Inter Press ServiceNuclear Energy – Nuclear Weapons – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Fri, 18 Jan 2019 20:26:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 Preventing a New Euro-Missile Racehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/preventing-new-euro-missile-race/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=preventing-new-euro-missile-race http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/preventing-new-euro-missile-race/#comments Wed, 09 Jan 2019 15:00:15 +0000 Daryl G. Kimball http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159564 Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association

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Russia's 9M729 missile reportedly has been tested using a mobile launcher system similar to that used by the 9K720 Iskander-M pictured here on September 18, 2017. Credit: Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

By Daryl G. Kimball
WASHINGTON DC, Jan 9 2019 (IPS)

Next month, it is very likely the Trump administration will take the next step toward fulfilling the president’s threat to “terminate” one of the most far-reaching and most successful nuclear arms reduction agreements: the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which led to the verifiable elimination of 2,692 Soviet and U.S. missiles based in Europe.

The treaty helped bring an end to the Cold War and paved the way for agreements to slash bloated strategic nuclear arsenals and to withdraw thousands of tactical nuclear weapons from forward-deployed areas.

On Dec. 4, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that Russia had fielded a ground-launched missile system, the 9M729, that exceeds the INF Treaty’s 500-kilometer range limit. He also announced that, in 60 days, the administration would “suspend” U.S. obligations under the treaty and formally announce its intention to withdraw in six months unless Russia returns to compliance. Suspension will allow the administration to try to accelerate the development of new missiles currently prohibited by the treaty.

Noncompliance with the treaty is unacceptable and merits a strong response. But Trump’s public declaration that he will terminate the treaty and pursue new U.S. nuclear capabilities will not bring Russia back into compliance with the INF Treaty. Worst of all, blowing up the INF Treaty with no substitute plan in place could open the door to a dangerous new era of unconstrained military competition with Russia.

Without the treaty, already severe tensions will grow as Washington considers deployment of new intermediate-range missiles in Europe and perhaps elsewhere and Russia considers increasing 9M729 deployments and other new systems.

These nuclear-capable weapons, if deployed again, would be able to strike targets deep inside Russia and in western Europe. Their short time-to-target capability increases the risk of miscalculation in a crisis. Any nuclear attack on Russia involving U.S. intermediate-range, nuclear-armed missiles based in Europe could provoke a massive Russian nuclear counterstrike on Europe and on the U.S. homeland.

In delivering the U.S. ultimatum on the treaty, Pompeo expressed “hope” that Russia will “change course” and return to compliance. Hope that Russia will suddenly admit fault and eliminate its 9M729 system is not a serious strategy, and it is not one on which NATO leaders can rely.

Instead, NATO members should insist that the United States and Russia redouble their sporadic INF Treaty discussions, agree to meet in a formal setting, and put forward proposals for how to resolve issues of mutual concern about the treaty.

Unfortunately, U.S. officials have refused thus far to take up Russia’s offer to discuss “any mutually beneficial proposals that take into account the interests and concerns of both parties.” That is a serious mistake. Failure by both sides to take diplomatic engagement more seriously since the 9M729 missile was first tested five years ago has bought us to this point.

Barring an unlikely 11th-hour diplomatic breakthrough, however, the INF Treaty’s days are numbered. Doing nothing is not a viable option. With the treaty possibly disappearing later this year, it is not too soon to consider how to head off a dangerous and costly new missile race in Europe.

One option would be for NATO to declare, as a bloc, that none of them will field any INF Treaty-prohibited missiles or any equivalent new nuclear capabilities in Europe so long as Russia does not field treaty-prohibited systems that can reach NATO territory. This would require Russia to remove those 9M729 missiles that have been deployed in western Russia.

This would also mean forgoing Trump’s plans for a new ground-launched, INF Treaty-prohibited missile. Because the United States and its NATO allies can already deploy air- and sea-launched systems that can threaten key Russian targets, there is no need for such a system. Key allies, including Germany, have already declared their opposition to stationing new intermediate-range missiles in Europe.

In the absence of the INF Treaty, another possible approach would be to negotiate a new agreement that verifiably prohibits ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic or cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads. As a recent United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research study explains, the sophisticated verification procedures and technologies already in place under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) can be applied with almost no modification to verify the absence of nuclear warheads deployed on shorter-range missiles.

Such an approach would require additional declarations and inspections of any ground-launched INF Treaty-range systems. To be of lasting value, such a framework would require that Moscow and Washington agree to extend New START, which is now scheduled to expire in 2021.

The INF Treaty crisis is a global security problem. Without serious talks and new proposals from Washington and Moscow, other nations will need to step forward with creative and pragmatic solutions that create the conditions necessary to ensure that the world’s two largest nuclear actors meet their legal obligations to end the arms race and reduce nuclear threats.

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Excerpt:

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association

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Is Africa Ready for Nuclear Energy?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/africa-ready-nuclear-energy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=africa-ready-nuclear-energy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/africa-ready-nuclear-energy/#respond Fri, 07 Dec 2018 12:29:15 +0000 Laura Gil http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159083 Laura Gil, Africa Renewal

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Current & expected electricity generation of African countries.

By Laura Gil
VIENNA, Dec 7 2018 (IPS)

Years back, nuclear energy was a fancy option limited to the industrialized world. In due course, nuclear could be an energy source for much of Africa, where only South Africa currently has a nuclear power plant.

Governments across the continent are devising development policies to become middle-income countries in the medium term. Socioeconomic growth comes with a rise in energy demand—and a need for a reliable and sustainable energy supply.

For industrializing countries in need of a clean, reliable and cost-effective source of energy, nuclear is an attractive option.

“Africa is hungry for energy, and nuclear power could be part of the answer for an increasing number of countries,” says Mikhail Chudakov, deputy director general and head of the Department of Nuclear Energy at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an international organisation that promotes the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

A third of the almost 30 countries currently considering nuclear power are in Africa.

Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan have already engaged with the IAEA to assess their readiness to embark on a nuclear programme. Algeria, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia are also mulling the possibility of nuclear power.

“Energy is the backbone of any strong development,” says Nii Allotey, director of the Nuclear Power Institute at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission. “And where do we get energy from? We have hydro, thermal, fossil fuels, and we have local gas—but these are dwindling. They are limited; fossil fuels could run out by 2030. And, the prices are volatile.”

For Ghana, cost-effective, reliable electricity is the entry point to higher-value-added manufacturing and export-led growth. For example, the country’s reserves of bauxite—the ore used to produce aluminium—are an important source of income, but for now it is exported raw.

“We have a smelter, but it’s not operating at full capacity because electricity is too expensive,” Allotey says. “If we had cost-effective electricity, we would not be exporting raw bauxite, but exporting smelted bauxite at a much higher price. This would be a big move for Ghana.”

Power to the people
African governments are working to make electricity more widely accessible. Roughly 57% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa does not have access to electricity.

For many, the electricity supply is characterised by frequent power outages, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an organisation of 30 mostly industrialised countries that have met a set of energy security criteria.

Kenya is considering nuclear to meet the demand generated by hooking up households nationwide, which is expected to contribute significantly to the 30% increase in electricity demand predicted for the country by 2030.

A successful nuclear power programme requires broad political and popular support and a national commitment of at least 100 years.

“For a long time in our country electrification levels were low, but the government has put in a lot of efforts towards electrifying the entire country,” says Winfred Ndubai, acting director of the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board’s Technical Department. “Even those areas that were considered to be remote are now vibrant. Within a period of about 10 years we have moved from [a] 12% electrification rate to 60%.”

Kenya depends mostly on non-fossil fuel for energy; about 60% of installed capacity is from hydropower and geothermal power.

Is Africa ready for nuclear?
“Going nuclear is not something that happens from one day to the next. From the moment a country initiates a nuclear power programme until the first unit becomes operative, years could pass,” says Milko Kovachev, head of the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section, which works with countries new to nuclear power.

“Creating the necessary nuclear infrastructure and building the first nuclear power plant will take at least 10 to 15 years.”

A successful nuclear power programme requires broad political and popular support and a national commitment of at least 100 years, Kovachev added. This includes committing to the entire life cycle of a power plant, from construction through electricity generation and, finally, decommissioning.

In addition to time, there is the issue of costs. Governments and private operators need to make a considerable investment that includes projected waste management and decommissioning costs.

Kovachev points out that “the government’s investment to develop the necessary infrastructure is modest relative to the cost of the first nuclear power plant. But [it] is still in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Financing nuclear energy
Without proper financing, nuclear is not an option. “Most countries in Africa will find it difficult to invest this amount of money in a nuclear power project,” Kovachev stresses.

“But there are financing mechanisms like, for instance, from export agencies of vendor countries. Tapping into a reliable, carbon-free supply of energy when vendors are offering to fund it can make sense for several countries in Africa.”

Another aspect to consider is the burden on the electrical grid system of the country. Nuclear power plants are connected to a grid through which they deliver electricity. For a country to safely introduce nuclear energy, the IAEA recommends that its grid capacity be around ten times the capacity of its planned nuclear power plant.

For example, a country should have a capacity of 10,000 megawatts already in place to generate 1,000 megawatts from nuclear power.

Few countries in Africa currently have a grid of this capacity. “In Kenya, our installed capacity is 2,400 megawatts—too small for conventional, large nuclear power plants,” Ndubai says. “The grid would need to increase to accommodate a large unit, or, alternatively, other, smaller nuclear power plant options would need to be explored.”

One option is to invest in small modular reactors (SMRs), which are among the most promising emerging technologies in nuclear power. SMRs produce electric power up to 300 megawatts per unit, or around half of a traditional reactor and their major components can be manufactured in a factory setting and transported to sites for ease of construction.

While SMRs are expected to begin commercial operation in Argentina, China and Russia between 2018 and 2020, African countries are still wary of such a project.

“One of the things we are very clear about in terms of introducing nuclear power is that we do not want to invest in a first-of-a-kind technology,” Ndubai says. “As much as SMRs represent an opportunity for us, we would want them to be built and tested elsewhere before introducing them in our country.”

Joining a regional grid is another option. “Historically, it has been possible to share a common grid between countries,” Kovachev explains. “But, of course, this requires regional dialogue.” One example of such a scheme is the West African Power Pool, created to integrate national power systems in the Economic Community of West African States into a unified regional electricity market.

Another factor militating against a headlong rush into nuclear power is popular rejection of projects that are costly and hard to finance.

