Given the amount of space they occupy in newspapers, I cannot be the only person fascinated by obituaries. I enjoy reading about real people, their accomplishments, and the different worlds they inhabited. This pastime has led to new discoveries for me — most recently the works of late historian John Burrow.
Month: February 2011
The proliferation potential of biological weapons is an exceedingly complex topic, only made more complicated by semantic inconsistencies. For example, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), considered to be the cornerstone of the global biological weapons nonproliferation regime, has been variously termed an arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation treaty.
Now that the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) has finally entered into force, how will the Obama administration achieve further bilateral nuclear reductions with Russia? With tremendous effort, public engagement, and compromise. Negotiating a follow-on agreement promises to be difficult and divisive — even more so than with New START — because it will force both countries to reassess deeply ingrained beliefs about how nuclear and non-nuclear assets affect national security.
In the late 1990s a deadly new disease emerged from the tropical forests of Malaysia, spread by fruit bats whose natural habitat had been destroyed by deforestation. The Malaysian government was unprepared for this new disease and subsequently bore high costs from the outbreak, including more than 100 human lives lost as well as an economically devastating collapse of its pig-farming industry. Eventually, the new scourge was identified and named: the Nipah virus.
According to recent reports in the New York Times and Washington Post, Pakistan has nearly doubled its nuclear arsenal to more than 100 weapons and appears on track to soon surpass Britain as the world’s fifth largest nuclear power.
The US National Security Strategy, released by the White House in May 2010, states that “there is no greater threat to the American people than weapons of mass destruction, particularly the danger posed by the pursuit of nuclear weapons by violent extremists and their proliferation to additional states.” This is why the Obama administration is in the midst of an international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years. Republicans and Democrats alike have voiced support for limiting access to vulnerable nuclear materials to prevent nuclear terrorism.
At the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, a declaration was approved unanimously to hold a conference in 2012 to discuss the notion of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East. Since this decision, however, it is not clear what, if any, preparations have been taken with regard to organizing the conference, and there remain many more unknowns than knowns about what is expected to take place.