Getting to Zero Update

In this issue:

BASIC and Getting to Zero (GTZ)

Wilton Park Conference

BASIC's Executive Director, Paul Ingram, facilitated one of the workshops and presented its findings, NPT - fit for purpose?, at the Wilton Park 2008 NPT conference, 'Nuclear Non-proliferation at the Crossroads?' December 15 to 19. Several conclusions were reached, not least that a principal problem is the lack of connectivity between all the global non-proliferation and disarmament tools to ensure effectiveness and a greater effort made to establish a spirit of cooperation and recognize the common interests involved.

The conference, reflecting the recent election of US President Barack Obama and the building of momentum for breakthroughs in arms control, as a whole was generally more positive about the prospects for movement towards zero than previous years. As an important pre-conference for diplomats and think-tankers involved in the lead-up to the NPT Preparatory Committee in New York in May, this was important.

 

Politics around US tactical nuclear weapons in European host states

Why the NATO summit this April may be the start of a roll back for NATO's tactical nuclear weapons.
Claudine Lamond and Paul Ingram, BASIC Getting to Zero Paper, No 11, January 15, 2009.

 

Commitments to disarmament and arms control

More calls for reductions in nuclear arsenals

On February 4, UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband laid out a three-condition, six-step proposal to achieve the long-term goal of abolishing nuclear weapons worldwide. He called on NPT-member states to enhance nonproliferation and security efforts, and for current nuclear-weapons states, including the United Kingdom, to reduce the size of their respective arsenals. Emphasizing the importance of dialogue and confidence-building among these states, he further explained that collective security regimes could enforce the global ban and "maintain international security in a world without [nuclear weapons]."

On January 16, three British Generals: Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham, and General Sir Hugh Beach, had written an article in the Times calling for the United Kingdom to forego its nuclear arsenal, explaining that "... major-player status in the international military scene is more likely to find expression through effective, strategically mobile conventional forces, capable of taking out pinpoint targets..." They conclude, "Rather than perpetuating Trident, the case is much stronger for funding our Armed Forces with what they need to meet the commitments actually laid upon them. In the present economic climate it may well prove impossible to afford both." In an interview with the BBC, former NATO Commander, General Jack Sheehan (US-ret) said that the United Kingdom could be close to giving up Trident. BASIC issued a media advisory and Paul Ingram a blog posting on the General's statement.

Four German statesmen: Helmut Schmidt (Social Democrat), Chancellor 1974-1982; Richard von Weizsdcker (Christian Democrat), President 1984-1994; Egon Bahr, Minister in Social Democratic governments and an architect of "ostpolitik;" and Hans-Dietrich Genscher (Free Democrats), Foreign Minister 1974-1992, published an article in the International Herald Tribune in which they put forth a plan for "drastically reducing the number of nuclear warheads." German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed a similar attitude in his open letter to then President-Elect Barack Obama on January 12, "Only when Russia and the US take the lead [in global disarmament] will we be able to effectively counter the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons."

On behalf of the European Union, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a revival of the nuclear weapons reduction movement in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in early December. President Sarkozy reaffirmed his proposal for an international ban on nuclear weapons testing, a moratorium on the production of all fissile materials, and a universal inspection regime. He also urged Russia and the United States to make progress in their efforts to negotiate a successor to START. France concluded its six-month Presidency of the EU at the end of December.

Such calls for global partnership and nuclear arms reduction are reflected in the program put forward by a newly-created organization: Global Zero. Made up of 100 past and current world leaders, Global Zero seeks to rid the world of nuclear weapons within the next 25 years. This group convened for the first time early in December in Paris.