Also, countries are wary that in the event of a nuclear power plant accident, released radioactive materials will harm the environment and lives. Although no fatalities were recorded in the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011 following the Tōhoku earthquake, the release of radioactive materials forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.

IAEA assistance
While the IAEA does not influence a country’s decision about whether to add nuclear power to its energy mix, the organisation provides technical expertise and other pertinent information about safe, secure and sustainable use to countries that opt for nuclear energy.

Safety and security are key considerations in the IAEA Milestones Approach, a phased method created to assist countries that are assessing their readiness to embark on a nuclear power programme. The approach helps them consider aspects such as the legal framework, nuclear safety, security, radiation protection, environmental protection and radioactive waste management.

“Many, many people ask the question: Why nuclear?” Allotey says. “To me, it’s not about nuclear being an option. It is about energy being an option. Do you, as a country, need energy? And the simple answer is yes. So if you need energy, you need to find cost-effective electricity that is clean and reliable.”

“With a rapidly expanding population and plans to grow our economies, we need to work within these constraints,” he adds. “We are a continent that is in dire need of energy.”

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Excerpt:

Laura Gil, Africa Renewal

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The Crumbling Architecture of Arms Controlhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/crumbling-architecture-arms-control/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=crumbling-architecture-arms-control http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/crumbling-architecture-arms-control/#respond Tue, 06 Nov 2018 11:00:44 +0000 Dan Smith http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158541 Dan Smith is Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

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By Dan Smith
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Nov 6 2018 (IPS)

At a political rally on Saturday, 20 October, US President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the 1987 Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty). This confirms what has steadily been unfolding over the past couple of years: the architecture of Russian–US nuclear arms control is crumbling.

Building blocks of arms control

As the cold war ended, four new building blocks of East–West arms control were laid on top of foundations set by the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty):

• The 1987 INF Treaty eliminated all ground-launched missiles with a range between 500 and 5500 kilometres, including both cruise and ballistic missiles.
• The 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) capped at equal levels the number of heavy weapons deployed between the Atlantic and the Urals by members of both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO).
• The 1991 Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START I) reduced the number of strategic nuclear weapons; further cuts were agreed in 2002 and again in 2010 in the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START).
• The 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs) were parallel, unilateral but agreed actions by both the Soviet Union and the USA to eliminate short-range tactical nuclear weapons, of which thousands existed.

Taken together, the nuclear measures—the INF Treaty, START I and the PNIs—had a major impact (see figure 1).

Source: Kristensen, H. M. and Norris, R. S., ‘Status of world nuclear forces’, Federation of American Scientists, 2018.

The fastest pace of reduction was in the 1990s. A deceleration began just before the new century started, and there has been a further easing of the pace in the past six years. Nevertheless, year by year, the number continues to fall.

By the start of 2018 the global total of nuclear weapons was 14 700 compared with an all-time high of some 70 000 in the mid-1980s. While nuclear weapons are more capable in many ways than before, the reduction is, nonetheless, both large and significant.

Cracks appear: Charge and counter-charge

Even while the number continued to drop, problems were emerging. Not least, in 2002 the USA unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty. However, that did not stop Russia and the USA from signing the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT Treaty) in 2002 and New START in 2010, but perhaps it presaged later developments.

Trump’s announcement brings a process that has been going on for several years towards its conclusion. The USA declared Russia to be violating the INF Treaty in July 2014. That was during the Obama administration.

Thus, the allegation that Russia has breached the INF Treaty is, in other words, not new. This year the USA’s NATO allies also aligned themselves with the US accusation, albeit somewhat guardedly (note the careful wording in paragraph 46 of the July Summit Declaration).

The charge is that Russia has developed a ground-launched cruise missile with a range over 500 kilometres. Many details have not been clearly stated publicly, but it seems Russia may have modified a sea-launched missile (the Kalibr) and combined it with a mobile ground-based launcher (the Iskander K system). The modified system is sometimes known as the 9M729, the SSC-8 or the SSC-X-8.

Russia rejects the US accusation. It makes the counter-charge that the USA has itself violated the INF Treaty in three ways: first by using missiles banned under the treaty for target practice; second by deploying some drones that are effectively cruise missiles; and third by taking a maritime missile defence system and basing it on land (Aegis Ashore) although its launch tubes could, the Russians say, be used for intermediate range missiles. Naturally, the USA rejects these charges.

A further Russian criticism of the USA over the INF Treaty is that, if the USA wanted to discuss alleged non-compliance, it should have used the treaty’s Special Verification Commission before going public.

This was designed specifically to address questions about each side’s compliance. The Commission did not meet between 2003 and November 2016, and it was during that 13-year interval that US concerns about Russian cruise missiles emerged.

Now Trump seems to have closed the argument by announcing withdrawal. Under Article XV of the treaty, withdrawal can happen after six months’ notice. Unless there is a timely change of approach by either side or both, the INF Treaty looks likely to be a dead letter by April 2019.

It could be, however, that the announcement is intended as a manoeuvre to obtain Russian concessions on the alleged missile deployment or on other aspects of an increasingly tense Russian–US relationship. That is what Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, implied by calling the move ‘blackmail’.

Arms control in trouble

Whether the imminence of the INF Treaty’s demise is more apparent than real, its plight is part of a bigger picture. Arms control is in deep trouble. As well as the US abrogation of the ABM Treaty in 2002,
• Russia effectively withdrew from the CFE Treaty in 2015, arguing that the equal cap was no longer fair after five former WTO states joined NATO;
• The 2010 New START agreement on strategic nuclear arms lasts until 2021, and there are currently no talks about prolonging or replacing it; and
• Russia claims that the USA is technically violating New START because some US launchers have been converted to non-nuclear use in a way that is not visible to Russia.

As a result, Russia cannot verify them in the way the treaty says it must be able to. The Russian Government’s position is that until this is resolved, it is not possible to start work on prolonging New START, despite its imminent expiry date.

It seems likely that the precarious situation of Russian–US arms control will simultaneously put increasing pressure on the overall nuclear non-proliferation regime and sharpen the arguments about the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW, or the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty).

For the advocates of what is often known as the nuclear ban, the erosion of arms control reinforces the case for moving forward to a world without nuclear weapons. For its opponents, the erosion of arms control shows the world is not at all ready for or capable of a nuclear ban.

The risk of a return to nuclear weapon build-ups by both Russia and the USA is clear. With it, the degree of safety gained with the end of the cold war and enjoyed since then is at risk of being lost. Aware of the well-earned reputation for springing surprises that the Russian and US presidents both have, there may be more developments in one direction or another in the coming weeks or even days.

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Excerpt:

Dan Smith is Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

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Arms control and disarmament to arms decontrol and rearmamenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/arms-control-disarmament-arms-decontrol-rearmament/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=arms-control-disarmament-arms-decontrol-rearmament http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/arms-control-disarmament-arms-decontrol-rearmament/#respond Sat, 03 Nov 2018 15:43:41 +0000 Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158511 Only a few would be persuaded that President Donald Trump is deeply informed about any moderately complex subject. Ballistic missiles is one such. In fact, such a notion becomes firm when one considers his expression of bewilderment when Japan did not shoot down the North Korean “Hwasong-15” missile in flight just as the Saudis had […]

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By Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury
Nov 3 2018 (The Daily Star, Bangladesh)

Only a few would be persuaded that President Donald Trump is deeply informed about any moderately complex subject. Ballistic missiles is one such. In fact, such a notion becomes firm when one considers his expression of bewilderment when Japan did not shoot down the North Korean “Hwasong-15” missile in flight just as the Saudis had done the Houthi projectile fired from Yemen. Anyone with even meagre understanding of missile technology would know that thetwo situations were not the same. And that the former action would have been well-nigh impossible with available Japanese capability.So when he caught out the Russians cheating on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty of 1987, he took many by surprise. The Russians might have indeed tried to pull wool over American eyes by quietly deploying a new medium range weapon in violation of that landmark agreement. This is not to say that Mr Trump came to this conclusion on his own. At least it was apparent that he heeded counsel in this regard, which in itself is a silver lining of no mean consequence.

During much of the Cold War period, as nuclear weapons, particularly among thesuperpowers proliferated, peace was maintained on the premise of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). In other words, since the key powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, had the capability to obliterate each other, neither wanted to initiate a war. Then in the mid-1970s a US Secretary of Defence propounded that all nuclear conflict need not lead to MAD. In what is known as “Schlesinger Doctrine” named after him, he enunciated a kind of “limited war”that there could be small scale nuclear conflicts, with weapons of lesser yield, gradually escalating to higher levels, rendering a nuclear war “fightable” and even “winnable”. The view was that the enemy would capitulate along the path of escalation. Design and production of weaponry followed theory. Shorter range missiles, more precise weapons, and theory justifying their “tactical” rather than “strategic”use,emerged.

There are usually two types oftargets in a nuclear war: “counterforce” directed against hardened and military structures, and“countervalue”, against“soft targets” as cities and civilian populations. Since long range Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) were imprecise, their targets were logically softer, or mainly “countervalue” ones. But intermediate or medium range missiles (IRBMs and MRBMs)would have greater precision and therefore higher capacity to “kill” hardened “counterforce” targets. Because there would be greater propensity to use more precise weapons with lesser collateral damage, theorists considered these more “destabilising” than the larger imprecise weapons which would certainly attract devastating response.

Acutely aware of these dangers, the US and Soviet leaders, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the 1987 INF Treaty.It required them to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres.As a result, bothsuperpowers destroyed 2,692 missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of June 1,1990.The US removed their Cruise and Pershing missiles deployed in the UK and Germany, and the Soviets their deadly SS-20s out of the range of Europe. Some believe North Korea may have gone on to procure some of these.

Around the middle of the current decade, both the Americans and the Russians began to allege non-compliance of the treaty by the other. The US blamed Russia for developing the SSC-8, a land-based intermediate range cruise missile. Moscow raised its own concerns about the US placement of a missile defence launch system in Europe that can be used to fire cruise missiles, and manufacturing armed drones that equalled ground-launched cruise missiles prohibited in the treaty. Nonetheless, both parties declared their “support” for the treaty in a United Nations General Assembly statement on October 25,2007, inviting other nuclear powers to join it. An intended target of the call was perhaps China, which roundly ignored it, and continued developing its own deadly weapons. It includes the “Deng Feng” (East Wind), DF-26, an IRBM with a maximum range of 4,000 km which put the US installation of Guam in the Pacific under threat. The non-party status of China to the INF Treaty actually concerns both the US and Russia, though the former, understandably more so.

