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International Nuclear Weapons & Non-Proliferation News

Spring/Summer 2010

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Welcome to the Spring/Summer 2010 edition of the Acronym Institute’s International Nuclear Weapons  & Non-Proliferation News, comprising a digest of news on global nuclear weapons policy issues as well as wider disarmament developments and research. This edition has been compiled by Kat Barton

Nuclear disarmament on the agenda

April 2010 marked the one-year anniversary of US President Barack Obama’s Prague speech in which he set out his vision for a world free of nuclear weapons. That, coupled with media interest in the US-Russian negotiations on a successor to the START Treaty and May’s 2010 NPT Review Conference, generated a number of articles on the prospects for nuclear disarmament. We’ve included a small selection of them here…

In a forward-looking article for the International Herald Tribune, former IAEA Head Hans Blix, described the period ahead as ‘the season for nuclear disarmament’. Others were less optimistic. The Financial Times, for example, characterised the goal of nuclear disarmament as ‘an impossible nightmare’. By contrast, in an article in the journal Nature, the Royal Society focused on the ‘scientific steps to nuclear disarmament’ by calling for the establishment of an advisory group of scientists and laboratories as a means of forging the international links necessary for nuclear disarmament to be achieved. In June, following the close of the month-long NPT Review Conference, Robert Green – Retired Royal Navy Commander and author of the recently-launched book ‘Security Without Nuclear Deterrence’ – wrote a well-reasoned article in the Huffington Post calling for the ‘outdated’ ‘scam’ of nuclear deterrence to be replaced by the security-building process of nuclear disarmament.

NPT Review Conference

As anticipated, the media lens focused on the 5-yearly NPT Review Conference in May, but from day 1 put Iran at centre stage, where it seemed to remain for some time on account of the drafting, mid-way through the conference, of a new UNSC resolution to impose a fourth round of sanctions against the country. The intense negotiations between the US and Egypt on a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and the eventual agreement on a package for taking this forward then moved several news reports to turn their attention to Israel and it’s response to conference.

At the beginning of the conference, the media very briefly turned its attention to the US who – in a bid to increase transparency and build some much-needed confidence within the non-proliferation regime – announced the total number of nuclear warheads in their stockpile (5,113).

The immediate post-conference commentary characterised the Rev Con as a success – albeit one which ‘revealed the strains in the treaty’ and perhaps gave less credit to Obama than the US may have expected. Time magazine referred to the conference’s ‘surprising consensus’ whilst Foreign Policy labelled the outcome an ‘historic breakthrough’.  The Acronym Institute produced analysis on the ground in the form of regular blogs from New York and articles by Director Dr Rebecca Johnson published in online news journal Open Democracy, including an initial assessment of the outcome.  Another source of informed reporting and analysis from Reaching Critical Will joined Acronym’s analysis in highlighting NPT issues that were largely ignored in the standard press coverage on the Conference.  These included progress – or lack thereof – on disarmament, tactical nuclear weapons (an issue which prompted NGOs present at the conference to write an open letter to delegates), the IAEA Additional Protocol, strengthening the non-proliferation regime and the support for a nuclear weapons convention pledged by over 125 states.

US Nuclear developments

Agreement on New START

After months of news reports declaring that US-Russian negotiations on a follow-on to the 1991 START Treaty were close to completion, Russia eventually broke the news at the end of March that an agreement had been reached. The New START Treaty was signed by Presidents Obama and Medvedev at a ceremony in Prague on 8th April.

The agreement was hailed as an ‘important milestone’ by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and despite its modest commitments in terms of actual arms reductions, it was widely viewed as a foreign policy victory for US President Barack Obama. News of the agreement also succeeded in opening up broader discussions on nuclear weapons – for example those currently hosted on German soil – and the debate on nuclear disarmament in general.

Throughout the negotiations, US missile defence plans were a major sticking point, with reports suggesting that Russia had held out on the issue right up until the end.  Russia decided to go ahead but insisted on retaining the option of opting out of the treaty in the event that they feel threatened by US missile defence plans.  One month after the signing of the treaty, the politics of missile defence was still being discussed in the media. Then in June even as US and Russian politicians urged prompt ratification of New START, Russia reiterated its concerns about US plans for a Prompt Global Strike system of conventional warheads deployed on ballistic missiles. 

In related news, in a move designed to encourage congressional - particularly Republican - support for the ratification of New START, the Obama Administration announced that it would be increasing the spending on its nuclear infrastructure and arsenal.

US Nuclear Posture Review

Spring was a busy time for US nuclear policy, with the publication of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the first under the Obama administration.  Characterised by Vice-President Joe Biden as part of a ‘comprehensive nuclear arms strategy’, some highlighted the elements that marked it as a departure from Bush-era politics, while others castigated it as ‘not disarmament’ enough, too modest and displaying the limits faced by US policy-makers, noting in particular its failure to do away with cold war doctrines, including first strike.

Iran reacted with hostility to US intentions to keep ‘all options on the table’ for states in non-compliance with the NPT. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described Obama as a ‘newcomer’ to politics whilst Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameni labelled Obama’s position ‘disgraceful’. In addition, the New York Times reported that Iranian MPs were incensed by the review’s specific references to Iran, and had urged their government to formally complain to the UN.

The May/June issue of Foreign Policy magazine included a number of articles on the NPR, which was variously described as ‘largely meaningless’ and ‘a muddled middle’.  The most positive assessments acknowledged it as a good start but one which failed to take the ‘more dramatic steps away from the legacy of the Cold War arms race’.

Nuclear Security Summit

Also in April, President Obama’s ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ took place, to which the leaders of 47 countries were invited. Two weeks before the event, the Washington Post reported that there was a question mark over whether China would attend on account of its concerns over various other, largely unrelated, political issues with the United States. Shortly afterwards, though, the Financial Times reported that President Hu Jintao had confirmed his attendance. Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, pulled out of the conference, fearing questions about the Israeli nuclear arsenal which has been attracting more attention as the debate over Iran’s nuclear programme has intensified and nuclear issues in the Middle East have risen up the agenda.

The summit, which took place in Washington on 12 - 13 April, produced some positive outcomes including a deal between the US and Russia to dispose of 68 tons of weapons-grade plutonium, and a decision by Ukraine to give up all of its uranium within two years.  All participating states also agreed on a rather ambitious deal to secure all nuclear materials within the next four years.

The media response to the summit was generally positive, characterising it as a stepping stone to greater things. The BBC called it ‘Barack Obama's nuclear summit of small victories’, while Ban Ki Moon emphasised the necessity of strengthening global norms and international treaties. An open letter on The Guardian’s Comment is Free site signed by 40 political leaders from all the major parties across Europe highlighted the need to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in security policies.

Obama assessed one year on

Following this intense focus on nuclear issues and one year on from Obama’s Prague speech at which he declared his commitment to pursuing the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world, many commentators wrote assessments of his progress. The majority of these welcomed the steps taken so far by the Obama Administration, but many noted that the process has only just begun and in the absence of concrete steps, Obama’s stated goal - for the moment at least - remains a dream. Others sought to look beyond the present, with George Perkovich and David Sanger proposing a ‘10-year action plan’ as a possible way forward for the Obama Administration.

Responding to those who argue that Obama’s disarmament agenda is not being implemented quickly enough, US Special Envoy on Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Susan Burk, was quoted by Global Security Newswire as saying that the Administration is taking a ‘step-by-step approach’.

Continuing controversy over Missile Defence & Space

The US decision not to put missile defence bases in Poland and the Czech Republic has been replaced by alternative plans involving Romania and Bulgaria. Shortly after agreement on the New START treaty, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates courted further controversy by making it clear that ‘missile defence is not constrained by this treaty’. A few days later, Romania defended its role in the US missile defence project and shortly afterwards the Chinese news website reported a senior Pentagon official as saying that though different from the Bush administration plans, a missile defence shield would be in place by 2018.

The first tentative step towards this deadline appeared to have been taken in late May when the US Embassy in Poland announced that the first component part of the system had been deployed to a Polish military base. Then in early June, the Indian defence & aerospace website reported that Boeing – the primary contractor for the US missile defence system – had tested its ground-based missile defence system. Later on that month, Space Daily reported that Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister would be travelling to the US for talks about Sofia’s participation in US missile defence. And in July, Poland and the US signed an agreement updating an existing deal about basing U.S. missile interceptors on Polish soil.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged members to sign up to missile defence – saying that 200 million euros/$260million is a ‘small price to pay’ – and urged talks with the Russians regarding their participation in the European missile defence shield.  The New York Times meanwhile reported on a review by the Arms Control Association which cited flaws in Obama’s missile defence system.
The New York Post reported on the US launch of the space weapon X-37B which can reputedly strike ‘anywhere on Earth in 30 minutes’, while in early July, US newspapers – including the New York Times – reported on the new US Space Policy, regarded by the NY Times as a reversal of the Bush era space policy.

NATO Nuclear Weapons

Following calls by 5 NATO member states - Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway – for US nuclear weapons to be removed from Europe, The Guardian reported in March that Madeleine Albright’s group of former NATO “experts” planned to recommend that the nuclear weapons should remain in Europe.  NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen appeared to echo this resistance to change when he told a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers – the first in over decade to discuss the possible removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe – that NATO should support Obama’s calls for disarmament, but not by removing the US tactical nuclear weapons.

An opinion piece in the The Independent newspaper by former Independent journalist Anne Penketh, argued that the weapons have no military purpose, would take two weeks to deploy and will have been discounted as a bargaining chip by Russia anyway.  Belgium, meanwhile, played host to a large demonstration against the presence of US nuclear weapons in Europe, where activists aimed to put pressure on the policy-makers ahead of NATO’s review of its Strategic Concept. 

Nuclear proliferation challenges

Continuing disputes over Iran's nuclear programme

The Iranian nuclear programme has continued to attract media attention, with Iran making periodic announcements about its technological progress and two separate news articles reporting that the country is around 4 years from having a nuclear weapons capability. The issue remains high on the foreign policy agenda of the United States, although the efficacy of the US government’s long-term policy for dealing with Iran has been called into question.

The US drive for tougher sanctions has been strong as efforts intensified in a bid to bring Russia and China on board to get a fourth round of sanctions through the UN Security Council.  Despite the obstacles, by engaging in intense bilateral discussions – at the Nuclear Security Summit and elsewhere - the US managed to get both countries to agree to support a further round of sanctions, albeit with caveats attached to each on account of their commercial interests in Iran.

Iran, in the mean time, employed interesting strategies of its own in attempts to prevent further sanctions, simultaneously demonstrating its military strength to the West by engaging in a series of war games whilst also upping its diplomatic efforts from Bosnia to Brazil, even inviting Security Council members to dinner. Just days after Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit, to which Iran was not invited, Tehran held a 2-day conference on nuclear disarmament in April, entitled ‘Nuclear Energy For All, Nuclear Weapons For None’.