 

Munich Security Conference

On February 7, top officials convened the prestigious security conference in Munich, Germany. US Vice President Joseph Biden said that elements of the START treaty, including verification procedures, must continue to steer global attempts to curtail nuclear proliferation, and cited the United States' and Russia's "special obligation" to pursue nonproliferation. Russian foreign minister Sergei Ivanov praised the speech, calling it a "very positive" development for US-Russian relations. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also spoke, delivering a comprehensive speech on the state of the international nonproliferation regime. He described Iran and North Korea as the two most dangerous threats to nonproliferation. He also called for disarmament using a gradual approach. "Affirming the desirability of the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, we have concentrated on the steps that are achievable and verifiable," he said.

 

START update

A US delegation under the Bush Administration met with Russian officials on December 17 to negotiate a controversial extension or replacement of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which will expire in December 2009. Moscow, concerned in part with the Pentagons plan to place conventional warheads on Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), wants a comprehensive treaty that would impose limits on both nuclear and conventional weapons. The Bush Administration had been advocating a successor to START that would cover only nuclear warheads. But officials from the Obama administration have recently stated that they will pursue a "more traditional, legally binding" arms reduction process with Russia, adding that a post-START treaty might commit both sides to a nuclear arsenal as low as 1,000. On February 5, US State Department spokesman Robert Wood commented that the administration was "deeply committed to reducing the numbers [of warheads]." Last December, then President-Elect Obama sent Henry Kissinger, who has good relations with the Kremlin, to Moscow to discuss issues related to disarmament and missile defense.

 

US ratifies IAEA Additional Protocol

After hanging in limbo since its approval by the US Senate in 2004, former President Bush formally approved of an Additional Protocol to the US inspections agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Protocol allows IAEA inspectors greater freedom of action vis à vis a nation's nuclear program, including short-notice inspections and the monitoring of environmental conditions which may indicate covert nuclear activity. The US version, however, is much different than the 1997 Model, and serves a primarily educational function. The United States is not required to submit to the more invasive stipulations of the 1997 Model since it is officially recognized under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a nuclear-weapons state. But by agreeing to the Protocol, Washington hopes to persuade other countries to agree to the terms of the 1997 Model. The Protocol officially took effect on January 6.

 

Central Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone

In December, Kazakhstan's upper house of parliament approved the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty. This treaty prohibits the development, production, or acquisition of nuclear weapons and other related materials in the zone. It must be approved by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev before it takes effect. Kazakhstan was one of the original signers to the treaty when it was drafted in 2006. The United States, as well as French and British leaders, have not recognized the treaty because of several problems they perceive, including that the treaty could allow Russia to transfer nuclear weapons to the treaty members under provisions permitting military assistance.

Further reading

Munich Security Conference: Speeches 2009

Former NATO commander calls on Britain to ditch Trident
BASIC Media Advisory, January 29, 2009

Taking steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons (PDF)
Panel discussion with Sam Nunn, George Shultz, Sidney Drell, and David Sanger, hosted by Bob Schieffer at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, January 29, 2009

Obama urged to keep pledge to ratify nuclear treaty
Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg, January 23, 2009

If defence is to be strategic rather than politically expedient, dump Trident
Max Hastings, Guardian, January 19, 2009

UK does not need a nuclear deterrent: Nuclear weapons must not be seen to be vital to the secure defence of self-respecting nations
Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham, General Sir Hugh Beach,
Times
(London), January 16, 200

New directions for foreign relations
(Senate Foreign Relations Chairman calls for US ratification of the nuclear Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty and the reduction of the US nuclear arsenal down to at least 1,000 deployed warheads.)
John F Kerry, Boston Globe, January 13, 2009

Taming the nuclear dragon: A global nonproliferation treaty is in serious danger of falling apart
Stephen M. Younger (formerly led nuclear research and development for Los Alamos National Laboratory), Wall Street Journal essay, January 10, 2009 

Nuclear arms control: The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (PDF)
Amy F Woolf, Congressional Research Service report, updated December 30, 2008
(Available via the Website of the Federation of American Scientists)

Strategic arms control after START: Issues and options (PDF)
Amy F Woolf, Congressional Research Service report, December 23, 2008
(Available via the Website of the Federation of American Scientists)

