Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major News and Commentary Military and Civilian Nuclear Activities

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Nuclear Security Summit and Review

Nuclear Security Summit and Review
White House Lays Out Nuclear Summit Goals, Agenda - Voice of America
- Washington Times

Canceled Netanyahu Trip Spotlights Israel Nukes - Associated Press
http://www.wtop.com/?nid=105&sid=1930132

Senators Voice Doubts on Nuke Treaty

Why Israel's Netanyahu will skip Obama's nuclear security summit

Spotlight Is Now On Israel's Nuclear Weapons Program
Israel is estimated to have 150-200 atomic bombs, deliverable by aircraft, missile or submarine. Photograph: Havakuk Levison/Reuters

Why Israel's Netanyahu Will Skip Obama's Nuclear Security Summit -- Christian Science Monitor

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will send a deputy to Obama's nuclear security summit next week. He decided not to attend himself after learning that some Arab countries planned to press Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Middle East was always going to be a focus of any international gathering on nuclear security.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s last-minute decision to skip President Obama’s nuclear security summit in Washington next week has served to highlight instabilities in the Middle East – and the reasons the prospect of a “nuclear race” in the region is so worrisome to US officials.

Read more ....


More News On Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Decision To Not Attend President Obama's Nuclear Conference

Canceled Netanyahu trip spotlights Israel nukes -- AP
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hah_mnNlEdL2F05h25Ib2pRBctegD9EVM1T80


Israel's nuclear standoff -- Meir Javedanfar, The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/09/israel-nuclear-standoff-summit


Netanyahu's nuclear no-show is victory for Arab pressure -- Ian Black, The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/09/netanyahu-nuclear-no-show-pressure

Popular Mechanics Examines President Obama's Nuclear Strategy: Obama's Mixed Message: Ban Nukes, Fund Modernized Weapons

Popular Mechanics Examines President Obama's Nuclear Strategy
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, at the podium, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, right, conduct a press conference to discuss the Nuclear Posture Review at the Pentagon, April 6, 2010. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

Obama's Mixed Message: Ban Nukes, Fund Modernized Weapons -- Popular Mechanics

President Barack Obama has pledged to work toward a nuclear-weapon-free world. So why is his defense budget filled with money to modernize the things that carry them?

When the Norwegian Nobel Committee nominated U.S. president Barack Obama for its Peace Prize, they said the committee “attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons." They might be surprised to see some of the lesser-known details of his defense budget—which requests $7 billion, up $624 million from 2010, in funding for weapons research by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. For all the president's talk this week about limiting the scope of America's use of its nuclear weapons, his budgetary actions make it clear that any reduction in the U.S. stockpile will go hand-in-hand with modernization.

Read more ....

Russia's Limits on Iran Sanctions

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett (http://www.raceforiran.com/russia%e2%80%99s-limits-on-iran-sanctions)

Obama Administration officials have been touting for some time that they have Russia “on board” for a new United Nations Security Council resolution imposing sanctions against Iran over the nuclear issue. We, of course, have been arguing for months that, while Russia would probably end up supporting a new sanctions resolution, Moscow would not support broad-based sanctions against major sectors of Iran’s economy (see, here), measures that might affect the fundamental stability of Iran’s political order (see, here), or specific measures that would get in the way of Russian economic and security interests (see here). Instead, Russian officials have insisted that any new sanctions against Iran should—like previous sanctions authorized by the Security Council—be focused on individuals and entities directly involved in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear and missile programs. In the face of these realities, the Obama Administration has already backed down from some of the tougher measures it originally sought to have included in a potential new resolution, to maximize its chances for winning Russian support (and Chinese acquiescence, at least) in the Council.

Yesterday, however, the Russians almost literally drew a picture for the Administration regarding the limits of Moscow’s willingness to support new sanctions against Iran. On the sidelines of the signing ceremony for the new U.S.-Russian strategic arms reduction treaty in Prague, President Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, held an 85-minute closed-door meeting; by all accounts, Iran was a major topic of discussion. At a joint press conference with President Obama following their 85-minute meeting, President Medvedev outlined his government’s approach to Iran sanctions.

“Let’s ask ourselves a question: What do we need sanctions for? Do we need them to enjoy the very fact of reprising—imposing reprisals against another state, or is the objective another one?…We need sanctions in order to prompt one or another individual or state to behave properly, behave within the framework of international law, while complying with the obligations assumed…This has been the position of the Russian Federation from the very outset. If we are to speak about sanctions, although they are not always successful, those sanctions should be smart sanctions that are capable of producing proper behavior on the part of relevant sides.

And what sort of sanctions should we need? Today we have had a very open-minded, frank, and straightforward manner discussed what can be done and what cannot be done. And let me put it straightforward: I have outlined our limits for such sanctions, our understanding of these sanctions, and I said that in making decisions like that, [I] will proceed from two premises. First, we need to prompt Iran to behave properly; and secondly, last but not least, aim to maintain the national interests of our countries.

In his private meeting with President Obama, President Medvedev had apparently been even more explicit regarding Russia’s limits for potential new sanctions against Iran, and the Russian “national interests” which Moscow is determined to protect. According to the Washington Post’s Michael Shear and Glenn Kessler,

“Officials from both countries said later that Medvedev privately offered a broad range of objections to sanctions, including actions that would create economic hardship inside Iran, foment financial chaos in the government or lead to regime change.”

By way of further clarification, Russia’s deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov—who represents Russia in the P-5+1 process—told reporters that Moscow would not support an embargo on deliveries of gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran, arguing that such a step would “mean a slap, a blow, a huge shock for the whole society.”

