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Nuclear Non-Proliferation News

December 20, 2007

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Welcome to Nuclear Non-Proliferation News, a monthly digest of UK news on Trident and missile defence.

Opposition to Trident from the commoners to the Lords

In this month's edition, the Government comes under attack in the House of Lords by five former heads of the military - Lords Bramall, Craig, Inge, Guthrie and Boyce - over plans to cut the defence budget, including plans to reduce the number of Astute class submarines to seven, whilst spending on Trident and two new aircraft carriers goes ahead. According to the Financial Times the Peers launched caustic attacks on Gordon Brown, accusing the "unsympathetic" prime minister of treating troops with "contempt".

Writing in the Telegraph, Major Patrick Cordingley wrote, "I do question the sums of money that may be necessary to replace Trident and its missile system. Money in all these areas could be saved to fund what is clearly needed now."

Similarly in the Times, former Labour Minister Nigel Griffiths who resigned as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons in March over Trident, argued that "To imagine that Trident will not lead to a squeeze on funding our frontline troops is naive. The sad truth is that Trident funding is already diverting nearly 9 per cent of the MoD budget away from necessities such as hardened troop carriers and essential equipment such as roadside bomb-jamming devices."

With significant funding going into Trident, the FT and other industry sources report increased profits for the companies involved, although one industry commentator lamented that Scottish companies might be adversely affected by the Scottish Government's continuing opposition to Trident.

Opposition to Trident continues this month with protests at nuclear sites north and south of the Border, whilst Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond set out his vision for an independent - and nuclear-free - Scotland.

In November, a BBC Newsnight programme revealed security problems with safeguards to ensure that Britain's nuclear forces are under political control. The programme described the security on Britain's recently retired RAF free fall bombs as being comparable with "bike locks".

It was left to Asia News International to report on a press statement from the UK Government's Health Protection Agency concluding that the cancer risk for people exposed to tritium in both the civil and military nuclear industries may be double than that was previously assumed. The statement received little or no coverage in the mainstream British media.

Opposition to Trident continued to feature prominently in the Liberal Democrat leadership contest as both candidates sought to define the Party as a real alternative to the political mainstream. Chris Huhne's outspoken opposition to Trident has garnered significant support from the Party's grassroots supporters and although perceived as the underdog throughout the campaign, he came within 500 votes of the winner, Nick Clegg. Under pressure because of his support for Trident replacement, Clegg has tried to demonstrate his disarmament credentials by writing to NATO to oppose the Government's recent announcement that Menwith Hill (which is not far from Clegg's Yorkshire constituency) will play a key role in US missile defence plans (see Proliferation in Parliament, July - August 2007).

Missile Defence under scrutiny

In the House of Commons, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (a cross party group of MPs set up to scrutinise government policy) issued a scathing endictment of the "manner and timing" of the Government's decision to approve a US request to use the secret base at Menwith, North Yorkshire in its missile defence programme. The BBC reported that the Committee accused the government of "sneaking out" the announcement in a written statement shortly before MPs broke for the long summer recess. The Foreign Affairs Committee's comments follow earlier criticism by the Defence Select Committee of similar obstruction of debate by the government in its handling of the decision to approve participation of Fylingdales in the missile defence programme in 2003.

Many media outlets in the UK and elsewhere have reported on the deterioriating relations between NATO and Russia, exacerbated by missile defence. The Telegraph reported that Russia had threatened to target the European bases involved in the programme with its intercontinental ballistic missiles and its threat to redeploy nuclear weapons closer to its borders with Western Europe. Russia's focus is currently on the interceptor bases in the Czech Republic and Poland, but the threats raise concerns that given the UK's rapidly declining relationship with Russia and outspoken support for missile defence, sites such as Menwith Hill and Fylingdales in Yorkshire may be next.