The struggle for a nuclear weapon-free zone in Central Asia
Togzhan Kassenova, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 22, 2008 

Publics around the world favor international agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons
World Public Opinion, December 9, 2008

 

Country reports

United States

Strategic Posture Review Commission

The Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States released an interim report in December. The panel has been led by former defense secretaries William J. Perry and James R. Schlesinger. Citing the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea as well as nations that already possess nuclear weapons, the commission reported that proliferation has reached a "tipping point" which could lead to a serious international crisis within the first year of the Obama presidency. The main danger, according to the panel, is that "as each nuclear power is added, the probability of a terror group getting a nuclear bomb increases." It advised the President to make nonproliferation a top priority in his national security strategy. They further suggested more dialogue with Russia and ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Regarding Washington's own nuclear arsenal, the panel recognized eliminating global nuclear stockpiles as an important priority while reaffirming the need for a credible deterrent prior to global elimination.

 

Task Force Review of the DOD nuclear mission

James Schlesinger also headed a task force review of the nuclear mission of the Defense Department, which concluded with the release of a final Phase II report in December. The Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, set up the Task Force on Nuclear Weapons Management in June 2008, after a series of systems failures resulted in the loss and mishandling of nuclear warheads and related material. The report found a "lack of interest in and attention to" the nuclear mission throughout the Defense Department but also recommended the United States maintain its tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and modernize its nuclear warheads on cruise missiles. Phase I focused specifically on the Air Forces management of nuclear weapons.

 

Strong commitments in the Obama-Biden Plan

On the Agenda section of the White House website, President Obama and Vice President Biden declare that they will pursue the "goal of a world without nuclear weapons." In an effort to work toward this goal, they pledge to "stop the development of new nuclear weapons; work with Russia to take US and Russian ballistic missiles off hair trigger alert; seek dramatic reductions in US and Russian stockpiles of nuclear weapons and material; and set a goal to expand the US-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles so that the agreement is global." The agenda also mentions President Obama's vow to secure all loose nuclear material during his first term. The page also says that the United States will maintain a "strong deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist."

 

Commitments made during cabinet confirmation hearings; Senate Foreign Relations Chair on CTBT

In her confirmation hearing, then Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized the importance of global efforts to prevent proliferation, saying that the Obama Administration "will place great importance on strengthening the NPT and the nonproliferation regime in general." Clinton called for an expansion of the IAEA and its budget, broader jurisdiction and more stringent verification procedures. She also voiced her support for an international nuclear fuel bank. During his confirmation hearing for Energy Secretary, Steven Chu remarked in his opening statement, before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, that the work of the National Nuclear Security Administration should in part be geared toward "a long-run vision of a world without nuclear weapons." On a related note, Senator John Kerry, the newly-appointed Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also said in an interview with Reuters on January 12 that he would seek to revive the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on nuclear weapons.

 

Global Strike

On January 12, the US Air Force launched the provisional Global Strike Command (GSC) at Bolling Air Force Base near Washington, DC. This provisional force, led by Brigadier General James Kowalski, will be replaced by the permanent command in September.

 

GAO finds NNSA to be a "high risk" area

On January 22, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) submitted a report to Congress which discussed the status of a number of government agencies. The report found that the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) continues to have significant problems with budget and project management, making it a "high risk for fraud, abuse, waste, and mismanagement." The report cited a number of major projects in which the NNSA exceeded original costs by billions of dollars, urging the DOE to comply with management requirements and to strengthen accountability. Employing these measures becomes more important, the GAO added, as the NNSA begins to modernize the nation's nuclear weapons production facilities, a project costing "tens of billions of dollars."