As we wrote last month, the Obama Administration will almost certainly have to water down the current draft sanctions resolution even more to win Russia’s endorsement of a final text in the Security Council. Moscow, for example, has consistently insisted that proposals for an international arms embargo against the Islamic Republic be excluded from previous sanctions resolution. Furthermore, a “senior European diplomat” tells Shear and Kessler that “Russia opposes any language that targets companies or individuals not involved in the nuclear or missile programs.” This, too, is consistent with Russia’s past positions and our information about Moscow’s current stance. As we noted last month,

“[it is unlikely that either Russia or China] would ultimately endorse a blanket prohibition on dealing with the Revolutionary Guard and U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey’s ‘hit list’ of Revolutionary Guard affiliates and asset holdings—including in the Islamic Republic’s all-important energy sector”.

In the wake of Medvedev’s remarks, the Administration is also scrambling to clarify that it does not see sanctions as a tool for promoting “regime change” in Iran, with deputy national security adviser Benjamin Rhodes telling reporters in Prague that “we have not set regime change as a goal of these sanctions”. (This is a notable retreat from statements made by Vice President Biden and national security adviser Jim Jones in February that, as we noted at the time, linked new international sanctions to the possibility and desirability of regime change in Tehran.)

With regard to timing, the Obama Administration is now hedging as to whether it will be possible to get a new sanctions resolution through the Security Council this month, or whether Washington and its European partners will have to wait until June. (May is considered out because Lebanon will hold the Security Council presidency then.) White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters in Prague that reporters should not focus on whether President Obama’s comment that he wants new sanctions authorized this “spring” refers to a specific month, advising the media to stick simply with “spring”.

The sanctions (melo)drama is likely to intensify in coming days, with China’s President Hu, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdo─čan, and Brazil’s President Lula coming to Washington next week to take part in President Obama’s nuclear security summit. (Interestingly, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has decided not to attend.)

Why Netanyahu Canceled His DC Visit, and Why the GOP Is Applauding by Daniel Levy, Director, Middle East Task Force

Daniel Levy
Director, Middle East Task Force

April 9, 2010

Why Netanyahu Canceled His DC Visit, and Why the GOP Is Applauding
Yesterday evening (late night Israel time), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would not, after all, be attending next week's Nuclear Security Summit to be hosted by President Obama in Washington, DC.

Speaking to Republican party loyalists at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Liz Cheney in a manner that was not only very predictable but also as one imagines Netanyahu would have scripted her -- attacked the president of her own country for what she called his "shabby" and "disgraceful" treatment of Israel. The party faithful applauded.

The reasons cited by Israeli officials for their PM's Washington no-show were last-minute concerns that Israel's own nuclear program -- or in official lingua franca, non-NPT signatory status -- would be raised by certain summit attendees -- notably, Egypt and Turkey. It is an explanation that fails to meet even the lowest bar of plausibility -- unless Benjamin Netanyahu has been moonlighting as Sleeping Beauty for the last decade or more. It is a very long-standing tradition that at every possible international forum Egypt raises its concerns at Israel's nuclear program and non-NPT status, and it did so along with other Arab states and in Israel's presence when multilateral Arms Control and Regional Security talks took place throughout the 90's after the Madrid Conference.

Turkey too has been articulating its public support for a WMD-free Middle East for some time. So the concerns noted by the New York Times regarding Egypt and Turkey were hardly a new development necessitating any reassessment of a prime ministerial travel schedule. To be clear, Israel is not boycotting the summit and will in fact be represented by the most respected, talented, and all-together decent member of the government, Minister Dan Meridor. But that doesn't change the headline -- the Netanyahu no-show.

The concerns regarding Israel's nuclear posture, whether Netanyahu attends or not, will be raised, and canceling his participation focuses as much of a spotlight on this as his presence in the room would have done. Netanyahu's decision clearly has much more to do with the current status of U.S. efforts on Israeli-Palestinian peace and the posture that Israel's PM is choosing to adopt in response to that, as Glenn Kessler hints in today's Washington Post.

The Netanyahu team apparently decided that next week's visit was a lose-lose proposition. Canceling would raise eyebrows and questions, but showing up in DC would create more concrete challenges. Who would Netanyahu meet with and what messages would he be conveying regarding East Jerusalem settlement expansion and other issues?

Israel's current prime minister is acting like the apprehensive child who hopes that by closing his eyes and waiting the threatening thing will go away. The thing that Netanyahu hopes will go away is the need to make real decisions regarding peace, Israel's future, occupation, and the settlements, with President Obama simply playing the role of the latest guise in which that question comes.

The most revealing indication that Netanyahu was seeking to lessen the impact of this decision and avoid the issue was the timing of his announcement. It came at around 5pm EST on Thursday. That's midnight in Israel. The weekend papers had just been put to bed (the item just makes it into some, but was too late for splashy headlines or commentary). Friday and Saturday are dead news days in Israel (there are not even newspapers on the latter), and the news-cycle was anyway being dominated by the court's lifting of a gag order against a journalist and ex-soldier accused of leaking state secrets and the freedom of press repercussions of that story.

Substantively, Netanyahu should have every reason to positively RSVP to President Obama's invitation to attend next week's summit alongside over 40 heads of state. The summit is dedicated to the issue of nuclear terrorism, an area in which the U.S. and Israel share many challenges. The transfer of nuclear technology to non-state actors for terrorist purposes is a central and constant refrain of Israeli officials when urging action against Iran.