International News

On a related topic, this month's international news includes reports from the UK media on Russia's suspension of participation in the CFE Treaty. Russia has also test-fired a inter-continental missile with new equipment able to pierce anti-missile shields. The Topol has a maximum range of 10,000 km (6,215 miles), and can carry one 550-kiloton nuclear warhead.

In a considerable set back for the Bush administration's nuclear plans, we also include news from the Washington Post that Congress has cut all funding for continuing development next year of the Reliable Replacement Warhead.

Many of the British papers covered concerns about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal as political unrest in the country continues. Meanwhile, mimicking the rhetoric of the US administration, India has announced its intention to develop a missile defence shield.

The latest news on Iran includes comments from Britain's negotiator John Sawers ruling out progress this year because of "wide differences" on adopting new sanctions against Tehran.

In this month's edition

An archive of press coverage is available on our website at: www.acronym.org.uk/news. We welcome your comments and feedback. Please send your comments to info@acronym.org.uk.

Trident and the Defence Budget

Army asked to defend £6bn nuclear spend as training cut
IAN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent, The Herald, December 12, 2007
Senior opposition politicians yesterday questioned why Britain is spending £6.4bn on its strategic nuclear deterrent while basic combat training for troops is being cancelled on cost grounds... Nick Harvey, the party's defence spokesman, said: "This is an issue that goes beyond our spending on the nuclear deterrent. "We need a complete rethink on how the entire defence budget is spent.

Britain's defense: All at sea
Paul Rogers, Open Democracy, December 10, 2007
There is an argument over the size of Britain's military budget. The real issue is its purpose.
A stark contrast between reality and perception in the discussion of the United Kingdom's defense policy is becoming increasingly visible. Britain has one of the world's largest defense budgets, and it has been rising on an annual basis.

Treasury seeks £15 billion cut in defence
Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor, The Telegraph, December 6, 2007
The defence budget could be cut by up to £15 billion over the next decade under Treasury plans which are said to have split the Cabinet. Although Gordon Brown recently announced a £2.8 billion rise in defence spending by 2010, Government pledges to replace the Trident nuclear deterrent and build two new aircraft carriers mean that cuts must be made elsewhere.

Cabinet split over £15bn proposed defence cuts
David Hencke, Westminster correspondent, The Guardian, December 4, 2007
Though overall spending on defence is due to rise from £34.1bn next year to £36.9bn in 2010, sources close to the ministry say that prior commitments to Trident and two new aircraft carriers mean deep cuts are being drawn up in other areas between now and 2017. These include: Cutting the number of new Astute nuclear powered submarines to be built at Barrow from eight to as few as four...

MoD in £1bn battle to stay within budget
Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent, The Telegraph, November 12, 2007
Military chiefs plan to shelve some of the country's costliest military projects to stave off a financial crisis, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. The Ministry of Defence needs to save about £350 million annually for the next three years to stay in budget, which is only possible if projects are shelved or cancelled.

Navy set to reduce its flotilla of nuclear submarines
IAN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent, The Herald, December 6, 2007
The Royal Navy plans to reduce its flotilla of nuclear-powered patrol submarines to just seven - fewer than half of the number available at the time of the Falklands War - amid growing speculation over a swingeing new round of defence budget cuts. The Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday that current planning assumptions "envisage an attack fleet of seven submarines after 2022", but hedged its bets by saying that the figures remained "under review".

Browne launches counter-offensive after criticism by ex-defence chiefs
MICHAEL SETTLE, Chief UK Political Correspondent, The Herald, December 4, 2007
The attack on the UK Government's treatment of Britain's Armed Forces by five former defence chiefs was yesterday condemned as "potentially very dangerous" to the wellbeing of the nation's troops on the frontline.

Military outburst is fired by frustration
By Stephen Fidler, FT.com, November 24, 2007
Just when the prime minister needed it least, five former heads of the military stood up in the Lords and attacked the government for failing to look after the armed forces. Gordon Brown will find it hard to dismiss his critics as know-nothings. The peers – Lords Bramall, Craig, Inge, Guthrie and Boyce – represent all three services and headed the military for a total of 15 years between 1982 and 2003.

