Month: September 2008

The bursting global security bubble

The bursting global security bubble

In the 1930s and 1940s, the West’s financial and security structures collapsed. In the grip of a speculative bubble, and in the absence of proper oversight, banks had been allowed to lend more money than they responsibly could. (Sound familiar?) When queasy depositors sought to withdraw their money en masse, the result was a massive collapse of banks and the stock market, followed by the Great Depression.

Testing the test ban treaty: Week three of the CTBTO inspection exercise in Kazakhstan

Testing the test ban treaty: Week three of the CTBTO inspection exercise in Kazakhstan

It's Wednesday, September 17, and more than two weeks have elapsed since the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) began its mock inspection exercise in Kazakhstan. A quick refresher on the particulars of the exercise: In August, the CTBTO's International Monitoring System detected seismic signals from underground shocks that looked as if they might have come from a clandestine nuclear test in the vast territory of Arcania, a fictional Central Asian republic where more than 20 nuclear weapons test explosions had been openly conducted during the Cold War.

Testing the test-ban treaty: Week two of the CTBTO inspection exercise in Kazakhstan

Testing the test-ban treaty: Week two of the CTBTO inspection exercise in Kazakhstan

As the on-site inspection of the former Arcanian test site entered its second week, the inspection team from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has begun to narrow its search for evidence on whether or not Arcania conducted a recent nuclear weapon explosion in violation of its obligations as a state party to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

2008 world nuclear industry status report: Western Europe

2008 world nuclear industry status report: Western Europe

The contribution of nuclear power continues to decline in Europe. As of September, 15 of the 27 countries in the enlarged EU operated 146 reactors (about one-third of the world total), down from 177 reactors in 1989. The vast majority of these facilities (125 units) are located in eight of the western EU countries–see chart. In 2007, nuclear power produced 28 percent of the EU's commercial electricity–down from 32 percent in 2002–and 12 percent of the region's commercial primary energy.

2008 world nuclear industry status report: Asia

2008 world nuclear industry status report: Asia

Six Asian countries possess nuclear power programs–China, India, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, and Taiwan. In 2007, they generated 523 terawatt hours–or 20 percent–of the world's nuclear electricity. That, however, represented a 3.5 percent drop in the continent's nuclear generation when compared to 2006. The decrease was mainly due to the shutdown of the seven-unit plant at Kashiwazaki, Japan, which was damaged by a 6.8-magnitude earthquake in July 2007.

Testing the test-ban treaty: An inspection exercise in Kazakhstan

Testing the test-ban treaty: An inspection exercise in Kazakhstan

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) launched the longest and most complex of its verification field exercises on September 1, with a hypothetical scenario: In late August, the CTBTO's International Monitoring System detected seismic signals from underground shocks that looked as if they might have come from a clandestine nuclear test in the vast territory of Arcania, a fictional Central Asian republic where more than 20 nuclear weapons test explosions had been openly conducted during the Cold War.

Establishing the next president’s national security agenda: Strengthening the civilian instrument

Establishing the next president’s national security agenda: Strengthening the civilian instrument

The next president will inherit a severe and growing imbalance in the tool kit he has available for dealing with the national security challenges of the early twenty-first century. In the first three parts of this series, I described these challenges and recommended steps to strengthen the White House’s capability to define policy and provide guidance to agencies. I have also underlined the importance of getting defense planning and budgeting under control.

How to update the biological weapons treaty

How to update the biological weapons treaty

In late August, I travelled to Geneva for an intersessional meeting of the States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). The meeting, which included representatives from the expert level, considered biosafety, biosecurity, and issues such as awareness raising, education, oversight of scientific activities, and codes of conduct for life scientists. (Concise daily accounts of these proceedings are available through the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy).

Cleaning up Serbia’s nuclear legacy

Cleaning up Serbia’s nuclear legacy

The Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences, located 9 miles from Belgrade, is Yugoslavia’s oldest nuclear research institute. Established in 1948 as the Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, its efforts supposedly included an attempt to build a Yugoslav nuclear bomb. For almost 45 years, it collected Yugoslavia’s and Serbia’s radioactive waste.