While it is true that the U.S. president's active pursuit of a non-proliferation agenda may lead some eyes to be cast in the direction of Jerusalem (or more precisely Dimona, the site of Israel's presumed nuclear program) Obama himself and his administration have been solid in reiterating the commitment to Israel's unique and protected nuclear status. This assurance was reissued to Israel by senior U.S. officials in the lead-up to next week's summit. This is hardly something to be sneezed at when nonproliferation is a centerpiece of your global agenda and when your position vis-a-vis Israel can so easily be portrayed as hypocritical.

Rather than welcome this latest American expression of fealty to the special relationship and accept the invitation, Netanyahu decided to poke the president in the eye yet again. One of the only articles that did manage to make Israel's Friday press deadline was a short piece in the Ma'ariv newspaper by Eli Bardenstein, "Unlike the past, this time Israeli officials fear that the Egyptian position will gain the ear of the American administration... and will harm Israel's policy of ambiguity."

Ever since Netanyahu's government took office, there has been a never-ending stream of stories from unnamed sources taking shots at the Obama administration, trying to undermine its standing with the Israeli public, and sending the signal to the Likud echo chamber stateside to swing into action. This would appear to be the latest example and who better today than Liz Cheney to be on the receiving end of the Netanyahu long ball.

In her speech last night, Liz Cheney repeated what has become something of a boilerplate GOP talking point in the last year -- that Obama is undermining America's most important relationship in the world. Although we're so used to hearing it, it's worth pausing for just a moment to ask why the GOP is so enthusiastically adopting this line.

From the Cheney clan and their school of militarist nationalism and projection of American hard power, protecting the profits of the defense, energy, and other sectors that benefit while piling up national debt and only recalling fiscal responsibility when it comes to paying for social domestic needs such as health care -- from them, it should come as no surprise. Likewise, from the Likudist wing of the neoconservative movement. As Elliott Abrams stunningly wrote in his 1997 book, How Jews can survive in Christian America, "Outside the land of Israel, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nations in which they live." I actually hesitate to quote that, concerned as I am at the use it can be put to by people of ill-will. But Elliott Abrams is responsible for his writings and indeed for his life's opus of destruction and wrongdoing.

There are of course also the pro-settlement Evangelical Zionists with their not-so-happy dispensationalist vision for the future of the Holy Land and of the Jews (probably the only time I would ever share a fate with Elliott Abrams -- though he makes common cause with and encourages them while I do not). Yes, that's a not insignificant core of today's GOP, and the rest might think they can score cheap partisan political points against Obama and maybe even win over a few Jewish voters or donors by going along for the ride. It may be naive, but is that really a good enough reason to undermine American national security interests (and for anyone to undermine Israel's future as a democracy and future as a Jewish homeland)?

Wiser GOP heads-notably foreign policy realists-are no doubt exasperated and hoping that the words of the normally Republican-revered General Petraeus may have some impact. He told the Senate Armed Services committee last month [pdf] and indeed last year how debilitating this conflict is for the challenges the U.S. military faces throughout the region and suggested an urgency in its resolution.

Why Netanyahu should be playing this game is perhaps more obvious. The links between the Likud and settler community and the Republican right have been strengthening over the past two decades and now have real depth and sense of common purpose to them. Netanyahu appears to be playing the same mischievous game in American domestic politics today as he did in the 90's (although the upshot then was a fall-out with President Clinton which contributed greatly to Netanyahu's own coalition collapse and reelection failure in 1999). They also share some of the same sources of largess, notably Sheldon Adelson.

But this does not explain what is behind it for Netanyahu, what he hopes to achieve, his goals. This does: Netanyahu may be for a Greater Israel in which case he has to play for time; or he may not be for a Greater Israel but is unwilling to confront the settlers and their sympathizers and his own personal demons which that would entail, leading to the same conclusion. Play for time.

Playing for time though, is not pretty. In practice it entails entrenching an occupation/settlement reality which is unsustainable, just gets uglier, and has consequences. Those consequences include an increasingly undemocratic Israel, one that will have neither peace nor security, and an Israel that cannot work effectively with the region or even with its closest allies in facing the challenge of Iran. It also erodes Israel's standing even in the U.S. and allows it to increasingly become a partisan political plaything.

What all this means for President Obama and his administration is that their best option is to pursue the ideas already under consideration, and leaked this week by David Ignatius in The Washington Post and Helene Cooper in NYT, to advance it's own plan or terms of reference for a two-state deal and present these real and clear choices to the Israelis and Palestinians. If Netanyahu is able to do the right thing, it will only be under these circumstances, and if not Israelis have the chance to come to their own conclusion in their democracy.

Let's see Liz Cheney oppose President Obama, Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and General Petraeus as they stand four-square behind a plan that delivers on the American national security interest.

Netanyahu doesn't need to visit DC next week, but once the preparations are made and the plan is ready, President Obama needs to go to Israel and to the pro-Israel community at home and make his case -- it would be an act of both courage and true friendship.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Energy Dept. to appeal NRC judges' decision on Yucca Mountain

Energy Dept. to appeal NRC judges' decision on Yucca Mountain

The Department of Energy announced Thursday it will appeal a decision by judges at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which suspended proceedings on the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository project in Nevada until a federal appeals court rules on legal challenges related to the project's termination. Attorneys for the agencies said the matter will be appealed Monday, court documents show.