Further reading

Obama's showdown over nuclear weapons
Mark Thompson, Time, January 26, 2009

The nuclear-free dream fades: Barack Obama's pledges on proliferation and securing stockpiles are not as radical as they seem, and face some tough challenges
Simon Tisdall, Guardian, January 22, 2009

The Minot investigations: From fixing problems to nuclear advocacy
Hans Kristensen, FAS Strategic Security Blog, January 14, 2009

Nuclear security spending: assessing costs, examining priorities
Stephen I. Schwartz and Deepti Choubey, Carnegie Endowment Report, January 2009

Speaking truth to intelligence
Joe Cirincione, Huffington Post, January 9, 2009

Reassessing the role of nuclear weapons
Daryl G Kimball, Arms Control Today, January/February 2009

Nuclear weapons in US national security policy: Past, present and prospects (PDF)
Amy F Woolf, Congressional Research Service Report, updated December 30, 2008 (Available via the Website of the Federation of American Scientists)

Key takeaways from report of the Congressionally-established Bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism
Graham Allison, December 22, 2008

The myth of nuclear modernization and the Ikea bomb
Ivan Oelrich, FAS Strategic Security blog, December 17, 2008

Interim Report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States
December 15, 2008

Report of the Secretary of Defense Task Force on DoD Nuclear Weapons Management - Phase II: Review of the DoD nuclear mission (PDF)
December 2008

Nuclear weapons in 21st century US national security (PDF)
Report by a Joint Working Group of AAAS, the American Physical Society, and
the Center for Strategic and International Studies, December 2008

 

United Kingdom

Nuclear weapons technology sharing with the United States

The Guardian reported on February 9th that the United States may have been using the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) for research into the development of its own nuclear weapons. The UK-based Chatham House and the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conducted an interview last year with John Harvey, policy and planning director at the US National Nuclear Security Administration, who said that the United States was borrowing British technological capabilities that have proven to be "very valuable" for the US nuclear weapons program. His remarks have raised questions as to whether the United Kingdom has been assisting the United States with the development of new nuclear weapons and a possible variant of the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program. Harvey said that the United States and Britain recently amended the Mutual Defence Agreement, which could allow for cooperation on an RRW program. (For background information, see the following report on BASIC's Website: 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement, including information on a June 2004 amendment.)

 

Plans for new UK nuclear weapons plant

Earlier in January, the AWE submitted plans to build a replacement nuclear warhead production and dismantlement facility in Burghfield. The current plant at this location is over 50-years-old. The plan, developed by the Ministry of Defense, is known as Project Mensa. Like previous facilities, the new one will fall under the jurisdiction of the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, the Hazardous Installations Directorate, and the Ministry of Defense. Project Mensa may break ground by next year, and be commissioned by 2014-2015. The proposal for building a new facility at the site has sparked controversy, including questions over whether the area may be unsuitable because of potential flooding.

 

Update on sale of stake in AWE

The AWE was the subject of intense controversy in December, when the government sold one-third of its stake in the organization to Jacobs, a US-based engineering company. The AWE, founded after World War II, is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the United Kingdom's nuclear warheads. The government's sale of its stake puts two-thirds of the AWE in the control of American companies. The US-based defense firm Lockheed Martin and the British firm Serco also each own a one-third share of the organization. This move, which the government failed to disclose to Parliament, drew heavy criticism from opposition politicians concerned that it further highlights the dependence of Britain's deterrent upon the United States. Gerald Howarth, the Conservative Party's shadow defense minister, said, "It is consistent with the government's unwillingness to share matters nuclear with Parliament." Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat's defense spokesman, argued that such technology sharing was prohibited by the nonproliferation treaty.