Others have also got into the game.The Indians have “Agni” and “Shaurya” missiles, with some variants of the former IRBMs having ICBM range and capabilities. The Chinese of course would factor in India. While Pakistan does not have ICBMs, which is not required vis-à-vis India, it has its “Shaheen-3” missile that would be its credible deterrent with regard to its principal adversary. It can strike at any target within India or as far as Myanmar, or even Israel if appropriately deployed. Israel, another undeclared nuclear power, possesses “Jericho-2” and “Jericho-3” with ranges of 1,500to 3,500 km and 4,500 to 6,500 km respectively.Iran, which does not have nuclear weapons, has developed several types of IRBMs, namely “Emad”, “Qader”, “Sejjil”, “Soumar”, and “Khorramshahr”, all with range between 2,000 and 2,500 km. Of these “Khorramshahr” can carry three conventional warheads, weighing upto 1,800 kg.

The massive destructive power of some of these conventional weapons are so great as to blur their difference with smaller tactical or “theatre” nuclear weapons. There exists a voluntary agreement with 35 members called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), set up in 1987. It seeks to limit control on spread of export of missiles and related technology, but only India from those with recently acquired capabilities is a member.

Should Mr Trump pull out of the IMF Treaty, the result would most certainly be destabilising. Both the US and Russia will begin to develop newer and deadlier weapons. Without the INF Treaty, and others of this ilk, disarmament and arms control initiatives will take a huge hit. Then, in a new era of rearmament and arms de-control, peace and stability can only hinge only on deterrence, or fear of devastating retaliation. This will be a return to primordial human behaviour and psychology. Not a wholesome situation, or solution, but sadly may be an inevitable one.

Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury is a former foreign adviser to a caretaker government of Bangladesh and is currently Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.

This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh

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The Case for a U.S. No-First-Use Policyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/case-u-s-no-first-use-policy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=case-u-s-no-first-use-policy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/case-u-s-no-first-use-policy/#respond Mon, 01 Oct 2018 10:28:55 +0000 Daryl G. Kimball http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157905 Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association

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A scene from Stanley Kubrick's classic 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove.” Credit: Sony/Columbia Pictures

By Daryl G. Kimball
WASHINGTON DC, Oct 1 2018 (IPS)

Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove” delivers an eerily accurate depiction of the absurd logic and catastrophic risks of U.S. and Russian Cold War nuclear deterrence strategy, but for one key detail: President Merkin Muffley was wrong when he said, “It is the avowed policy of our country never to strike first with nuclear weapons.” But it should be.

Fortunately, the nuclear “doomsday machine” has not yet been unleashed. Arms control agreements have led to significant, verifiable reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, the two countries have ceased nuclear testing, and they have tightened checks on nuclear command and control.

But the potential for a catastrophic nuclear war remains. The core elements of Cold War-era U.S. nuclear strategy are largely the same, including the option to use nuclear weapons first and the maintenance of prompt-launch policies that still give the president unchecked authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.

Today, the United States and Russia deploy massive strategic nuclear arsenals consisting of up to 1,550 warheads on each side, as allowed under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. These numbers greatly exceed what it would take to decimate the other side and are far larger than required to deter a nuclear attack.

Worse still, each side maintains the capability to fire a significant portion of its land- and sea-based missiles promptly and retains plans to launch these forces, particularly land-based missiles, under attack to guard against a “disarming” first strike. U.S. and Russian leaders also still reserve the option to use nuclear weapons first.

As a result, President Donald Trump, whom Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reportedly described as having the intellect of a “fifth- or sixth-grader,” has the authority to order the launch of some 800 nuclear warheads within about 15 minutes, with hundreds more weapons remaining in reserve. No other military or civilian official must approve the order. Congress currently has no say in the matter.

Continuing to vest such destructive power in the hands of one person is undemocratic, irresponsible, unnecessary and increasingly untenable. Cavalier and reckless statements from Trump about nuclear weapons use only underscore the folly of vesting such unchecked authority in one person.

Making matters worse, the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review expands the range of contingencies and options for potential nuclear use and proposes the development of “more-usable” low-yield nuclear weapons in order to give the president the flexibility to respond quickly in a crisis, including by using nuclear weapons first in response to a non-nuclear attack.

The reality is that a launch-under-attack policy is unnecessary because U.S. nuclear forces and command-and-control systems could withstand even a massive attack. Given the size, accuracy, and diversity of U.S. forces, the remaining nuclear force would be more than sufficient to deliver a devastating blow to any nuclear aggressor.

In addition, keeping strategic forces on launch-under-attack mode increases the risk of miscalculation and misjudgment. Throughout the history of the nuclear age, there have been several incidents in which false signals of an attack have prompted U.S. and Russian officials to consider, in the dead of the night and under the pressure of time, launching nuclear weapons in retaliation. No U.S. leader should be put in a situation that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons based on false information.

Retaining the option to use nuclear weapons first is fraught with unnecessary peril. Given the overwhelming conventional military edge of the United States and its allies, there is no plausible circumstance that could justify legally, morally, or militarily the use of nuclear weapons to deal with a non-nuclear threat. Even in the event of a conventional military conflict with Russia, China, or North Korea, the first use of nuclear weapons would be counterproductive because it likely would trigger an uncontrollable, potentially suicidal all-out nuclear exchange.

Some in Washington and Brussels believe Moscow might use or threaten to use nuclear weapons first to try to deter NATO from pressing its conventional military advantage in a conflict. Clearly, a nuclear war cannot be won and should not be initiated by either side. The threat of first use, however, cannot overcome perceived or real conventional force imbalances and are not an effective substitute for prudently maintaining U.S. and NATO conventional forces in Europe.

As the major nuclear powers race to develop new nuclear capabilities and advanced conventional-strike weapons and consider using cyber capabilities to pre-empt nuclear attacks by adversaries, the risk that one leader may be tempted to use nuclear weapons first during a crisis likely will grow. A shift to a no-first-use posture, on the other hand, would increase strategic stability.

Although the Trump administration is not going to rethink nuclear old-think, leaders in Congress and the next administration must re-examine and revise outdated nuclear launch policies in ways that reduce the nuclear danger.

Shifting to a formal policy stating that the United States will not be the first to use nuclear weapons and that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack would be a significant and smart step in the right direction.

The post The Case for a U.S. No-First-Use Policy appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association

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Can the U.S. and Russia Avert a New Arms Race?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/can-u-s-russia-avert-new-arms-race/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-u-s-russia-avert-new-arms-race http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/can-u-s-russia-avert-new-arms-race/#respond Tue, 04 Sep 2018 13:26:51 +0000 Daryl G. Kimball http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157452 Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association

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U.S. Air Force maintenance technicians assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work on a B-2 stealth bomber at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. on March 19, 2011. The unit maintains aircraft tasked with strategic nuclear deterrence and global strike operations. Credit: Kenny Holston/U.S. Air Force

By Daryl G. Kimball
WASHINGTON DC, Sep 4 2018 (IPS)

Five long years have passed since U.S. President Barack Obama proposed and Russian President Vladimir Putin unfortunately rejected negotiations designed to cut their excessive nuclear stockpiles by one-third below the limits set by the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

Since Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, U.S.-Russian relations have deteriorated dramatically. A Russian violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty has put that treaty at risk and the nuclear arms reduction dialogue remains stalled. As a result, each side still can deploy a whopping 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads, as allowed by New START.

Reliance on outdated launch-under-attack policies means that either leader at any moment can launch as many as 800 city-destroying nuclear weapons within about 20 minutes of a “go” order. Each side would have hundreds more nuclear weapons available in reserve for counterstrikes. The result would be a global catastrophe.

Clearly, it is vital that the world’s two largest nuclear-armed powers pursue further measures to reduce their bloated stockpiles and the risk of a nuclear confrontation. Yet, Moscow’s brazen effort to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections on behalf of the Trump campaign and suspicions that then-candidate Donald Trump encouraged that effort have further complicated the bilateral relationship and cast doubt on Trump’s ability to deal with Putin.

Meanwhile, a qualitative nuclear arms race is underway, and a quantitative nuclear arms race may be just around the corner. The United States and Russia are rushing forward with costly, ambitious plans to upgrade their Cold War nuclear arsenals and develop new types of destabilizing nuclear weapons.

In little more than two years, on Feb. 5, 2021, New START is scheduled to expire. Without a decision to extend the treaty, which is allowable under Article XIV, there will be no legally binding limits on the world’s two largest arsenals for the first time since 1972. The risk of unconstrained U.S.-Russian nuclear competition and even more fraught relations would grow.

In a March interview with NBC News, Putin voiced interest in extending New START or possibly even making further cuts in warhead numbers. In April, the Trump administration announced it is conducting a “whole-of-government review” on whether to extend New START, an effort described as still in its early stages.

At the Helsinki summit in July, Putin presented several proposals “to work together further to interact on the disarmament agenda, military, and technical cooperation.” Afterward, Trump stated that “perhaps the most important issue we discussed at our meeting…was the reduction of nuclear weapons throughout the world.”

Unfortunately, the two leaders did not reach any agreements in Helsinki. Subsequently, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, following a Geneva meeting with Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev on Aug. 23, did not announce a date for talks on New START or on “strategic stability.”

There is no time for further delay. New START clearly serves U.S. and Russian security interests. Failure to extend the treaty would compromise U.S. intelligence on Russian nuclear forces, open the door to unconstrained nuclear competition, and undermine U.S. and allied security.

An extension of New START also would provide additional time for Trump or his successor to pursue negotiations on more far-reaching nuclear cuts involving strategic and tactical nuclear systems, an understanding about the limits of U.S. strategic missile defenses, and limitations on non-nuclear strategic strike weapons that both sides are beginning to develop.

Fortunately, the treaty can be extended by up to five years, to 2026, by a simple agreement by the two presidents without complex negotiations, without further approval from the U.S. Senate or Russian Duma, and without unwise concessions to Moscow.

Even the toughest Democratic critics of Trump’s Russia policies support New START extension. Legislation introduced in June by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) calls for extension of the treaty so long as Russia remains in compliance.

The compliance disputes involving the INF Treaty present a more complex problem. To move forward, Washington and Moscow should agree to reciprocal site visits by experts to examine the 9M729 missile that is in dispute.

If the disputed Russian missile is still believed to have a range that exceeds the 500-kilometer treaty limit, Russia could, as a confidence-building measure, modify the missile into compliance or, ideally, halt production and eliminate any such missiles.

