Month: May 2012

Unconventional wisdom

Unconventional wisdom

As negotiations with Iran over the future of its nuclear program inch toward a possible deal, another intractable Middle East problem with a nuclear dimension is likely to start getting more serious attention. It is the question of whether there is any chance that Israel, Iran, and their Arab neighbors will agree to discuss establishing a regional zone free of all nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and their delivery systems.

NATO needs a vision

NATO needs a vision

The Chicago NATO Summit accomplished its main goal of finalizing plans to turn over control of the security situation in Afghanistan to the Afghan security forces by the middle of next year. But in fact that goal had already been accomplished well before the meeting.

Obama nominates Allison Macfarlane to lead NRC

Obama nominates Allison Macfarlane to lead NRC

President Barack Obama today named Allison Macfarlane, chair of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, as his choice to lead the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Macfarlane also served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

Radiation: It’s just what the doctor ordered

Radiation: It’s just what the doctor ordered

He’s an expert on nuclear security. His wife edits articles for the Bulletin. She was home with their two-month-old baby when the doorbell rang, the dog went nuts, and the baby — too young to roll over on his own, and protected by a pillow on the couch — somehow ended up wailing on the floor, with the crosshatched pattern of a rattan rug imprinted on his little head. (The incident remains under investigation, but circumstantial evidence points to psycho-dog.)

A nuke by any other name

A nuke by any other name

Both NATO and Russia would like to see the other reduce its stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons, but the two sides have been unable to agree on mutual reductions. Even modest progress on the issue at NATO’s Chicago summit seems unlikely. This is partially because it is unclear what a “tactical” nuclear weapon is.

Technical concerns: Why Russia worries about missile defense

Technical concerns: Why Russia worries about missile defense

Russia’s Ministry of Defense held an unprecedented international conference in Moscow last week to explain “how NATO missile defense facilities … may affect Russia’s forces of nuclear deterrence.” Senior Russian military officials used the meeting, which included 200 participants from 50 countries, to publicly back President Vladimir Putin’s decision to skip the NATO summit in Chicago later this mon

Does India need ICBMs?

Does India need ICBMs?

With the successful launch of the Agni-5, India now is on the cusp of having an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability. The Agni-5, an intermediate-range ballistic missile able to carry a nuclear warhead, has a range of 3,100 miles — 300 miles shy of becoming an ICBM, according to internationally recognized standards (a capability that so far belongs only to China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States).

The politics of reduction

The politics of reduction

One of the perks of being a Republican president in the United States is the freedom to make drastic changes to US nuclear posture while Democratic presidents are forced to travel a much tougher road, often in the pursuit of far less ambitious goals. This pattern has been ongoing since the end of the Cold War and sadly continues unabated today.

Dream deterred

Dream deterred

The dream of a shield against nuclear bombs has been around since the earliest days of the nuclear age. The idea has always been deceptively simple: Build missiles that can shoot down nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles as they come across the ocean from the Soviet Union toward the United States (or vice-versa). Although this would be the equivalent of trying to hit a bullet with a bullet or an arrow with an arrow, there have always been political and military leaders who feel sure it can be done.