Brown under attack over armed forces
Alex Barker, Political Correspondent, FT.com, November 23, 2007
Senior retired military officers launched caustic personal attacks on Gordon Brown yesterday, accusing the "unsympathetic" prime minister of treating troops with "contempt". Former admirals, field marshals and air marshals took turns in a heated Lords chamber to accuse Mr Brown of breaking the military covenant and taking no interest in the travails of the armed forces.

The sheer futility and huge cost of Trident
Nigel Griffiths, The Times, November 15, 2007
There are no circumstances where we would use a nuclear bomb; the money would be better spent on combating rising sea levels.
To imagine that Trident will not lead to a squeeze on funding our frontline troops is naive. The sad truth is that Trident funding is already diverting nearly 9 per cent of the MoD budget away from necessities such as hardened troop carriers and essential equipment such as roadside bomb-jamming devices.
Nigel Griffiths, the Labour MP for Edinburgh South, resigned as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons in March over Trident.

We still need our nuclear badge
Oliver Kamm, The Times, November 13, 2007
The rationale for keeping the bomb has changed over the decades.
It is the uncertainty of an anarchic international order that has persuaded British governments to maintain the deterrent. That is the gut decision at the heart of this debate. It remains the right one.

Navy is sinking under strain of ship and staff cuts, says chief
Michael Evans, Defence Editor, The Times, November 13, 2007
The head of the Royal Navy gave warning yesterday that the fleet would lose its flexibility if the Government cut back too far on warships and manpower. Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, said that there was a risk that the Navy would not be able to fulfil many of its duties.

Our troops are exposed
Maj Gen Patrick Cordingley, The Telegraph, November 12, 2007
I am not against this country having a nuclear deterrent. But I do question the sums of money that may be necessary to replace Trident and its missile system. Money in all these areas could be saved to fund what is clearly needed now.

MoD planning massive cuts to plug £2bn gap
Michael Smith, The Sunday Times, November 11, 2007
THE government is planning big cuts in an attempt to plug a £2 billion black hole in the defence budget... Payments due next year include £1.7 billion for the new Trident nuclear deterrent; £1.2 billion for continuing payments for Typhoon and £1.2 billion for navy aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines.

Trident boosts arms industry profits

Ceasefire in battle of the naval dockyards
The Sunday Times, December 16, 2007
Industry alliances will save money for the government, which will guarantee a steady flow of work.
The companies involved – Babcock International, BAE Systems and VT Group – are drawing up, and in some cases have already implemented, agreements that will see the work shared and the savings split with the Ministry of Defence. In return for industry cooperation, the government will guarantee a steady stream of work stretching up to 15 years, long enough, the participants hope, for the companies to make the investment in equipment and training needed to keep the fleet afloat.

Profits surge at nuclear services group
Growth Company Investor
Nuclear industry support services star Redhall has energised followers with the news of a 200 per cent-plus profits surge for the year to September... Growth reflected management’s strategy of investing in long-term relationships with nuclear, oil and gas, and food sector clients, with the group recording margin gains across all three of its divisions. These include nuclear services, where the group is an esteemed contractor at Sellafield and Aldermaston, the headquarters of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), specialist manufacturing, where growth is based on a huge need for storage vessels in the nuclear industry...

Strong revival in the manufacturing sector
Andrew Bolger, FT.com, November 26, 2007
Peter Hughes, chief executive of Scottish Engineering, a trade body with 400 member companies, said the industry was pleased both Mr Swinney and Mr Salmond had attended the conference at Dunblane... Mr Hughes said he was concerned that the SNP’s hostility to the proposed replacement of the Trident nuclear missiles that are based on the Clyde could reflect badly on other Scottish defence manufacturers.

