Proliferation Press

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

Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Echoes From A Cold War

Posted by proliferationpresswm on March 30, 2009

posted by Bob Noziglia

Reports have made clear that the Obama administration will continue military strikes against terrorist sites in Pakistan. This holdover from the Bush administration demands we ask what just is going on in Pakistan and why America has wedged itself into Pakistan internal border disputes. Bob Noziglia explores these questions and Pakistan’s self-defeating liberal tendencies, which demand the continued presence of robust American military support. 

 

It must be a dire situation indeed when Russia, with its own nuclear armament history, to be concerned about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.  Let us remember that not too long ago it was Russia, which after the Cold War ended in the disintegration of the Soviet Union, had nuclear submarines rusting in unsecured ports; and a fire-sale on all equipment. 

It is also important to note the silence that, until now, Russia has had towards the operations regarding Pakistan and Afghanistan.  This comes from the haunting memories similar to our Vietnam when they attempted to expand Soviet territory. 

It is then with new eyes we must re-examine Pakistan and Afghanistan while both have their own qualities that make efforts for reconstruction a slow and complicated process, they are linked by more than geographical boundaries. 

While it was not profoundly mentioned when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated last year, it was during her first tour as Prime Minister of Pakistan that she supported the rise of the Taliban, which was then one of many forces seeking to benefit from the Soviet’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

Bhutto felt it was better to have a strict Islamic state next door because it would allow them to concentrate on somehow defeating India for the territory of Kashmir.  This decision combined with the military’s hands off approach regarding the tribal areas however would cause dire consequences, as these are where her assassins most likely came from. 

With an outpouring of support because of the death of his wife, it was “Mr. 10%” Zardari who ascended to the political throne with a promise of political unity with another deposed President due to corruption, Sharrif.  This of course became a political crisis for the same reason that toppled Musharraf’s government, the topic of reinstating judges banned from their duties under dubious charges. 

The failsafe within Pakistan has been that if things were to get too bad, the military would flex political muscle and be able to step in and have confidence with the people of making things right. 

Recent events, however, have eroded the populace’s confidence dramatically.  The recent attacks of fundamentalists against the military near the border regions has left many with the impression that the Military is in fact just as incompetent as their civilian counterparts. 

Combined with the many perceived and real failures of Musharraf in Pakistan, the military credibility is also at its lowest point.  When one also considers new revelations that the military had tangential relations with those behind the attacks in Mumbai, one has a renewed sense of urgency. 

What makes this situation precarious is that many of the leadership in Pakistan are schooled in the West, especially so of their judicial branch.  With this they have come to expect and desire separate but equal branches of government and the fundamental right of law. 

These are qualities to be aspired to no question, but there also needs to be a tradition of legitimacy to that government.  Control over ones borders and checks and balances making sure that no power, however pervasive becomes dominate. 

It is these two qualities-recognized balance between government branches and border integrity-that appear to be lacking in Pakistan.  The tribal regions linking Pakistan and Afghanistan have been left to their own devices for decades.  A definition of a government is to be the ultimate authority of a given territory.  For all intents and purposes Pakistan has been a country divided by its government’s apathy to maintain that authority.  With Fundamentalist having secured a base of operations that the Government of Pakistan is afraid to confront, and jealously uses sovereignty to prevent others from attacking, these fundamentals represent a great threat. 

Should another civilian led government fail, these fundamentals could represent the most cohesive and unified political and military force in the country.  With raised expectations of a government led by a unified government, and the military now placed in a decidedly supportive role, the margin of error razor thin. 

It is then we will see a country run by a fundamentalist government, one which has ties to those responsible for the attacks in 2001 have nuclear capabilities, and the desire to proliferate and use those weapons.  This is something that can not be allowed to happen, and would be a just cause to intervene in the internal politics to make sure such a scenario does not occur. 

Pushing for accountability of Pakistan’s leadership is recognition of the dangerous dynamics that exist.  The United States should take the position of assisting the Pakistani military against those in the tribal regions.  This in conjunction with maintaining a coalition within Pakistan that would seek to maintain Pakistan as a country guided by the Principles of Islam, without the xenophobia or fundamentalist principles that terrorist groups have allowed to corrupt the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. 

Ultimately, this is a problem that can only be defeated by the people of Pakistan.  The United States has historically been a country which held to the principle of self determination, we must offer our assistance to aid Pakistan so that they may be able to live up to the definition of their country; Land of the Pure.

