Proliferation Press

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

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Archive for the ‘WMD’ Category

Is Siberia the Key to Resolving the Iranian Nuclear Crisis? Russia Opens an International Atomic Fuel Center

Posted by K.E. White on March 20, 2007

Russia has given the IAEA use of a Siberian enrichment facility. The site can now be used to grant nations fuel for their nuclear power plants.

Nations would then have enriched uranium needed to meet their energy needs, without developing their own enrichment facilities. 

Why the problem with countries having their own enrichment capabilities? Because once a nation gets its own enrichment facilities, there is nothing to stop a nation from developing their own nuclear armaments save 1) trust in the regime and 2) a pre-emptive strike.

This would solve a growing strain within the global non-proliferation regime. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty prohibits its members (which include Iran) from producing nuclear weapons. But the treaty also confers onto its members a right to other nuclear technology. 

The NPT has become almost paradoxical: banning the spread of nuclear weapons, but allowing any of its members to get right to the edge of developing these weapons legally. A member can then announce their intention to live, and in 6 months a country would have “legally” proliferated.

The Iranian nuclear crisis results from this very diplomatic gray-zone. Iran officially desires an independent nuclear program. But once Iran develops its own enriched uranium, it is only a few steps away from a weapons program. 

From Bloomberg News

The center will be registered by summer and be 10 percent owned by Kazakhstan and 90 percent by Russia, said Vladimir Servetnik, deputy chief executive officer of Tenex, Russia’s state-owned nuclear trader. Other potential partners include India, China, Japan, South Korea and South Africa.

“The ownership is structured so that Russia can offer parts of its stake to other interested parties,” Servetnik said.

Russia plans to sign an agreement with Kazakhstan soon which will allow the center to be registered as a company. The international nuclear center will be overseen by the IAEA, which will have a seat on the plant’s supervisory commission.

“The successful functioning of the center is only possible under the aegis of the IAEA,” Servetnik said.

Novosti adds these details:

A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is visiting the Angarsk chemical plant, the site of a uranium enrichment center, a senior IAEA official said Tuesday.

Last October, Russia and Kazakhstan, which holds 15% of the world’s uranium reserves, opened their first joint venture to enrich uranium in Angarsk, East Siberia.

The venture, which was part of Moscow’s non-proliferation initiative to create a network of enrichment centers under the UN nuclear watchdog’s supervision, will also be responsible for the disposal of nuclear waste.

To learn more on the evolution of the international fuel bank proposal, read this Christian Science Monitor article.

Posted in enriched uranium, IAEA, international fuel center, Iran, Russia, Siberia, United Nations, WMD | Leave a Comment »

The Troubled India-EU Free Trade Deal: WMD Issues to Blame?

Posted by K.E. White on March 16, 2007

Free-trade talks between the EU and India have run into trouble.

 From the South Asian Times

Similarly, India is opposed to having a clause relating to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Although the clause would commit India to supporting international conventions against chemical and biological weapons, it would not deal with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which India has declined to accept.

Annalisa Giannella, adviser on WMD to EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana, confirmed this month that some EU states are willing to omit such a clause. She argued that if the EU fails to apply to India the WMD clause it systematically includes in agreements with other countries, this would “establish a terrible double standard”.

Posted in Annalisa Giannella, India, India EU free trade, Nuclear, WMD | Leave a Comment »

WMD Civil Support Team for Wyoming Completes Training

Posted by K.E. White on March 16, 2007

WMD

Did you know that the Department of Defense trains WMD Civil Support Teams?

Currently America has 48 of these teams, with Wyoming’s team certified just two days ago.

GlobalSecurity.org provides some of the history behind these teams:

In a commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy in May 1998, President Bill Clinton announced that the nation would do more to protect its citizens against the growing threat of chemical and biological terrorism. As part of this effort, he said, the Department of Defense would form 10 teams to support state and local authorities in the event of an incident involving weapons of mass destruction.