Amec awarded multi-million defence design contract
Construction and Maintenance, November 26, 2007
UK construction giant Amec has been awarded a contract from the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE plc) worth up to £13.5 million for the detailed design of facilities at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire.

AWE plant given the go-ahead
icberkshire.co.uk, Nov 15 2007.
PLANS for a new plant at AWE's Burghfield base were passed unanimously last night (Wednesday) despite opposition from villagers and anti-nuclear campaigners.

Question marks over UK Nuclear Safety

Atomic centre to re-run tests
www.icberkshire.co.uk, Nov 22 2007
ANTI-NUCLEAR campaigners claim safety procedures at Aldermaston's Atomic Weapons Establishment would be useless if an accident happened.

Government defends nuclear safeguards after BBC report
AFP, Nov 15, 2007
LONDON (AFP) - The British defence ministry on Thursday defended its safeguards to ensure political control of the country's strategic nuclear deterrent. The ministry's comments followed a BBC report which said that British submarine commanders could, theoretically, launch a nuclear strike without an encrypted code from the prime minister's office.

British nukes were protected by bike locks
BBC Newsnight, Nov 15, 2007
Newsnight has discovered that until the early days of the Blair government the RAF's nuclear bombs were armed by turning a bicycle lock key. There was no other security on the Bomb itself.

Military vehicle carrying nuclear warheads got lost on way from Scotland to Reading
Daily Mail, November 14, 2007
A high-security delivery of nuclear warheads to the south of England turned to farce when vehicles in the MOD convoy got lost on Scotland's roads. Three military trucks, each of which can carry two of the plutonium and uranium weapons, left the Royal Navy Armament Depot at Coulport, Argyll, under cover of darkness on Monday night.

Nuclear reactor workers at dramatically higher risk of cancer
Asia News International, November 11, 2007
London, Nov 30 (ANI): A report has suggested that cancer risk for people exposed to radioactive tritium, commonly discharged in large amounts by civil and military nuclear plants around the world, may be more dangerous than previously thought. The expert report for the UK government's Health Protection Agency (HPA) concluded that the cancer risk for people exposed to tritium may be double than that was assumed earlier.

See: HPA Press Statement, Advice on risks from tritium, November 29, 2007.

Liberal Democrat debate on Trident intensifies

Radicalism will serve us
Lib Dems must seize the electoral territory vacated by a bungling, morally adrift Labour party
Chris Huhne, The Guardian, November 23, 2007
We should long ago have set a date to withdraw from Iraq, and it is outrageous that we have signed up for "son of Star Wars" in a statement smuggled out on the last day of the summer session. Ministers have even failed to reassure me, in parliamentary questions, that we will get information from Menwith Hill (the US National Security Agency site in Yorkshire) at the same time as our US sponsors.
After the disaster of Iraq, there is surely a premium on independence, yet the government has also agreed to replace Trident with one of equivalent power that will make us dependent on the US for another 50 years. At the non-proliferation treaty talks in 2010, we should either decide that the threats are now so different that we should get rid of our nuclear weapons, or that we should have a minimum deterrent.

Party hopefuls start firing in nuclear war
Edinburgh Evening News, November 12, 2007
A ROW over nuclear weapons has broken out between the Liberal Democrat leadership contenders, with favourite Nick Clegg accusing rival Chris Huhne of backing "unilateral rearmament". Mr Huhne won loud applause from party members at a hustings in Edinburgh at the weekend when he attacked plans to spend £20 billion replacing Trident.

Chris Huhne: There are better things to do than replace Trident
Is this relic of the Cold War justified and is the cost an efficient use of military resources?
Independent, November 5, 2007
It is therefore time for a fresh look at why we continue to possess nuclear weapons; is this relic of the cold war justified today, and is the cost an efficient use of military resources? As an economist, I know that there are opportunity costs associated with any decision: if £20bn is spent on a Trident replacement, it cannot be used to equip our troops.