Las Vegas Review-Journal | 04/08

http://www.lvrj.com/news/energy-department...n-90266882.html

Nuclear exchange: RRW for CTBT? By Yousaf Butt

Nuclear exchange: RRW for CTBT?
By Yousaf Butt
| 9 April 2010
Article Highlights

* Supporters of the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead have once again begun making their case for adding a new nuclear warhead to the U.S. arsenal in recent weeks.
* In particular, they might not ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)--a goal of the Obama administration and Senate Democrats--until funding for such a warhead has been provided.
* That leaves CTBT advocates in a tough spot: Should they still support ratification of the treaty if it means also consenting to building new nuclear weapons?

US Developing New Non-Nuclear Missiles Conventional warheads could strike anywhere in less than an hour By Craig Whitlock

US Developing New Non-Nuclear Missiles
Conventional warheads could strike anywhere in less than an hour

By Craig Whitlock


As the White House pushes for cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the Pentagon is developing a weapon to help fill the gap: missiles armed with conventional warheads that could strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour. Continue

Nuclear Deterrent Still Key - Washington Times opinion

Nuclear Deterrent Still Key - Washington Times opinion

Does Nonproliferation Equal Capitulation? - Washington Times opinion

Does Nonproliferation Equal Capitulation? - Washington Times opinion

Analysts Divided Over New US Nuclear Weapons Strategy

Analysts Divided Over New US Nuclear Weapons Strategy

Defense Officials Clarify Nuclear Review - Defense Media Activity

Defense Officials Clarify Nuclear Review - Defense Media Activity

Pentagon Expects Years of Study Before Making Changes to U.S. Nuclear War Plans -- Global Security Newswire

Pentagon Expects Years of Study Before Making Changes to U.S. Nuclear War Plans -- Global Security Newswire

START Or Ending? Why More Nuclear Weapons Cuts Will Be Hard. -- Christian Science Monitor

START Or Ending? Why More Nuclear Weapons Cuts Will Be Hard. -- Christian Science Monitor

The new START treaty, signed today, is a step toward a world free of nuclear weapons, President Obama said. But China's ambitions and Russia's worries could make future cuts difficult.

As he signed a new treaty with Russia Thursday that will reduce the nuclear weapons in US and Russian arsenals by one-third, President Obama called the milestone “one step on a longer journey” that “will set the stage for further cuts.”

Read more
Nuclear treaty would cut only long-range arms -- AP

Nuclear Summit Must Convince Nations of Terror Threat, Experts Say -- Global Security Newswire

Lavrov Stakes Out Treaty Limits -- Moscow Times

False START in the Senate? -- National Review

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Iran's Bushehr to get Russian fuel shipments a year after startup

Iran's Bushehr to get Russian fuel shipments a year after startup
Russia will deliver its next fuel shipment to the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran a year after the facility begins operations, TVEL President Yury Olenin said. The fuel shipments fall under the conditions of Russia's contract with Iran, Olenin added. RIA Novosti (Russia)

Westinghouse eyes construction of nuclear reactor in Bulgaria

Westinghouse eyes construction of nuclear reactor in Bulgaria
Westinghouse has expressed interest in constructing a seventh reactor at the Kozloduy nuclear plant in Bulgaria, with the news following discussions with Traicho Traikov, the country's minister of economy, energy and tourism. Westinghouse presented its next-generation AP1000 reactor and said it was prepared to secure a license so that its nuclear fuel could be used for the plant's reactors. Novinite (Sofia, Bulgaria)

NRC judges suspend action on Nevada's Yucca Mountain petitions

NRC judges suspend action on Nevada's Yucca Mountain petitions
A panel of judges at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday suspended hearings on the proposed termination of the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository project in Nevada until a federal court resolves related legal challenges. It would be "judicial efficiency" to allow the issues to be heard first by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, said the judges from the agency's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. Las Vegas Review-Journal/Stephens Washington News Bureau

NORTH KOREA'S 2009 NUCLEAR TEST, AND MORE FROM CRS

NORTH KOREA'S 2009 NUCLEAR TEST, AND MORE FROM CRS

In May 2009, North Korea announced that it had conducted its second nuclear explosive test. Although the event generated a seismic signature consistent with a nuclear explosion, it produced no detectable release of radioactive gases or particulates (fallout). This either means that North Korea actually conducted a non-nuclear simulation of a nuclear test, or else it managed to achieve complete containment of a real nuclear explosion. Since detection of radioactive emissions provides the most unambiguous confirmation of a nuclear explosion, the successful containment of a nuclear test could be problematic for verification of a treaty banning such explosions.

This conundrum is explored in a new report from the Congressional Research Service. See "North Korea's 2009 Nuclear Test: Containment, Monitoring, Implications" (pdf), April 2, 2010.

The Secrecy News Blog is at:
http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

FIRST UNCLASSIFIED NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW RELEASED

FIRST UNCLASSIFIED NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW RELEASED

In what may be the Obama Administration's single most significant reduction in national security secrecy to date, the Department of Defense this week published the first unclassified Nuclear Posture Review.

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) defines U.S. nuclear weapons policy, strategy and force structure. As such, it is one of the most important national security policy documents in government. Two previous Reviews conducted by the Clinton and Bush Administrations in 1994 and 2001 were classified and were not meant to be made public.

When portions of the Bush NPR nevertheless leaked in 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld furiously condemned the release. "Whoever leaked it violated federal criminal law," he said. "It seems that there are some people who simply have a compulsion to seem important, so they take classified information which can damage U.S. national security and give it to people who aren't cleared for it," he added. Even after the Bush NPR report leaked, another official said, "the last administration then found it difficult ever to talk about the results of the review, because it was talking about a leaked classified document."

But this week, in a tangible sign of changing national security secrecy standards, Defense Secretary Robert Gates held a press conference to release the latest NPR document (pdf) himself.