The WMD Civil Support Teams were established to deploy rapidly to assist a local incident commander in determining the nature and extent of an attack or incident; provide expert technical advice on WMD response operations; and help identify and support the arrival of follow-on state and federal military response assets. They are joint units and, as such, can consists (sic) of both Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel, with some of these units commanded by Air National Guard lieutenant colonels.

The mission of Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams (WMD-CST) is to support local and state authorities at domestic WMD/NBC incident sites by identifying agents and substances, assessing current and projected consequences, advising on response measures, and assisting with requests for additional military support.

This program has come to be under the duties of U.S. National Guard:

Mission: To assess a suspected Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) attack, advise civilian responders on appropriate actions through on-site testing and expert consultation, and facilitate the arrival of additional state and federal military forces.

Overview: The CST is composed of 22 people, 7 Officer and 15 Enlisted, from both the Army and Air National Guard, with a variety of specialties. Assigned vehicles include a command vehicle, operations van, a communications vehicle called the Unified Command Suite (provides a broad range of communications capabilities including satellite communications), an Analytical Laboratory System van (contains a full suite of analysis equipment to support the medical team, and other general purpose vehicles). The CST normally deploys using its assigned vehicles, but can be airlifted if required. A deployment distance of up to 250 miles can usually be covered faster by surface travel, given the time required to recall an aircrew and stage an aircraft.

Posted in Counter proliferation, Homeland Security, WMD, WMD Civil Support Team, Wyoming | Leave a Comment »

Debunking the Sovereignty Solution: Simons’ ‘Old Is New’ Grand Strategy Won’t Save Us

Posted by K.E. White on February 26, 2007

Introduction: Austria All Over Again?

 

Undoubtedly you’ve been asked the ever elusive quandary: How many people does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Now what if we scaled that question up a few notches?

How many people does it take to create a new paradigm for American foreign policy?

Apparently four, at least according to Anna Simons, head writer for the recently published “The Sovereignty Solution”. Simons, teaming up with Don Redd, Joe McGraw and Duane Lauchengo, offer a new American Grand Strategy for the readers of The American Interest.

Their thesis:

The grand political bargain we propose is this: America will guard its sovereign prerogatives, responding to violations of sovereignty with overwhelming force, in return for which it promises other states that it will not infringe on their sovereign prerogatives, including rights to cultural integrity, national dignity and religious freedom (pp 34).

This becomes, as you read their circuitously written article, to mean this: Countries do things that violate of sovereignty (a la fund terrorist groups who actively advocated terrorist attacks on U.S. allies or America itself, provide funds or protections to terrorists who have killed U.S. troops or have carried out another 9-11), should be delivered a list of demands.

These demands would be roughly this: stop the policies that are directly threatening the United States. If the country does this, they get rewarded: aid and political support from the United States.

And if they refuse?

America will launch devastating attacks that cripple the nation, with no promise for reconstruction.

If this seems familiar, that’s because it’s been tried before: Austria once sent a list to Serbia with similar demands.

This, being cooperated by Germany, led the world into World War I.

Call it Austria 21st Century: U.S. Special Forces Edition.

 

Sovereignty 2.0: Simons et al Take Their Shot

 

Besides failure to mention this historical parallel, there are other problems with the Simons et al paradigm.

Despite the attractive elegance of their model, it doesn’t 1) solve the actual problems that will dictate our next national security strategy and 2) offers little to American security.

On the first point, let’s look at Iran. The authors propose that America send a list of demands to Tehran, demanding they stop kill American forces in Iraq.

According to the authors, America will then be in the privileged position of responding to a wrong, instead of preempting one. This, argue the authors, will put more legitimacy on American actions.

From the article:

Here’s what should happen the next time U.S. sovereignty is attacked. The attackers’ host or source—the state that “owns the problem”, in other words—would be delivered a list of U.S. demands that might include “eliminate al-Qaeda from your territory”, “disarm and disable Hizballah”, “turn over terrorist X”, OR “Stop sending fighters to country Y.” The level of compliance we receive would then determine the category into which that state would fall—partner state, struggling state, adversarial state or failed state—and that in turn would shape our course of action (35-36).