MP to alert Nato to missile fears
BBC News Online, November 27, 2007
Liberal Democrat leadership contender Nick Clegg is to write to Nato over the government's decision to allow the UK to join the US missile defence system. Plans to use the RAF base at Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire, as a listening post were announced in July. Mr Clegg, the MP for Sheffield Hallam, says the move is "totally unjustified".

Scottish Opposition to Trident continues

A Scottish divorce... who gets the kids?
BBC News Online, December 6, 2007
But by far the thorniest issue - probably in the whole negotiation of Scottish independence - would be the future of the British nuclear deterrent based at Faslane near Glasgow. The SNP has long campaigned to remove the Trident-equipped submarines from Scotland but "Whitehall would be deeply alarmed by that prospect," says Oxford University military expert Hew Strachan, "because there is no immediate place to take the deterrent to".

Senior Nato figures to meet in Scotland
ROBBIE DINWOODIE, Chief Scottish Political Correspondent, The Herald, December 5, 2007
Scotland is to play host this month to a gathering of senior ministers from Nato countries involved in the Afghanistan conflict. While it is not technically a full Nato summit, the meeting of international ministers in Edinburgh will come close to that status, with all the security implications that entails.

Scotland in 2017 - independent and flush with oil, says Salmond
Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent, The Guardian, November 14, 2007
A move to independence would lead to substantial disputes between Edinburgh and London over issues such as North Sea oil - the SNP believe 90% of it belongs to Scotland; whether Scotland had to take its share of the UK's national debt; and over the Trident nuclear submarine base at Faslane, on the Clyde.

Protests continue against Trident

Nine held after atomic site demo
BBC News Online, November 12, 2007
Nine campaigners have been arrested during a demonstration at an atomic research base in Berkshire. Activists staged the protest at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), where the upgrade to the UK's Trident nuclear defences is taking place.

Campaigners make Trident protest
BBC News Online, November 3, 2007
Hundreds of campaigners have marched through Edinburgh to protest about the Trident nuclear weapons system. The march and rally was intended to put pressure on the UK Government to remove all nuclear weapons from Scottish soil.

Burghfield protestor planned arrest
Newbury News, November 14, 2007
THE 77-year-old anti-nuclear protestor arrested on Monday for blockading the missile assembly plant at Burghfield said he knew he would be arrested. Pensioner Ray Davies, of Caerphilly, South Wales, was one of 13 protestors arrested for obstructing roads leading to Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) laboratories at Aldermaston and Burghfield.

Three are held in weapons protests
Bradford Telegraph and Argus, November 12, 2007
Three Bradford women peace campaigners have been arrested at a protest at an Atomic Weapons Establishment, near Newbury in Berkshire. About 70 people took part in the protest at the Aldermaston site today and nine arrests were made by Thames Valley Police working with the Ministry of Defence.

Foreign Affairs Committee criticises Government's handling of Missile Defence

Missile plan sneaked out, say MPs
BBC News Online, November 25, 2007
Plans to use an RAF base for a US ballistic missile defence system were sneaked out by ministers and should be debated in Parliament, MPs have said. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee criticised the way plans were announced as MPs left Westminster for the summer.

Ministers sneaked out missile plan, say MPs
Will Woodward, chief political correspondent, The Guardian, November 26, 2007
The all-party Commons foreign affairs select committee criticised the "manner and timing" of the announcement of approval of an American request to use the secret base at Menwith, North Yorkshire.

Long history of UK-US defence ties
BBC News Online, November 26, 2007
Defence Secretary Des Browne has been criticised for not discussing in parliament plans to allow the US military to use RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire for ballistic missile defence. The Ministry of Defence says that the Menwith Hill deal "continues the tradition of cooperation in support of UK, US and allied interests", which dates back to 1941.

See: Global Security: Russia, House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, HC 51 of 2007-2008, November 25, 2007.