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Blog-On-Blog– The Ties that Bind, And the Ties That Don’t: US-India Nuclear Deal

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

Nima Maleki argues that the nuclear deal between the United States and India “explicitly binds India into several foreign relations policies demanded of it by the US in exchange for cooperation on limited access civilian nuclear technology and fuel.

That would make the US-India nuclear deal quite the twilight accomplishment for the Bush administration. Unfortunately, such a superficial reading on the deal misses both the letter of the agreement and it’s practical impact.

First, let’s inspect the agreement itself. While Maleki is correct in noting that American presidents now have the right to suspend the nuclear cooperation if India is found to be proliferating weapons technology, performing nuclear tests or using this cooperation to enlarge their arsenal, such restrictions have proven toothless in the past.

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US Treasury Department Designates Iran’s National Shipping Line ‘Proliferator’

Posted by proliferationpresswm on September 16, 2008

The Wall Street Journal reports on the recent US Treasury decision to label Iran’s national shipping industry a ‘proliferator’. The move further tightens the screws on Iran, which while a large supplier of crude oil is dependent on other nation’s refiners to turn that oil into usable products—like gasoline. 

It’s an interesting episode of how international trading laws governing maritime commerce intersect with nuclear proliferation and raw realpolitik. 

The move isn’t all that unprecedented for the Bush administration: in 2005, several firms from China, India and Austria faced US Treasury sanctions for providing Iran with missile and chemical-arms related products. But this is the first time a nation’s shipping industry has faced such action: illustrating the Treasury Department’s evolving role in non-proliferation issues.

Read Iran’s response to the news here.

From WSJ

The U.S. Treasury Department accused Iran’s national maritime carrier of helping the country’s nuclear and missile programs, a formal move designed to pressure Iran amid stalled talks over its nuclear work.

The Treasury, in designating the carrier as a “proliferator,” said the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and 18 of its affiliated entities were secretly “providing logistical services” to Iran’s military, falsifying shipping documents and using deceptive terms to describe shipments in order to hide their activities from foreign maritime officials.

The designation, which typically is designed to stop companies on the list from doing business in the U.S., further blocks the carrier’s ability to move money through U.S. banks as well as blocking it from carrying food and medical supplies not included in Washington’s longstanding trade sanctions against Iran.

… 

This is the first time Treasury has designated a shipping company as a proliferator, the department said.

The company says it has a fleet of 91 ships, most of them bulk carriers designed to transport dry cargo such as grain, coal and iron ore. Oil shipments from Iran, one of the world’s biggest exporters, aren’t likely to be affected. The company says it has just two tankers, and they are used to transport vegetable oil and similar products.

The move could complicate Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines’s dealings with other countries. Its ships call frequently at nearby Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, according to the Iranian carrier’s Web site. The company also says it makes regular trips to big ports in Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.K., Germany and France.

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An Interesting–if Slanted–Look at the NSG Deliberations over the US-India Nuclear Deal

Posted by proliferationpresswm on September 16, 2008

An interesting—if bombastic—pro-Indian article into the deliberations of the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) the US-India nuclear deal. 

Chief points: China mucked up passage by insisting Pakistan also receive a nuclear waiver. Also, the article highlights an interesting wrinkle of the US-India nuclear deal: Indian energy independence from Iran. 

The article also expresses the visceral Indian support for the nuclear deal; a sharp constrast from the American public’s ignorance and indifference towards the soon-to-be approved agreement. 

From Hari Sud’s article in the UPI Asia Online:

NSG works by consensus, which agrees to opinions reached by the group as a whole. Even one holdout with idealism in mind can put a spanner in the works. This is what a group lead by Austria, including New Zealand, Ireland, Netherlands and Norway did to India’s recent application for waiver. They held out for two consecutive NSG meetings and five rounds of negotiations. Idealism was the motive behind their moves. Under pressure from India and the U.S., they finally withdrew all objections and consented to the waiver of the U.S. prepared revised draft.

China played a negative role. They unenthusiastically supported the waiver, knowing fully well that the U.S. was hundred percent behind the move. They walked out of the meeting once in support of Austria, Ireland and New Zealand. In a bid to scuttle the deal, they demanded an airtight commitment from India to ban testing of any nuclear bombs, although they would not give any such commitment from their side. In addition they made a fresh case for Pakistan to be awarded the same special waiver, given to India. They knew that Pakistan is a nuclear proliferator, yet pleaded their case to endorse the Pakistani government’s support of their strategic plans in Asia. This last minute treachery from China, who earlier supported India, will never be forgotten.