Mid-May saw a flurry of activity as news came that Brazil and Turkey had negotiated a revised version of the fuel-swap proposal originally mooted back in October by the US, France and Russia in conjunction with China, Germany and the UK but rejected by Iran since then. The signing of the Brazil-Turkey-Iran deal received a cool response from the United States and its allies, amid concerns that the proposal would not affect Iran’s plans to enrich uranium to 20 percent.  The timing of the announcement drew particular criticism from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who saw it as an attempt to distract attention from the fourth round of sanctions,  the text for which the five permanent members of the Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) had just finalised.

As the UN Security Council deadline approached, two articles in The Guardian quoted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as warning that should a fourth round of sanctions be imposed, the fuel swap proposal would not be repeated and talks over its nuclear programme would be halted.

Following a UN Security Council vote on 9 June - in which Brazil and Turkey voted no and Lebanon abstained - Resolution 1929 passed, thereby imposing a fourth round of sanctions on Iran. Turkey labelled the resolution 'a mistake' and Iran announced that it would be scaling back its cooperation with the IAEA. Indeed, its relations with the UN nuclear watchdog were already strained on account of increasing pressure from IAEA Head Yukiya Amano as well as an IAEA report which had earlier determined that equipment had gone missing from an Iranian nuclear facility and that the country had enough fuel for two nuclear weapons.

A few days after the sanctions vote, the Iranian Parliament began drafting a bill to reduce cooperation with the IAEA, and two IAEA inspectors were denied access to one of Iran's nuclear facilities. The Iranian government also warned against attempts to inspect its ships and planes under the new sanctions resolution before announcing that it had produced 17kg of 20% enriched uranium, and that talks would resume only if certain conditions were met including inclusion of the Israeli nuclear weapons programme in the discussions.

The fuel swap deal increased strains between the US and Brazil as it emerged that in April President Obama had sent a letter to his Brazilian counterpart President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, outlining details of the initial IAEA fuel swap proposal.  Brazil and Turkey based their mid-May proposal on this proposal, and were dismayed when the United States reacted with hostility, treating the deal as not going far enough, out-of-date and counterproductive.  By mid-June, following its negative vote in the Security Council, Brazil announced it was stepping down from its role as mediator, even as Iran continued to insist that – despite sanctions – the fuel swap proposal remained on the table.

Several of the news stories that appeared after the passage of Resolution 1929 described various actions that had been taken by governments around the globe to comply with the sanctions by imposing trade restrictions.  By contrast, articles on and in the Washington Post were among those to raise questions about the efficacy of the sanctions drive, with Al-Jazeera concluding that ‘With nothing offered in return for its willingness to negotiate, Iran has no incentive to return to nuclear talks’ and the Washington Post arguing that the lack of unity between governments as to the degree of severity required to halt Iran’s progress had actually created business opportunities for some countries, would be unlikely to have the desired impact on the Iranian nuclear programme and could prove counterproductive if ordinary Iranians perceive themselves to have been the intended target. The Telegraph, meanwhile, reported that Iran was bypassing the restrictions imposed by sanctions by smuggling components through the port of Dubai.

Other commentators pondered over why it was so difficult to reach a consensus on further sanctions.  Whilst recognising the limitations of sanctions, different articles in the Financial Times argued that sanctions were necessary in order to convince Tehran that there is no alternative than to negotiate and explored suggestions by policy analysts that the world could adapt to a nuclear Iran. Other articles looked to the future, including a New York Times article which looked ‘Beyond Sanctions’ to contemplate the remaining options for the Obama Administration.

A couple of articles discussed the Iranian nuclear programme in relation to the country’s domestic politics, including one which quoted Iran’s highly-respected Nobel Laureate, the lawyer Shirin Ebadi, as criticizing the West for focusing on the country’s nuclear programme whilst seeming to ignore the grave human rights abuses being perpetrated by the Iranian government, and another which highlighted a new flow of intelligence to the West from Iranian defectors. The broader regional context was also discussed, with particular focus on the impact of recent Israeli actions on the Iranian situation. These included the Israeli decision to station nuclear capable submarines off the coast of Iran as well as its decision to board a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza and the resulting death of nine activists, which resulted in US attention being drawn to the situation in Israel and Palestine.  Security analyst Paul Rogers underlined the strong link between Israeli and Iranian politics in an interesting and wide-ranging article for Open Democracy,

North Korea: Tensions mount

Over to Asia, and tensions have been mounting on the Korean peninsular ever since the sinking in April of a South Korean ship and the resultant deaths of 46 crew members. Right from the outset reports speculated about possible North Korean involvement in the sinking and whilst China's response was to urge a return to the Six Party nuclear talks, South Korea insisted that there would be no chance of talks until the cause of the sinking had been established. By mid-May, an international report had been published determining that North Korea was responsible for the blast that sank the ship. The report provoked North Korea to threaten its southerly neighbour, which in turn led to pressure being brought to bear by the US and the UN, as well as increased US support for South Korea in the form of strengthening its naval defences. China - North Korea's key ally in the region - resisted pressure to accuse North Korea directly. Meanwhile, Kim Jong-il called on the UN to be impartial and warned of the possibility of nuclear war should tensions not be reduced, later following this up with assertions that it would 'bolster its nuclear deterrent in a newly developed way' in response to intensified pressure over the sinking of the South Korean ship. South Korea, however, insisted there was no chance of war on the peninsular, emphasizing that it remained committed to a diplomatic solution.

In mid-April it was announced that South Korea would host the next Nuclear Security Summit (in 2012), the location no doubt intended to intensify pressure on North Korea over its role in assisting other states to acquire nuclear technology. By June, reports questioning the efficacy of US and international strategy on North Korea's nuclear programme had begun appearing. Then later on in June in an op-ed in South Korean newspaper Joong Ang Daily a group of four South Korean elder statesmen became the latest 'gang of four' to advocate progress on nuclear disarmament, linking their calls to the North Korean nuclear issue.

Israeli nuclear weapons in the spotlight

Israel’s nuclear programme has been in the spotlight of late and not only as a result of discussions at the NPT Review Conference. In late May, The Guardian claimed to have revealed the 'first official evidence' of the Israeli nuclear weapons programme, prompting swift denials by the Israeli government but nevertheless bringing the countr's policy of 'nuclear ambiguity' into the spotlight. Around the same time, The Telegraph reported that Mordechai Vanunu had been imprisoned yet again for breaking the terms of his release by talking to foreigners 18 years after he was initially imprisoned for revealing details of his country's nuclear weapons programme to the world.

Then in June, for the first time in almost 20 years, the issue of Israeli nuclear weapons was discussed at a meeting of the IAEA, much to the dismay of the Israeli government. Later the same month, Israel launched a new spy satellite, intended for gathering intelligence on Iran, among other things.

Nuclear dealings: India & Pakistan

Since the controversial 2008 signing of the US-India nuclear sharing deal, India has been trying to reassure the American business community that commercial viability remains strong despite resistance to the nuclear liability bill being presented to the Indian Parliament. The news in June that former employees of Union Carbide had been sentenced to jail over the explosion and disastrous leak over 25 years ago at the company's Bhopal plant has added weight to all sides' concerns over this issue. Meanwhile, the US and France have reportedly been pressing Japan to sign a nuclear deal with India despite Japanese concerns that such a deal would undermine the NPT, siince India remains outside the treaty. A further news report in late June suggested that Indian-Japanese talks on the subject will go ahead, whilst Canada's Globe & Mail reported on an 'imminent' nuclear deal that would see Canada getting a slice of the pie too.

In parallel, China has announced a deal to provide nuclear reactors to Pakistan - despite the NPT prohibiting such transfers to countries outside the NPT. Initially drawing little comment from the US, the deal eventually provoked an objection from the Obama Administration, leading some to levy charges of double-standards and hypocrisy, whilst others raised concerns about the wider implications of such deals. An opinion piece in The Hindu suggested that rather than try fruitlessly to oppose the deal, India should work to ensure that any deal includes strong non-proliferation measures.  Addressing the wider issues, an article in Foreign Policy magazine explored some of the options for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) .

With concerns mounting, Pakistan made half hearted attempts to allay the fears of the international community. A day later, Pakistan test-fired a nuclear-capable missile in a move that was regarded as its way of asserting itself as a nuclear power. Pakistan's nuclear weapons also came under scrutiny when a US study warned that they were 'at risk of theft by terrorists'. An interesting article by Richard Weitz in The Diplomat, entitled 'Grappling with a Nuclear Asia', looks at the situation vis-à-vis nuclear weapons, proliferation and NWFZs for Asia as a whole. 

New Proliferators

Concerns over new proliferators were heightened in June with the publication of a report claiming that the ruling military junta of Myanmar (Burma) is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. The findings of the report - authored by Burmese media organisation the Democratic Voice of Burma and based on the evidence of a former Burmese army officer - were made into a 4-part film by Al-Jazeera. The news prompted a US senator to cancel a trip to Burma and was followed by denials by the regime's rulers. Meanwhile, other news reports highlighted continuing concerns over Syria's nuclear intentions and the Wall Street Journal reported on claims by US and Israeli officials that Iran had sent Syria a radar system which could hinder Israel's ability to launch a surprise attack against Iran's nuclear facilities.

In Other News

The Times of India reported that Indonesia has indicated its intention to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) whilst the New York Times brought news of the death of Stephen J. Ledogar, a highly respected US ambassador who had played a pivotal role in the drafting key treaties restricting conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons, notably the CFE, CWC and CTBT. Changes are afoot at the IAEA where Head of Safeguards Olli Heinonen, who is responsible for investigations into Iran and Syria, has resigned for personal reasons after 30 years in the post. Finally, popular action against nuclear weapons got a boost in May with the launch at Cannes of a new film Countdown to Zero, which aims to raise awareness of the need to go to zero nuclear weapons.

