Proliferation Press

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

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Mark Hibbs on Germany’s Confusion Over Whether the China-Pakistan N-Deal Should Be Grandfathered In

Posted by K.E. White on July 18, 2011

In an earlier post on the China-Pakistan nuclear deal, I pointed out China’s argument that it’s reactor sale to Pakistan should be grandfathered in since it had pre-existing contracts with Pakistan before joining the NSG.

Mark Hibbs, indirectly but very clearly, pulls down this defense–and, in doing so, shows how even countries can get confused by what goes on in NSG meetings.

“China has pledged—and is expected—to abide by the NSG guidelines on the transfers of nuclear equipment, technology, and material…If China did seek to provide additional reactors to Pakistan, it would need NSG accommodation… We do not believe that the 45 member states of the NSG would agree to such an accommodation…”

During last month’s 2011 NSG plenary meeting, the NSG’s participating governments did not agree on whether China’s export to Pakistan should be permitted to be grandfathered. It wasn’t even close.

With all due consideration for Germany’s resolve to keep secret China’s statement from 2004, what gives? If China’s explanation was watertight and substantiated—and if Condi Rice was wrong—China’s assertion that the commerce with Pakistan should be grandfathered should have been compelling for all PGs at last month’s NSG annual meeting. But it wasn’t.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The Nuclear Numbers Game: Global News Wire & Keith Payne’s Worry Over the U.S. Nuclear Umbrella

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

Global Security Newswire should really contextualize their sources.

In their May 9th piece on Obama’s push to cut the U.S. arsenal, the focus is on former Deputy Aassistant Defense Secretary Keith Payne’s testimony to a Congressional commission.  His main point:  be very wary of cutting the U.S. nuclear arsenal–

Washington provides “extended deterrence” to each of its 27 NATO allies as well as Australia, Japan and South Korea. By doing so, Washington promises to defend partner states with its nuclear arsenal in the event of an attack or the threat of one.

As of one year ago, the Pentagon had 5,113 strategic and tactical warheads in its commissioned nuclear arsenal (see GSN, May 4, 2010). The recently implemented New START pact requires both Russia and the United States to reduce their stocks of deployed long-range nuclear weapons to 1,550.

Payne said the commission heard from “senior voices” in Japan that “the threshold at which point they start to become very worried about the credibility of the U.S. extended nuclear deterrent is if the U.S. starts moving down to 1,000 nuclear warheads.”

“When we start looking at numbers that potentially go well below that, we will be potentially jeopardizing the credibility” of the nuclear umbrella in the eyes of U.S. allies, he said, without detailing the reasoning behind the criticality of the 1,000-weapon count.

Yet, as Fred Kaplan documented in a 2003 article, Payne is not exactly netural when it comes to nuclear assessments:

Payne is not a well-known figure, even in Washington policy circles. But he ought to be. He is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for “forces policy”—essentially, the Pentagon’s top civilian official assigned to the development, procurement, planning, and possible use of nuclear weapons.

For 20 years before he came to the Pentagon at the start of the George W. Bush administration, Payne was at the forefront of a small group of think-tank mavens—outspoken but, at the time, marginal—who argued not only that nuclear weapons were usable, but that nuclear war was, in a meaningful sense, winnable. He first made his mark with an article in the summer 1980 issue of Foreign Policy (written with fellow hawk Colin Gray) called “Victory Is Possible.” Among its pronouncements: “an intelligent United States offensive [nuclear] strategy, wedded to homeland defenses, should reduce U.S. casualties to approximately 20 million … a level compatible with national survival and recovery.” (As Gen. Buck Turgidson, the George C. Scott character in Dr. Strangelove, put it, “I’m not saying we won’t get our hair mussed up, but 10-20 million tops, depending on the breaks.”)

Payne was in his 20s, working for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, at the time he co-wrote the article, but anyone who would dismiss it as youthful extremism should look at a paper he wrote in January 2001, titled “Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control.” Payne wrote it as president of the National Institute for Public Policy, a conservative research organization in Fairfax, Va. The paper came out of a panel that included Payne’s old colleague Colin Gray, as well as Stephen J. Hadley (who is now Bush’s deputy national security adviser) and Stephen Cambone (now an assistant secretary of defense and a member of Rumsfeld’s inner circle).

