Month: May 2010

Bunker mentality: Is NNSA digging itself into a hole at Los Alamos?

Bunker mentality: Is NNSA digging itself into a hole at Los Alamos?

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Congress are currently weighing whether–and at what pace and scale, and with what capabilities–to build two large production facilities for warhead components with a combined price tag in the range of $6-7 billion.1
While on the surface these plans appear settled, there has been no administration or congressional go-ahead to build either project, and none are warranted. Beneath the surface, significant unresolved issues concerning mission, urgency, scale, budget, and design remain.

Right-Sizing the “Loose Nukes” Security Budget: Part 1

Highlighting the danger posed by nuclear terrorism and the need for an effective response, President Barack Obama came to office promising to “secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world within four years.” The necessity of this goal is unquestioned. In fact, since 2004, at least four published official government reports have criticized the adequacy of the U.S. government’s response to the threat of nuclear terrorism. The ability to achieve this objective, however, has been questioned.

Deconstructing the meaning of Iran’s 20 percent uranium enrichment

Deconstructing the meaning of Iran’s 20 percent uranium enrichment

On February 11, the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered the “sweet” news that Iran had successfully produced 20 percent enriched uranium. More than anything, the announcement served as Iran’s response to the stalemate over purchasing fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor that is used, in part, to produce medical isotopes.

The myth of missile defense as a deterrent

The myth of missile defense as a deterrent

The Obama administration’s long-awaited Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) “establishes U.S. nuclear policy, strategy, capabilities and force posture for the next five to ten years.” The review signals a fresh approach to nuclear doctrine; however, its reliance on missile defense as an element of nuclear deterrence is wrong. Such systems are useless, dangerous, and destabilizing, and ramping up reliance on missile defenses because of planned reductions to the U.S.

Is a nuclear nonproliferation consensus within reach?

Is a nuclear nonproliferation consensus within reach?

Thanks to the participation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the eighth conference “to review the operation” of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is attracting more attention than these affairs usually do. When it concludes on May 28, the NPT Review Conference may not yield a final document expressing the consensus of all 189 NPT member states–but that does not mean the event will be less than spectacular. On only its first day, the conference produced some fireworks.

Missile defense: The future of NATO burden sharing?

Missile defense: The future of NATO burden sharing?

“If you are a NATO member, you have to work for collective security,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov recently remarked in response to reports that his country is positioning itself as a potential host for components of the reconfigured European missile defense system. Borisov’s statement encapsulates the spirit of NATO burden sharing: allies collectively shouldering the costs, risks, and responsibilities of maintaining adequate defenses.

Reforming the NPT to include India

Reforming the NPT to include India

For decades now, India has obstinately resisted the idea of joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), claiming that the treaty is both flawed and discriminatory. Thus, India, a country with a nuclear weapons arsenal, has long stood outside of the nonproliferation regime. Yet recent government statements seem to indicate that New Delhi is rethinking its stance on the treaty–a very timely discussion, given the upcoming 2010 NPT Review Conference, at which reforming the treaty to reflect current security considerations is likely to be a topic of deliberation.