"The report of the Nuclear Posture Review will exist only in unclassified form," a Pentagon official said at a background briefing on April 6. "There will not be a classified Nuclear Posture Review from which we have redacted a lot of information and then just put forward an unclassified variant. This reflected a decision early in the process.... And in an effort to be fully transparent in our choices and the thinking behind them, we did not want to leave big open questions about what might be left unsaid because it's in the classified domain."

This is not the end of nuclear weapons secrecy, by any means. For one thing, the exact size and composition of the U.S. nuclear arsenal remain classified (wrongly, we would say). Also, "you know there are classified implementation processes, guidance processes," the unnamed Pentagon briefer said. "So it's not that it's free of classified aspects, but the [NPR] report as such and all of the policy findings and recommendations and all of the logic behind them will be presented at the unclassified level."

Incongruously, even the Obama Presidential Study Directive that initiated the latest NPR process a year ago remains classified and unavailable. But with the release of the final Report, that seems like a mere bureaucratic absurdity of little consequence.

The public release of the NPR report does not guarantee a superior policy outcome. But it does eliminate a longstanding hurdle to informed debate on nuclear weapons policy, and it permits the interested public to focus its attention on the substance of the policy, not on a tiresome pursuit of undisclosed records.

In December 1993, Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary undertook her Openness Initiative, releasing all kinds of previously secret records on nuclear weapons tests, historical production of nuclear materials, and many other important topics. Borrowing a slogan from an old cigarette ad, a DOE spokesman at the time said that the Department's new secrecy policy was to "classify less, and enjoy it more."

In this instance, at least, the Obama Administration seems to be following the same joyful path.

The White House yesterday announced the release of dozens of executive branch agency Open Government Plans, which are supposed to guide the implementation of the President's Open Government Directive. Several of the Plans deal, directly or indirectly, with declassification of national security information and records.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Obama's New Nuclear Plan Leaves Missiles On Hair Triggers

Obama's New Nuclear Plan Leaves Missiles On Hair Triggers from The Huffington Post by The Huffington Post News Editors

Obama Curbs U.S. Nuclear Weapons Development, Usage Policy

Obama Curbs U.S. Nuclear Weapons Development, Usage Policy -- Global Scurity Newswire

The Obama administration today issued its Nuclear Posture Review, swearing off creation of new nuclear weapons and significantly limiting the circumstances under which such armaments could be used, according to news reports (see GSN, March 24).

The document pledges the United States not to conduct nuclear strikes on non-nuclear states, a change in policy from the Bush administration stance that allowed for an atomic response to a biological or chemical strike, Reuters reported (Stewart/Spetalnick, Reuters, April 6).

Read more ....

U.S. Reserves Right To Deploy Previously Tested Nukes -- Defense News

U.S. Reserves Right To Deploy Previously Tested Nukes -- Defense News

Nuke Review: Deploying, De-MIRVing, and De-Targeting -- The Danger Room

Nuke Review: Deploying, De-MIRVing, and De-Targeting -- The Danger Room

India's DAE gets NPCIL-NTPC project to build 2 nuclear plants

India's DAE gets NPCIL-NTPC project to build 2 nuclear plants
The construction of two 700-megawatt nuclear plants at one of the locations identified by India's Department of Atomic Energy would likely go to the joint venture between Nuclear Power Corp. of India and NTPC, agency Secretary Srikumar Banerjee said. Last year, the companies forged the joint-venture deal that is focused on building nuclear facilities. The Hindu (India)

Egypt bank seeks to generate funds for nuclear-power project

Egypt bank seeks to generate funds for nuclear-power project
National Bank of Egypt will hold discussions with the nation's Electricity and Energy Ministry officials to tackle plans to raise funding for the country's bid to construct four nuclear plants by 2025, according to a newspaper report. Egypt in March declared its plans to have the facilities online by 2025 as it seeks to curb its reliance on traditional energy sources. Reuters

Nuclear power -- "a clean, steady source of renewable energy"

Nuclear power -- "a clean, steady source of renewable energy"
America made a mistake in developing its energy policy around coal when nuclear energy offers a far safer, more reliable and affordable option, this editorial argues. No Americans have died in accidents involving atomic power, compared to more than 100 Americans killed in coal-mine accidents since 1984. Nor does nuclear power "sling out ash, generate acid rain or emit mercury or arsenic. It has been safely used for decades in the U.S., Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea, Belgium and France," the editorial argues. Investor's Business Daily

Editorial Mr. Obama’s Nuclear Policy

Obama's Nuke Policy Will Bolster American Credibility - New York Times

Obamalateral Disarmament - Investor's Business Daily

Obamalateral Disarmament - Investor's Business Daily

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=529511

How Revolutionary is Obama's Nuclear Posture? - Fred Kaplan, Slate

How Revolutionary is Obama's Nuclear Posture? - Fred Kaplan, Slate

A Comprehensive Nuclear Arms Strategy - VP Joe Biden, Los Angeles Times

A Comprehensive Nuclear Arms Strategy - VP Joe Biden, Los Angeles Times

Asian allies welcome new US nuclear stance

Asian allies welcome new US nuclear stance

By ERIC TALMADGE (AP)

TOKYO — U.S. allies in Asia on Wednesday welcomed President Barack Obama's new policy aimed at reducing the likelihood of nuclear conflict, while powerhouse China was silent over his call for Beijing to better explain its nuclear intentions.

In a much-awaited announcement, Obama vowed Tuesday to reduce America's nuclear arsenal, refrain from nuclear tests and not use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have them. North Korea and Iran were not included in that pledge because they do not cooperate with other countries on nonproliferation standards.