Further reading

Israel should be in nuclear-weapons-free Middle East, former UK envoy tells IRNA
Islamic Republic News Agency, December 23, 2008

UK Government: International campaign on nuclear disarmament
Press Wire, December 9, 2008 (registration required)

 

India and Pakistan

Pakistani scientist Khan released from house arrest

After five years under house arrest in his home in Pakistan, a national court ordered the release of AQ Khan on February 6. (Pakistan-based DAWN recently reported that the decision could be repealed.) Khan had been confined despite being pardoned by the Pakistani government in 2004 for allegedly selling nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran, and Libya, a crime to which he initially confessed but later recanted. The move to release Khan suggests the Pakistani government has decided to prioritise its popularity at home over its relationship with the United States and any concerns over its reputation for proliferation. Both US and U.N. weapons inspectors have repeatedly attempted to question Khan about his proliferation activities, but have been blocked by Islamabad, a situation which is likely to continue. But these inspectors warn that Khan risks arrest if he travels abroad, which he is highly unlikely to do.

On a related note, the United States had announced in January that it will be imposing sanctions on 13 people and three companies accused of involvement in the nuclear proliferation network of the Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan. The list of thirteen suspects, who have long been under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, include businessmen and engineers from Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and the Middle East. The sanctions include the freezing of the suspects' U.S.-based assets as well as a prohibition on Americans from engaging in business with them. Urs Tinner, a Swiss engineer investigated for his suspected involvement with the Khan network, has been released after four years in detention.

 

Nuclear facility information exchange

On January 1st, India and Pakistan exchanged their list of nuclear facilities, a practice they have conducted on every New Year's Day since 1992. The practice stems from their agreement not to attack each other's nuclear installations.

A large delegation of US business executives met with Indian officials in New Delhi to thoroughly examine the text of the 123 Agreement, which was passed last year. This agreement allows for India to participate in global civilian nuclear trade and use US nuclear technology. But its implementation has been hampered by a sea of bureaucratic issues, the most contentious being negotiating India's right to reprocess spent fuel for its three-stage breeder reactors.

 

Indian missile test

On January 20, India tested its BraMos supersonic cruise missile, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads. India's Defense Minister, AK Antony, said that the tests were pre-planned and not directed toward any nation. While India and Pakistan customarily warn each other prior to conducting missile tests, it was not made clear whether Islamabad knew about the exercises. The test was conducted in Rajasthan, a province that borders Pakistan. After initially declaring the tests a success, the Indian Defense Ministry acknowledged on January 21 that the BrahMos failed to hit its intended target.

Further reading

Stepping back from the brink: Avoiding a nuclear march of folly in South Asia
Zachary Davis, Arms Control Today, January/February 2009

Predicting proliferation: The history of the future of nuclear weapons
Moeed Yusuf and Frederick S Pardee, the Brookings Institution, January 13, 2009

Detecting the barrage approach to illicit procurement (PDF)
David Albright, Paul Brannan and Andrea Scheel, Institute for Science and International Security, January 12, 2009

 

Iran

On February 2 Iran successfully launched a domestically-built satellite into orbit. INRA described the launch as part of a "data processing project," and proclaimed it to be "the first practical step towards acquiring national space technology." This same technology can also be used for launching weapons. Expressing "great concern" about the launch, US State Department spokesman Robert Wood called on the international community, particularly Russia and China, to put pressure on Iran, citing common interests. Nevertheless, although the satellite reached orbit, it was a great deal smaller than any possible military payload would be.

The Wall Street Journal reported on January 16 that it observed a number of documents from the Iranian company ABAN Commercial & Industrial Ltd. These records indicate that this company tried to acquire 30,000 kilograms of tungsten copper from a company in Beijing through an intermediary. This type of copper can be used in the development of missile guidance systems. The United Arab Emirates also recently intercepted a shipment of titanium sheets from China headed to Iran. Titanium may be used to develop long-range missiles. Although these materials have civilian uses, Iran is still prohibited by international sanctions from acquiring them. Law enforcement officials in New York are also investigating whether international banks have been laundering money for the Islamic Republic.