Missile Defence sours relations with Russia

Russia threatens to target US missile shield
Harry de Quetteville and Isambard Wilkinson, The Telegraph, December 18, 2007
Russia has threatened to target two proposed American bases in Europe with its nuclear missiles if the Pentagon pressed ahead with its plans for a missile defence shield.
"I do not exclude the missile-defence shield sites in Poland and the Czech Republic being chosen as targets for some of our intercontinental ballistic missiles," said Gen Nikolai Solovtsov.

US blocks approval of RF-NATO cooperation program -- Lavrov
Itar-Tass, December 8, 2007
MOSCOW, December 8 (Itar-Tass) - The United States has blocked approval of the Russia-NATO cooperation programme for 2008, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian reporters after returning from Brussels, where he participated in the Russia-NATO Council meeting.

Lavrov warns U.S. missile plan to jeopardize NATO-Russia dialogue
Xinhua, December 7, 2007
BRUSSELS, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- It would be difficult for Russia to continue dialogue with NATO if Washington deployed a missile defense system in Europe in accordance with its own plans, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here Friday.

Missile defence plans remain a Bush priority
By Daniel Dombey in Washington, Neil Buckley in Moscow,and Jan Cienski in Warsaw, FT.com, December 5, 2007
The Bush administration said yesterday it would persevere with efforts to convince its partners of the merits of placing missile defence bases in Europe - in spite of this week's revelation that the US no longer believes Iran has a nuclear weapons programme. Washington has said that the proposed European bases - missile interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic - are needed to guard against a threat from Tehran. But both Polish public opinion and the new Polish government have yet to be convinced hosting a missile defence base would benefit the country, while Russia has suggested that the programme is intended to counteract its own nuclear deterrent - a charge the US denies.

BMD Base Games Part One
UPI, Washington DC (UPI) Nov 30, 2007
It looks like the U.S. ballistic missile defense base in Poland will never be built, with key leaders in the U.S. Congress and the new Polish government both opposed to it. So why are the United States and Russia still tearing apart what remains of their relationship over it?

Russia piles pressure on EU over missile shield
Adrian Blomfield in Moscow, The Telegraph, November 15, 2007
Russia threatened to site short-range nuclear missiles in a second location on the European Union's border yesterday if the United States refuses to abandon plans to erect a missile defence shield.

Petulant and even paranoid, but deals can be made with Putin
Bronwen Maddox: World Briefing, The Times, December 4, 2007
Putin's tendency for petulance and overreaction is shown well by Russia's exit on Friday from the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty — and then its suggestion, yesterday, that it would opt back in if Western countries met its demands.

President Putin rattles nuclear sabre at Nato
The Times, November 21, 2007
President Putin accused Nato yesterday of threatening Russia’s security and ordered the military to place the country’s strategic nuclear arsenal on a higher state of alert... Mr Putin, whose rhetoric has become more strident as relations with the West have deteriorated, went on: “One of the most important tasks remains raising the combat readiness of the strategic nuclear forces. They should be ready to deliver a quick and adequate reply to any aggressor.”

Poland has rethink on missile plan
The Times, November 20, 2007
WARSAW The new Defence Minister of Poland said that the country should take another look at whether allowing the United States to base part of a missile defence system in the country would serve its interests.

New Polish prime minister to loosen ties with US
Kate Connolly, The Guardian, November 24, 2007
Poland's newly elected prime minister moved yesterday to distance his country from America, raising questions about plans to site a US missile defence system on Polish soil and announcing the withdrawal of Polish troops from Iraq next year.

Star Wars, the Sequel
By Dan Froomkin, Special to washingtonpost.com, October 24, 2007
It doesn't work, it's expensive and it's intended for a threat that doesn't exist -- but by golly, according to President Bush, missile defense is absolutely essential. Andrew Ward writes in the Financial Times: "George W. Bush on Tuesday said a missile defence system was urgently needed to protect the US and Europe from Iran, warning that Tehran could have the capability to strike the US and Europe with ballistic missiles within eight years.