Index of articles

  1. Nuclear Disarmament Assessments

  2. NPT Review Conference
    - Iran takes centre stage
    - Middle East NWFZ
    - Israel responds to the Rev Con
    - US announces size of its nuclear arsenal
    - Post-conference commentary
    - Acronym blog
    - An initial look back
    - Reaching Critical Will Analysis
    - Issues largely ignored in the press
    - NGO letter on tactical nuclear weapons

    US Nuclear Developments

  3. Agreement on New START
    - Agreement
    - New START documents
    - Ban Ki-Moon hails progress
    - Modest cuts
    - Obama’s victory
    - Broader issues
    - Missile Defence
    - New START Ratification
    - Prompt Global Strike
    - US to increase spending on its nuclear arsenal

  4. US Nuclear Posture Review
    - 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)
    - Shift
    - Disappointment and limitations
    - Iran responds
    - Foreign Policy articles

  5. Nuclear Security Summit
    - The paperwork
    - Question mark over China’s attendance
    - Israel pulls out
    - Outcomes
    - Stepping stones

  6. Obama assessed one year on
    - Tentative first steps
    - Ways forward
    - Defending the US approach

  7. Continuing controversy: Missile Defence & Space
    - US missile defence plans to go ahead
    - NATO Chief urges European and Russian involvement in missile defence
    - Missile Defence flaws
    - Space

  8. NATO Nuclear Weapons

    Proliferation Challenges

  9. Iranian dispute continues
    - Iran claims technological progress
    - Timelines
    - US approach
    - Getting China & Russia onboard
    - War Games & dinner parties: diplomacy Iranian style
    - Tehran’s nuclear disarmament summit
    - Brazil & Turkey mediate over Iran fuel-swap proposal
    - Iran issues warnings
    - Fourth round of sanctions approved
    - Relations with the IAEA
    - Warnings – and enrichment – continue Brazil
    - US-Brazil letter
    - Governments take action
    - (In-)Efficacy of sanctions
    - Iran smuggling components through Dubai
    - Other commentary
    - The broader context: domestic issues
    - The broader context: regional issues

  10. Nuclear North Korea: Tensions mount
    - Sinking of South Korean ship
    - Tensions
    - North Korea & nuclear security
    - Strategy failing?
    - ‘Four wise men’

  11. Israeli nuclear weapons in the spotlight
    - The Guardian reveals ‘first official evidence’ of Israeli nuclear arsenal
    - Under the spotlight: Israel’s nuclear ambiguity
    - Vanunu sent back to prison
    - IAEA discussed Israeli nuclear programme
    - New spy satellite

  12. Nuclear dealings: India & Pakistan
    - Concerns remain over US-India nuclear deal
    - Japan weighs in
    - Canada’s slice of the pie
    - China-Pakistan nuclear deal
    - Pakistan nuclear safety fears & missile tests
    - Spotlight on Asia

  13. New Proliferators
    - Burma
    - Syria

  14. In Other News
    - CTBT
    - People
    - Countdown to Zero

    1. Nuclear Disarmament Assessments

A Season for Disarmament
Hans Blix, International Herald Tribune, 4 April 2010
‘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.’

A nuclear-free world? No thanks
Gideon Rachman, Financial Times, 3 May 2010
‘…the idea of a world free of nuclear weapons is not so much an impossible dream as an impossible nightmare.’

Scientific steps to nuclear disarmament
Martin Rees, Ben Koppelman & Neil Davison, Nature, 20 May 2010
‘An advisory group and a network of international labs is needed to lay the groundwork for multilateral disarmament and forge links between nations’

Nuclear Deterrence Scam Blocking Progress to a Safer World
Robert Green (Royal Navy Retired), The Huffington Post, 7 June 2010
Former Royal Navy Commander and operator of British nuclear weapons, Robert Green, reflects on May’s NPT Review Conference and concludes that the ‘scam’ of nuclear deterrence is standing in the way of nuclear disarmament. The author of ‘Security without Nuclear Deterrence’, he argues that ‘The key is to see nuclear disarmament as a security-building process, moving from an outdated adversarial mindset to a co-operative one where nuclear weapons are recognized as a lethal liability’.

2. NPT Review Conference

Iran takes centre stage

Iran president defiant at UN talks
Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, 3 May 2010
‘President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad of Iran took centre stage at a United Nations conference on Monday, reacting to a US bid to bolster nuclear non-proliferation rules by calling for action against Washington itself.’

Middle East NWFZ

Israel's stance on nuclear arms complicates efforts against Iran
Walter Pincus, Washington Post, 4 May 2010
‘How the Obama administration deals with the nettlesome problem of Israel's nuclear arsenal and the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East will determine U.S. success or failure at the NPT conference.’

US nuclear talks risk collapse over Middle East plan
Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, 19 May 2010
‘Senior western diplomats are warning that unless agreement can be reached over the next few days on a way forward for Middle East talks, the NPT review conference could grind to a halt without anything to show for it.’

Nuclear arms treaty agreed with hope for deal on Middle East
Ian Black, The Guardian, 28 May 2010
‘The 189 member nations of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) last night struck a deal on a series of small steps towards disarmament, including a 2012 conference to discuss a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.’

Ban nuclear tests in Middle East
Pierre Goldschmidt and Nima Gerami,, Comment is Free, 27 May 2010
‘It is unrealistic to expect Israel to join the treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon state while Iran continues its nuclear development… For Israel, Iran and the powers sparring in New York, this [banning nuclear tests in the Middle East] would be a realistic and practical way to lower regional tensions.’

Four reasons the US could get Israel to talk about a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction
Martin B Malin, Christian Science Monitor, 8 June 2010
‘It won’t be easy, but without Israel, there can be no meaningful talks on creating a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.‘

Israel responds to the Rev Con

Israel deflects pressure on nuclear weapons
Tom Franks, BBC News, 28 May 2010
‘Having Israel change its posture of nuclear ambiguity, he says, "would satisfy a small community of arms control experts in Washington and London, but it might leave the Middle East a much more dangerous place". And that is why the Israeli government insists that the time to push for a nuclear-free Middle East is only after the region is covered by a comprehensive peace agreement.‘

Israel angry over being singled out in action plan on nuclear weapons
Janine Zacharia & Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, 30 May 2010
‘Israel on Saturday sharply criticized an action plan on nuclear weapons agreed to by the United States and 188 other countries, rebuffing its most novel proposal -- a conference in 2012 to discuss ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction.’

Netanyahu to ask Obama to block measures over Israel's nuclear program
Haaretz, 3 June 2010
‘A senior Israeli official said Netanyahu will ask Obama for American guarantees to block any practical measures, including an international conference on the matter.’

US announces size of its nuclear arsenal

U.S. Declares Size of Nuclear Arsenal
Jay Soloman, Wall Street Journal, 4 May 2010
‘The Pentagon said the U.S. had a total of 5,113 nuclear warheads in its stockpile as of Sept. 30, plus a few thousand more that had been retired but still needed to be dismantled. Between fiscal years 1994 and 2009, the U.S. dismanted 8,748 nuclear warheads. At its peak at the end of fiscal year 1967, the U.S. had 31,255 warheads, the Pentagon said.’

An Arsenal We Can All Live With
Gary Schaub Jr & James Forsyth Jr, New York Times, 21 May 2010
‘We need a nuclear arsenal. But we certainly don’t need one that is as big, expensive and unnecessarily threatening to much of the world as the one we have now.’

Post-conference commentary

189 Nations Reaffirm Goal of Ban on Nuclear Weapons
Neil Mac Farquhar, New York Times, 28 May 2010
‘Hard-fought negotiations over the future of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty ended here on Friday with 189 nations reaffirming their commitment to eliminating all nuclear weapons and setting a new 2012 deadline for holding a regional conference to eliminate unconventional weapons from the Middle East.’

At nuclear conference, U.S. expects little, gains little
Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, 31 May 2010
‘It didn't end in failure. That was perhaps the best the U.S. government could boast about a month-long conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which ended Friday in New York.’

A Surprising Consensus on Nuclear Nonproliferation
Eben Harrell, Time Magazine, 2 June 2010
‘The last major review conference, in 2005, ended in acrimonious failure, and there were concerns that a similar fate this year would put the future of the treaty in doubt at a time when it is needed most. But then something unexpected happened: the global community came together.’

Two Cheers for Multilateralism
James Traub, Foreign Policy, 8 June 2010
‘Why the nuclear review conference was a minor triumph for Obama.’

Acronym blog

Acronym Institute Blog
Director Dr Rebecca Johnson and Senior Associate Carol Naughton blog from the 2010 NPT Review Conference, 2 May - 7 June 2010

An initial look back

NPT: Challenging the nuclear powers fiefdom
Rebecca Johnson, Open Democracy, 15 June 2010
‘The NPT Review provided a bridge between the partial non-proliferation approach of the NPT and the comprehensive abolition objectives of a nuclear weapons convention. It will no longer be possible for governments to dismiss calls for a comprehensive nuclear abolition treaty.’

Reaching Critical Will Analysis

NPT News In Review
Reaching Critical Will, May 2010
‘The NPT News in Review is a daily publication produced by Reaching Critical Will during nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty preparatory committees and review conferences. It is designed to circulate civil society perspectives to governmental delegates and to provide daily updates to those unable to attend the conferences.’

Issues largely ignored by the press

Europe Lacks Plan on Nuclear Arms
Judy Dempsey, New York Times, 3 May 2010
‘The European Union, which includes the nuclear powers France and Britain, goes into the major United Nations conference reviewing nuclear nonproliferation on Monday having failed to unite on how to reduce its nuclear weapons... At least one diplomat involved put principal blame on France — which is proud of its nuclear arsenal — while countries like Poland and Germany, with nuclear-armed Russia to their east, are eager for new talks on withdrawing tactical nuclear weapons.’

European States Urge Withdrawal of Tactical Nukes
Global Security Newswire, 7 May 2010
‘Several European states are using this month's Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference to renew their calls for removal of tactical nuclear weapons from the continent, the Associated Press reported yesterday.’

NGO letter on tactical nuclear weapons

‘Now is the time for action on “tactical” nuclear weapons’, NGO Letter on Tactical Nuclear Weapons
An open letter sent from Non-Governmental Organisations - including the Acronym Institute - to all NPT state parties on 14 May 2010 during the 2010 NPT Review Conference
‘All NPT member states have the obligation to contribute to a world free of nuclear weapons by reducing their reliance on nuclear deterrence doctrines. A decision by NATO to withdraw the remaining, militarily obsolete US tactical nuclear weapons from European soil and provide security assurance with other means would be a significant and visible step in that direction which would make agreement on the elimination of those weapons more likely.’

US Nuclear Developments

3. Agreement on New START


Russia claims breakthrough in historic nuclear reduction agreement with US
Luke Harding in Moscow, Julian Borger, and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, 24 March 2010
‘Barack Obama's ambitious goal of freeing the world of nuclear weapons won a significant boost tonight when Russia indicated that it had reached agreement with the United States on a historic nuclear arms reduction treaty.’

Obama signs nuclear treaty with Medvedev
Jan Cienski, Financial Times, 8 April 2010
‘Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed an arms control treaty on Thursday that the White House hails as a big step forward in its bid to reset relations with Russia, as well as for the US president’s broader nuclear agenda.’