The NIPP study was intended as that “coolly reasoned response,” written for the incoming administration. In it, Payne laid out a post-Cold War rationale for the continued deployment of thousands of nuclear weapons and the development of new, specially tailored nukes. Parts of the rationale were fairly routine: to deter a potentially resurgent and hostile Russia, to dissuade rogue regimes from trying to threaten to us, and so forth. But there were some eyebrow-raising parts as well. For instance, Payne noted that, in Operation Desert Storm, allied forces had a hard time finding and hitting Iraqi Scud missiles. In a future war, he wrote, “If the locations of dispersed mobile launchers cannot be determined with enough precision to permit pinpoint strikes, suspected deployment areas might be subjected to multiple nuclear strikes.”

Note the phrasing. It’s startling enough that Payne suggests attacking (even non-nuclear) mobile missiles with nukes. But he goes further, suggesting that we attack whole “areas” where mobile missiles are merely “suspected” to be deployed. And he suggests attacking these with “multiple” nuclear weapons. Payne also argues that nuclear weapons might be needed to destroy “deeply buried facilities … such as underground biological weapons facilities.” He leaves unanswered why simply disabling such a facility—which he admits can be done with conventional weapons—wouldn’t be good enough. He then says the need to destroy these sorts of targets means we cannot afford to make deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal but should instead continue to build new types of nuclear weapons.

Payne is an expert, and should be heard.  But quoting him without any of context fails to convey the concrete costs and benefits of Obama’s push to reduce U.S. nuclear weapons.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

‘Yes, Prime Minister’ on the Cold War and M.A.D.

Posted by K.E. White on September 1, 2010

‘Yes, Prime Minister’ tackles the Cold War’s absurd nuclear logic.  Have the times truly changed?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Big Oil + Military Junta + N. Korea = Nuclear Burma?

Posted by K.E. White on July 5, 2010

First there are worries that North Korea has exported nuclear and missile technology to Burma, Iran and Syria.

And now there’s this report detailing a potential source for Burma’s alleged nuclear activities.

From the Korea Times:

Three oil companies, Total, Chevron and PTTEP, have provided Burma’s military junta with half of their revenue, worth nearly $5 billion earned from the Yadana Natural Gas Project, an environment watchdog claimed Monday.

If confirmed to be true, this suggests that part of the cash could have gone to North Korea which reportedly exported nuclear and weapons technology to Burma (Myanmar).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dawn’s Iran Editorial Falls (Worrisomely) Flat

Posted by K.E. White on July 5, 2010

The Dawn, a leading Pakistani newspaper, offers a troublingly subtle critic of American policy towards Iran.

The Dawn comes out against the recent-round of U.S. sanction against Iran.  Instead it asks the U.S. to accept its limited “moral basis”:

There is no doubt Tehran has pursued policies that often appear unnecessarily confrontational. But the US-led bloc has not helped matters by failing to realise the reasons behind Iran’s hard line. The truth is that, while the western powers follow Iran’s nuclear programme with a microscope, patronising Israel, the Middle East’s only nuclear power, continues to be the basic principle of their policy. This has robbed western diplomacy of a moral basis for going tough on Iran.

One question:  Just how would Dawn propose America reclaim the moral high-ground? On that mark, the editorial falls (worrisomely) flat.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Success of Reset? Tame Response To Obamaland’s Changes to Missile Defense in Poland

Posted by K.E. White on July 4, 2010

Yesterday the United States and Poland signed an amended missile defense agreement.  The agreement amends a previous Bush-era deal, an effect of the Obama adminstration’s ‘reset’ policy towards Russia.

The net-effect:  plans for ground-based missile defenses in Poland are out; sea-based interceptors are in.

I’m surprised by the tame response to the news.  Admittedly, the Russian spy arrests and the 4th of July have distracted American coverage. But even the National Review and Commentary are silent on the news.

Compare this to Kejda Gjermani’s 2009 Commentary editorial excoriating ‘reset’:

There is a revolutionary aspect to diplomacy by tabula rasa: to the administration unconstrained by preceding commitments, the world of international relations becomes an exhilarating puzzle waiting to be put together from scratch. But the picture is very different to those nations whose good-faith gestures and risks are thus snubbed. In this case, pushing what Vice President Joseph Biden has called the “reset button” on missile defense has shaken the ground beneath the feet of America’s staunchest allies in Eastern Europe. Would President Obama feel sanguine about his own diplomatic initiatives if foreign leaders had to weigh his odds of re-election when considering his proposals? The president may have a thoughtful rejoinder, but he may just as likely be too infatuated with the historic significance of his presidency to realize he is setting a dangerous precedent that may apply to him as well.