Some U.S. allies, which benefit from being under the U.S. nuclear defense umbrella, were concerned they would be left vulnerable by a change in Washington's policy. But Obama's statement appeared to defuse many such concerns.

"This is a first step toward a nuclear-free world," said Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. "Deterrence is important, but so is reducing nuclear arsenals. We highly regard his stance."

Katsuya Okada, Japan's foreign minister, noted that Japan, which is located near North Korea, China and Russia but has decided not to develop nuclear weapons of its own, was concerned about how the policy will affect its security.

"The United States had assured its allies that this position will not endanger them," he said. "This is important."

In South Korea, the foreign and defense ministries issued a joint statement saying the new U.S. stance would strengthen Washington's commitment to its allies and pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons development.

"The government welcomes and supports" Obama's announcement, they said. There was no immediate reaction to Obama's plan from North Korean state media.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key also welcomed the announcement.

"President Obama made good on his pledge a year ago to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security policies and set the world on a path to a nuclear-weapons-free world," he said in a statement. "The review clearly states the long-term objective of U.S. policy is the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, and implements the first of the actions that will be needed to get there."

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai refused to comment on the new U.S. nuclear defense policy, which also calls on China to explain its nuclear intentions more clearly.

"China's nuclear policy and China's strategic intentions are clear. Since the 1960s we have repeated our position on many occasions and our position has never been changed," Cui said, without elaborating. "I believe people with fair and just minds will not question China's position."

Beijing, which is said to have 100 nuclear warheads, has said it would not be the first to attack with nuclear weapons.

Chinese President Hu Jintao is to travel to Washington to take part in an April 12-13 nuclear summit that will focus on securing nuclear material to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. The meeting is expected to bring together about 46 leaders.

One Chinese expert strongly criticized Obama's call for more transparency from Beijing on its nuclear capabilities.

"I think Obama's comments are way out of line," said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations and director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University. "China has always been guided by the principle that China will not be the first to use nuclear weapons."

Shi noted that while China has only about 100 nuclear warheads, the U.S. has 10,000.

"China is doing a lot better than the U.S.," he said. "The U.S. is not in the position to teach China any lessons, although it has a lot to teach China in other fields. The U.S. should be more cautious."

Associated Press writer Anita Chang and researcher Zhao Liang in Beijing contributed to this report.

U.S. says China nuclear programs lack transparency

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lack of transparency surrounding China's nuclear programs raises questions about its strategic intentions, the United States said on Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

China's Metamorphosis: "From Export Juggernaut To a Credit Addict" By Mike Whitney

China's Metamorphosis:
"From Export Juggernaut To a Credit Addict"
By Mike Whitney

Americans have a fundamental misunderstanding about the US/China relationship. China is not in the driver's seat and neither is the United States. There's a third party involved, but that party remains mostly invisible. And that's how they like it. Continue
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25151.htm
Obama's nuke review: A deft compromise or a muddled middle ground?
from Shadow Government by Peter Feaver

Nuclear Posture Review (or Nuclear Public Relations?) from Stephen M. Walt by Stephen M. Walt

Nuclear Posture Review (or Nuclear Public Relations?)
from Stephen M. Walt by Stephen M. Walt

Nixon Could Teach Obama on Nukes David Hoffman, Foreign Policy

Nixon Could Teach Obama on Nukes
David Hoffman, Foreign Policy
Just one week into his presidency, on Jan. 27, 1969, Richard M. Nixon got an eye-opening briefing at the Pentagon on the nation's secret nuclear war plans -- the Single Integrated Operational Plan, as it was known then. "It didn't fill him with enthusiasm," Henry Kissinger, the national security advisor, said later. The briefers walked Nixon through the absolutely excruciating decision a president would face upon receiving an alert of impending attack: whether to launch nuclear missiles.
Read Full Article
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/04/02/four_minutes_to_armageddon

Why Liberals and Conservatives Are Both Unhappy with Obama’s New Nuclear Policy

Why Liberals and Conservatives Are Both Unhappy with Obama’s New Nuclear Policy

2010 Nuclear Posture Review posted online -- Stars And Stripes

2010 Nuclear Posture Review posted online -- Stars And Stripes

Obama Administration Limiting Nuclear Weaponry -- L.A. Times

Obama Administration Limiting Nuclear Weaponry -- L.A. Times

As President Barack Obama prepares to travel to Prague this week to sign a new START agreement with Russia, the administration today is unveiling new guidelines for the deployment of its own weaponry -- never, for instance, against a nation that lacks a nuclear arsenal of its own.

The so-called "nuclear posture review'' that will be released today follows a year of study at the Pentagon and discussions with armed allies. It is reported this morning that the document will reduce U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons for its national defense by narrowing potential targets, in pursuit of Obama's goal of eventual nuclear disarmament.

Read more ....

