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.
Month: November 2009
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.
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.
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.
There are two key reasons why the Iranian nuclear problem has been deadlocked for so long: a crisis of confidence and the absence of any feasible proposal that would address the concerns of both sides.
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.
On Saturday, October 24, President Barack Obama declared the H1N1 flu a national emergency. To date, more than 20,000 people have been hospitalized and more than 1,000 have died.
This month, the States Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) will come together in The Hague to prepare for their review of the Rome Statute, the ICC’s governing document, in Uganda in 2010. The primary goal of this meeting is to assess how the ICC and its governing documents can be improved.
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.
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.
Little can happen in this world without economic support. So it follows that little will happen in the climate realm until the international financial architecture is revamped to drive positive climate change responses, including increased energy efficiency and robust renewable energy programs.
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).