American intelligence officials contend that Iran has somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 spinning centrifuges, (enough to produce a weapon's worth of uranium roughly every eight months) which is up from the IAEA's estimate last November of 3,800. But Iran appears to be having problems with the natural resources needed for its nuclear program. The London Times reports that the Islamic Republic is running low on unrefined uranium. In a press conference on January 12, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashavi explained that the Islamic Republic is "adamant to pursue its nuclear rights," although it denies trying to produce a nuclear weapon. According to David Albright, the head of the Institute for Science and International Security, Iran's yellowcake may also run out by the end of 2009. Iran's supply of yellowcake is reportedly much too small to fuel a civilian nuclear program, which has further aroused international suspicions of its claim that this program is strictly for peaceful purposes.

On several occasions recently, Obama has reaffirmed his commitment to meeting with Iranian officials without preconditions. But he has also accused Iran of "pursuing a nuclear weapon that could trigger an arms race." Tehran's response to Obama's more moderate posture has been cautious, but open. In an interview on January 28, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicated that "if there are real changes [from Washington], we will welcome it." On February 6 Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani warned Washington that the relationship would be repaired only if Washington "accepts its mistakes and changes its policies," placing the blame for hostilities squarely on the American side.

A report released by David Sanger in the January 10th edition of The New York Times reveals information about President Bush's strategy toward Iran. According to interviews Sanger conducted with anonymous intelligence officials, starting in early 2008 Bush embraced a covert strategy to undermine the infrastructure surrounding Iran's nuclear program. Reportedly, Bush embraced this strategy due to frustration with the sanctions approach and the recognition that an overt attack would destabilize the region. Sanger also indicated that Bush rejected an air strike proposal on Iran's nuclear facility at Natanz.

Further reading

Talk nuclear with Iran now, with a time limit
Therese Delpech, Ariel Levite, George Perkovich, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February 3, 3009

The Iranian nuclear program after the National Intelligence Estimate
Philip H Gordon, Brookings, January 21, 2009

Nuclear Iran not inevitable: Essential background and recommendations for the Obama administration (PDF)
David Albright, Jacqueline Shire, Paul Brannan and Andrea Scheel, Institute for Science and International Security, January 21, 2009

France, UK push for EU sanctions on Iran - report
Iran Press News, January 19, 2009

How to deal with Iran
William Luers, Thomas R Pickering, and Jim Walsh, New York Review of Books, January 15, 2009

A nuclear Iran: live and let live, or die another day?
Richard Haass, Sydney Morning Herald, January 14, 2009

How cooperation between a company and government authorities disrupted a sophisticated illicit Iranian procurement (PDF)
David Albright, Paul Brannan, and Andrea Scheel, Institute for Science and International Security, January 12, 2009

The Gulf states must press the nuclear issue before it's too late
Emile El-Hokayem, The National (newspaper - UAE), via the Henry L Stimson Center Website, December 17, 2008

 

North Korea

Between January 15 and 19, South Korean envoy Hwang Joon-kook led a group of nuclear experts on a visit to North Korea to examine unused nuclear fuel rods at the communist state's main reprocessing facility. The North agreed to this type of inspection in December at the latest round of the Six-Party negotiations between the United States, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea. The negotiations failed, however, to produce an agreement on procedures for the verification of the dismantlement of North Korean nuclear facilities. The inspections were conducted amid recent tensions between the North and South as Pyongyang declared an "all-out confrontational posture" against South Korea on January 17, prompting Seoul to heighten its vigilance along its northern border. But the South Korean delegation reported that North Korea was continuing dismantlement at the Yongbyong nuclear complex, even though Pyongyang had recently threatened to continue its nuclear weapons program.

North Korean leader Kim-Jong Il met with Wang Jiarui, a senior Chinese Communist official, in Pyongyang on January 23. This was Kim's first known meeting with a foreign emissary since he reportedly suffered a stroke in August. South Korean analysts speculate that with this move Kim is signaling to the world, particularly to the new US administration, that he is still in control of his country and able to make decisions about its nuclear weapons program.

On February 3, a South Korean intelligence official told the Associated Press that the North may be preparing to test its Taepodong-2 missile, which is intended to have a range of more than 4,000 miles and thus could conceivably hit the western coast of the United States. According to a Japanese government source, it may be at least a month before the missile test.