 

Unfortunately this approach offers little help on Iran. Iran considers the U.S. invasion of Iraq a violation of their sovereignty. Remember they too were a member of the “axis of evil”, so it would seem they have good reason for fighting U.S. forces covertly in Iraq: they consider the U.S. forces to already be covertly fighting them.

The authors offer us clarity: shining light on the gray of neo-conservatism. Yet they do not address America’s gray starting point.

Iran will demand concessions, and frankly so will other regional powers (China, Russia, Germany, France, Britain and India) from the Bush administration before this new paradigm can take place. For Iran this will assuredly revolve around the nuclear question.

And, unfortunately for America, if the United States unilaterally bombs all good going into Iran and their military sites, the response is predictable: Iraq and Afghanistan will be lit up by suicide bombers and guerrilla fighting that will make the American long for today’s tragic headlines.

This point does not cripple the paradigm itself, merely the immediate expectations the authors put on it. For this paradigm to rise up, the diplomatic tensions of today (chiefly the nuclear quandaries of North Korea and Iran) will have to be worked out.

Unfortunately these practical concerns dovetail with the sovereignty model’s profound structural limitations.

 

A Strategy Whose Tenets Fall Short

 

America will not be able to continuously bomb ‘bad’ countries without any responsibility to care for the injured. The lightening attacks the authors endorse (which, admittedly, would match our military’s strengths and eliminate its weaknesses) would cause wide-sweeping damage and have civilian causalities.

These features will merely strengthen the regimes of these troublesome nations.

This is especially true when you look at the other end of their bargain: rewarding ‘good’ regimes that follow our demands.

 

  1. Where’s the Trust?

 

This reciprocal system would have a hard time starting. Europe, let alone Iran, has trouble believing the United States acts in any other way than power-maximization.

Simons et al seem to intuit trust in American motivations as the first step in their legitimacy repair kit. Will Iran really wait to see if America rewards it for ‘good’ behavior?

Don’t hold your breathe.

And what about those fragile regimes America is desperate to keep afloat lest a terrorist group takes control of the state. It seems those states (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt) have a lock on American aid.

 

  1. Destroying our Imperfect Friends

 

And what happens to these fragile regimes after they are ‘decked’ by American bombers. Either the regimes turn virulently anti-U.S. or are replaced by radicals who possess bona-fide anti-American credentials.

This is not to mention other flaws in this paradigm. Will the American public really not be rattled by intra-state atrocities? Will U.S. elites really cede more influence to ‘rival’ states if they agree on terror? And will America not loose allies by cavaliering bombing countries we deem not meeting our demands?

 

C. A Quick Note on Other Flaws: What about the Benjamin’s ($$$)?

And what about non-military approaches to international stability. How can America encourage a growing and prosperous global middle class? The economic portion of this strategy is next to non-existent.

No strategic plan can be maintained unless it reflects the marco-economic challenges facing America and economically rewards America’s partners. In the Cold War it was the Marshall Plan. What should it be today? The authors don’t answer.

The authors only glance of this aspect, detailing only is how to keep America competitive, not how better to integrate the economic interests of regional powers. But there quick reccomendation that America take more of a led in global medical challenges does win them some points in improving the U.S. image around the world. (Unfortunately these tasks are already being taken up by private charities: a la the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or Bill Clinton’s charitable organization).

 

What Should Be Done?

 

But these criticisms are not meant to take away the value of this working paper. America must prioritize its strategic aims. Do we care about security or do we continue to pursue regime change at all costs?

If we care about both, where will we make our difference and how to do maximize our chances of success?