New START documents

Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms
Signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama, 8 April 2010
Protocol to the treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms
Signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama, 8 April 2010

Ban Ki-Moon hails progress

UN chief hails US-Russia nuclear arsenal cuts
Associated Press, 27 March 2010
‘The U.N. chief is hailing the agreement between the United States and Russia to cut their nuclear arsenals as an "important milestone" on the road to a world free of nuclear weapons.’

Modest cuts

Arms Control’s New Era
Editorial, New York Times, 27 March 2010
‘Although the deal makes only modest cuts in both countries’ arsenals, President Obama deserves credit for reviving an arms control process that his predecessor disparaged as a cold-war relic. He is now leading the way on reducing the nuclear threat.’

Despite new START, the U.S. and Russia still have too many nuclear weapons
David E. Hoffman, Washington Post, 11 April 2010
‘Even with the signing of the new strategic arms accord last week, we are still left with excess -- thousands and thousands of nuclear weapons that do not make us any safer.’

Obama’s victory

Obama makes the world a safer place
Editorial, Financial Times, 28 March 2010
‘…Even so, Mr Obama has set out on a noble path. The world will increasingly rely on civil nuclear power as an energy source. The president has therefore grasped that everything must be done to “delegitimise” nuclear weapons if the world is to be safe. His vision of “global zero” – of the total abolition of “nukes” – may be unachievable. But he has already made progress to a safer world.’

Obama Intervened Frequently in Arms Control Talks
Global Security Newswire, 29 March 2010
‘U.S. President Barack Obama played a key role in hammering out a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, speaking with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 14 occasions since last spring to help resolve impasses that arose between negotiators meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, the New York Times reported Friday.’

Obama closes in on Nobel-esque nuclear goal
By Edward Luce, Financial Times, 8 April 2010
‘Much could happen to upset Mr Obama’s ambitious agenda… Alternatively, things could continue gradually to fall into place. Whichever happens, it is obvious now that nuclear arms control is an issue close to Mr Obama’s heart. He clearly intends to spend a lot of diplomatic and political capital in its pursuit.’

Broader issues

U.S. plans help German nuclear arms removal: minister
Reuters, 7 April 2010
‘Washington's plans to reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons will bolster efforts to remove the last remaining U.S. nuclear arms in Germany, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Wednesday.’

Nuclear weapons: Is full disarmament possible?
Robert Marquand, Christian Science Monitor, 6 April 2010
‘Skeptics of a nuclear-free world might answer that such a goal is politically impossible and practically dangerous: They believe it could lead to an even greater possibility of a nuke being used.’

Missile Defence

Russia 'could opt out of nuclear disarmament deal'
BBC News, 6 April 2010
‘Russia's foreign minister has said his country could opt out of a new nuclear disarmament treaty if it feels threatened by US missile defence plans.’

Obama's Russian Miracle: How the Kremlin Backed Down on the Nuclear Treaty
Simon Shuster, Huffington Post, 10 April 2010
‘From the beginning of these talks, the two sides have been grappling over just one issue. Russia wanted to include a point in the treaty that would prevent the United States from building its anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe… From their side, the American negotiators insisted that the two things must be kept separate.’

Nuclear Arms Reductions and the Politics of Missile Defense
William Hartung, Huffington Post, 20 May 2010
‘Regardless of one's position on missile defense in general, it is important that false claims regarding the Obama administration's position on it not be allowed to derail the New START agreement.’

New START Ratification

START negotiator sees early Senate ratification
Stephanie Nebahay, Reuters, 3 June 2010
‘The U.S. negotiator on the new START arms reduction treaty with Russia voiced optimism on Thursday that the Senate would ratify the pact by late September, before the White House's official year-end target.’

Medvedev Calls for Prompt Ratification of "New START"
Global Security Newswire, 4 June 2010
‘Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed hope Wednesday that lawmakers in Moscow and Washington would soon bring a new bilateral nuclear arms control pact into force, ITAR-Tass reported.’

Prompt Global Strike

Pentagon to continue development of conventional weapons after ratification of START
Walter Pincus, Washington Post, 17 June 2010
‘Senior Pentagon officials said Wednesday that the recently signed U.S.-Russian arms treaty will not impede their plans for new intercontinental missiles with conventional warheads that could hit targets anywhere in the world within an hour… But Russia has criticized the U.S. development of a non-nuclear weapons system, the Prompt Global Strike program, saying its missiles could be as destabilizing as nuclear warheads.’

US to increase spending on its nuclear arsenal

Nuclear complex upgrades related to START treaty to cost $180 billion
Walter Pincus, Washington Post, 14 May 2010
‘The Obama administration, seeking to bolster congressional support for the new strategic arms treaty with Russia, plans to spend $180 billion over the next decade to upgrade the nation's nuclear weapons complex, keep warheads capable and modernize strategic delivery systems, according to documents delivered Thursday to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.’

4. US Nuclear Posture Review

2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)
U.S. Department of Defense, 6 April 2010


A comprehensive nuclear arms strategy
Joe Biden, LA Times, 6 April 2010
‘The administration's Nuclear Posture Review outlines the means to achieve greater security from worldwide nuclear dangers. Nonproliferation and counter-terrorism are central to the strategy.’

US shifts stance on nuclear weapons
Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, 6 April 2010
‘The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a doctrine to reduce US reliance on nuclear weapons, bolster the global non-proliferation regime and pave the way for Congressional ratification of an arms control deal with Russia.’

Barack Obama's radical review on nuclear weapons reverses Bush policies
Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, 7 April 2010
‘The Obama administration announced a major shift in US nuclear weapons strategy today that included ruling out for the first time their use to retaliate against attacks involving biological or chemical weapons or large-scale conventional forces.’

Disappointment and limitations

Obama's nuclear posture is a step in the right direction, but not disarmament
Paul Ingram, Comment is free,, 6 April 2010
‘Does this NPR do it? The simple answer is no – while the document talks of reducing the role of US nuclear weapons, deterrence remains central, and there's little convincing commitment to the deep shifts necessary for disarmament. But it does take a step in the right direction, keeps choices open, and acknowledges the need for further movement.’

US Keeps First-Strike Strategy
Jonathan Weisman, Wall Street Journal, 5 April 2010
‘The Obama administration will release a new national nuclear-weapons strategy Tuesday that makes only modest changes to U.S. nuclear forces, leaving intact the longstanding U.S. threat to use nuclear weapons first, even against non-nuclear nations.’

New nuclear arms policy shows limits U.S. faces
Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, 7 April 2010
‘Obama's nuclear policy breaks with the past by narrowing the circumstances under which the U.S. government says it will use the devastating weapons. But on one point after another, the changes are gradual rather than transformational.’

Obama’s Nuclear Modesty
Peter D. Feaver, New York Times, 9 April 2010
‘The administration claims this new declaration will create strong incentives for states to eschew nuclear weapons. Critics, many of them my fellow Republicans, claim it substantially weakens America’s deterrence against attacks with non-nuclear weapons of mass destruction. My view is that the new policy buys a trivial new incentive at the cost of a modest loss in deterrence.’

Iran responds

Ahmadinejad: U.S. Can't Do "Damn Thing" on Nukes
CBS, 7 April 2010
‘Iranian President Derides New U.S. Nuclear Policy; Calls Obama a "Newcomer" Who Should "Get Some Experience"’

Obama’s remarks are disgraceful: Leader
Tehran Times, 12 April 2010
‘“Over the past few years, the Americans have made great efforts to show that the Islamic Republic of Iran is unreliable, while it is now clear that those countries are unreliable that impudently threaten other countries with nuclear attack. Thus, the remarks of the president of the United states are disgraceful,” he told a group of military commanders at a meeting in Tehran on Sunday.’

Iranian Anger Rises Over Obama’s Revised Nuclear Policy
Nazila Fathi, New York Times, 11 April 2010
‘A large majority of Iranian lawmakers, angered over the Obama administration’s new nuclear weapons policy that conspicuously makes Iran and North Korea possible targets, urged their government on Sunday to formally complain to the United Nations in a petition that called the United States a warmonger and threat to world peace.’

Foreign Policy articles

Nuclear Posture Review (or Nuclear Public Relations?)
Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, 6 April 2010
‘I'll concede that this new statement may have some public relations value -- i.e, it lowers the priority given to nuclear weapons in U.S. strategic thinking, consistent with Obama's commitment to eventually reduce global nuclear arsenals. But from a purely strategic perspective, this new statement is largely meaningless.’

Obama's nuke review: A deft compromise or a muddled middle
Peter Feaver, Foreign Policy, 6 April 2010
‘On balance, the NPR seems to be a split-the-difference compromise between different factions among Obama's advisors… It is unmistakably a step away from the compromises struck during the Bush era, but I don't see much evidence that this is the bold leap that wins plaudits in academic seminar rooms, activist think-tanks, and Norwegian parliaments.’

Reviewing the Review
David E. Hoffman, Foreign Policy, 6 April 2010
‘The document is filled with laudable goals that mark a change from the past and may help advance his dream of a world without nukes. But flying at high altitude also has certain advantages; you can avoid the rough terrain below. And down on the ground, the president stopped short of changing the status quo on critical issues that have lingered since the Cold War, such as tactical nuclear weapons and keeping missiles on alert..’

5. Nuclear Security Summit

The paperwork

Nuclear Security Summit Key Facts, 14 April 2010
Nuclear Security Summit Communique, 14 April 2010
Nuclear Security Summit Work Plan, 14 April 2010
Nuclear Security Summit Work Plan Reference, 14 April 2010

Question mark over China’s attendance

China struggles with stance on nuclear power as summit nears
John Pomfret, Washington Post, 29 March 2010
‘Two weeks before the United States hosts a summit on nuclear security, one of its most important invitees, China, has yet to RSVP… China's coyness in accepting an invitation that went out to the leaders of more than 40 countries reflects an uncertainty about how to deal with the Obama administration's call for a nuclear-weapons-free world and its role as a rising nuclear power…’

Hu to attend Obama nuclear summit
Kathrin Hille & Alan Beattie, Financial Times, 1 April 2010
‘China on Thursday announced that Hu Jintao, the country’s president, would attend a summit on nuclear security in Washington later this month, a goodwill gesture to the US after weeks of tension over a range of issues.’

Israel pulls out

Netanyahu pulls out of Obama's nuclear conference
Peter Walker, The Guardian, 9 April 2010
‘The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has pulled out of Barack Obama's international nuclear weapons conference in Washington next week at the last minute after learning his country was likely to face pressure over its own presumed atomic arsenal.’

Netanyahu's nuclear no-show is victory for Arab pressure
Ian Black, The Guardian, 9 April 2010
‘Focus on Iran has boosted demands for a regional approach to disarmament of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.’


U.S., Russia reach deal on disposing of plutonium from nuclear weapons
Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, 9 April 2010
‘The U.S. and Russian governments have reached a breakthrough in a long-stalled agreement to dispose of huge amounts of their plutonium from nuclear weapons, officials said Thursday.’

Ukraine gives up its uranium
Julian Borger’s blog,, 12 April 2010
‘Kiev has helped Barack Obama kick off his nuclear security summit on a positive note but doubts abound over whether his four-year deadline for locking up 'loose nukes' is doable.’

Nations unite on nuclear menace
Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, 13 April 2010
‘An unprecedented 47-nation summit in Washington broke up on Tuesday with a series of commitments by countries to keep nuclear material out of the hands of extremist groups and with behind-the-scenes manoeuvring over possible sanctions on Iran.’

Stepping stones

Barack Obama's nuclear summit of small victories
Jonathan Marcus,, 13 April 2010
‘President Obama stressed that this summit was not about talk but about commitment to action. That said, safeguarding vulnerable nuclear materials depends upon the will of participating governments to act - and there can be no guarantees of progress.’

Ban outlines 5-point nuclear security plan
United Press International (UPI), 13 April 2010
‘Communiques issued from the two-day Nuclear Security Summit in Washington "highlight the need to strengthen global norms and (the need) to achieve universal membership in key multilateral treaties aimed at preventing terrorist groups and non-state actors from gaining access to the most lethal weapons and materials known to man," Ban told summit participants.’

Nuclear progress, but dangers ahead
Open letter by 40 political leaders from all major parties and from across Europe, Comment is free,, 16 April 2010
‘The circumstances of today require a shift in thinking. We must, through further multilateral agreement, reduce the role and the number of nuclear weapons in the world, deepen confidence in the non-proliferation regime, and improve the security of existing nuclear weapons and materials... In short, Europe can and must play a vital role in building the co-operation necessary for meeting the global nuclear challenge. All our futures depend on it.’

6. Obama assessed one year on

Tentative first steps

Nuclear options
Editorial, Financial Times, 11 April 2010
‘What matters is facts on the ground: the size of the stockpile, which the US is about to cut; investment in new warheads, which the administration says it will halt; and a raft of complementary decisions yet to be made on non-proliferation, inspection and verification, missile defences, the safety of the ageing arsenal, and so on. There is no cause to question Mr Obama’s sincerity – but the dream of a world without nukes remains, for the moment, just that.’

Obama lacks domestic, international support for key nuclear ambitions
Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, 19 April 2010
‘"In one sense, the United States will be perceived as genuinely having regained a position of leadership," said Linton F. Brooks, a top nuclear official in the past two Republican administrations. "Whether you'll be able to point to concrete results of that leadership, I simply don't know."’

Chain reaction
The Economist, 15 April 2010
‘The world should welcome Barack Obama’s nuclear push—but it is only a start’

Obama’s Atomic Choices
David E. Hoffman, Foreign Policy, 28 April 2010
‘Obama has not finished with nuclear weapons policy, but just begun.’

Ways forward

Obama's Nuclear Agenda One Year After Prague
George Perkovich & David Sanger, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 2010
‘President Obama should assess whether any other leaders of major countries are seriously prepared to pursue a nuclear-weapon-free world. If some are, he should invite them to join him in detailing a ten-year action plan to minimize the dangers posed by fissile materials and maximize the potential of peaceful nuclear energy.’

Defending the US approach

U.S. Envoy Defends Measured Approach to Disarmament
Elaine M. Grossman, Global Security Newswire, 23 June 2010
‘The U.S. diplomat who recently led Washington's delegation at a major nonproliferation conference last week defended the Obama administration's approach to nuclear disarmament, which some critics have complained is not moving fast enough.’

7. Courting controversy: Missile Defence & Space

US missile defence plans to go ahead

Missile defence controversy remains after START accord
The Sofia Echo, 27 March 2010
‘Friday's announcement of a new US-Russia strategic arms reduction treaty was achieved partly because the negotiators agreed to separate the issue from the controversy over the US missile defence programme… After US president Barack Obama announced the agreement at the White House on March 26 2010, US defence secretary Robert Gates made this simple declaration. "Missile defense is not constrained by this treaty," he said.’

Romania defends role in US missile shield
Nick Thorpe, BBC News, 3 April 2010
‘But Romania insists the deal will make the region more secure. Bogdan Aurescu, the chief Romanian negotiator in the coming talks with the US on the details of Romanian participation, says it will lead to "increased security for Romania, and more security for the Black Sea region as a whole, not only for Romania and its allies".’

U.S. to complete missile defense in Europe by 2018, 16 April 2010
‘A senior Pentagon official said Thursday that the United States will be able to cover its NATO allies in Europe with a missile defense shield by 2018… He said by 2018, the system would have full coverage of NATO territory in Europe, and by that time, a second land-based site is to be established in northern Europe for updated Standard Missile-3 missile interceptors.’

US Deploys Air and Missile Defence System Despite Russian Concerns, 25 May 2010
‘On Monday, the US Embassy in Warsaw confirmed that the first US surface-to-air Patriot missile battery arrived at a Polish military base in the town of Morag, some 57 kilometres south of the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast on the Baltic shore… According to the Embassy, this is the first such deployment on Polish soil.’

US tests ground-based missile defence system, 7 June 2010
‘US has successfully test fired the two-stage ground-based interceptor (GBI) of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system – the country's only long-range ballistic missile defence system. The weapon was test launched from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California at 3:25 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, Boeing, prime contractor for the missile defence system, said in a statement.’

Bulgaria defence minister in US for talks on missile defence
Space Daily, 25 June 2010
‘Bulgarian Defence Minister Anyu Angelov said Friday he would travel to the US this weekend for talks on a planned missile defence shield in Europe that Sofia has said it wants to join.’

U.S., Poland sign new missile defence pact
CBC News, 3 July 2010
‘The United States and Poland have signed an agreement updating an existing deal on basing U.S. missile interceptors on Polish soil. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton attended the signing Saturday during a visit to the southern Polish city of Krakow.’

NATO Chief urges European and Russian involvement in missile defence

NATO says missile defense cost small price to pay
Brunnstrom, Reuters, 5 May 2010
‘The head of NATO Wednesday put the cost of linking up the alliance's missile defense systems at less than 200 million euros ($260 million), and said it was a small price to pay to protect citizens.’

NATO, Russia start talks on missile defence: Rasmussen
Space Daily, 20 May 2010
‘NATO and Russia have started talks on the possibility of building an anti-missile defence system in Europe, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday.’

Missile Defence flaws

Review Cites Flaws in U.S. Antimissile Program
William J. Broad & David E. Sanger, New York Times, 17 May 2010
‘President Obama’s plans for reducing America’s nuclear arsenal and defeating Iran’s missiles rely heavily on a new generation of antimissile defenses, which last year he called “proven and effective.”’

A Flawed &Dangerous US Missile Defence Plan
George N. Lewis and Theodore A. Postol, Arms Control Association, May 2010


A weapon that can strike anywhere on Earth in 30 minutes
Sharon Weinberger, New York Post, 25 April 2010
‘The launch of the X-37B comes at a busy time for the Pentagon’s extraterrestrial ambitions… the Pentagon is pushing for capabilities that were once regarded as so controversial that they had to be hidden deep within the defense budget, if they were funded at all.’

Obama Reverses Bush’s Space Policy
William J. Broad and Kenneth Chang, New York Times, 29 June 2010
‘The Obama administration on Monday unveiled a space policy that renounces the unilateral stance of the Bush administration and instead emphasizes international cooperation, including the possibility of an arms control treaty that would limit the development of space weapons.’

8. NATO Nuclear Weapons

Nato experts group say US nukes should stay in Europe
Julian Borger’s blog,, 29 March 2010
‘In their report on Nato's New Strategic Concept, due on the secretary general's desk by May 1, the group will argue that the roughly 200 remaining American B61 bombs on European soil should not be unilaterally withdrawn. The experts will recommend that the bombs should only be removed as part of a new deal with Russia, which has an estimated 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, mostly on its western flank.’

NATO ministers want disarmament, within limits
Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, 22 April 2010
‘NATO's top official said Thursday that the alliance should take steps to support President Obama's ambitious nuclear-disarmament agenda, but he made clear that there are limits -- specifically, that U.S. atomic weapons should not be removed from Europe.’

Anne Penketh: Edging towards a nuclear-free world
Anne Penketh,, 5 April 2010
‘As Obama looks ahead to the next steps in his security agenda, there is an opportunity for real disarmament, in the heart of Europe, which would lead to the removal of the 200 or so US nuclear weapons from five European countries under the Nato umbrella.’

Hundreds detained in Belgian anti-nuclear protest
AFP, 4 April 2010
‘Belgian police on Saturday detained hundreds of anti-nuclear activists protesting in and outside a military base where nuclear weapons are believed to be stored, rally organisers said… The Kleine Brogel demonstration was part of Europe-wide protests putting pressure on governments in NATO countries about to revise the alliance's strategic concept.’

9. Iranian dispute continues

Iran claims technological progress

Iran unveils 'faster' uranium centrifuges, 9 April 2010
‘Iran's president has unveiled new "third-generation" centrifuges that its nuclear chief says can enrich uranium much faster than current technology. The centrifuges would have separation power six times that of the first generation, Ali Akbar Salehi said in a speech marking National Nuclear Day.’

Ahmadinejad clears sites for new Iran enrichment plants
Farhad Pouladi, AFP, 19 April 2010
‘President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has approved the sites for new uranium enrichment plants in Iran, a close aide to the hardliner said on Monday, but the United States cast doubt on the claim.’

Iran's advances in nuclear technology spark new concerns about weapons
Joby Warrick, Washington Post, 2 May 2010
‘Iran is poised to make a significant leap in its ability to enrich uranium, with more sophisticated centrifuge technology that is being assembled in secret to advance the country's nuclear efforts, according to U.S. and European intelligence officials and diplomats.’


White House says Iran nuclear threat years away
Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, 15 April 2010
‘The Obama administration said on Wednesday it would probably take Iran three to five years to make a nuclear weapon, a statement that provoked incredulity from Senator John McCain, the former presidential candidate.’

UK could be target for Tehran missiles ‘in four years’
Deborah Haynes, The Times, 11 May 2010
‘Iran is focused on improving a growing arsenal of ballistic missiles but needs at least four more years to be able to target London and more than a decade to threaten the East Coast of the United States, a leading think-tank said yesterday.’

US approach

Gates Says U.S. Lacks a Policy to Thwart Iran
David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, New York Times, 17 April 2010
‘Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has warned in a secret three-page memorandum to top White House officials that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability, according to government officials familiar with the document.’

Clinton raises prospect of ‘regional conflict’ over Iran
Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, 18 April 2010
‘Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, has warned of the risk of regional conflict if new United Nations sanctions are not imposed on Tehran’s nuclear programme, telling the Financial Times that “ignoring the threat posed by Iran will put the world in a more precarious position within six months to a year”.’

US military option against Iran still on table: Pentagon
Space Daily, 21 April 2010
‘US military action against Iran has not been ruled out, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday, after a top official said such an option was off the table in the "near term."’

Getting China & Russia onboard

Iran is China’s problem too
Editorial, Financial Times, 25 April 2010
‘As the United Nations gears up for yet another argument over sanctions on Iran, the position of China is increasingly critical. The votes of Russia, Turkey and Brazil will all matter a lot when the UN Security Council debates the issue. But if the Chinese decide to veto a new sanctions package, it will be dead. If they go along with tougher action to rein in the Iranian nuclear programme, then new measures will almost certainly get through. Everybody from American diplomats to Israeli generals have trooped to Beijing to try to make the case for action.’

Beijing agrees to talks on Iran sanctions
Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, 31 March 2010
‘China has agreed to begin discussing specific sanctions against Iran, offering the first sign that Beijing may be willing to back a new round of United Nations measures, diplomats from other countries said on Wednesday.’

In nuclear summit, Obama seeks global help in sanctioning Iran
Mary Beth Sheridan and Scott Wilson, Washington Post, 13 April 2010
‘President Obama used an unprecedented summit on nuclear terrorism Monday to press global leaders to support further isolating Iran for its nuclear activities, and the White House said that China's leader had agreed to cooperate with tightening U.N. sanctions on the Islamic republic.’

China to work with US on Iran sanctions
Associated Press/, 13 April 2010
‘Announcement comes after Obama opens global security summit aimed at protecting nuclear material from terrorists.’

Russia supports Iran sanctions, but with limits
Michael D. Shear and Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, 9 April 2010
‘Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told President Obama privately Thursday that there remain limits to his country's support for sanctions on Iran, even as the move for united action to restrain Iran's nuclear ambition accelerates.’

U.S. lifts sanctions on Russian arms exporter
Reuters, 22 May 2010
‘The [US] State Department has lifted sanctions against Russia's state arms trader and three other Russian entities it had accused of helping Iran try to develop nuclear weapons.’

War Games & dinner parties: diplomacy Iranian style

Iran's military begins large-scale war games
Reuters/, 22 April 2010
‘Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard began three days of large-scale war games in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, state television reported.’

Iranian navy announces fresh Gulf exercises
Monavar Khalaj, Financial Times, 4 May 2010
‘The Iranian navy said on Tuesday that it would will begin fresh manoeuvres in the sensitive area of the Gulf and Sea of Oman to demonstrate Tehran’s military “might” to the west.’

Brazil to Bosnia on Iran nuclear issue
Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor, 27 April 2010
‘Facing a US-led push for fresh Iran nuclear sanctions within weeks, Tehran has launched a diplomatic counteroffensive aimed at smaller UN players who will vote on the issue. Brazilian leaders are in Tehran today.’

In unusual move, Iran's foreign minister invites U.N. Security Council to dinner
Colum Lynch, Washington Post, 7 May 2010
‘The Iranian invitation appeared to be part of a campaign to counter U.S. and European efforts to secure support in the Security Council for a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran.’

A resilient Iran shields itself from pressure by building alliances
Thomas Erdbrink & Colum Lynch, Washington Post, 9 June 2010
‘A year ago, Iran was on its way to becoming a pariah state... Now, even as the U.N. Security Council prepares to impose its fourth round of sanctions on Iran with a vote slated for Wednesday, Tehran is demonstrating remarkable resilience, insulating some of its most crucial industries from U.S.-backed financial restrictions and building a formidable diplomatic network that should help it withstand some of the pressure from the West.’

Tehran’s nuclear disarmament summit

Ahmadinejad calls for U.S. to destroy its nuclear arsenal first
Washington Post, 18 April 2010
Ahmadinejad’s comments took place at a two-day conference on nuclear disarmament hosted by the Iranian government. The Post reports: ‘The two-day forum, which employed the catchphrase "nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for none," came about a week after the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, to which the Islamic republic was not invited. The United States was not invited to the Tehran conference.’

Brazil & Turkey mediate over Iran fuel-swap proposal

Iran to deposit nuclear fuel in Turkey
Monavar Khalaj and Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times, 17 May 2010
‘As part of efforts to head off fresh international sanctions, Iran agreed on Monday to swap nuclear fuel with the world’s major powers in neighbouring Turkey. ‘

Cool response to Iran's nuclear fuel swap with Turkey
Julian Borger, The Guardian, 18 May 2010
‘Agreement may halt UN sanctions against Tehran, although move will do little to slow Iran's nuclear progress’

Clinton attacks Turkey-Brazil deal with Iran
Dabiel Dombey, Harvey Morris & Geoff Dyer, Financial Times, 18 May 2010
‘“We don’t believe it was any accident that Iran agreed to this declaration as we were preparing to move forward in New York,” said Mrs Clinton.’

Ahmadinejad says Iran nuclear fuel deal 'still alive', 15 June 2010
‘Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says a nuclear fuel swap deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey is still on the table, despite the adoption of new UN sanctions last week.’

Iran issues warnings

Tehran warns Russia not to back US
Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times, 26 May 2010
‘Iran’s president delivered a rare warning to Russia yesterday, saying that Moscow would be considered one of Tehran’s “historic enemies” if it supported US efforts to put more pressure on the Islamic regime.

Iran warns EU over sanctions support
Tony Barber, Financial Times, 2 June 2010
‘Governments backing tougher United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme could kill Tehran’s deal to export most of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey, Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran’s foreign minister, warned on Wednesday.’

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: UN sanctions will mean no more Iran nuclear talks
Ian Black, The Guardian, 8 June 2010
‘Iran will break off all talks over its nuclear programme if new sanctions are imposed, a defiant President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned today, as the UN security council put the finishing touches to a package of punitive measures that is expected to be passed tomorrow.’

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remains defiant over Iran nuclear programme
Haroon Siddique, The Guardian, 8 June 2010
‘As UN security council prepares to vote on further sanctions, president says fuel swap deal offers 'opportunity that will not be repeated' for US and allies.’

Fourth round of sanctions approved

UN approves new Iran sanctions
Ian Black, The Guardian, 9 June 2010
‘In attempt to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, security council tightens sanctions on arms, state enterprises, individuals and Revolutionary Guards.’

Turkey slams latest Iran sanctions
Daniel Dombey & Alex Barker & Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times, 9 June 2010
‘The US blamed Europe for alienating Turkey from the west as the Nato ally on Wednesday became one of two members of the United Nations Security Council to vote against stepping up sanctions on Iran… Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, on Thursday followed up his country’s ‘No’ vote by calling the vote “a mistake”. He said Brazil and Turkey would continue to seek a diplomatic solution to the standoff.’

Iran threatens to cooperate less with U.N. nuclear inspection agency
Thomas Erdbrink & Joby Worrick, Washington Post, 11 June 2010
‘Top Iranian officials threatened to scale back cooperation with the United Nations' nuclear watchdog on Thursday as a chorus of political leaders raged against new economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic's military establishment.’

Relations with the IAEA

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano launches new push for answers from Iran
Joby warrick, Washington Post, 6 May 2010
‘The chief U.N. nuclear official said Wednesday he is launching a new effort to resolve questions about alleged atomic weapons research by Iranian scientists, hinting at a firmer stance by the U.N. watchdog agency in seeking answers from Iran about its nuclear intentions.’

Nuclear equipment missing from Iranian lab, IAEA report says
Borzou Daragahi and Julia Damianova, LA Times, 31 May 2010
‘An apparatus that could be used to extract plutonium for an atomic bomb is gone, the United Nations watchdog agency says.’

U.N. Says Iran Has Fuel for 2 Nuclear Weapons
David E. Sanger & William J. Broad, New York Times, 31 May 2010
‘In their last report before the United Nations Security Council votes on sanctions against Iran, international nuclear inspectors declared Monday that Iran has now produced a stockpile of nuclear fuel that experts say would be enough, with further enrichment, to make two nuclear weapons.’

Iran Drafting Bill to Reduce Ties With UN Atomic Body
Henry Meyer and Ladane Nasseri, Bloomberg Business Week, 14 June 2010
‘Iranian lawmakers are drafting a bill to reduce cooperation with the United Nations nuclear watchdog after the UN Security Council imposed a fourth set of sanctions on the country, a senior member of parliament said.’

Tehran bars two IAEA experts
Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times, 21 June 2010
‘Iran toughened its defiance of outside pressure on Monday, barring two experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency from entering its territory to inspect its nuclear programme.’

Warnings – and enrichment – continue

Iran warns against inspection of its transports
Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times, 16 June 2010
‘Iran on Wednesday threatened to retaliate against any country that tries to inspect its ships or planes under the terms of the latest United Nations sanctions resolution.’

Iran has produced 17 kilos of 20% enriched uranium
Tehran Times, 24 June 2010
‘‘“(We) have produced over 17 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium, and we have the ability to produce 5 kilograms a month, but we are not in a hurry,” Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Ali Akbar Salehi said during a visit to the ISNA news agency. Iran will continue to enrich uranium up to the purity level of 20 percent to the extent the country needs, Salehi stated.’

Iran sets conditions for nuclear talks
Borzou Daragahi, LA Times, 29 June 2010
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday that stalled talks could continue only if the United States, Russia, China and Western Europe included other countries in the discussions, clarified their stance on Israel's undeclared nuclear weapons arsenal, submitted to the rules of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and specified whether the talks would be friendly or hostile.

US-Brazil Letter

U.S., Brazilian officials at odds over letter on Iranian uranium
Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, 28 May 2010
On 20 April 2010, at a time when Brazilian and Turkish officials were contemplating mediation efforts with Iran, President Obama sent a 2 1/2 -page letter to Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva outlining a uranium swap deal that the US had unsuccessfully pursued in October 2009. However, whilst the US was concerned that Brazil and Turkey might accept an Iranian proposal to ship the uranium out piecemeal (rather than in one batch) and therefore viewed the letter as designed to deal with a discrete problem, the Brazilians and Turks appear to have taken it at face value, thus upsetting the Americans who by May regarded the missive as out-of-date.

Brazil ends role as Iran broker
Daniel Dombey and Jonathan Wheatley, Financial Times, 20 June 2010
‘Brazil is halting its attempt to broker a deal over Iran’s nuclear programme – an issue that has brought relations between the Lula da Silva government and the Obama administration to a new low… “We were directly involved in seeking a solution and we were encouraged to do that,” Mr Amorim [Brazil’s Forign Minister] said. “And then when we produced a result it had no consequence. On the same day that the agreement was produced, before it had even been analysed, the immediate response was the request for a [UN] resolution [on sanctions].”’

Governments take action

Russia to freeze missile sale to Iran, Putin tells Sarkozy, 11 June 2010
‘Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has told France that Moscow will freeze a delivery of surface-to-air missiles to Iran, French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said on Friday following talks between the two men.’

Congress strikes deal on tougher sanctions for Iran's suppliers
Colum Lynch and Thomas Erdbrink, Washington Post, 22 June 2010
‘U.S. lawmakers on Monday reached agreement on legislation that would penalize Iran's business partners for selling the country gasoline, investing in its refineries, or providing financial services to firms linked to its political and military elite.’

Iranian trade with UAE hurt by sanctions
Gulf News, 29 June 2010
‘Trade between Iran and the UAE, a key source of imports for the Islamic Republic, is being squeezed by sanctions on Tehran's nuclear programme, an Iranian business group said.’

(In-)Efficacy of sanctions

Iran sanctions cripple the UN
Massoud Parsi, Al-Jazeera, 14 June 2010
‘Iran has lived with similar sanctions for more than three decades and with none of the country’s key economic sectors targeted by the new sanctions - and many provisions in the new resolution voluntary rather than mandatory - there is no reason to believe that Iran will face any serious hardship now… With nothing offered in return for its willingness to negotiate, Iran has no incentive to return to nuclear talks.’

Iran is ready for planned U.S. sanctions targeting fuel imports, analysts say
Colum Lynch and Thomas Erdbrink, Washington Post, 23 June 2010
‘Fariborz Ghadar, an expert on Iranian trade at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the new restrictions would have little impact on Iran's ability to import fuel but would provide political cover for the government to lift subsidies on Iranian gas. He also cautioned that fuel sanctions may hit ordinary Iranians hardest, an outcome that would undercut the Obama administration's assertion that it wants to punish only the regime… "I just don't think these sanctions on petroleum will work, and even if they did work, they would be counterproductive. The Iranians would blame the suffering on the Americans."’

Iran smuggling components through Dubai

Iran using Dubai to smuggle nuclear components
Con Couglin, The Telegraph, 6 June 2010
‘Iran is using the Gulf port of Dubai to smuggle sophisticated electronic and computer equipment for its controversial uranium enrichment programme that are banned under United Nations sanctions.’

Other commentary

What nonproliferation diplomacy can and can't achieve
Joshua Pollack, The Bulletin, 2 June 2010
Joshua Pollack asks why, despite Iran's record of concealment and intransigence, has it been this difficult to reach a consensus on sanctions?

No alternative but to sanction Iran
Editorial, Financial Times, 9 June 2010
‘In the absence of a deal, the west had no alternative but to keep the sanctions juggernaut rolling’… But [Sanctions] ‘are unlikely to bring about a change of heart in Tehran’… ‘If the world is not to drift towards a military conflict involving Iran and Israel that would spell disaster for the region and the world, a way forward still needs to be found. The best hope is that some variant of the Franco-Russian or Turkish-Brazilian proposals for uranium transfer can be revived… But for these initiatives to bear fruit, Tehran has to feel that there is no alternative but to negotiate.’

Deterrence rises up agenda
Roula Khalaf, Financial Times, 9 June 2010
FT comment piece discussing suggestions by some policy analysts that the world could adapt to a nuclear Iran.

Beyond Iran Sanctions, Plans B, C, D and ...
David E. Sanger, New York Times, 10 June 2010
David E. Sanger asks: ‘So what, exactly, does President Obama plan to do if, as everyone expects, these sanctions fail, just as the previous three did?’

The broader context: domestic issues

Confront Iran on brutality not nuclear weapons, says Nobel prize winner
The Independent, 11 June 2010
‘Western governments are indirectly helping the Islamic regime to repress its own people, Shirin Ebadi tells Katherine Butler… she condemned what she called the "unfortunate" obsession in the US, Britain and other European countries with the nuclear dispute – to the exclusion of any action to defend ordinary Iranians' rights.’

Iranian technocrats, disillusioned with government, offer wealth of intelligence to U.S.
Joby Warrick and Greg Miller, Washington Post, 25 April 2010
‘Iran's political turmoil has prompted a growing number of the country's officials to defect or leak information to the West, creating a new flow of intelligence about its secretive nuclear program, U.S. officials said.’

The broader context: regional issues

Israel stations nuclear missile subs off Iran
Uzi Mahnaimi, The Sunday Times, 30 May 2010
‘Three German-built Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian coastline.’

Violence poses dilemma for US policy
Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, 31 May 2010
‘The growing international pressure on Israel has left the Obama administration struggling to reconcile its drive for United Nations sanctions on Iran with its other priorities in the Middle East. As condemnations of Israeli actions and calls for an inquiry flowed in from sources as diverse as Mexico, France and the European Union, the US was left trying to win time.’

Israel vs Iran: the risk of war
Paul Rogers, Open Democracy, 11 June 2010
‘Iran is at the centre of a global storm: targeted by new sanctions, suspected by Washington, defended by Brazil and Turkey. But the complex diplomacy around its nuclear programme could be ended by decisions made not in the United States but in Israel.’

10. Nuclear North Korea: Tensions mount

Sinking of South Korean ship

S Korea suggests outside blast sank ship
Christian Oliver and Song Jung-a, Financial Times, 16 April 2010
‘South Korean officials said on Friday an external explosion most likely sank a warship last month with the loss of 46 lives, heightening fears North Korea could have attacked the vessel with a mine or torpedo.’

North Korea set to resume nuclear disarmament talks, says China
Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 7 May 2010
‘North Korean leader Kim Jong-il prepared to negotiate over weapons, reports Chinese news agency.’

South Korea Rules Out Nuclear Talks Before Ship Incident Solved
Bomi Lim, Bloomberg Business Week, 6 May 2010
‘South Korea said it won’t resume multilateral talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program until identifying what caused one of its naval ships to sink near the disputed border with the communist nation.’


North Korea threatens South over report on sinking of warship
Tania Branigan, The Guardian, 20 May 2010
‘Tensions between North and South Korea escalated dramatically today following the publication of an international report which concluded that a South Korean warship was sunk by a torpedo from a North Korean submarine in March.’

Pentagon and U.N. Chief Put New Pressure on N. Korea
Thom Shanker & David E. Sanger, New York Times, 30 May 2010
‘The United States and its allies put new pressure on North Korea on Monday, announcing naval exercises next month to detect submarines of the kind suspected of sinking a South Korean warship, and winning the support of the secretary general of the United Nations for Security Council action.’

U.S. to Aid South Korea With Naval Defense Plan
Thom Shanker & David E. Sanger, New York Times, 30 May 2010
‘Surprised by how easily a South Korean warship was sunk by what an international investigation concluded was a North Korean torpedo fired from a midget submarine, senior American officials say they are planning a long-term program to plug major gaps in the South’s naval defenses.’

China declines to accuse N Korea over torpedo
Christian Oliver & Jonathan Soble, Financial Times, 30 May 2010
‘China on Sunday resisted international pressure to blame North Korea for sinking a South Korean warship, and instead called for restraint on the Korean peninsula. Speaking in South Korea, Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, said China’s main concern was stability following a March torpedo attack that sank the Cheonan warship, and claimed the lives of 46 South Korean sailors.’

S Korea's Lee sees no possibility of war with North
Vijay Joshi, Associated Press, 4 June 2010
‘South Korea's leader on Saturday ruled out going to war with North Korea, hours after his government asked the United Nations to punish the communist nation over the sinking of a warship… "There is absolutely no possibility of a full-scale war on the Korean peninsula," President Lee Myung-bak told a group of businesspeople in Singapore.’

N Korea warns UN to handle ship sinking impartially
Hyung-Jin Kim Associated Press, 16 June 2010
‘North Korea urged the U.N. Security Council to impartially handle the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on the secretive state, warning Wednesday ongoing tension over the incident could trigger nuclear war.’

N.Korea vows to bolster nuclear deterrent
Simon Martin, AFP, 27 Jun 2010
‘North Korea vowed Monday to strengthen its nuclear weaponry in the face of what it branded US hostility, as world leaders intensified pressure on Pyongyang over the sinking of a South Korean warship. Recent developments underscore the need for the North "to bolster its nuclear deterrent in a newly developed way" to cope with persistent US hostility and its military threat, a foreign ministry spokesman said.’

North Korea & nuclear security

South Korea to host next nuclear summit
Sydney Morning Herald, 14 April 2010
‘South Korea's president says his country will host the next global nuclear summit in 2012. But Lee Myung-bak told reporters on Tuesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il will not get an invitation until the North gives up its nuclear weapons ambitions.’

North Korea 'trading nuclear technology' says UN panel
BBC News, 28 May 2010
‘The experts said North Korea has used front companies and intermediaries to sell weapons and provide illegal assistance to Iran, Syria and Burma. The preliminary report was compiled by a seven-member group that monitors Pyongyang's compliance with sanctions.‘

Strategy failing?

U.N. report raises concerns about North Korea sanctions
Louis Charbonneau, Reuters, 12 June 2010
‘A report from a U.N. panel that monitors compliance with sanctions on North Korea showed more than 100 countries may not be doing enough to implement the punitive steps.’

Report: US policy on NKorea nukes halfhearted
Foster Klug, Associated Press, 16 June 2010
‘A muddled U.S. strategy on confronting North Korea's nuclear ambitions could lead to acceptance of the North as an atomic power, according to a report being released Tuesday by a leading American think tank.’

‘Four wise men’

A road map for a nuclear free world
Joong Ang Daily, 23 June 2010
Four prominent South Korean political and diplomatic veterans become the latest ‘gang of four’ to call for progress on a nuclear weapon-free world, linking their calls to the North Korean nuclear issue.

11. Israeli nuclear weapons in the spotlight

The Guardian reveals ‘first official evidence’ of Israeli nuclear arsenal

Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons
Chris McGreal, The Guardian, 24 May 2010
‘Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons’

Israel's nuclear weapons: Time to come clean
Editorial, Comment Is Free,, 25 May 2010
‘But the great value of the research into the dealings between Israel and South Africa which the Guardian has published this week is not simply that it puts on the record that Israel does indeed have nuclear weapons, nor that it might in the past have thought about handing such weapons to another state, but that it allows us to get beyond the "do they or don't they?" questions to look at the fundamentals of both Israeli and American policy.’

Peres denies charges of arms sales to apartheid regime
Barak Ravid, Haaretz, 26 May 2010
‘The president's residence has issued an angry response to a report published in the British daily newspaper The Guardian, according to which Shimon Peres, while defense minister, held secret contacts in the 1970s with the South African apartheid regime for the sale of nuclear weapons.’