Morning Bell: The Road to a New Nuclear Arms Race

Morning Bell: The Road to a New Nuclear Arms Race

Bombs Away on Administration’s Nuclear Review (Updated) -- The Danger Room

Bombs Away on Administration’s Nuclear Review (Updated) -- The Danger Room

Iran's International Nuclear Disarmament Summit Challenges US-NATO

Iran's International Nuclear Disarmament Summit Challenges US-NATO
Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be in attendance
- 2010-04-04

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Can We Achieve a World Without Wars

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Can We Achieve a World Without Wars
- 2010-04-06

Uranium-Mining Nations Flout UN on Nuclear Terror

Uranium-Mining Nations Flout UN on Nuclear Terror Charles J. Hanley, Associated Press

Years after a six-month deadline passed, dozens of nations, including uranium producers, remain potential weak links in the global defense against nuclear terrorism, ignoring a U.N. mandate on laws and controls to foil this ultimate threat.
Full Article

Australia Blocks Shipment to Pakistan over Weapons Fears


Australia Blocks Shipment to Pakistan over Weapons Fears

Agence France-Presse
Australia has blocked a shipment of scientific equipment to Pakistan over fears it could be used to help build weapons of mass destruction, a spokesman for Defence Minister John Faulkner said Tuesday.
Full Article

Iran Nuclear Ring Probed


Iran Nuclear Ring Probed

Peter Fritsch and David Crawford, The Wall Street Journal
An Iranian firm closely linked to Tehran's nuclear program acquired special hardware for enriching uranium, despite sanctions intended to keep such equipment out of Iran, according to officials with knowledge of the matter.
Full Article

Moving Forward on the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal


Moving Forward on the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal

Mark Hibbs, Q&A
The United States and India recently concluded arrangements for the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. Mark Hibbs explains that these agreements remove one of the final hurdles to fully implementing the 2008 U.S.-India nuclear deal, which exempted India from nuclear trade restrictions and has exacerbated nuclear tensions in South Asia.
Full Article

Iran unmoved on nuclear scientist

Iran unmoved on nuclear scientist
Despite reports that Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri defected to the United States and is working for the Central Intelligence Agency, Tehran remains convinced that he was kidnapped as a part of a covert US operation to knock off Iran's nuclear "assets". The Amiri story emerged only a few days after the release of a new CIA report that threads a middle way on Iran's proliferation profile. - Kaveh L Afrasiabi (Apr 6, '10)

Excerpts From Obama Interview

Excerpts From Obama Interview
Published: April 5, 2010
Following are excerpts of a New York Times interview with President Obama conducted Monday by David E. Sanger and Peter Baker in the Oval Office, about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:

Excerpts From Obama's New Nuclear Strategy

Excerpts From Obama's New Nuclear Strategy

US plans broader nuclear arms talks with Russians

US plans broader nuclear arms talks with Russians

US plans to propose broader arms control agenda with Russia, to include short-range weapons

Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms By DAVID E. SANGER and PETER BAKER


Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms
By DAVID E. SANGER and PETER BAKER
Published: April 5, 2010
WASHINGTON — President Obama said Monday that he was revamping American nuclear strategy to substantially narrow the conditions under which the United States would use nuclear weapons.

Obama Policy Retains Right to Nuke Iran

Obama Policy Retains Right to Nuke Iran
Obama's 'New' Policy Leaves Hydrogen Bomb-Sized Loophole
by Jason Ditz,

Taiwan eyes October 2011 startup for 4th nuclear plant

Taiwan eyes October 2011 startup for 4th nuclear plant
Taiwan Power, or Taipower, plans to start operations at its fourth nuclear energy facility by October 2011. Taipower's chief engineer, Tu Yueh-yuan, said she is "cautiously optimistic" that the company could meet the goal, and it will make sure that work on the plant follows the highest safety standards. The China Post/Central News Agency (Taiwan)

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2010/04/06/251321/Fourth-nuclear.htm

Private enterprise trumps federal inaction on nuclear waste

Private enterprise trumps federal inaction on nuclear waste
The Washington Times praises Bill Gates' venture to create nuclear power plants that run on nuclear waste. The editorial says: "The contrast between government dithering and the initiative of private enterprise is out in the open for all to see." The Washington Times

NEI, utilities want collection of nuclear-waste fees suspended

NEI, utilities want collection of nuclear-waste fees suspended
The Nuclear Energy Institute and 16 utilities filed a lawsuit seeking to suspend the Energy Department's collection of about $750 million worth of fees per year for a nuclear-waste program now that the Yucca Mountain repository project in Nevada is being terminated. The fee, which is paid by ratepayers through a surcharge of 1/10th of a cent per kilowatt-hour on monthly power bills, should be put off until the U.S. implements a nuclear-waste plan, the policy organization said. Reuters

Monday, April 5, 2010

State utility regulators file petition over Nuclear Waste Fund

State utility regulators file petition over Nuclear Waste Fund
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners filed a petition for review in a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., over a federal decision that requires utilities to keep contributing to the Nuclear Waste Fund. The utility regulators sought to suspend payments because of the government's failure to dispose of nuclear waste, but the Department of Energy denied their request in October. Nasdaq.com/Dow Jones Newswires

Feds reject petition to prevent construction of Ala. nuclear plant

Feds reject petition to prevent construction of Ala. nuclear plant
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission dismissed a petition from environmental groups seeking to halt the completion of reactors at the Bellefonte plant in Alabama. The decision allows the plant operator, the Tennessee Valley Authority, to continue with deliberations on whether to complete construction of the power station, NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said. WJZ-TV (Baltimore)/The Associated Press (4/2) , Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tenn.)

Russia to offer nuclear expertise to Venezuela

Russia to offer nuclear expertise to Venezuela
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed to help Venezuela to build a nuclear-power facility. The plant would be to develop nuclear energy for "peaceful purposes," Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said. Press TV (Iran)

A Season for Disarmament Hans Blix, International Herald Tribune

A Season for Disarmament
Hans Blix, International Herald Tribune
STOCKHOLM — The financial crisis and global warming have had the world’s attention in recent years. Thanks to President Barack Obama’s initiative, perhaps the season for nuclear disarmament has finally arrived.