The “list” concept the authors aver is nothing new. President Bush sent a list of demands to the Taliban (one that the Taliban actually claimed to have met before our invasion). Saddam Hussein did the same thing (remember those missiles he got rid of, and then the whole failure to find weapons).

These examples show the central flaw in this approach: How does America know the sovereignty violator has met the demands, and not merely shift money-flows or push terrorists into another country?

Again, this weakness results from a structural flaw in the strategy: Understanding the state-on-state tensions that allow terrorism to foster.

Until both these challenges are addressed, America will continue to grope around in the dark strategically.

And this Austrian 21st Century: U.S. Special Forces Edition does not get us there.

The next strategy will be borne out of contingency. Iraq and Afghanistan must be solved, and the way those dilemmas are approached will set the parameters of any U.S. grand strategy.

But this criticism applies to all attempts to forge grand strategy today.

We have yet to truly know the dynamics of this evolving world system. And, most importantly, America’s strategic posture in the world remains nebulous to both our allies and foes.

The regional powers of the world are still on the side-lines, waiting for the Iraq outcome (and to a lesser extent the nuclear crisis points in Iran and North Korea).

How will the United States come out over the next five years? America has only begun asking that question, let alone adopting policies that in time will answer it.

Until then no one can purport to offer the new IR roadmap—only shed light on various approaches that may reveal the contours of this still murky world system we inhabit.

Posted in American Interest, Anna Simons, Bush administration, Diplomacy, Don Redd, Duane Lauchengo, Iran, Iraq, Joe McGraw, neoconservatism, North Korea, Pakistan, Victor Davis Hanson, WMD | 5 Comments »

Ahmadinejad: Iran Ready to Talk on Nukes and the Holocaust?

Posted by K.E. White on February 14, 2007

Iran Ready for Nuclear Talks…?President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells ABC News his country is open to a nuclear dialogue:

“We are opposed to any proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons. We believe that the time is now over for nuclear weapons.

It’s a time for logic, for rationality, and for civilisation,” Ahmadinejad told ABC news.

“We’re always ready to talk within the framework of regulations and as long as the rights of the nations are safeguarded.”

He denied suggestions that he sought conflict with the US, saying Iran was “trying to find ways to love people.”

Proliferation Press’s Read: This is an old line by Ahmadinejad. While he remains open to talks, his refuses to meet the American condition for starting them: stopping all uranium enrichment. Who will blink first, Bush or Ahmadinejad?

Vikram Sood, providing a fascinating Indian perspective on U.S.-Iran relations and America’s mission in Iraq, argues that neither President will blink. Instead President Bush will order a pre-emptive air strike on Iran.

As India’s former intelligence chief, Sood’s column demands attention.

Sood warns that such an attack’s “shockwaves will reach our shores sooner than we imagine.”

How the North Korean nuclear accord will affect Iranian calculus has yet to be seen, but Iran is undoubtedly watching to see if the P-5 members of the six party talks (America, Russia and China) are able to keep a united front.

These three countries ability to find common ground towards the Iranian nuclear question is critical to any diplomatic solution.

Ahmadinejad Connects the Holocaust with Palestine

Asked if he was willing to travel to Auschwitz and Nuremberg for documentations on the Holocaust, the Iranian leader asked what purpose this would serve.

“One of the methods used for concealing the truth is diverting the topic. The question is, if Holocaust is true, how is it related to the Palestinian issue?”

“Why, for the excuse of the Holocaust, we have an illegitimate government in the Palestine?”

“Why in the name of the Holocaust do we allow people to occupy the land of some and make them refugees and kill children and innocent people on the street?”

“These are the questions which must be answered by American politicians,” Ahmadinejad said.

Proliferation Press’s Read: Ahmadinejad is not standing down from his controversial Holocaust rhetoric. The substantial point here—not meant in any way to minimize the grossly offensive, dangerous, and deceitful rhetoric Ahmadinejad sprouts—is Ahmadinejad’s focus on Palestine: by supporting Palestine, Ahmadinejad is winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the Arab Street.