If the NSG had not given the waiver, India still has adequate resources to power its growing economy with local coal and natural gas from Iran. However, this would have quadrupled India’s greenhouse gases emission from the current 1.1 billion tons a year to about 4 billion tons in 20 years and its impact on earth’s fragile environment would have been catastrophic. Nuclear energy will, however, cut India’s emissions by half.

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The US-India Nuclear Deal: What Is Gained

Posted by proliferationpresswm on September 16, 2008

Two articles detail the financial gains resulting from the soon-to-be approved nuclear deal between the United States and India. The precedent-breaking agreement makes India the first and only non-member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to legally engage in nuclear commerce.

The NPT, crafted in 1968, sought to limit nuclear proliferation and foster eventual nuclear disarmament by recognizing only five nuclear powers—United States, Russia, Britain, France and China. In return, other members were promised the technology-sharing and a commitment to nuclear disarmament. India considered the agreement discriminatory, and eventually detonated nuclear weapons in 1998 in response to Pakistan’s displayed its own nuclear-weapons capability.

The nuclear deal allows the US to provide fuel to India. But lifting the former nuclear moratorium on India also allows other nations—such as France, Russia and China to soon follow America’s lead.

The Irish Times brings focus to the rewards awaiting American weapons producers:

“Other than obvious commercial interests, which are important, the US is keen to invest militarily in India which it believes with Washington’s help and hardware can emerge as a counterweight to China’s growing might,” said retired Indian army lieutenant general VK Kapoor.

Washington is seeking a credible ally in a region where its hold is becoming tenuous. It is anxious for closer ties with India and equipment sales is a vital link in that chain, he added.

Over the next few months India is expected to acquire eight maritime reconnaissance aircraft from Boeing for more than $2 billion (€1.4 billion), varied equipment for its special forces and is considering the purchase of six additional Lockheed-Martin-built C 130J Hercules transport aircraft expected to cost about $1 billion.

Washington is also backing the $10 billion contract for 126 multi-role combat fighters for which Boeing and Lockheed Martin are competing alongside Russian and European manufacturers.

US companies are also bidding to supply India with more than 220 military helicopters to replace ageing platforms in contracts estimated at about $2 billion.

And the prospect of Delhi acquiring Patriot and Harpoon missiles was discussed during Indian defence minister AK Antony’s visit to Washington that ended at the weekend.

India is also expected to finalise negotiations with the US on the long-pending logistics support agreement that permits the two militaries reciprocal use of facilities for maintenance, servicing, communications, refuelling and medical care, bringing the two defence establishments closer.

Asia Times Online sheds light on the commercial impact of the deal:

Two years of heated, divisive debate on the nuclear deal also gave way to a buzz across the country on how much India stands to gain. The stock markets gained 3% as plans by India’s largest engineering firms such as Larsen & Toubro took a huge jump towards becoming reality. 

Over 400 Indian and foreign firms are expected to gain from the NSG waiver, according to leading industry bodies such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The 2020 goal for the country’s nuclear power generation industry requires a minimum investment of $45 billion, estimates the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India. 

While most of the new nuclear power plant deals are in the near future category, Larsen & Toubro has already struck a $750 million joint-venture deal this past July with the government-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to manufacture forgings for nuclear power plants. 

Another engineering major, government-owned Bharat Heavy Electronics Ltd, and L&T are together expected to garner contracts worth $10 billion of the estimated $100 billion worth of deals over the next two decades. 

Mumbai-based NPCIL, which spearheads India’s nuclear power program, says it has 17 nuclear reactors in operation and five reactors under construction. 

The $1.2 billion GVK group, another leading infrastructure-developing Indian company, has plans to buy reactors and equipment from American companies such as General Electric and Westinghouse Electric. 

Such benifits may bring about tight and reinforcing bounds between the world’s largest democractic nations. But such gains will be weighed against future trends in nuclear weapon and energy proliferation. not to mention the response from Pakistan’s newly minted regime.

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The US-India Nuclear Deal: Believable or Not, On Track For September Passage

Posted by proliferationpresswm on September 13, 2008

A deal some pronounced dead months ago is predicted to become law this month. The landmark nuclear cooperation deal allows India—a non-recognized nuclear-weapons country—to engage in nuclear commerce with other nuclear powers. While proliferation concerns have nagged the precedent-shattering for years, another concern now faces Washington: will the deal actually bring India closer to China and Russia. 