Further reading

Dealing with North Korea: "Diplomatic warfare" ahead
Joel S Wit, Arms Control Association, January/February 2009

Six-party talks stall over sampling
Peter Craig, Arms Control Today, January/February 2009

North Korea claims to have weaponized plutonium
CNN, January 18, 2009

More on Nork HEU
James Acton, Arms Control Wonk, January 14, 2009

A nuclear threat is exposed
Donald Kirk, Asia Times, January 13, 2009

North Korea issues New Year denuclearization pledge
Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, December 31, 2008

 

Missile defense

According to a January 28th article in the New York Times, Russia has suspended (but not cancelled) its plans to deploy its Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, leading to speculation that the Kremlin may be reaching out to the Obama Administration. Officials in Moscow refused to confirm or comment on the report, which came from an unidentified Russian defense official. But at a Russian-NATO conference in Munich on February 6, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov indicated that Moscow is far from dead set on the Kaliningrad deployment. "[Russian] President [Dmitri] Medvedev from the very start said very clearly and unequivocally that if there are no interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic [referring to the proposed US ground-based midcourse defense system] as was planned by the [Bush] Administration, clearly, there will be no Iskanders in Kaliningrad," he explained.

Michelle Flournoy, Obama's undersecretary for policy at the Pentagon, informed the Senate Armed Services Committee that plans for missile deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic should be evaluated during the quadrennial defense review (QDR). She further said that this evaluation would take U.S.-Russian relations into consideration. Flournoy disclosed these intentions during her Senate confirmation hearing on January 15. The QDR is set to take place later this year.

On December 5, the US Air Force conducted a test of its anti-missile defense shield at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It intercepted a dummy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launched from Kodiak, Alaska. However, test decoys failed to deploy from the ICBM, continuing to raise questions about whether the system will be capable of coping with countermeasures.

Boeing received a $397.9 million contract from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in December to continue development of the GMD program.

In early January, the Financial Times reported that India and the United States had entered into discussions about long-range missile defense systems for India. The US Defense Department claimed that talks took place only on "a very rudimentary level." Serious plans for a missile defense deal could anger Pakistan. Recent India-US military relations have intensified and a controversial civilian nuclear cooperation agreement had been approved in the latter half of 2008.

Further reading

Test hit, diplomatic flop for US missile defense
Wade Boese, Arms Control Association, January/February 2009

Challenges loom as Obama seeks space weapons ban
Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters, January 25, 2009

Interview: Obama's 'window of opportunity' for improved Russia, EU ties
Charles A Kupchan and Bernard Gwertzman, New York Times, January 23, 2009

Obama should boost armed services' role in missile defense
Baker Spring, Peter Brookes and James Jay Carafano, United Press International, January 20, 2009

India and the US talk missile defense
Siddharth Srivastava, Asia Times, January 15, 2009

Flight tests for Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) System (chart/PDF)
Victoria Samson, Center for Defense Information, updated December 22, 2008

Missile defense success questioned
Ben Preston, Santa Barbara, Independent, December 21, 2008

Successful missile defense test shows technology not "unproven"
Baker Spring, Heritage Foundation, December 8, 2008

 

Other publications

Exporting the bomb: Why states provide sensitive nuclear assistance
Matthew Kroenig, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, February 2009

Drawing a bright redline: Forestalling nuclear proliferation in the Middle East
Mark Fitzpatrick, Arms Control Association, January/February 2009

Nuclear weapons for all? The risks of a new scramble for the bomb
Thomas Omestad, US News and World Report, January 15, 2009

Trend lines and tipping points for nuclear proliferation
Henry L Stimson Center event summary, January 14, 2009

Heading for the fourth Nuclear Age
Ariel (Eli) Levite, Ifri Security Studies Center Proliferation Paper No 24, Winter 2009

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