Under the spotlight: Israel’s nuclear ambiguity

Israeli ‘nuclear ambiguity’ under scrutiny
Tobias Buck, Financial Times, 24 May 2010
‘Israel's policy of “nuclear ambiguity” came under fresh scrutiny on Monday when officials moved to quash reports that the country offered to sell nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa in 1975.’

Avner Cohen: Yitzhak Rabin would have opposed sale of nuclear weapons
Avner Cohen, The Independent, 25 May 2010
‘The discussions between Israel and South Africa referred to in the documents seem to me authentic and refer, I believe, to nuclear weapons, even if euphemisms like "correct payload" were used. That even in a conversation between two defence ministers, PW Botha and Shimon Peres, such euphemisms were considered necessary is a reflection of the depths of the taboo in Israel surrounding its nuclear weapons programme.’

Israel's Most Illicit Affair
Glenn Frankel, Foreign Policy Today, 25 May 2010
‘After Peres and Botha signed their secret security pact in April 1975, Israel sold tanks, fighter aircraft, and long-range missiles to Pretoria and offered to sell nuclear warheads as well. Israel also began to act as middleman, buying arms from countries that refused ostensibly to do business with Pretoria and passing them on to the regime.’

Vanunu sent back to prison

Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu back in prison
The Telegraph, 24 May 2010
‘Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu has started a three-month jail sentence for breaking the terms of his release and meeting a foreigner.’

IAEA discussed Israeli nuclear programme

IAEA meeting to discuss Israel
Al-Jazeera, 7 June 2010
‘It is the first time since 1991 that Israel's nuclear issue is included in the five-day meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which began on Monday.’

New spy satellite

Israel launches new spy satellite
Yaakov Catz, Jerusalem Post, 22 June 2010
‘In the face of Iran’s race to obtain nuclear weapons, Israel strengthened its foothold in space Tuesday with the successful launch of a spy satellite, which defense officials said would provide the IDF with unprecedented operational capabilities.’

12. Nuclear dealings: India & Pakistan

Concerns remain over US-India nuclear deal

India assures U.S. on 2008 nuclear deal
Ashish Kumar Sen, Washington Times, 2 June 2010
‘India's foreign minister on Wednesday said his government is committed to implementing a 2008 civilian nuclear deal with the U.S., even as U.S. and Indian firms grow increasingly frustrated at the slow pace of progress in India.’

Former employees sentenced over Bhopal leak
James Lamont, Financial Times, 7 June 2010
‘A court in Bhopal on Monday sentenced a top industrialist and six others to two years in prison after they were found guilty of criminal negligence over the devastating gas leak at a Union Carbide plant that killed thousands more than 25 years ago… The convictions come as parliament weighs a nuclear liability bill that would place a cap on compensation in case of a nuclear accident. US companies are reluctant to build nuclear power stations in India without legislation protecting them from large compensation claims.’

Japan weighs in

U.S., France press for Japan-India nuclear deal
Reuters, 9 June 2010
‘The United States and France have urged Japan to sign a nuclear deal with India, a move that would clear the way for General Electric Co and France's Areva to use Japanese suppliers for nuclear projects in the country, the Nikkei reported.’

India, Japan set to begin talks for civil nuclear pact
The Hindu Business Line, 25 June 2010
‘The Japanese Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the country is all set to begin talks with India for sealing a civil nuclear cooperation pact. The first round of talks will be held on June 28-29 in Tokyo, the Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday. The signing of a nuclear treaty between the two countries is likely to pave the way for companies such as Toshiba Corp, Hitachi Ltd and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to sell reactors in India.’

Canada’s slice of the pie

Imminent Canada-India nuclear pact heightens tensions
Graeme Smith, Globe & Mail, 24 June 2010
‘An imminent deal that would open the door for Canadian exports of uranium to India, could add to nuclear tensions in South Asia, some experts say. The impending agreement made front-page news this week in India, amid speculation Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Canada for the G20 summit will allow him to sign a long-awaited nuclear co-operation pact.’

China-Pakistan nuclear deal

China to build reactors in Pakistan
Geoff Dyer, Farhan Bokhari and James Lamont, Financial Times, 28 April 2010
‘China has agreed to build two new civilian nuclear reactors in Pakistan, according to Chinese companies and officials in Islamabad and Beijing, in a deal that could re-ignite the global debate about nuclear commerce and proliferation.’

Questionable China-Pakistan deal draws little comment from U.S.
Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, 20 May 2010
‘In the midst of intense negotiations on new sanctions for Iran, which China was reluctant to embrace, Beijing confirmed that one of its state companies had signed an agreement to supply Pakistan with two new nuclear reactors… President Obama has strongly advocated for restrictions on the spread of nuclear technology. But his administration has said little publicly about the China-Pakistan deal.’

U.S. to object to China-Pakistan nuclear reactor deal
Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, 15 June 2010
‘The Obama administration has decided to object to a lucrative deal in which state-owned Chinese companies would supply Pakistan with two nuclear reactors, U.S. officials said.’

The Breach
Mark Hibbs, Foreign Policy, 4 June 2010
‘China is about to break important international rules designed to prevent nuclear proliferation. Can Beijing be stopped?... NSG [Nuclear Suppliers Group] members should push hard to ensure that significant nonproliferation benefits accrue from the China-Pakistan deal. Simply acquiescing would seal the group's lack of credibility as the world's nuclear-trade gatekeeper. Firm resolve by the United States and other NSG states, on the other hand, would alert China that it will have to think about more than just its commercial interests in exporting nuclear equipment.’

US objects to China-Pakistan nuclear deal. Hypocritical?
Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, 16 June 2010
‘The Obama administration objects to China selling nuclear reactors to Pakistan, which has never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But the US sealed a similar deal with India.’

Nuclear powers set for Pakistan showdown
Jonathan Marcus,, 20 June 2010
‘A row is looming between Beijing and Washington over China's proposed sale of two nuclear power-generating reactors to Pakistan.…If both India and Pakistan were to gain exemptions, then Israel too (in exactly the same position: outside the NPT and believed to have a significant nuclear arsenal) would come looking for a deal on civil nuclear technology. That would present the Obama administration with a huge dilemma with major repercussions throughout the Middle East.’

China, Pakistan and the NSG
Siddharth Varadarajan, The Hindu, 24 June 2010
‘Rather than objecting to what it can't prevent, India should back a nuclear deal for Pakistan structured around a package of non-proliferation commitments.’

Pakistan nuclear safety fears & missile tests

Pakistan says nuclear safety concerns addressed
Zeeshan Haider, Reuters, 8 May 2010
‘Pakistan reiterated a call on Saturday for the international community to recognize it as a nuclear power, saying it had addressed the world's concerns over the safety and security of its nuclear weapons.’

Pakistan test-fires nuclear capable missiles
The Express Tribune (Pakistan), 9 May 2010
‘Pakistan successfully testfired two missiles capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads on Saturday prompting Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to call for the country’s recognition as a nuclear power.’

Pakistan nuclear weapons at risk of theft by terrorists, US study warns
Julian Borger, The Guardian, 12 April 2010
‘Pakistani PM attends Washington nuclear security summit and insists country has 'appropriate safeguard' for its arsenal.’

Spotlight on Asia

Grappling With Nuclear Asia
Richard Weitz, The Diplomat, 7 June 2010
Richard Weitz takes an in-depth look at the issue of nuclear weapons in Asia, providing a review and analysis of the state of affairs in India, Pakistan, North Korea and (briefly) Burma as well as discussing Nuclear Weapon Free Zones in the region.

13. New Proliferators


Nuclear Related Activities in Burma
Robert E. Kelley & Ali Fowle, For the Democratic Voice of Burma, May 2010

Myanmar's military ambitions, 3 June 2010
‘Myanmar's ruling generals have started a programme to build nuclear weapons. They are trying to develop long-range missiles… With top-secret material gathered over five years, this film reveals how Myanmar is trying to become the next nuclear-armed North Korea.’

US senator raises Burma nuclear fears
Tim Johnston, Financial Times, 3 June 2010
‘Jim Webb, a high-profile US senator who has been calling for American re-engagement with Asia, has cancelled a trip to Burma citing fresh concerns that the generals who run the country are trying to develop nuclear capability.’

Burma denies nuclear weapons programme, 11 June 2010
‘The Burmese government has denied recent reports that it is developing a nuclear weapons programme. A statement from the foreign ministry said foreign media reports alleging such a programme were "politically motivated".’


US signals unease over Russian-Syrian civilian nuclear talks
AFP, 12 May 2010
‘The United States signalled unease Wednesday with Russia-Syria nuclear talks, saying countries looking at energy cooperation with Damascus should be aware of Syrian shortcomings on nuclear matters.’

Ramberg: Syria's nuclear challenge
IAEA failure to respond would trigger proliferation
Bennett Ramberg, Washington Times, 8 June 2010
‘Although it is not the evident threat to nonproliferation that Iran is, Damascus' stonewalling of International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of suspect sites marks an insidious undermining of the NPT. Meeting this week, the IAEA's Board of Governors has an opportunity to reverse Syria's defiance by demanding acceptance of a "special inspection" of suspicious installations. The request is long overdue.’

Iran Arms Syria With Radar
Charles Levinson, Wall Street Journal, 30 June 2010
‘Iran has sent Syria a sophisticated radar system that could threaten Israel's ability to launch a surprise attack against Iran's nuclear facilities, say Israeli and U.S. officials, extending an alliance aimed at undermining Israel's military dominance in the region.’

14. In Other News


Indonesia to ratify nuclear test ban treaty
Times of India, 1 May 2010
‘Indonesia said Friday it will soon ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, a step hailed by disarmament advocates as helping the treaty to enter into force.’


S. J. Ledogar, Who Shaped Arms Treaties, Is Dead at 80
Dennis Hevesi, New York Times 9 May 2010
‘Stephen J. Ledogar, a United States ambassador who played a major role in the drafting of three major international arms control treaties, died Monday in Edgewater, N.J… He was an architect of agreements that limited conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.’

U.N. nuclear agency's top inspector resigns
Sylvia Westall, Reuters, 1 July 2010
‘The U.N. nuclear agency said on Thursday its top inspector Olli Heinonen, head of investigations into Iran and Syria, has resigned for personal reasons after nearly 30 years at the Vienna-based organization.’

Countdown to Zero

Anti-nuke film sounds terror warning at Cannes
AFP, 16 May 2010
‘A terrifying study of the nuclear threat was launched at the Cannes film festival on Sunday, in a heavyweight campaign documentary showing how terrorists can get hold of atomic weapons.’

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