To address Russian concerns about the possible conversion of U.S. missile interceptor systems in Europe to offensive purposes, the United States could agree to reciprocal site visits or perhaps even physical modifications of the launchers.

Despite their many disputes, it is vital that Washington and Moscow maintain a stable, predictable nuclear relationship and avoid direct military conflict.

To do so, Trump and Putin should relaunch the strategic stability dialogue and commit to reaching an early agreement to extend New START. If not, an even more dangerous phase in U.S.-Russian relations may emerge.

The post Can the U.S. and Russia Avert a New Arms Race? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association

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Trump Escalates Rhetoric on Iranhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/trump-escalates-rhetoric-iran/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trump-escalates-rhetoric-iran http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/trump-escalates-rhetoric-iran/#respond Wed, 01 Aug 2018 17:38:14 +0000 Kelsey Davenport http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157009 Kelsey Davenport is director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association

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Kelsey Davenport is director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association

By Kelsey Davenport
WASHINGTON DC, Aug 1 2018 (IPS)

Rhetoric escalated between the United States and Iran when U.S. President Donald Trump irresponsibly tweeted July 22 that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani must “NEVER EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN” or else suffer consequences the likes of which “FEW HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”

The meeting for a Comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program in 2015. Attendees included John Kerry of the United States, Philip Hammond of the United Kingdom, Sergey Lavrov of Russia, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Laurent Fabius of France, Wang Yi of China, Federica Mogherini of the European Union and Javad Zarif of Iran.

In response to Trump’s threat, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted July 23 that Iran is “UNIMPRESSED” by the bluster and ended his message with the warning “BE CAUTIOUS.”

The Trump tweet was likely prompted by Rouhani warning July 22 that the United States should know that “war with Iran is the mother of all wars” and if Iran’s oil exports are blocked, “no other country in the region” will export oil.

The sanctions that Trump reimposed May 8 when he violated and withdrew from the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), include measures penalizing states if they fail to significantly reduce imports of Iranian oil every 180 days.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated in a July 22 speech that the U.S. focus is to get states importing Iranian oil to “as close to zero as possible” by the Nov. 4 180-day deadline (see below for details).

Pompeo said little about the JCPOA in his speech, which criticized the Iranian regime and reiterated that the United States is engaged in a “diplomatic and financial pressure campaign” to cut off funds used by the government to “enrich itself and support death and destruction.”

While Trump’s tweet prompted pushback from some policymakers, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton July 23 reiterated and appeared to broaden the vague and reckless threat, saying “if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis said July 24 that Trump is making “very clear” that Iran is “on the wrong track” and called for Tehran to “shape up and show responsibility.”

The exchange of threats between the United States and Iran is taking place as the P4+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom) are looking for options to sustain sanctions relief and keep Iran in the JCPOA (see below for details).

The P4+1 face a ticking clock, as the first U.S. sanctions re-imposed by Trump will be enforceable Aug. 6, when the 90-day wind down closes. These measures target certain banking activities, trade involving certain metals, coal, and the automotive sector, and the purchase of U.S. dollars by the Iranian government.

The Treasury Department will also revoke authorizations allowing carpets and Iranian foodstuffs to be exported to the United States and revoke licenses issued for the sale of commercial aircraft parts and services to Iran.

The remaining sanctions penalties, including those that target Iran’s oil sales, will be effective Nov. 4.

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Excerpt:

Kelsey Davenport is director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association

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UN Chief Calls for JCPOA Implementationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/un-chief-calls-jcpoa-implementation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-chief-calls-jcpoa-implementation http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/un-chief-calls-jcpoa-implementation/#respond Mon, 02 Jul 2018 20:55:29 +0000 Kelsey Davenport http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156504 Kelsey Davenport is director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association

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Secretary-General António Guterres - UN Photo/Mark Garten

By Kelsey Davenport
WASHINGTON DC, Jul 2 2018 (IPS)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the nuclear deal with Iran is at a “crossroads” and expressed his deep regret over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement and reimpose sanctions.

Guterres also called upon all states to support the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saying “it is important that the withdrawal of one country not impede the ability of others to fully implement their commitments under the [JCPOA] or to engage in activities consistent with resolution 2231.”

Guterres’s remarks were part of a biannual report to the Security Council that assessed the implementation of Resolution 2231, which endorsed the JCPOA and called upon all states to support it.

The resolution also put in place legally binding requirements for states to seek Security Council approval before transferring dual-use nuclear materials and technologies, ballistic missiles components, and arms. (See below for more details.)

The United States, however, is making it difficult for states to continue supporting the deal by conducting legitimate business with Iran. U.S. officials are traveling to capitals and urging states to abide by the sanctions Trump re-imposed May 8. The penalties for these sanctions will be enforced Aug. 6 and Nov. 4 after 90- and 180-day wind-down periods.

A senior State Department official told press June 26 that the United States is pushing for all allies to cut oil imports from Iran to zero by Nov. 4 and that the “predisposition” is not to grant any waivers.

The fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act only requires states to make a “significant reduction” for an exemption from sanctions but does not specify the amount of the reduction. It is unclear if the administration is actually interpreting that to mean “zero.” It is also not clear if the oil market could absorb zeroing out exports from Iran.

Chris Ford, assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, said on June 11 that the United States is prepared to “lean hard on our partners and the international community” as Washington pursues its strategy of using sanctions to pressure Iran into new negotiations on its ballistic missiles and regional activities, as well as its nuclear program.

Iran continues to maintain that it will pull out of the JCPOA if the sanctions relief envisioned by the deal dries up. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said June 22 in Moscow that “Iran’s exit from the nuclear deal is probable in the coming weeks” but noted that Tehran is still waiting to evaluate Europe’s response to the U.S. violation of the deal and reimposition of sanctions.

The EU has already adopted some measures, including an update to its blocking regulation that prohibits European entities from cooperation with U.S. sanctions, and is considering others.

He called June 23 for Europe to deliver its “package” of economic measures to sustain the multilateral nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), within 10 days. An Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson later added that Russia and China must also endorse the European package.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met with Chinese President Xi Jinping June 11 at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in China. Xi said China was “determined to cement” economic relations with Iran and was “decisively against the U.S. unilateral move” to withdraw from the JCPOA and re-impose sanctions. Rouhani called for deepening the Iran-China relationship on banking and trade in national currencies.

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Excerpt:

Kelsey Davenport is director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association

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Human Rights Must Be on the Table During U.S.-North Korea Talkshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/human-rights-must-table-u-s-north-korea-talks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=human-rights-must-table-u-s-north-korea-talks http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/human-rights-must-table-u-s-north-korea-talks/#comments Fri, 08 Jun 2018 06:54:46 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156112 Human rights issues must be included in next week’s United States-North Korea summit in order to create a “sustainable agreement”, said a UN expert. In an effort towards denuclearization, U.S. President Trump is set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. In anticipation of the summit, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights […]

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Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, addresses the Assembly’s annual general debate. Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 8 2018 (IPS)

Human rights issues must be included in next week’s United States-North Korea summit in order to create a “sustainable agreement”, said a UN expert.

In an effort towards denuclearization, U.S. President Trump is set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

In anticipation of the summit, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Tomás Ojea Quintana called for human rights issues to be a topic of discussion.

“At some point, whether [in] the next summit or other summits to come or meetings, it is very important that human rights are raised,” Quintana said.

“I am not of the opinion that a human rights dialogue will undermine the opening and the talks on denuclearization at all,” he added.

Instead, DPRK’s participation in a discussion on human rights will give them “credibility” and “show that they want to become a normal state.”

While they have signed and ratified several human rights treaties, North Korea remains one of the most repressive, authoritarian states in the world

A 2014 UN report found systematic, gross human rights violations committed by the government including forced labor, enslavement, torture, and imprisonment.

It is estimated that up to 120,000 people are detained in political prison camps in the East Asian nation, often referred to as the “world’s biggest open prison.”

“My call is for an amnesty, a general amnesty that includes these prisoners, and it is a concrete call,” Quintana said.

The UN Commission of Inquiry also found the “inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”

Approximately two in five North Koreans are undernourished and more than 70 percent of the population rely on food aid.

Most North Koreans also lack access to basic services such as healthcare or sanitation.

Diarrhea and pneumonia are the two main causes of death for children under five, the report said.

It wouldn’t be the first time that President Trump has taken a strong stance on North Korea.

“No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea,” Trump said during his first speech to the General Assembly in 2017.

“It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior,” he added.

In an open letter, more than 300 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world have also called on North Korea to reform its regime and hope the upcoming meeting will urge human rights improvements as part of any agreement.

“North Korea’s increased dialogue with other countries is a positive step, but before the world gets too excited they should remember that Kim Jong Un still presides over perhaps the most repressive system in the world,” said Human Rights Watch’s Asia Director Brad Adams.

“As the UN Security Council has recognized, human rights abuses in North Korea and threats to international peace and security are intrinsically connected, so any security discussion needs to include human rights,” he continued.

Human Rights Watch is among the human rights organizations that signed the letter.

Among the letter’s calls to actions, organizations urged Kim Jong Un to act on UN human rights recommendations, increase engagement with the international human rights system, end abuses in detention and prisons, and to accept international humanitarian aid for needy communities.

“If [Kim Jong Un] really wants to end North Korea’s international isolation, he should take strong and quick action to show the North Korean people and the world that he is committed to ending decades of rights abuses,” Adams said.

Quintana echoed similar sentiments, noting that human rights issues were sidelined over two decades ago when the U.S. and the DPRK signed an agreement to freeze Pyongyang’s nuclear programme and again during recent six-party talks.

“Those processes, although they were well-intentioned, were not successful,” he said.

“For this new process to be successful, my humble opinion as a human rights rapporteur is that the human rights dialogue should be included because it is part of the discussion. Human rights and security and peace are interlinked, definitely, and this is the situation where we can prove that,” Quintana continued.

Otherwise, any denuclearization agreement would send the “wrong message” and prevent the two parties from building a “sustainable agreement.”