Russia suspends implementation of the CFE Treaty

Russia begins arms treaty freeze
BBC News Online, December 12, 2007
Russia has formally suspended its participation in a key arms control agreement dating from the Cold War. The Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty sets limits on troops and weaponry across Europe.

Russia suspends arms control pact
BBC News Online, November 30, 2007
President Vladimir Putin has signed a law which suspends Russia's participation in a treaty limiting military forces in Europe. It follows its adoption earlier this month by the Russian parliament.

Russia pulls out of Nato arms pact
Allegra Stratton and agencies, The Guardian, November 30, 2007
President Vladimir Putin has withdrawn Russia from a key post-cold war international arms treaty, paving the way for the deployment of Russian forces closer to Europe. The withdrawal of Russian participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty was signed into law today.

Russia treaty freeze a warning to NATO
By Christian Lowe Reuters, December 11, 2007
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will not start a new arms race when it freezes compliance with a Cold War arms treaty on Wednesday but it does want to send a clear message it is not happy about NATO's eastward expansion.

US anger as Russia pulls out of arms treaty
Financial Times, December 1 2007
President Vladimir Putin signed a law yesterday suspending Russia's participation in a key post-cold war arms treaty, triggering an angry reaction from the US, which declared the move a "mistake". In a significant new indication of the worsening diplomatic relationship between Moscow and Washington, Mr Putin personally ratified a law that means Moscow will suspend the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty (CFE) in a little under two weeks.

Russia will not wait forever for its partners to join CFE Treaty - Putin
Interfax, November 20, 2007
MOSCOW. Nov 20 (Interfax) - Russia will not "wait forever for our partners to join the adapted the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and fulfill it," Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Russia abandons European arms pact
The Times, November 17, 2007
MOSCOW The Russian senate voted unanimously to suspend a key Cold War arms limitation treaty. General Yuri Baluyevsky, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff, said the moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty was “the correct, logical step from the political and military point of view”, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Iran nuclear developments

Israeli minister warns NIE 'miscalculation' could lead to war: "something went wrong"
www.worldtribune.com, December 17, 2007
TEL AVIV - A senior Israeli official has voiced the first open criticism of the U.S. intelligence assessment of Iran's nuclear program. Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter warned that the United States underestimated Iran's nuclear capabilities and intentions. Dichter said the National Intelligence Estimate, which asserted that Teheran abandoned its nuclear weapons program, could lead to a Middle East war.

Iran says U.S. report a "declaration of surrender"
Reuters, December 17, 2007
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's president said on Sunday the publication of a U.S. intelligence report saying Iran had halted a nuclear weapons programme in 2003 amounted to a "declaration of surrender" by Washington in its row with Tehran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also dismissed in an interview with state television the prospect of new U.N. sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt sensitive atomic work.

British envoy rules out early progress on Iran nuclear issue
AFP, December 13, 2007
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Britain's UN envoy John Sawers has ruled out progress among major powers on the nuclear standoff with Iran this year because of "wide differences" on adopting new sanctions against Tehran. He told reporters Wednesday that there are "still wide differences" between Britain, France, Germany and the United States on the one hand, and Russia and China on the other, regarding what the sanctions should be in the face of Iran's persistent refusal to comply with UN demands that it halt uranium enrichment.

Iranian pushes nuclear talks back to beginning
International Herald Tribune, December 1, 2007
PARIS: In a sign that Iran has hardened its position on its nuclear program, its new nuclear negotiator said in talks in London on Friday that all proposals made in past negotiations were irrelevant and that further discussion of a curb on Iran's uranium enrichment was unnecessary, senior officials briefed on the meeting said.