International relations are not fickle variables to be reset sporadically at the push of a button. Continuity in foreign policy serves as a stable platform for the undertaking of any long-term initiatives with other countries. If U.S. presidents started rebooting relations between America and the rest of the world whenever they assumed office, all diplomatic frameworks would break down, as chronic uncertainty undermines international cooperation. America’s democratic allies are already biased against long-term thinking because the political fates of their leaders depend on the voters’ capricious approval. They might adapt to this climate of uncertainty by shortening their planning horizons even more, requiring immediate reciprocity to any accommodation of our interests. The reaction in Eastern Europe to America’s broken commitment suggests that the region is already contemplating a strategic shift in such a direction.

The Hill offers the best coverage on the amended agreement:

The agreed ballistic missile defense site in Poland is scheduled to become operational in a 2018 timeframe and is designed to be a key part of the United States’ European-based missile defense strategy.

The Obama administration last September dropped Bush-era plans to put 10, two-stage ground-based interceptors in Poland, and a related radar site in the Czech Republic.

The Obama administration’s plan is to deploy ships equipped with Lockheed Martin’s Aegis combat system and Raytheon’s Standard Missile-3 or SM-3 interceptors to help defend European allies and U.S. forces against threats from Iran and others. The Pentagon is also looking to deploy sensors, such as Raytheon’s Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system (AN/TPY-2).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Canadian Century?

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

Two graphs sum it all up:

GDP Growth Among G7 Economies

Foreign Policy compares the mid-90s reform effects of Canada and America, suggesting Canada’s debt success and America’s debt failure explain Canada’s now superior economic growth rate.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Israel’s Raid and Blockade: Legal Under International Law?

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

Maritime lawyer Douglas Guifoyle discusses the legal issues surrounding Israel’s recent raid at BBC.com.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Catching Up on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Conference & Other News

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

The Guardian’s Julian Borger offers excellent coverage of the ongoing NPT conference—which this entry will attempt to encapsulate.  The conference aims to wrangle out a Middle East nuclear free zone agreement.  But Iran (along with Brazil and Turkey) have derailed progress, after reaching their own nuclear accord. The reaction of the five nuclear powers was not pretty, with all P-5 members signaling support for new sanctions against Iran.

The result?  A monkey wrench has been thrown into the conference.

Two additional notes:

-The Times offers this analysis of the nuclear agreement between Iran, Brazil and Turkey.

-The Turkish foreign minister discusses his country’s recently brokered nuclear deal at ForeignPolicy.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama’s Bush Adminstration Holdover: The 9/14/01 Use of Force Doctrine

Posted by K.E. White on April 24, 2010

Reason. com points out that the Obama administration keeps one important—and perhaps troubling—holdover from the Bush administration:  the same, expansive legal framework to combat terrorism.   uses the same legal framework.  Read the 9/14/2001 resolution here.

From Reason.com:

But these differences in style mask a sameness in substance that should worry civil libertarians. When it comes to the legal framework for confronting terrorism, President Obama is acting in no meaningful sense any different than President Bush after 2006, when the Supreme Court overturned the view that the president’s war time powers were effectively unlimited. As the Obama administration itself is quick to point out, the Bush administration also tried terrorists apprehended on U.S. soil in criminal courts, most notably “20th hijacker” Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid. More important, President Obama has embraced and at times defended the same expansive view of a global war against Al Qaeda as President Bush.

The U.S. still reserves the right to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely without charge, try them via military tribunal, keep them imprisoned even if they are acquitted, and kill them in foreign countries with which America is not formally at war (including Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan). When Obama closed the secret CIA prisons known as “black sites,” he specifically allowed for temporary detention facilities where a suspect could be taken before being sent to a foreign or domestic prison, a practice known as “rendition.” And even where the Obama White House has made a show of how it has broken with the Bush administration, such as outlawing enhanced interrogation techniques, it has done so through executive order, which can be reversed at any time by the sitting president.

Above all, we must be honest with ourselves. Obama, like Bush, is committed to a long war against an amorphous network of terrorists. In at least the constitutional sense, he is no harder or softer than his predecessor. And like his predecessor, he has not come up with a plan for relinquishing these extraordinary powers once the long war ends, if it ever does. If change is going to come to U.S. policy on terrorism, it will have to come from a bipartisan recognition that Americans cannot trust their government to tell them when they are safe again.

Posted in Terrorism, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »