<P>Decision time has arrived on the controversial nuclear cooperation proposal that was first proposed by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July 2005. Because the NSG and IAEA traditionally operate by consensus, any one of a number of states can act to block or modify the ill-conceived arrangement. They have good reason and a responsibility to do so.</P>
The <i>Financial Times</i> recently published an op-ed by Senator John Kerry calling for the "next president [to] breathe life into an emerging bipartisan vision of a nuclear-weapons-free world." A week later the <i>Financial Times</i> published a countering letter by Senator Jon Kyl. The following Proliferation Analysis reproduces Senator Kyl's letter with a point-by-point rebuttal.
Today, the WMD threat is more global. Threat Reduction Programs need to be re-examined in their concept and substance with a much stronger focus on illicit trafficking and clandestine networks.
It is customary for a French President to devote an entire speech to issues of nuclear deterrence – something his US or British counterparts have seldom done since the end of the Cold war, and which testifies to the importance that nuclear weapons still have for Paris. But the speech given by President Nicolas Sarkozy on March 21 was noteworthy in at least two respects. It signaled that even though Sarkozy is often keen on making “clean breaks” with past practices, continuity would prevail as far as nuclear weapons policy is concerned.
While climate change is a top priority at the G8 Summit, nonproliferation and the ongoing nuclear challenges of North Korea and Iran continue to be urgent tasks. There is a growing sense that effectively addressing global nonproliferation issues requires concerted action by the international community.
The February IAEA safeguards report on Iran indicates that the answers provided by Iran on all but two issues are "consistent" or "not inconsistent" with its information and on schedule with the agreed-upon work plan. However, the final outstanding issues are those most closely associated with weaponization.
The release last week of the unclassified summary of the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran provoked a wide range of reactions -- relief that it seemed to dispel the option of a military strike, anger that intelligence seems to be politicized once again, and dismay over how this would affect U.S. policy options.
Iranian leaders appear to have recognized that by staying within the rules they can acquire capabilities sufficient to impress their own people and intimidate their neighbors, without inviting tough international sanctions or military attack. The National Intelligence Estimate, in a sense, says that Iran is playing the game so well that stopping it may not be possible within the rules.
Presidents George W. Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy have called for greater coercive measures against Tehran for its continued uranium-enrichment activities in defiance of legally binding UNSC resolutions. Unless Iran faces stricter sanctions or other clear costs for pursuing its nuclear program, Tehran will not change its nuclear course and implement the requirements of UNSC Resolutions 1737 and 1747.
A report from the IAEA laying out a timeline for Iran to resolve outstanding issues related to its nuclear program may give Iran as much as eight months of continued centrifuge installation and operation.
While the U.S. and its allies and associates are trying to dissuade Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability, newly declassified documents on U.S.-Taiwan relations during the 1970s show what a successful, mostly secret, campaign against a national nuclear program looks like.
Brazil is betting on a “renaissance” of nuclear energy in the next few decades and, having large uranium mineral reserves, believes it could be an exporter of enrichment services in a growing market. The Brazilian program should not be considered a danger to proliferation, however, because it is under IAEA safeguards and monitored by Argentina-Brazil Agency for Accounting and Control.
Those who favor a diplomatic solution to the present crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions should nevertheless realize that to ignore Iran’s defiance of UN Security Council resolutions is to tacitly support it, and doing so weakens the credibility of the non-proliferation regime and, in the end, increases the risk of nuclear proliferation, tensions, and violence in the region and beyond.
Iran is becoming more isolated because of its refusal to take steps to build international confidence that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.
<P>(The following op-ed by Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, first appeared in <A href="http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?F=2588644&C=thisweek"><EM><STRONG>Defense News</STRONG></EM></A> on March 5, 2007.)</P> <P>Following the end of U.S. nuclear testing a decade and a half ago, some scientists and policy-makers worried that the reliability of U.S. nuclear warheads could diminish as their plutonium cores age. They claimed it would take a decade or more to see if the nation’s weapon laboratories could maintain the existing stockpile of well-tested but aging weapons without further nuclear blasts. </P> <P>Such concerns led many senators to withhold their support for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1999. </P> <P>Time has addressed the skeptics’ concerns. For more than a decade, a multibillion-dollar Stockpile Stewardship program has successfully maintained the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal in the absence of testing. As the importance of nuclear weapons in U.S. military strategy has diminished, there has been no need to test new types of nukes. </P> <P>But now, the Bush administration is asking Congress to fund an ambitious effort to build new replacement warheads, which it claims is needed to avoid plutonium aging problems that could reduce weapon reliability. <A href="http://www.carnegieendowment.org/npp/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=19057">(Read More)</A><BR></P>
Russia's decision to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty - an important and successful component of the arms control regime - threatens nonproliferation goals. Rather than unilaterally withdrawing, Russia should request exceptions to accomodate its concerns.