The last obstacle for the deal resides in the United States, will the US Congress is expected to take up and pass the bill. 

President George Bush’s landmark foreign policy achievement may not only cripple non-proliferation efforts, but tilt global influence away from America. 

The Bush administration’s aggressive push for a US-Indian nuclear partnership was premised on two large assumptions: 1) international inertia on recognizing India’s nuclear status was hampering non-proliferation efforts, and 2) if America led the nuclear effort, it would be the foundation of a strategic partnership with India. While only time will tell on the deal’s impact of nuclear nonproliferation, the second assumption now seems deeply flawed.   

Even if American-specific constraints are placed on the deal during Congressional review this month in Washington, other countries are now free to provide nuclear fuel to India. 

From The Times of India

But if the US intends to redraw its own lines on agreements, India feels it will only be the US that will be the loser. Moreover, India will balk at buying either fuel or reactors from US sources. It might affect the US which wants a “level playing field” for its companies. “They’re undermining their own playing field,” said sources. 

In any case, India’s best suppliers for fuel will be countries like Russia and France, both traditional sources, and not hampered by such constraints. French envoy to India, Jerome Bonnafont told journalists today that the “NSG exemption was wise and appropriate… It opens a new chapter in which France desires to be a key partner.”  

For some, a nuclear deal with India was unavoidable. A growing presence on the world stage with nuclear arms since 1999, it was only a matter of time before the globe’s major powers had to incorporate India’s nuclear status. 

But the details of the deal trouble some nonproliferation experts. India flouted international law and norms by denoting nuclear weapons in 1998. But India now stands to receive the benefits of a responsible world-power—with no real constraints its future nuclear weapons testing or development. 

From Dr. William Potter of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies

What is especially disheartening about the nuclear agreement — and bodes poorly for future nonproliferation efforts — is the extent to which economic considerations and power politics overrode those involving nuclear arms control — even among states typically regarded as international nonproliferation leaders. Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, South Africa, and Sweden were largely missing in action — or worse — during the prolonged struggle to impose consensus on the deeply divided 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Did these states, and others, simply forget the commitments they undertook at prior Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conferences to foreswear nuclear cooperation with states lacking comprehensive safeguards? What credibility will they have now to hold the feet of the nuclear weapons states to the fire on other NPT commitments such as nuclear disarmament, the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones, and the provision of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes? Having rewarded India, a nuclear weapons possessor, with nuclear trade benefits previously reserved to states in compliance with the NPT, what incentives remain for other states to join the Treaty? How can one tighten controls on nuclear exports to NPT members of sensitive uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technology having just created a giant loophole for such exports to a non-NPT state? Which countries retain the moral authority to speak credibly about other states’ nuclear disarmament and arms control shortcomings in light of the collective nonproliferation amnesia on display in Vienna this past week? Certainly, the tiny group of white knights no longer includes Canada, Germany, South Africa, and Sweden — nations who pride themselves as models of nonproliferation propriety.

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CIA Killed Top Terrorist in Pakistan Without Musharraf Green-Light

Posted by K.E. White on February 19, 2008

MSNBC reports that the CIA killed a top al-Qaeda commander in Pakistan, but did not consult with President Musharraf before launching the missile attack.

What reaction will the Pakistani public have? Is this the new way US forces operate in the terrorist hotbed of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border?

From MSNBC:

In the predawn hours of Jan. 29, a CIA Predator aircraft flew in a slow arc above the Pakistani town of Mir Ali. The drone’s operator, relying on information secretly passed to the CIA by local informants, clicked a computer mouse and sent the first of two Hellfire missiles hurtling toward a cluster of mud-brick buildings a few miles from the town center.

The missiles killed Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior al-Qaeda commander and a man who had repeatedly eluded the CIA’s dragnet. It was the first successful strike against al-Qaeda’s core leadership in two years, and it involved, U.S. officials say, an unusual degree of autonomy by the CIA inside Pakistan.

Having requested the Pakistani government’s official permission for such strikes on previous occasions, only to be put off or turned down, this time the U.S. spy agency did not seek approval. The government of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was notified only as the operation was underway, according to the officials, who insisted on anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities.

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Trouble in Afghanistan: Wither NATO?