Not a difficult task when you use America as your foil.

Dislodging Ahmadinejad and his country’s growing influence in the region will require the United States to pay attention to this issue, something that is being down now after many years of neglect.

But if rhetoric like this convinces Israel that it is under existential threat from Iran, some nations (Israel and America) will consider the Iranian regime irrational and hell-bent on destroying Israel.

Thus before Iran has the technological ability to do that through nuclear weapons, it will become likely either Israel or the United States will launch a pre-emptive strike. Such an action would bring international instability not seen for a generation.

Source for Ahmadinejad interview: Hindustan Times

Posted in Bush administration, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Hindustan Times, India, Iran, Iraq, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Palestine, Proliferation News, Security Studies, Six Party Talks, Vikram Sood, WMD | 11 Comments »

Neo-Con Back and Forth on Iraq: The Ultimate in Meaningless Echo-Chambers

Posted by K.E. White on January 30, 2007

 

Victor Davis Hanson and Max Boot debate Iraq

contentions (yes, small “c”), Commentary’s new blog, yesterday started a neo-conservative dialogue on Iraq—proving that echo-chambers can, indeed, exist within themselves.

The speakers?

Max Boot and Victor Davis Hanson.

Read their back and forth here, but the site doesn’t make them easy to find.

(You can find the full text quicker by going here and here, and Proliferation Press offers this summary for interested readers.)

This “back and forth’ read more a like “pat on the back.” One pessimistic neo-con, Boot, commiserating with an optimistic neo-con, Hanson.

Both endorse Bush’s surge,seeing it as a last option, and find it the necessary and best course of action.

Hanson, at least, gets down to specifics: gauging the time-table General Petraeus (the new Iraq commander and prospective White Knight) has for success.

But what both miss, and I hope they discuss in latter “chapters,” are 1) how this “surge” will operate in particular and how attainable its goals are and 2) real and practical alternatives about what America does after the surge, whatever its outcome.

And—if time and attention permits—they should touch on the need for a revamped American security strategy.

One that takes into account 1) our currently stretched resources and 2) the growing isolation America’s strategic faces from traditional allies of the past.

We’ll see if they get there.

Posted in Bush administration, Commentary Magazine, contentions, Diplomacy, Iraq, Max Boot, Middle East, neoconservatism, Victor Davis Hanson, WMD | Leave a Comment »

Blog-on-Blog: Response to the Reliant on Bush’s Troop “Surge”

Posted by K.E. White on January 13, 2007

The Reliant offers a good take on Bush’s plan to deploy more troops in Iraq.

Below are comments from K.E. White, who using the (unfair) advantage of endless comments to respond to the post. They also appear directly on the site.

“As Charles Krauthammer puts it…”

Charles Krauthammer? Okay, okay I might be a bit biased: but Krauthammer as a rational authority on this? He’s the extreme of the extreme, though he has been the most consistent (or irrational depending on your point of view) of the neo-cons.

This article of mine is a bit slanted
, but it does paint the problems of using this guy as a lone support.

“As for the increase in troops – the primary focus of Bush’s address – that recommendation may be a valuable one, but one can’t help but feel that the ideal moment for it has already passed. The increase, indeed, seems like a belated action…”

I completely agree, the “ideal moment” has passed. But I think its valuable to point out why: the American public has flipped flopped on its opinion of the war. Whereas earlier and throughout the 2004 election is supported remaining in Iraq and ignored troublesome signs there, it has now become extremely embittered: with 40% of voters strongly against the venture, an amount that upticks to 60-70% when relaxed to disagree.

“Thus far, policymakers on both sides of the aisle have supported the effort to keep force levels as low as possible in Iraq – which, thus far, has proved counterproductive in the bloody and complex milieu of Iraqi insurgency and counterinsurgency.”

