Month: November 2009

Time for a test-ban bargain

Time for a test-ban bargain

On the face of it, quickly bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) before the U.S. Senate for ratification seems like an easy choice. In 1996, Washington signed the long-sought treaty, which reinforces the nonproliferation regime by banning all nuclear explosions. No U.S. nuclear testing has taken place since 1992, and there is scant interest in picking up where we left off.

The status of U.S. nuclear weapons in Turkey

The status of U.S. nuclear weapons in Turkey

For more than 40 years, Turkey has been a quiet custodian of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, Washington positioned intermediate-range nuclear missiles and bombers there to serve as a bulwark against the Soviet Union (i.e., to defend the region against Soviet attack and to influence Soviet strategic calculations). In the event of a Soviet assault on Europe, the weapons were to be fired as one of the first retaliatory shots. But as the Cold War waned, so, too, did the weapons’ strategic value.

Time to reconsider U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe

Time to reconsider U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe

Often, it seems as though unimportant policy issues are constantly debated, while important ones are forgotten. For those decision makers who want to maintain the status quo, the advantage of the latter situation is the absence of any pressure for policy change. U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe are a perfect example. Despite the end of the Cold War about two decades ago, approximately 200 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons quietly remain on European soil. Whether they retain any relevance in the twenty-first century is debatable to say the least.

A technical evaluation of the Fordow fuel enrichment plant

A technical evaluation of the Fordow fuel enrichment plant

Editor’s note: Since the publication of this article, the authors and David Albright and Paul Brannan of the Institute for Science and International Security have had a lively online exchange disagreeing over estimates for the enrichment capabilities of Iran’s IR-1 centrifuges. A discussion about this debate by Bulletin columnist Joshua Pollack can be found on the blog, Arms Control Wonk.

After Kim Jong-il

After Kim Jong-il

On June 1, members of the South Korean National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee received some clarity about who would replace Kim Jong-il as North Korea’s leader. A high official in Seoul’s National Intelligence Service informed them that Kim had designated his 26-year-old third son, Kim Jong-un, as his successor. According to the National Intelligence Service, Kim Jong-il had ordered the North’s military, politicians, and officials in overseas missions to swear allegiance to Kim Jong-un after Pyongyang’s May nuclear test. This succession plan wasn’t entirely surprising.

Confronting twenty-first-century nuclear security realities

Confronting twenty-first-century nuclear security realities

In the past six months, President Barack Obama has taken three major steps to protect the world from nuclear terrorism and advance the disarmament agenda. First, during his April speech in Prague, he outlined his arms control and nonproliferation objectives and announced a U.S.-led international effort to secure all of the world’s vulnerable nuclear materials within four years.

The other Berlin Wall: How the Soviet bioweapons program was revealed

The other Berlin Wall: How the Soviet bioweapons program was revealed

When the Berlin Wall came down November 9, 1989, the decades-long division of Europe was over. But there was another event, just two weeks before, that also broke down barriers and changed the course of the Cold War. In the last week of October, the director of the Soviet All-Union Institute of Ultra-Pure Biological Preparations, Vladimir Pasechnik, was on a business trip to France. He used a phone booth in Paris to call the British Embassy and offered to defect. The British Secret Intelligence Service responded with alacrity, and Pasechnik was soon on his way to London.

India and the CTBT: The debate in New Delhi

India and the CTBT: The debate in New Delhi

President Barack Obama’s decision to revive the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has triggered a flurry of discussions in New Delhi, where individuals in the strategic and scientific communities are now vigorously debating India’s options. One notable outcome of the debate so far is the realization that India’s approach to the CTBT today will be radically different from its approach in 1996, when New Delhi was unanimously opposed to the treaty (and was not yet a de facto nuclear weapon state).

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