Posted by K.E. White on February 10, 2008

The Canadian-led NATO mission in Afghanistan has run into some considerable trouble.

Canada called for more troops from NATO partners, even threatening to pull out if their request went unanswered.

While Germany has softened its opposition to granting more troops, the United States has increased diplomatic pressure on NATO allies to solve the Afghan dilemma.

Speaking at an international security conference in Munich, Defense Secretary Robert Gates openly pressed NATO members to send more troops to Afghanistan.

From the New York Times:

After weeks of calling on NATO governments to send more combat troops and trainers to Afghanistan, Mr. Gates made his case directly to people across the continent in a keynote address to an international security conference here. Mr. Gates summoned the memory of Sept. 11, 2001, to say that Europe is at risk of becoming victim to attacks of the same enormity.

“I am concerned that many people on this continent may not comprehend the magnitude of the direct threat to European security,” Mr. Gates said. “For the United States, Sept. 11 was a galvanizing event one that opened the American public’s eyes to dangers from distant lands.”

In a hall filled with government officials, lawmakers and policy analysts from around the world, Mr. Gates added: “So now I would like to add my voice to those of many allied leaders on the continent and speak directly to the people of Europe. The threat posed by violent Islamic extremism is real and it is not going to go away.”

While Iraq dominates headlines in America, Afghanistan remains a vital front in the war on terror. The Afghan-Pakistan border still stands as a critical hotbed of extremist activity.

But getting more troops from war-weary allies is no easy task. France has elevated political success over military success in Afghanistan; Australia refuses to send more troops; and Merkel faces stern opposition to any German troop increase.

From AFP:

According to an opinion poll due to be published in Monday’s edition of the magazine Focus, 84 percent of Germans oppose sending combat troops to the south.

And 63 percent believe the current deployment in northern Afghanistan does not serve German interests, according to the TNS Emnid poll.

Germany, whose troop level deployment in Afghanistan currently stands at about 3,200, earlier this week announced it would take over responsibility from Norway in July for a quick reaction force in the north of the country.

The Sunday Herald—a Scottish newspaper—illustrates just how high the stakes are for NATO in Afghanistan:

The problem is that Nato is not geared up to that kind of thinking, even though it is beginning to concentrate on training the Afghans to take over responsibility for their own security. The alliance was formed to defend the West against attack from the Soviet Union. During that time it never fired a shot in anger, and now it has been tasked to fight what many believe is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Afghanistan is still considered by the security community as the make-or-break mission for Nato, and the urgency of the situation cannot be overstated,” argues Kate Clouston, an associate of the Royal United Services Institute, in a paper on the alliance’s operations in Afghanistan for the independent think tank. “Substantial reform by Nato allies is needed now if the alliance is ever going to be ready to hand over control of the currently unsecured provinces to Afghan national forces.”

The British publication Telegraph has a detailed article on John McCain’s foreign policy, in particular his views on Afghanistan:

A future President McCain would be expected to win favour with European governments critical of the Bush administration’s approach to combating Islamic extremism, by closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in the first weeks of his presidency and declaring that the US will no longer tolerate torture.

British and American pressure on Germany appeared to bear fruit yesterday when it emerged the German government might send an extra 1,000 troops to Afghanistan. But Mr McCain will continue to work to broaden its restrictive rules of engagement.

The Afghanistan offensive will form a major plank of Mr McCain’s outreach to the world, as he battles to win over conservatives in his party.

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Must Read: Thoughts on Iraq

Posted by K.E. White on February 10, 2008

The American Interest offers some analysis about progress in Iraq, and where to go next.

Here’s a link to the ‘Iraq Symposium’ where anyone can read the articles by clicking the titles.

The contributors? Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kaplan, Richard Perle, Philip Zelikow, James Kurth and others.

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Ecuador About to Storm Miami?

Posted by K.E. White on February 7, 2008

Will the war on drugs soon have Floridians hosting an Ecuadoran military base?

From Reuters:

Ecuador‘s leftist President Rafael Correa said Washington must let him open a military base in Miami if the United States wants to keep using an air base on Ecuador‘s Pacific coast.

Correa has refused to renew Washington‘s lease on the Manta air base, set to expire in 2009. U.S. officials say it is vital for counter-narcotics surveillance operations on Pacific drug-running routes.

“We’ll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorean base,” Correa said in an interview during a trip to Italy.

“If there’s no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.”

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