When you evoke “policymakers on both sides” I become a bit suspicious. Weren’t these policy makers simply following the cue of President Bush? John McCain has consistently supported more troops, but was Congress really going to tell the President the proper level of troops, or pull for an increase? Doubtful: that is without the recent foreign policy maelstrom–increasing sectarian violence in Iraq brining about a highly critical Iraq Study Group Report and a sweeping ’06 election cycle.

When it came to troop levels it was Bush’s call: until the ’06 elections there was not the public pull for Congress to weigh in, as it now is (yes, albeit too late for rational policy making, a common weakness of Congressional warpowers).

But I would lay blame squarely on Bush, not “policymakers on both sides of the aisle.”

But if you are endorsing smarter and more active Congressional oversight (lacks for decades), we find ourselves in total agreement.

“If these additional troops are deployed – in the right places, for the right reasons, and with the right attention to reconciliation efforts within Iraq – there is reason to hope that they will prove a key part of securing democracy for the Iraqi people.”

Perhaps, perhaps not. General Petraeus (have you or could you do a bio on this guy?), from all reports, seems to be the right guy for the job. But does he have the proper tools? What I find interesting is that Bush did not take Frederick Kagan’s advice on troops numbers–same or virtually same brigade number, but far less troops.

Bush should have done this earlier: having lost public support, even if this policy is effective it will not survive any short term difficulties.

But on the main point, we both seem to share the same sentiment: solidifying the Iraqi government would be better than all-out civil war (or, depending on your point of view, terrorist feed sectarian violence) in Iraq.

I hope for success, but have little faith in the strategic judgement of this administration.

Posted in Bush administration, Congress, Diplomacy, Iran, Iraq, Iraq Study Group, John McCain, Reliant, Syria, Terrorism, Wartime Powers, WMD | 4 Comments »

The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal and Japan: A Frenzy of Misreporting and India’s Nuclear Achilles’ Heel

Posted by K.E. White on January 13, 2007

Indian officials led by Shyam Saran (pictured below) are meeting with their Japanese counterparts to resolve Japanese concerns over U.S. India Nuclear Deal.

Shyam Saran, India's Chief Nuclear Envoy

The deal was approved by the U.S. Congress during the last lame duck session, and signed by President Bush on December 18, 2006.

But it seems the media has had no idea where Japan actually stands.

Proliferation Press reviews the conflicting reports on Japan’s stance toward the U.S.-India deal and India’s nuclear status: finding that neither Japan nor India has shifted their nuclear benchmarks.

The real fight is not over recognizing India as a nuclear state or over the U.S.-India nuclear deal. Instead, it is the same question that has dogged the deal from the beginning: India’s refusal to submit to a prohibition on nuclear testing.

And it seems this refusal might derail the US-India nuclear deal: whether by the hand of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which still has to approve the deal, or by India simply abandoning the deal.

From The Hindu:

With Japan’s reservations over India’s civil nuclear ambitions persisting, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy Shyam Saran will travel there on Saturday to make an effort to bring Tokyo around.

Saran will hold talks with Japanese leadership and lobby for support of the key member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), sources told PTI here today.

The Hindu considers this a shift in Japanese policy:

Japan, the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, had about a month back indicated softening of stand when it agreed to engage in discussions with India on the nuclear issue.

But other news reports suggest Japan ready to recognize India as a recognized nuclear state, joining the elite group of the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China.

From The Peninsula:

Japan will recognise India as a nuclear power even though the South Asian nation is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) , a report said yesterday. Japan would treat India as an exception to the steadfast nonproliferation principle as Tokyo wants to let Japanese firms participate in projects such as the construction of nuclear power stations in India, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

This Japanese endorsement not only of the nuclear deal, but also India’s nuclear status was repeated in India Times:

Japan will recognise India as a nuclear power even though the South Asian nation is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, a report said Wednesday.

Japan would treat India as an exception to the steadfast nonproliferation principle as Tokyo wants to let Japanese firms participate in projects such as the construction of nuclear power stations in India, the Yomiuri Shimbun said. The Japanese government is trying to arrange a visit to India by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this year, the Yomiuri said.

