Month: November 2011

Why the Conference on Disarmament still matters

Why the Conference on Disarmament still matters

It has expanded from 10 member countries to 65, negotiated seven international nonproliferation and disarmament treaties, and next March turns 52 years old. It is the Conference on Disarmament (CD) — the world’s only disarmament negotiating forum — and, for almost 16 years, it has stagnated in deadlock. The ongoing stalemate has led some to question the forum’s utility and even to suggest conducting negotiations outside of the multilateral body in order to obtain a treaty to halt the production of fissile materials. This would be a mistake.

Chain reaction: How the media has misread the IAEA’s report on Iran

Chain reaction: How the media has misread the IAEA’s report on Iran

When, earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency  (IAEA) released a report on Iran’s nuclear program, several media agencies and politicians walked away with two messages: that the Vienna-based agency now refutes past estimates of the US intelligence community, and that Iran is now making a break for the bomb. Both representations are false. Yet these assertions have been repeated often enough to give them traction with the public and Congress.

The myth of renewable energy

The myth of renewable energy

“Clean.” “Green.” What do those words mean? When President Obama talks about “clean energy,” some people think of “clean coal” and low-carbon nuclear power, while others envision shiny solar panels and wind turbines. And when politicians tout “green jobs,” they might just as easily be talking about employment at General Motors as at Greenpeace. “Clean” and “green” are wide open to interpretation and misappropriation; that’s why they’re so often mentioned in quotation marks.

Seyed Hossein Mousavian: The West is pushing Iran in the wrong direction

Seyed Hossein Mousavian: The West is pushing Iran in the wrong direction

Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a lecturer and research scholar at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, is the highest-ranking member of Iran’s political elite living in the United States. He has been a close adviser to many key Iranian figures across the political spectrum, ranging from the moderate former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and reformist former President Mohammad Khatami to conservative former speaker of parliament Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri and the former chief nuclear negotiator and current head of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani.

Who’s a weapons scientist?

Who’s a weapons scientist?

In its most recent report on Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) argues the country may be close to being able to develop a nuclear weapon. The agency also claims that important technical help was provided by an outside expert, identified by other sources as Vyacheslav Danilenko, a researcher who, until 1989, had worked for three decades at a leading Soviet nuclear weapons research and design institute.

Why isn’t health care a US right?

Why isn’t health care a US right?

The US Supreme Court will likely decide on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — which requires American citizens to either buy health insurance or incur a penalty — sometime this session. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled against the law, while other appeals courts, including one in Cincinnati, have either rejected the case or upheld the law.

Coming not so soon to a theater near you: Laser weapons for missile defense

Coming not so soon to a theater near you: Laser weapons for missile defense

Once upon a time not so long ago, glossy posters, press releases, and other public relations materials flooded congressional offices and newsrooms inside Washington’s Beltway, touting the futuristic antimissile project known as the Airborne Laser (ABL). The publicity campaign included an artist’s rendition of a Boeing 747, modified so a reddish laser beam shot from its nose turret. As if they were publicizing a blockbuster movie, ABL posters carried the words “Coming soon to a theater near you.”

Educating the life scientists

Educating the life scientists

There are increasing signs that state parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) realize that the lack of biosecurity awareness and education among life scientists represents a serious gap in the overall web of policies designed to prevent bioterrorism and biowarfare. Without such awareness and education, how can practicing life scientists contribute their expertise to the development and implementation of oversight systems and codes of conduct necessary to protect benignly intended work from hostile misuse?