nuclear cooperation, a joint venture between Rosneft and OVL and first steps together in space development will mark Russian president Vladimir Putin’s bi-annual visit to India. India and Russia are expected to sign around 10 agreements on Thursday…

The final clause is the key here: until the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) grants India an exemption, Russia will not move a muscle in that direction.

This has been made very clear to India, despite an eagerness on part of the UPA government to get Russia to commit itself, which could have been construed as a testimony to India’s ‘independence’.

The NYTimes fails to completely convey the irony of this development for the Bush administration:

As for weaponry, Russia is already India’s largest military partner. Paradoxically, when the India-United States nuclear deal opens the door for New Delhi to buy acquire technology for its civilian nuclear program, Russia may benefit the most. Kanwal Sibal,Is this in the balance? India’a ambassador to Russia, predicted that Russia would be “among the first, if not the first, to walk in” and sell technology to India.

The deal with the United States permits India to purchase nuclear fuel, reactors and other items around the world, provided that it obtains advance approval from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a coalition of 45 countries that regulates international atomic trade. Russia is already building two nuclear reactors in India, and the Russian defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, was quoted earlier this week by Interfax saying that his government was prepared to build more.

But why, when India is so close to winning a hard-fought deal with the United States is India so quick to conclude a deal with Russia—particularly when they still need to overcome the hurdle for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)?

Beyond the simple reason that the majority of the Indian public thinks nuclear technology is its right and not some U.S. gift to confer, there is another fact that the International Herald Tribune highlights:

A key element of their relationship was rooted in an unwritten code: that India would buy enormous amounts of Russian military hardware, and Moscow would not supply defense equipment to India’s neighboring archrival, Pakistan.

Russian politicians warned there will likely be consequences if India shops elsewhere.

“I believe this situation could stay, but only on condition that India, in its turn, will continue to view Russia as the main source of weapons,” Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told The Associated Press.

So while it would seem diplomatically “smart” to first get the U.S. deal finished up, India 1) must win the support of other NSG’s members, like Russia, and 2) feels an intense pressure to assuage any Russian fears that India is now firmly in the American bloc.

While understandable, this shift seems to highlight the faulty logic of the Bush administration. The Bush White House put nuclear issues–and not trade–at the heart of the Indian relationship.

In so doing, they have allowed other nuclear powers–be they China or Russia–to more evenly compete with them for influence in India, a nation whose public is very attune to their nuclear status–eschewing our natural advantages: India and the United States are liberal states, both are democratic and have strong economic ties.

In any case, arguments that this deal–in the short-term–would wedge India into the American camp when it came to international relations have been off the mark.

Whether in the long-term this changes is an open question: but it seems Bush’s emphasis on bestowing nuclear acceptance to India has proven a costly distraction.

In sum: America has been seen as the state that has relaxed prohibitions against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, without getting anything in return.

Posted in Bush administration, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, India, Manmohan Singh, Nuclear Suppliers Group, Pakistan, Proliferation News, Putin, Russia, U.S. India Nuclear Deal | Leave a Comment »