But the Associated Press quashed this report yesterday:

Japan refused on Wednesday to acknowledge India as a legitimate nuclear weapons state and demanded that it join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.Yasuhisa Shiozaki

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki also urged India to drop its nuclear arms, denying a newspaper report Wednesday that Tokyo was thinking of accepting India’s possession of such weapons.

“Japan and the global community have valued the international system of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation based on the NPT,” he said. “We’ll continue to seek the admission of India into the NPT as a nonnuclear weapons state.” Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna declined comment.

But it seems Japan will not block the the actual nuclear deal between America and India, according to Pakistan’s Daily Times:

Japan has no plans to recognise India as a nuclear power but will refer to a US law allowing the sale of nuclear fuel and reactors to India to shape its strategy, the Japanese government’s top spokesman said on Wednesday.

Such recognition would enable Japanese companies to participate in construction of nuclear power stations in India, Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper said earlier in a report on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to visit India later this year.

Shyam Saran, India’s Special Nuclear Envoy, signaled India’s willingess to abandon the deal:

“Can we walk away from this deal if it does not correspond to our national interest? Obviously we have to walk away from this and we will walk away from it,” Saran was quoted by news agency Reuters as saying.

But what’s the real fight over?

The extent India is willing to agree to international prohibitions on its nuclear program, particularly over nuclear testing:

Outlining major elements of concern that require to be dealt with in ongoing negotiations for the 123 agreement, Saran said the most critical were the issue of reprocessing of spent fuel, and India’s insistence that the unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing not be converted into a binding, legal commitment.

Now the 123 agreement is part of the US legislation, but is emerging as a key part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s–an international body that must approve the deal–bright lines:Yasukuni Enoki

“This NPT+Regime is only for India, not for North Korea or Iran. Once this regime is agreed (upon) and the NSG approves this, India will be allowed full access to nuclear fuel and nuclear technology,” Japanese Ambassador to India Yasukuni Enoki said during a panel discussion ‘Towards India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership’ here.

What will come out of the ongoing nuclear talks between Japan and India is not yet known. But if India continues its push for unbridled nuclear status, it will face serious challenges in getting international approval for the US-India nuclear deal.

And with any de jure recognition of its nuclear status.

Posted in Diplomacy, India, Proliferation News, Shyam Saran, WMD, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Yasukuni Enoki | Leave a Comment »

Blog-on Blog—Olmert’s China Wrap-Up: Sorry, No Big News on Iran

Posted by K.E. White on January 11, 2007

Olmert wrapped up his visit to China by chatting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Ehud Olmert
Hu Jintao
Nothing groundbreaking from China on Iran; Olmert potentially retreating from Sharron’s policy of withdrawal; and Iran’s nuclear negotiator OKs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

From Reuter’s coverage, appearing in multiple publications:

His [Olmert’s] discussions with Hu proved “satisfactory beyond expectations”, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters on departure from Beijing, without elaborating…

“The fact that they (joined the resolution) is significant,” Olmert said.

His aides said that in his meeting with Hu he praised China for coming out strongly against Iran, which insists its atomic ambitions are peaceful but whose virulent rhetoric against Israel has raised war fears abroad.

“But while we are happy with the diplomacy so far, the prime minister did make clear that, ultimately, tougher economic sanctions may be needed,” one Olmert aide said.

Hu’s office had no immediate comment on the talks.

But on another front—Israel’s stance on unilateral withdrawal, the policy Ariel Sharron endorsed—there is some possibility important news:

In an interview with Chinese news agency Xinhua, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seemed to signal a sudden shift in policy with his statement that unilateral withdrawal has proven to be a failed policy.

Olmert, who began a three-day visit to China on Tuesday, told the news agency that while he was willing to negotiate a withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria, it would only be done in the framework of bilateral negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

On the face of it, Olmert’s remarks contradict the unilateral withdrawal, or “convergence,” plan that he’d been promoting since becoming prime minister.