Other International News

Nuclear Warhead Cut From Spending Bill
Congress Instead Seeks 'Weapons Strategy'
By Walter Pincus Washington Post Staff Writer, December 18, 2007
Congress has cut all funding for continuing development next year of a new nuclear warhead from the omnibus domestic spending bill, handing the Bush administration a significant setback. Instead, the measure, which Congress expects to vote on this week, directs the administration to develop and submit to lawmakers a "comprehensive nuclear weapons strategy for the 21st century," according to the draft report of the appropriations bill... A spokesman for the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration, which runs the RRW program, announced disappointment in the conferees' action...

RRW Gets $15 M in 6.2A Dough
Armscontrolwonk.com, November 27, 2007
If that headline makes sense to you, welcome home. If not, it means that the Appropriations Conference committee agreed to provide $15 million in paper studies funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead, according to a press release from Senator Feinstein's office: The members of the House and Senate Conference Committee for the FY'08 Defense Appropriations bill today approved language to limit funding for the development of the controversial Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program to $15 million, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced.

NEWS ANALYSIS: The 2008 Presidential Primaries and Arms Control
Arms Control Today, December 2007
For more than a year, the 2008 presidential candidates have been traveling the country, giving speeches, writing articles, participating in debates, and shaking hands in anticipation of primaries and caucuses that are set to begin in January. Although health care reform, the state of the national economy, and the Iraq war have dominated the headlines throughout the campaign, the contenders have engaged in heated discussions on a number of arms control and nonproliferation issues.

Lockheed Martin wins $849 mln missile contract
Reuters, November 26, 2007
WASHINGTON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - The Pentagon said on Monday it awarded No. 1 U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp(LMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) a $849 million contract for continued work on the Trident II (D5) Missile, a submarine-launched ballistic missile armed with nuclear warheads.

Russia test-fires ballistic missile: state agency
Reuters, December 8, 2007
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Saturday test-fired a inter-continental missile with new equipment able to pierce anti-missile shields, state news agency RIA said, underscoring Moscow's determination to assert its military might. The RS-12M Topol ballistic missile, called the SS-25 Sickle by NATO, was successfully launched at 17:43 p.m. (9:43 a.m. EST) from Kapustin Yar firing range in southern Russia, RIA said, citing a spokesman for rocket forces... As configured in 1985, the Topol has a maximum range of 10,000 km (6,215 miles), and can carry one 550-kiloton nuclear warhead.

Defense budget: nuclear or conventional?
RIA Novosti Opinion, November 19, 2007
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Kislyakov) - The U.S. government's fiscal year begins on October 1 of the previous calendar year, and the Senators have already compiled a $459.3 billion draft defense budget for 2008 and sent it to the president for approval. The Russian military have not been marking time either - the new Topol-M (NATO reporting name SS-27) mobile missile division will be deployed in mid-December. By the way, in line with the three-year defense budget (2008-2010), Russia is going to spend next year a total of $36.8 billion on defense.

India 'Star Wars' plan risks new arms race
Randeep Ramesh, South Asia correspondent, The Guardian, December 14, 2007
India aims to have a missile defence system able to track and shoot down incoming warheads by 2010, scientists in the capital announced yesterday, in a move that analysts say could spark a new arms race in the region.

Pakistan Nuclear Security Questioned
Lack of Knowledge About Arsenal May Limit U.S. Options
By Joby Warrick Washington Post Staff Writer, November 11, 2007
Protection for Pakistan's nuclear weapons is considered equal to that of most Western nuclear powers. But U.S. officials worry that their limited knowledge about the locations and conditions in which the weapons are stored gives them few good options for a direct intervention to prevent the weapons from falling into unauthorized hands.

Bush handed blueprint to seize Pakistan's nuclear arsenal
The Guardian, December 1, 2007
· Architect of Iraq surge draws up takeover options
· US fears army's Islamists might grab weapons
The man who devised the Bush administration's Iraq troop surge has urged the US to consider sending elite troops to Pakistan to seize its nuclear weapons if the country descends into chaos. In a series of scenarios drawn up for Pakistan, Frederick Kagan, a former West Point military historian, has called for the White House to consider various options for an unstable Pakistan.

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