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Nuclear Nonproliferation Malpracticehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/nuclear-nonproliferation-malpractice/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nuclear-nonproliferation-malpractice http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/nuclear-nonproliferation-malpractice/#respond Fri, 01 Jun 2018 12:11:56 +0000 Daryl G. Kimball http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156024 Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association*

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Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association*

By Daryl G. Kimball
WASHINGTON DC, Jun 1 2018 (IPS)

The global nuclear nonproliferation system has always relied on responsible leadership from the United States and other global powers. The effort to create, extend, and strengthen the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which was opened for signature 50 years ago on July 1, 1968, has succeeded, albeit imperfectly, because most U.S. presidents have made good faith efforts to back up U.S. legal and political commitments on nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers a speech, “After the Deal: A New Iran Strategy”, at the Heritage Foundation, in Washington, D.C, on May 21, 2018. Credit: [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Beginning in 2003 when Iran was discovered to have a secret uranium-enrichment program, key European states, along with China, Russia, and later, the United States under President Barack Obama, put enormous effort into negotiating the complex multilateral deal to curtail and contain Iran’s nuclear program and to verifiably block its pathways to nuclear weapons: the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

But now, with his May 8 decision to unilaterally violate the JCPOA, President Donald Trump effectively has ceded the traditional nonproliferation leadership role of the United States, opened the door for Iran to quickly expand its uranium-enrichment capacity, and shaken the foundations of the global nuclear nonproliferation system. Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran and any businesses or banks that continue to do business with Iran puts the valuable nonproliferation barriers established by the JCPOA at grave risk.

If the accord is to survive Trump’s reckless actions, EU governments and other responsible states must now try to sustain it without the United States by taking bold steps to ensure that it remains in Iran’s interest not to break out of the JCPOA’s rigorous constraints.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said May 8 that “[a]s long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear[-]related commitments, as it is doing so far, the European Union will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal.

Europe Union states, as well as China and Russia, have little choice but to part ways with the Trump administration on the Iran deal because Trump has rejected reasonable proposals from leaders of the E3 countries (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) to address his concerns and because his new “strategy” to pursue a “better deal” to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran is pure fantasy.

To try to address Trump’s complaints about the JCPOA, the E3 worked in good faith for several months to negotiate a supplemental agreement designed to address concerns about Iran’s behavior that fall outside the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, including its ballistic missile program and its support for radical groups in the Middle East.

That effort failed because Trump stubbornly refused to guarantee to the E3 that if they entered into such an agreement, he would continue to waive nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.

Trump administration officials say they will try to “cajole” the European powers and other states to re-impose even stronger sanctions on Iran to try to compel Iran to come back to the negotiating table to work out a “better” deal for the United States and a more onerous one for Iran.

In the meantime, Trump is demanding that Iran must still meet the JCPOA’s nuclear restrictions and submit to its tough International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring provisions. Such arrogant bullying has no chance of producing a cooperative response from leaders in Tehran or in other capitals.

If European and other powers fail to adequately insulate their financial and business transactions with Iran from U.S. sanctions, Iran could decide to quickly expand its enrichment capacity by putting more machines online and increasing its uranium supply. Asked on May 9 how he would respond to such actions, Trump said, “If they do, there will be very severe consequences.”

Within hours of Trump’s May 8 announcement, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, “If Iran acquires nuclear capability, we will do everything we can to do the same.”

Incredibly, the Trump administration, which is in the process of negotiating an agreement for civil nuclear cooperation with Riyadh, failed to respond to this alarming threat from the Saudi monarchy to violate its NPT commitments.

Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA is also a body blow to efforts to strengthen the NPT system in the run-up to the pivotal 2020 NPT Review Conference. Statements from U.S. diplomats about how others should advance NPT goals will ring hollow so long as the United States continues to ignore or repudiate its own nonproliferation obligations.

For instance, at the NPT gathering in May, U.S. representatives argued that progress toward a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East suffers from a “lack of trust” and nonproliferation “noncompliance” by states in the region. Unfortunately, U.S. noncompliance with the JCPOA has only exacerbated these challenges.

Trump’s decision on the nuclear deal has transformed the United States from a nonproliferation leader to an NPT rogue state. For now, the future of the hard-won Iran nuclear accord and maybe the NPT as we now know it will depend largely on the leadership of key European leaders and restraint from Iran’s.

*The link to the original article: https://armscontrol.org/act/2018-06/focus/nuclear-nonproliferation-malpractice

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Excerpt:

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association*

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Pompeo’s Iran Speech a Prelude to War?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/pompeos-iran-speech-prelude-war/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pompeos-iran-speech-prelude-war http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/pompeos-iran-speech-prelude-war/#respond Fri, 25 May 2018 13:33:00 +0000 Stephen Zunes http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155929 Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

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By Stephen Zunes
SAN FRANCISCO, May 25 2018 (IPS)

The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech this past Monday targeting Iran may have created a new benchmark for hypocritical, arrogant, and entitled demands by the United States on foreign governments.

The speech included gross misstatements regarding the seven-nation Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, which Trump Administration unilaterally abrogated earlier this month.

More critically, it promised to impose “the strongest sanctions in history” against Iran, including secondary sanctions against governments and private companies which refuse to back the U.S. agenda, unless Iran changed a series of internal and regional policies. With the re-imposition of such sanctions, Iran will no longer have any incentive to stick to its part of the nuclear deal.

Most of the Iranian policies cited by Pompeo are indeed problematic, yet are hardly unique to that country. Furthermore, the failure to offer any kind of reciprocity effectively guarantees that the Islamic Republic will reject any changes in its policies.

For example, Pompeo demanded that Iran withdraw its troops from Syria—which are there at the request of the Syrian government—but made no demand that Turkish or Israeli forces withdraw their troops from Syrian territory. Nor did he offer to withdraw U.S. forces.

Pompeo similarly demanded an end to Iranian support for various militia groups in the region, without any reciprocal reduction of support for rebel groups by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or the United States.

And Pompeo demanded that Iran cease providing missiles to Houthi rebels, who have fired them into Saudi Arabia in response to Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign and siege of Yemen. There was no offer to end the U.S. policy of providing the bombs, missiles, jet fighters to Saudi and Emirati forces which have killed many thousands of Yemeni civilians.

Pompeo further demanded Iran provide “a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program,” despite the fact that this limited research effort ended more than fifteen years ago. Of course, there was no offer that the United States or its allies rein in their own nuclear programs. Israel, Pakistan, and India have never opened up their nuclear facilities to outside inspections, despite two U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on them to do so.

Though most arms control agreements have historically been based on some kind of tradeoff, Pompeo insists that Iran unilaterally cease its ballistic missile program while making no such demand of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, or other allies in the region. Nor is there any offer to limit U.S. ballistic missiles, even though U.S. missiles are capable of striking Iran while no Iranian missiles have the capability of coming anywhere close to the United States.

And while Pompeo was right to criticize the Iranian regime’s corruption, economic mismanagement, and human rights abuses, he expressed no qualms about the even worse records of U.S. allies in the region

Perhaps the most hypocritical demand in Pompeo’s speech was that Iran “must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government,” which the United States has repeatedly subverted for a decade and a half.

In fact, Iran is already in compliance to some of Pompeo’s other demands, such as stopping production of enriched uranium and allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency full access to its nuclear facilities. The Iran nuclear pact already limits Iranian stockpiles to an extremely low enrichment level of 3.67 percent, well below the 90 percent needed for weapons production, and guarantees extensive and intrusive inspections of all nuclear-related facilities.

It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which the Trump Administration claims the only recourse is war.

No nation can be expected to comply with such unilateral demands, particularly coming from a country which is responsible for far more destabilizing policies, civilian deaths, and weapons proliferation in the region than is Iran. Pompeo made his demands knowing they would be rejected.

And that may be part of a deliberate strategy. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in the not-too-distant future in which the Trump Administration claims that since “sanctions didn’t work,” the only recourse is war.

The post Pompeo’s Iran Speech a Prelude to War? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

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White House Should State Opposition to Saudi Threat to Acquire Nuclear Weaponshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/white-house-state-opposition-saudi-threat-acquire-nuclear-weapons/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=white-house-state-opposition-saudi-threat-acquire-nuclear-weapons http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/white-house-state-opposition-saudi-threat-acquire-nuclear-weapons/#comments Wed, 16 May 2018 08:55:17 +0000 Daryl Kimball and Thomas Countryman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155786 Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association & Thomas Countryman is Board of Directors, Chairman, and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation

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Japanese A-bomb survivors and ICAN demonstrate before the UN vote in October 2016. Credit: Peace Boat

By Daryl G. Kimball and Thomas Countryman
WASHINGTON DC, May 16 2018 (IPS)

We are deeply disappointed by the counterproductive response from the Trump administration to the statements from senior Saudi officials threatening to pursue nuclear weapons in violation of their nonproliferation commitments.

We call on the White House to immediately reiterate the longstanding, bipartisan policy of the United States that it will actively work against the spread of nuclear weapons to any country, friend or foe.

President Donald Trump’s reckless decision to violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has blocked Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons and put in place a robust monitoring system to detect and deter cheating, has not only opened the door to an expansion of Iran’s capability to produce bomb-grade nuclear material, but it has increased the risk of a wider nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which is already home to one nuclear-armed state.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir told CNN May 9, that his country, which, like Iran, is a party to the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), stands ready to build nuclear weapons if Iran restarts its nuclear program.

Al-Jubeir also praised Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and seek to reimpose sanctions on firms and business engaging in legitimate commerce with Iran.

Asked what his country will do if Iran restarts its nuclear program, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “we will do whatever it takes to protect our people. We have made it very clear that if Iran acquires a nuclear capability, we will do everything we can to do the same.”

Asked to clarify whether that means the kingdom will work to acquire its own nuclear capability, al-Jubeir replied, “That’s what we mean.”

This follows similar comments by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a March 15 interview with CBS News that Saudi Arabia will quickly follow suit if Iran acquires nuclear weapons.

When asked May 9 whether Saudi Arabia would “have the administration’s support in the event that that occurred,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:

“Right now, I don’t know that we have a specific policy announcement on that front, but I can tell you that we are very committed to making sure that Iran does not have nuclear weapons,” she stated.

The administration’s nonresponse to Prince Salman’s threat in March and Sanders’ weak response May 9 amounts to an irresponsible invitation for mischief.

They imply that Trump administration would look the other way if Saudi Arabia breaks its NPT commitments to pursue nuclear weapons.

It is bad enough that the Trump administration, by violating the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has threatened the NPT regime by opening the door for Iran to expand its nuclear capacity.

President Trump and his advisors must not compound that error by swallowing their tongues when another NPT member state in the region threatens to pursue the bomb.

We call on the White House to immediately clarify that it is the longstanding policy of the United States, as an original party to the NPT:

…not to in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons …” and “… to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament ….”

We also call on the U.S. Congress to reject any proposed agreement with Saudi Arabia that permits U.S. nuclear cooperation if Saudi Arabia seeks to or acquires sensitive uranium enrichment or plutonium separation technology which can be used to produce nuclear weapons.

The post White House Should State Opposition to Saudi Threat to Acquire Nuclear Weapons appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association & Thomas Countryman is Board of Directors, Chairman, and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation

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Trump’s Dangerous Abrogation of the Iran Dealhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/trumps-dangerous-abrogation-iran-deal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trumps-dangerous-abrogation-iran-deal http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/trumps-dangerous-abrogation-iran-deal/#respond Fri, 11 May 2018 11:24:05 +0000 Stephen Zunes http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155724 Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

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Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

By Stephen Zunes
SAN FRANCISCO, May 11 2018 (IPS)

The Trump Administration’s decision to pull the United States out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States—strikes a dangerous blow against arms control and international security and even more firmly establishes the United States as a rogue nation.

The meeting for a Comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program in 2015. Attendees included John Kerry of the United States, Philip Hammond of the United Kingdom, Sergey Lavrov of Russia, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Laurent Fabius of France, Wang Yi of China, Federica Mogherini of the European Union and Javad Zarif of Iran.

This is a victory for Iranian hardliners, who opposed the agreement. They argued against destroying billions of dollars’ worth of nuclear facilities and material in return for the lifting of debilitating sanctions, because the United States could not be trusted to lift the sanctions as promised. That, in the end, is exactly what happened.

Now Trump’s decision will make it virtually impossible for North Korea or any other country to trust the United States to keep its commitments and thereby sabotage future arms control negotiations.

The Iran pact is supported by virtually every country in the world. The vast majority of those in the U.S. national security establishment, current and retired, have supported it, as have the vast majority of nuclear scientists and policy experts. Even within Israel, there is strong support among intelligence and defense officials.

Trump argued that the agreement did nothing to curb Iran’s intervention in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. But that was never its intention. Other such agreements seek to limit countries’ nuclear ambitions, not their broader geopolitical ambitions.

And Trump’s accusations of Iranian cheating are groundless. Indeed, his own CIA director and Director of National Intelligence have both acknowledged in recent weeks that Iran is in full compliance with the agreement, as has the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Accusations of Iranian cheating by the rightwing Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week referred back to Iran’s long-acknowledged cover-up of a nascent weapons program more than fifteen years ago. This is in no way a new revelation, or relevant to the current agreement.

Similarly, Trump’s insistence that that the agreement is somehow advantageous to Iran and would allow it to develop nuclear weapons is completely ludicrous.

The agreement reduced Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent and restricts the level of enrichment to 3.67 percent. Given that an enrichment level of 90 percent is needed to build a nuclear bomb, this makes it impossible for Iran’s uranium to be weaponized.

Under the deal, Iran also reduced its number of centrifuges to a little over 5,000, far below the number that would be needed to enrich uranium to anything close to that level. It prevented the commissioning of the Arak reactor, capable of producing plutonium, and restricts research and development activities in other facilities.

And it cut off all of Iran’s other potential pathways to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

In short, the pact makes it physically impossible for Iran to build a single atomic bomb.

In addition, the agreement imposes the one of the most rigorous inspection regimes in history. International inspectors monitor Iran’s nuclear program at every stage: uranium mining and milling, conversion, enrichment, fuel manufacturing, nuclear reactors, and spent fuel, as well as any site—military or civilian—they consider suspicious.

And if Iran were to violate any aspect of this agreement, sanctions would automatically snap back into place.

Historically, most agreements on nuclear weapons have required some sort of reciprocity. But none of Iran’s nuclear-armed neighbors—Israel, Pakistan or Israel—are required to eliminate or reduce their weapons or open their nuclear facilities to inspections, even though all three are currently violating U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding their nuclear programs.

And none of the other nuclear powers, including the United States, are required to reduce their arsenals, either. So, it is indeed, as Trump said, a “one-sided deal”—against Iran.

Trump and his Republican backers have long opposed efforts to ease tensions between the United States and Iran—especially any effort that might undermine excuses for going to war against that oil-rich nation. Iran, shackled by the 2015 agreement, is no threat to the United States.

Iran’s support for extremist groups, its human rights violations, its backing of repressive allies, and its other violations of international norms—while certainly wrong—are no worse than those committed by key U.S. regional allies.

The “threat” from Iran is that it is a regional power that has dared to challenge the United States’ hegemonic ambitions in the greater Middle East. For advocates of “full spectrum dominance,” as first articulated by the administration of George W. Bush in 2002, any such efforts to undermine U.S. hegemony are simply unacceptable.

Now Trump is free to undercut the Iranian economy by resuming comprehensive U.S. sanctions and forcing companies in other countries to avoid doing business with Iran by threatening to deny them trade and investment opportunities with the United States.

Trump’s strategy appears to encourage the Iranians to resume their nuclear program in order to provoke a crisis that would give the United States an excuse to go to war.

Credit www.thoughtcatalog.com

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Excerpt:

Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

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Freezing & Reversing North Korea’s Nuclear Advanceshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/freezing-reversing-north-koreas-nuclear-advances/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=freezing-reversing-north-koreas-nuclear-advances http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/freezing-reversing-north-koreas-nuclear-advances/#respond Mon, 30 Apr 2018 06:49:56 +0000 Daryl G. Kimball http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155530 Daryll G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association*

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shaking hands with then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo in April. Credit: The White House via Getty Images

By Daryl G. Kimball
WASHINGTON DC, Apr 30 2018 (IPS)

For most of the past year, North Korea’s provocative long-range missile launches and a high-yield nuclear test, combined with the reckless threats of “fire and fury” and “preventive war” from the White House, have raised tensions and increased the threat of a catastrophic conflict in the region. Some of us warned that nuclear war was closer than at any point since the Cold War.

Now, in an extraordinary turnaround, an uneasy détente has emerged. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced on Jan. 1 that he wants to ease tensions with South Korea, and high-level talks between officials of the two governments were held in advance of the Winter Olympics.

Through South Korean intermediaries, Kim extended a summit offer to U.S. President Donald Trump, who, to the surprise of many, immediately accepted. Although Trump deserves credit for being so bold as to agree, the North Korean nuclear problem will not be resolved in one meeting, especially if he goes off-script, acts impulsively, or carries unrealistic expectations.

The direct dialogue is overdue, it is historic, and it carries high stakes. Trump and his entire national security team must understand that this diplomacy will require preparation, patience, and persistence.

To succeed, they must maintain a principled but balanced approach closely coordinated with key allies in Seoul and partners in Beijing. Further, Washington will need to address Pyongyang’s own security and economic concerns.

So far, so good. The North Koreans have expressed a willingness to consider denuclearization if their national security can be guaranteed. Reportedly, the North Koreans have said that they will not demand the removal of all U.S. forces in South Korea.

Further, Kim announced April 21 that he is suspending ballistic missile and nuclear testing, is closing the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, and will “join the international desire and efforts for the total halt” to nuclear tests. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim reaffirmed their intentions at their successful—and historic—inter-Korean summit April 27.

Kim is clearly confident about his position going into the summit with Trump, and he appears to be preparing his people for potential additional steps toward denuclearization if U.S. leaders negotiate in good faith and can deliver on their promises.

The table is finally set for a meaningful, sustained dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang on verifiable denuclearization, normalizing diplomatic ties, and negotiating a formal end to the Korean War.

Key near-term U.S. goals should be to solidify North Korea’s testing suspension, to bring about a halt to its fissile material production, to win the release of three captive U.S. citizens, and to discuss measures to further reduce tensions on the divided peninsula.

North Korea’s no-nuclear-testing pledge is very significant. The North already has a proven high-yield warhead design, but additional tests could be used to achieve military and technical advances.

Leaders in Washington, Seoul, Beijing, Tokyo, and elsewhere should seek to solidify Pyongyang’s nuclear testing suspension by securing its signature and ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, along with a confidence-building visit by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization.

Solidifying a halt to further ballistic missile tests is also crucial because it can possibly stop the North Koreans just short of developing a reliable system to deliver their high-yield warhead. Halting production of fissile material and verifying the freeze is the next logical step, as it would put a ceiling on the potential number of nuclear devices North Korea could assemble.

If Trump could achieve all of this, it would be a major breakthrough, even if falls short of the more sweeping task of negotiating the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But Rome was not built in a day.

To achieve the many additional steps toward the long-term goal of denuclearization of the peninsula and a durable peace regime, the Trump-Kim summit should also produce agreement on a balanced framework for sustained, direct, high-level negotiations on these and possibly other issues.

Trump has said that he will not repeat the mistakes of the past negotiations; likewise, Kim said April 27 that he doesn’t want a repeat of the past “where we were unable to fulfill our agreements.” Indeed, previous agreements had been partially successful in curbing North Korea’s capabilities, but fell apart in later stages of implementation.

These negotiations will demand even greater persistence, patience and political will. Kim’s nuclear and missile capabilities are more substantial and dangerous today, his bargaining power is greater, and the cost of failure is higher. And if Trump is foolish enough to withdraw from the successful 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, Kim will be more reluctant to make concessions.

Members of Congress, for their part, should demand clarity about the administration’s strategy and regular reports on the negotiations. Yet, they should refrain from demanding specific outcomes or immediate results. The stakes are too high and the opportunity too great for such games.

Now, after a period of reckless nuclear brinksmanship, the hard work of pursuing disarmament diplomacy begins. Can Team Trump pull this off? As the president often says, “We will see.” It will not come easy, but it is better than the alternatives.

*The link to the editorial in the May issue of the journal Arms Control Today:
https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2018-05/focus/freezing-reversing-north-korea%E2%80%99s-nuclear-advances

The post Freezing & Reversing North Korea’s Nuclear Advances appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Daryll G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association*

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Trump Hurtles Toward Three Nuclear Criseshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/trump-hurtles-toward-three-nuclear-crises/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trump-hurtles-toward-three-nuclear-crises http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/trump-hurtles-toward-three-nuclear-crises/#respond Fri, 30 Mar 2018 15:04:14 +0000 Daryl G. Kimball http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155108 Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association*

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Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association*

By Daryl G. Kimball
WASHINGTON DC, Mar 30 2018 (IPS)

One year into the unorthodox presidency of Donald Trump, the United States faces an array of complex and dangerous foreign policy challenges that require principled leadership, pragmatism, patience, and smart diplomacy.

Credit: Ronny Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images

So far, Trump has not exhibited any of these traits. Nevertheless, he will soon make consequential decisions affecting the future of the successful 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the course of the North Korean nuclear crisis, and the potential for renewed strategic nuclear competition with Russia.

Unfortunately, his appointment of the bellicose John Bolton to serve as national security adviser (Trump’s third in 16 months), along with hawkish CIA Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, could tilt the malleable president in the wrong direction. The result could be three full-blown nuclear crises.

The Iran deal. By May 12, Trump must extend waivers on nuclear-related sanctions to avoid violating U.S. commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. A decision to not extend the waivers will worsen proliferation risks in the Middle East and undermine U.S. credibility.

Trump has threatened to blow up the Iran deal if European partners do not agree to impose additional missile- and nuclear-related restrictions on Iran. The Europeans have made it abundantly clear they will support additional measures to address Iranian ballistic missile and arms transfers that violate UN Security Council resolutions.

But because “a deal is a deal,” they will not seek to renegotiate certain nuclear-related requirements already agreed to under the existing agreement. Unfortunately, Bolton, who has long advocated bombing Iran instead of pursuing a deal to verifiably curb its nuclear program, has said he wants the United States to abrogate the accord with Tehran.

There is no rational reason why Trump, without cause, should trigger another Middle East proliferation crisis. It would be the greatest U.S. foreign policy blunder since the 2003 invasion of Iraq under false claims about weapons of mass destruction.

The argument that the deal can or needs to be “fixed or nixed” is misplaced and dangerous. Common sense suggests the United States should strictly enforce the deal and build on it, rather than scrap it without a Plan B.

There is nothing in the deal that constrains the United States and Europe from pursuing a follow-on agreement to reduce Iran’s incentives to expand its nuclear program once certain restrictions on uranium enrichment and fuel cycle activities expire.

North Korea negotiations
. Trump’s appointment of Bolton is odd in that Bolton’s policy prescriptions on North Korea run counter to Trump’s stated policy and that of ally South Korea of using sanctions pressure and diplomatic engagement, including a summit with Kim Jong Un, to halt and reverse North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

In the early 2000s, Bolton was among those in the George W. Bush administration who called for confrontations and ultimatums rather than dialogue with North Korea, an approach that ultimately allowed North Korea to advance its nuclear program and test nuclear weapons.

More recently, Bolton argued that it would be legal for the United States to launch a “preventive attack” on North Korea, which would result in a catastrophic war. Three days before his appointment in March as national security adviser, Bolton said that if the summit takes place, Trump should not offer economic aid nor should the United States offer security assurances to North Korea, the latter being the very basis of Kim’s offer to negotiate about his nuclear weapons program.

Bolton’s formula is a recipe for confrontation and possibly war. Instead, Trump should recognize that his planned summit with Kim, at best, can solidify the suspension of North Korean nuclear and missile testing and launch serious sustained negotiations on steps toward denuclearization and a peace regime on the peninsula.

Avoiding a new arms race with Russia. In the next year or so, Trump will also need to decide whether to engage in talks with Russia to extend the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which is due to expire in 2021. Bolton has never supported the treaty, calling it “an execrable deal.”

As U.S.-Russian relations have deteriorated, New START serves an even more important role in reducing nuclear risks, and it continues to enjoy strong support from the U.S. military. Now is the time for the two presidents to agree to extend the treaty for five years, until 2026, which is essential to avoiding an unconstrained arms race. It would also buy time for the two sides to explore new, follow-on approaches to maintain strategic stability at lower nuclear force levels.

Given Trump’s new set of advisers, Congress and U.S. allies will need to play a stronger role to steer him in the right direction and away from avoidable nuclear crises.

*The link to the original article: https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2018-04/focus/trump-hurtles-toward-three-nuclear-crises

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Excerpt:

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association*

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Strengthening Ban on Chemical Weapons: The Case of Syriahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/strengthening-ban-chemical-weapons-case-syria/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=strengthening-ban-chemical-weapons-case-syria http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/strengthening-ban-chemical-weapons-case-syria/#comments Tue, 27 Feb 2018 15:46:44 +0000 Ian Anthony and John Hart http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154527 Dr Ian Anthony is Director of the European Security Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute & Dr John Hart is Head of SIPRI’s Chemical and Biological Security Project.

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Photo: Shutterstock

By Dr Ian Anthony and Dr John Hart
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Feb 27 2018 (IPS)

The legal framework prohibiting chemical weapons (CW) is considered the gold standard for multilateral disarmament. It features both comprehensive provisions and intrusive verification measures. Yet, in the case of Syria, this framework (which extends to the United Nations Security Council) has proven insufficient.

Indeed, the use of chemical weapons in Syria has been in focus since such allegations first surfaced in 2012. Failing to address these allegations within this framework will undermine confidence in the feasibility of disarmament.

The case of Syria

After Syria joined the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 2013, the prohibition on CW use was clear and unambiguous. Deliberate attacks on civilians with any weapon are always illegal, but even indirect risk of CW attacks on civilians should not arise.

However, by 2014 international investigations had concluded with a high degree of confidence that chlorine gas, sulphur mustard and sarin were used to kill and injure civilians in Syria.

In 2015 the UN Security Council established the OPCW–UN Joint Investigative Mechanism in Syria (JIM) in order to determine responsibility for CW use. The JIM was to base its investigation on information developed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fact-Finding Mission (FFM).

By late 2017 the JIM was, ‘confident that ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] is responsible for the use of sulfur mustard at Umm Hawsh on 15 and 16 September 2016’ and, ‘confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017’.

Despite these reports, achieving consensus on the Syrian Government’s responsibility for the use of CW has proven elusive. Given the gravity of the use of CW in Syria, enforcement action falls within the purview of the UN Security Council and is, therefore, contingent on Russia’s acquiescence.

Consensus that the Syrian Government is responsible for the use of CW has not been realized at the UN Security Council nor at the Executive Council of the OPCW, the body that implements the CWC. Specifically, Russia and Iran have maintained that opposition groups alone are responsible for the use of CW.

Hence in April 2017 Russia vetoed a draft resolution condemning the use of CW by the Syrian Government. Later in November 2017 Russia vetoed a resolution to continue the mandate of the JIM.

What then can be done to strengthen the regime banning Chemical Weapons?

The French initiative

On 23 January the French Foreign Ministry hosted the launch of the ‘International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons’. Partners currently include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Senegal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Ukraine, as well as the European Union. However, the group is open to admitting other partners that are convinced Syria is not complying with its CWC commitments.

The partners have agreed on six measures:

1. To collect, compile, retain, and preserve relevant information to support efforts to hold accountable those responsible for the proliferation or use of chemical weapons;
2. Facilitate the sharing of such information with participating states, and international, or regional organization as appropriate, so that those responsible may be brought to justice;
3. Use relevant mechanisms to designate individuals, entities, groups and governments involved in the proliferation of chemical weapons for sanctions, as appropriate;
4. Publicize the names of individuals, entities, groups or governments placed under sanctions for their involvement in the proliferation or use of chemical weapons through a dedicated website;
5. Strengthen the capacity of participating states, through national and supranational measures, to hold accountable those involved in the use of chemical weapons, including by enhancing the legal and operational capabilities of states to identify and sanction or prosecute individuals and entities involved in the proliferation or use of chemical weapons;
6. Support, where appropriate, common positions in existing fora regarding the use of chemical weapons, for example the OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council and General Assembly.

There is a political dimension to the partnership which is intended to sustain the public discussion of CW use in Syria. In addition, the participants will aid each other to use their domestic laws, including criminal law, to hold individuals and groups in (and supporting) the Syrian Government legally accountable for the use of CW. It is hoped that the use of domestic criminal law will deter the possible further use of such weapons.

Many of the partners already cooperate to design and implement sanctions of various kinds. However, the new initiative could increase the likelihood of a successful criminal prosecution if information exchanges generate evidence that can be introduced into court proceedings.

Key questions

What is the likely impact of the recent initiative?

The participants in the French initiative should actively consider the inter-linkages between the initiative and existing multilateral legal frameworks, including in the context of the Fourth CWC Review Conference which will convene in November 2018.

The OPCW Director-General should be kept appraised of the views and intentions of the partners vis-à-vis the Syria case, and how they will approach it at the Conference. The initiative should not contribute to any further division among CWC states parties that may harm either CWC norms or the institutional capacity of the OPCW.

How can multilateral, legal disarmament and arms control regimes and actions by groups of like-minded states become mutually reinforcing?

Russia has criticized the French initiative as a ‘restricted format meeting’ from which it was excluded and which ‘attempts to replace the OPCW and to create an anti-Damascus bloc through the proliferation of lies’.

However, Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, has stated that investigations into allegations of CW use in Syria continue, and if they ‘conclude that there has been the use, or likely use, of chemical weapons in any of these alleged incidents, our obligation to enact a meaningful response will be further intensified’.

Thus, the states participating in the French initiative believe that it will provide support to the CWC and the UN and promote respect for the shared objective of eliminating and prohibiting chemical weapons.

What contribution can domestic criminal law make to strengthening international security?

By now all states should have adopted measures to punish legal persons under their jurisdiction and control in their national legislation to implement the CWC and UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004). These legal obligations require states to impose criminal sanctions on individuals engaged in the proliferation of nuclear, biological, chemical weapons and missile delivery systems.

However, using domestic courts to hold officials of foreign governments accountable for actions taken in their own country is a new and interesting addition to the arms control ‘toolbox’ that has far reaching implications if applied generally. To realize the potential of this approach, partners must develop a measured approach to collect and present information as evidence in court proceedings.

The French initiative is a commendable effort to hold facilitators and supporters of CW use in Syria legally accountable and thereby to help ensure that the CWC norms are not fundamentally undermined through inaction or neglect.

The post Strengthening Ban on Chemical Weapons: The Case of Syria appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Dr Ian Anthony is Director of the European Security Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute & Dr John Hart is Head of SIPRI’s Chemical and Biological Security Project.

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“The World Has Gone in Reverse”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/world-gone-reverse/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=world-gone-reverse http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/world-gone-reverse/#comments Thu, 18 Jan 2018 07:06:34 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153922 A year into his position, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that peace remains elusive and that renewed action must be taken in 2018 to set the world on track for a better future. Around the world, challenges such as conflicts and climate change have deepened while new dangers have emerged with the threat […]

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Secretary-General António Guterres briefs the General Assembly on his priorities for 2018. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 18 2018 (IPS)

A year into his position, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that peace remains elusive and that renewed action must be taken in 2018 to set the world on track for a better future.