On Thursday, President Obama will meet Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Prague to sign a nuclear arms control agreement between the United States and Russia that will reduce their arsenals by 30 percent.

How to Swing Arms Control - Los Angeles Times opinion

How to Swing Arms Control - Los Angeles Times opinion

Iran scientists reportedly have plans for new nuclear facility

Iran scientists reportedly have plans for new nuclear facility
Iran's atomic energy agency plans to commission 'one or two' new sites, pending the approval of President Ahmadinejad, a news agency says, a move that could heighten tensions with the West.

Iran to Host Nuclear Disarmament Talks - Voice of Amercia

Iran to Host Nuclear Disarmament Talks - Voice of Amercia

Time for the US to recognise reality of Iran’s nuclear plans

Time for the US to recognise reality of Iran’s nuclear plans

Tony Karon

The National: April 04. 2010 1:08AM UAE / April 3. 2010 9:08PM GMT

Iran diplomacy in Washington these days consists principally of coaxing the likes of Russia and China to support new sanctions – and persuading gullible journalists that Moscow and Beijing are “on board”.

On Friday, the US president Barack Obama told CBS television that Iran is trying to get the “capacity to develop nuclear weapons”, and that he and his allies “are going to ratchet up the pressure ... with a unified international community”. Nobody sets much store by such talk, of course, because President George W Bush had been saying the same thing since 2006 with little effect.

Sure, Russia and China have agreed to finally discuss a Security Council resolution to increase sanctions first imposed three years ago over Iran’s failure to comply with all the transparency requirements of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). But Moscow and Beijing have also made clear that they don’t believe Iran is building nuclear weapons. Nor does the US, for that matter. The CIA’s assessment is that no such decision has yet been taken, and that Iran’s current nuclear efforts will simply give it the option to build nuclear weapons.

As a result, Russia and China have also made clear that they will block any new sanctions that inflict significant pain on the Islamic Republic, aware that the stand-off can only be resolved by dialogue, and that sanctions are unlikely to help.

The international community is certainly united in the belief that Iran should not be allowed to build nuclear weapons, but “the capacity to develop nuclear weapons” is a different matter. Any state with a full fuel-cycle civilian nuclear energy programme has the “capacity” to develop nuclear weapons, and such a programme is Iran’s right as a signatory to the NPT. Until now, the position of the US, France, Britain and Israel has been that Iran can’t be allowed to enrich uranium for energy purposes, because enrichment gives it the means to create weapons-grade materiel. But for the rest of the international community, the issue is simply ensuring that Iran’s enrichment programme complies with NPT safeguards against weaponisation.

Now the position of the US has proven to be untenable. “The Iranians are determined to have a nuclear programme,” the former US secretary of state Colin Powell said last week. “Notice I did not say a nuclear weapon. Notwithstanding the last six or seven years of efforts on our part to keep them from having that nuclear programme, they have it. I don’t yet see a set of sanctions coming along that would be so detrimental to the Iranians that they are going to stop that programme. So I think ultimately the solution has to be a negotiated one.”

Similarly, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, John Kerry, warned last June that the US demand for Iran to forego enrichment altogether was “ridiculous”, noting that as a signatory to the NPT, “they have a right to peaceful nuclear power and to enrichment in that purpose”.

Mr Powell and Mr Kerry were advocating that the US boost its chances of diplomatic success by accepting Iran’s right to enrich uranium, while strengthening safeguards against weaponisation. But the Obama administration has not changed its stance. And after the failure of a deal to swap most of Iran’s current enriched uranium stockpile for reactor fuel, Washington has focused its efforts on grinding out agreements for incremental increases in sanctions – sanctions that everyone expects will fail, and for which there’s no Plan B. Mr Obama still talks gamely about “leaving all options on the table” (code for threatening military action), but the US strategic establishment is openly sceptical of a course of action that risks a disastrous region-wide war in exchange for very limited gains.

As the defence secretary Robert Gates put it late last year: “There is no military option that does anything more than buy time,” suggesting that bombing would set Iran back by just one to three years.

And despite the apocalyptic rhetoric in the Israeli mainstream, coolheaded analysts say Israel won’t be in a position to take military action against Iran without US approval and assistance – which is unlikely. That has left some resigned to a Cold War-type strategy of “containment” of a nuclear-armed Iran, which also presents considerable perils of a possible war. Indeed, it’s hard to avoid the impression that Mr Obama is locked into the same paralysis as his predecessor was on Iran.

US leaders often claim that they’re acting against Iran on behalf of the whole Middle East region, implying that their strategy has the backing of Arab governments. Washington hawks insist that the Arabs would applaud if the US bombed Iran, utilising the silence of the Arab regimes to speak as if on their behalf. That underscores the importance of the Arab voices that have begun challenging the idea that a confrontation with Iran could produce any positive outcome.

At last week’s Arab League summit, the secretary general Amr Moussa called for the stand-off to be tackled through Arab dialogue with Iran. “We need to see where we differ and where we disagree with Iran and how to deal with that,” Mr Moussa said. “Iran is not an enemy and dialogue will help bring about peace and stability in the region.”

The Arab League had best get on with it, because nothing coming out of Washington right now offers any hope of breaking a stalemate that could yet engulf the region in flames. Washington and Tehran both need help finding their way to a new modus vivendi. Some of that help will come from China, Turkey and even Japan, which has discreetly been trying to broker a nuclear deal. But it is the Arabs on whose behalf Washington hawks are urging that Iran be bombed, and it is the Arabs who would suffer many of the disastrous consequences of such an act of war. That should give them plenty of incentive to play a meaningful role in keeping the peace.
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