Not really shocking with Olmert’s slipping popularity in Israel.

And getting back to the Iran nuclear dilemma, we have this from Xinhua:

Iran‘s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said on Tuesday that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is “good” if it is enforced justly, the official IRNA news agency reported.

 Larijani made the remarks at a joint press conference with visiting Chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee Mushahid Hussain Sayed.

Iran has criticized the NPT before as unfairly monopolizing nuclear technology its depository powers—aka the recognized nuclear states: the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France, and and China.

Posted in China, Diplomacy, Ehud Olmert, Hu Jintao, Iran, Israel, WMD | 1 Comment »

Blog-on-Blog: Olmert Goes to China, What Will He Get?

Posted by K.E. White on January 10, 2007

“Shocking” news update: China does not a support a nuclear weaponized Iran.

That is the main thrust of the coverage on Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s press conference with the Chinese Prime Minister.

Yes, there is other news than President Bush’s predicted call for a troop “surge” in Iraq—with the most recent reports putting the number at 22,000.

In short, the following press read brings out the following points:

 

  • China (and Russia’s) support of sanctions against Iran are necessary to any effective effort to curtail Iranian nuclear weapons
  • These two countries have a different view of the Iranian threat and reactions to it than the United States:

a) chiefly that the United States in attempting to maintain influence in the region by using the nuclear issue, to the detriment of China and Russia

b) both countries are ready to “play ball”—the question what do they get for cooperation on Iran at a time when America considers China a “strategic rival” and Russia (over American objections) is forcibly restoring their influence in Eastern Europe

So, the question from them to the United States: You can’t have your diplomatic cake and eat it too, but you can have a slice—pick one.

The Jerusalem Post offers a good story on Olmert’s ongoing diplomatic visit to China, today meeting Prime Minister Wen Jiabao:

Olmert’s trip also marks the 15-year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and China, whose good relations have been marred by occasional political and trade tensions.

From an AP story appearing in the China Daily:

Both Israel and China have emphasized that Olmert’s visit is aimed at strengthening economic and trade ties.

Olmert and Wen met for more than an hour, and aides said the two signed three agreements. The first was a cultural agreement from 2007 to 2010. The second was on protocol requirements for the export of citrus fruit from Israel to China, and the third was a memorandum of understanding on water power between the Beijing city government and the Israeli Ministry of Trade, Industry and Labor.

No details on the agreements were released.

China is now Israel’s third-largest trading partner, following the United States and Germany. According to the federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, Israeli exports to China jumped 31 percent to $740 million (euro565 million) in the first 11 months of last year, compared to $565 million (euro432 million) in the year-earlier period. Imports also rose 29 percent to $2.2 billion (euro1.68 billion) from $1.7 billion (euro1.3 billion) the previous year.

The Israeli official said talks will also center on “the intention of both sides to increase trade to … US$10 billion (euro7 billion) in 2010.”

But Dan Williams over at Swiss Info helps with the bigger part of the story—China’s position on the diplomatic minefield of a nuclear Iran:

Where Olmert get a public statement from China on Iran favorable to their position? Probably not—though this is what is driving the press coverage: Tomorrow Olmert meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

“I believe Iran will try to reach it (threshold), and I believe international pressure will prevent it,” Olmert, whose nation is assumed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal, told reporters.

“My talks (with Wen) were of great depth. I heard surprising things — things both positive and unexpected,” he said. “China made it absolutely clear that it opposes Iran going nuclear, in the sense of obtaining nuclear bombs.”

Olmert, who is to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday, declined to elaborate on what Wen said in the meeting.

Where Olmert get a public statement from China on Iran favorable to their position? Probably not—though this is what is driving the press coverage: Tomorrow Olmert meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

If any momentous shift occurs, Proliferation Press will be here to report it and survey the coverage it gets around the globe.

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