Around the world, challenges such as conflicts and climate change have deepened while new dangers have emerged with the threat of nuclear catastrophe and the rise in nationalism and xenophobia.

“In fundamental ways, the world has gone in reverse,” said Guterres to the General Assembly.

“At the beginning of 2018, we must recognize the many ways in which the international
community is failing and falling short.”

Among the major concerns is the ongoing and heightened nuclear tensions.

Guterres noted that there are small signs of hope, including North Korea’s participation in the upcoming winter Olympics as well as the reopening of inter-Korean communication channels.

“War is avoidable—what I’m worried is that I’m not yet sure peace is guaranteed, and that is why we are so strongly engaged,” he said.

Despite UN sanctions, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has refused to surrender the country’s development and stockpile of nuclear missiles.

During a meeting in Canada, United States’ officials warned of military action if the Northeast Asian nation does not negotiate.

“It is time to talk, but they have to take the step to say they want to talk,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told foreign ministers.

A recently released nuclear strategy also outlines the U.S. administration’s proposal to expand its nuclear arsenal in response to Russian and Chinese military threats which may only sustain global tensions.

Guterres has also pinpointed migration and refugee protection as priorities for the year.

Though arrivals have dropped, refugees and migrants from Honduras to Myanmar still embark on dangerous journeys in search of economic opportunity or even just safety. However, they are still often met with hostility.

“We need to have mutual respect with all people in the world. In particular, migration is a positive aspect—the respect for migrants and diversity is a fundamental pillar of the UN and it will be a fundamental pillar of the actions of the Secretary-General,” Guterres said.

The UN Global Compact for Migration is set to be adopted later this year after months of negotiations. The U.S. however has since withdrawn from the compact and is seemingly increasingly abandoning its commitments to migrants and refugees.

Most recently, U.S. President Donald Trump allegedly made offensive comments about immigrants from Caribbean and African nations.

The African Group of UN Ambassadors issued a statement condemning the “outrageous, racist, and xenophobic remarks” and demanded an apology.

UN human rights spokesperson Rupert Colville echoed similar sentiments, stating: “There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”

Guterres expressed particular concern about U.S. cuts to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) which has served more than five million registered refugees for almost 70 years.

“UNRWA is providing vital services to the Palestinian refugee population…those services are extremely important not only for the wellbeing of these populations—and there is a serious humanitarian concern here—but also it is an important factor of stability,” he said.

Just a day after the Secretary-General’s briefing, the U.S. administration announced that it will cut over half of its planned funding to the agency.

Former UN Undersecretary-General and current Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland urged the government to reconsider its decision.”

“Cutting aid to innocent refugee children due to political disagreements among well-fed grown men and women is a really bad politicization of humanitarian aid,” he said in a tweet.

In light of the range of challenges, Guterres called for bold leadership in the world.

“We need less hatred, more dialogue, and deeper international cooperation. With unity in 2018, we can make this pivotal year that sets the world on a better course,” he concluded.

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Pakistan, Facing Military Aid Cuts, One Step Ahead of UShttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/pakistan-facing-military-aid-cuts-one-step-ahead-us/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pakistan-facing-military-aid-cuts-one-step-ahead-us http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/pakistan-facing-military-aid-cuts-one-step-ahead-us/#respond Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:27:11 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153886 When the United States abruptly cuts off military supplies to its allies for political or other reasons, the reaction has been predictable: it drive these countries into the arms of the Chinese, the Russians and Western European weapons suppliers. So, when the Trump administration decided recently to withhold about $2.0 billion in aid to Pakistan, […]

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'Rafale B', French Air Force combat jets.

By Thalif Deen
NEW YORK, Jan 16 2018 (IPS)

When the United States abruptly cuts off military supplies to its allies for political or other reasons, the reaction has been predictable: it drive these countries into the arms of the Chinese, the Russians and Western European weapons suppliers.

So, when the Trump administration decided recently to withhold about $2.0 billion in aid to Pakistan, the government in Islamabad was one step ahead: it had already built a vibrant military relationship with China and also turned to UK, France, Sweden, Turkey and Italy for its arms supplies.

In the Middle East, some of the longstanding US allies, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt and Kuwait, are known not to depend too heavily on American weapons systems—and their frontline fighter planes include not only F-15s and F-16s (US-supplied) but also Rafale and Mirage combat jets (France), the Typhoon (a UK/France/Italy joint venture) and Tornado and Jaguars (UK), all of them in multi-billion dollar arms deals.

The primary reason for multiple sources is to ensure uninterrupted arms supplies if any one of the suppliers, usually the US, withholds military aid – as it did in the 1990s when Washington suspended security assistance to Pakistan under the so-called Pressler amendment which called for a certification that Pakistan did not possess nuclear weapons. (It did)

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) latest data for 2012-2016, the US accounted for about a third of the entire global market in major conventional weapons.

SIPRI reports that Pakistan has received significant quantities of weapons from both the United States and China in recent years. Deliveries from China in the last several years reportedly include combat aircraft, tanks, submarines, and other naval vessels.

US deliveries have included armored personnel carriers and systems to modernize US F-16s that were previously supplied to the Pakistani military.

Derek Bisaccio, Middle East/ Africa & Eurasia Analyst at Forecast International Inc., a US-based defense research company, told IPS the two primary arms suppliers to Pakistan are the United States and China.

American arms agreements with Pakistan, he said, have totaled between $5-6 billion since 2001; much of this stems from the sale of F-16 fighter planes.

“Although Chinese arms sales to Pakistan are more difficult to put a dollar figure to– owing to a lack of transparency on both sides– it is expected that Chinese arms sales have eclipsed American arms sales on an annual basis in recent years as Pakistan and China have deepened their military-technical cooperation,” he noted.

In the past decade, China has sold naval patrol vessels, submarines, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems to Pakistan. The two have partnered on projects like the JF-17 fighter jet, assembled and manufactured locally by the Pakistanis.

Other arms suppliers include Ukraine, with whom Pakistan has partnered on its fleet of battle tanks, and Turkey.

Pakistan and Turkey have negotiated in the past few years over Pakistan’s possible purchase of attack helicopters and corvettes. Pakistan has purchased airborne early warning & control aircraft from Sweden and may well acquire more in the coming years, Bisaccio said.

In the past, Pakistan has contracted the United Kingdom, France and Italy for some of its purchases; many naval vessels and aircraft operated by Pakistan are French-origin, he added.

According to a report in the Washington Times last week, China is planning to build a military base in Pakistan, which would be its second overseas military base, after Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.

The naval installation will be erected in a key strategic location: the Pakistani town of Jiwani, a port near the Iranian border on the Gulf of Oman and near the Straits of Hormuz, which resides at one of the six proposed economic corridors of the One Belt One Road Initiative, commonly called the Silk Road Economic Belt, the Times said.

Dr. Natalie J. Goldring, a Senior Fellow with the Security Studies Program in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, told IPS: “The Trump administration’s decision to halt military aid to Pakistan is long overdue. Pakistan’s human rights record is deplorable, as documented in annual reports from the State Department.”

However, that decision was not justified on human rights grounds, she noted. Instead, the administration argues that the Pakistani government is not doing enough to combat terrorism.

“This argument that Pakistan is harboring terrorists is not new. The US-Pakistani relationship frequently features policy cycles that include critical statements by US officials, attempts to reduce or halt aid, and an eventual return to the status quo,” said Goldring, who also represents the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy at the United Nations, on conventional weapons and arms trade issues.

“Ironically, the Trump decision to put a hold on military assistance to Pakistan comes at the same time as Reuters reports that the administration is planning to be even more aggressive in pursuing global arms sales. Embassy staffs are apparently going to be asked to promote US arms sales more actively to their host governments. This is reminiscent of similar moves during the Reagan administration.”

She also pointed out that advocates of arms sales often argue that countries can find other suppliers if the US government refuses a sale.

“Yet by avoiding selling sophisticated US weapons to unstable regimes, we may significantly reduce the risk that members of our armed forces will end up fighting our own weapons. And in the end, the US government needs to set ethical standards for arms sales, not merely economic ones.”

Reacting to the US aid cuts, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif was quoted as saying: “We do not have any alliance” with the US. “This is not how allies behave.”

Trump said on Twitter that Pakistan had “given us nothing but lies and deceit” and accused Islamabad of providing “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”

But Islamabad may still retaliate by closing down US supply routes to Afghanistan which goes through Pakistan. Currently, there are over 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

Bisaccio of Forecast International Inc told IPS that due to decades of partnership, the Pakistani military has a large amount of U.S.-supplied equipment, either provided directly from the U.S. or a third party, in its force structures, either in active use or in storage.

Much of the Army’s aviation wing is composed of Western-supplied aircraft, with a lot of American systems.

Asked if the Pakistani military can survive if the US suspends military aid– and halts maintenance, servicing and spares to US-made equipment—Bisaccio said it can certainly survive, but in some areas of the military such moves to end cooperation would be painful.

He said the suspension of maintenance, servicing, and the provision of spare parts– should the U.S. decide to enact such a move– would be particularly problematic for the Pakistani F-16 fleet.

Pakistan has already encountered difficulty acquiring new F-16s, as the U.S. Congress blocked Pakistan from using foreign military financing to purchase eight jets in 2016. Inability to acquire maintenance or armaments would impact fleet readiness, especially over time as the F-16s face attrition. Posturing against rival India would suffer as a result, he added.

Moreover, the ability of the Army to carry out counter-insurgency operations could be impacted should Pakistan not be able to obtain servicing for the Army’s aviation assets, especially the AH-1 attack helicopters.

“Pakistan, in recognition that reliance on one supplier could create vulnerability, has over the years diversified its supplier base and worked to build up its own defense industry, which does have the effect of lessening its military dependence on the U.S,” Bisaccio pointed out.

The dispute with President Trump, he pointed out, is a symptom of the longer-running tension between the U.S. and Pakistan, but, in Pakistan’s view, the latest row with the Trump administration provides further validation for this policy.

In an interview with the Financial Times in September 2017, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reiterated that his country would like to purchase F-16s from the U.S., but could seek alternatives from France or China if need be.

Pakistan’s missile deterrent against India is a key element of the country’s national security and Pakistan was able to develop its missile program without American assistance.

“The gradual fraying of relations between the U.S. and Pakistan has occurred amid a deepening of relations between China and Pakistan. Their joint cooperation on a range of matters, including military-technical issues, will help blunt the impact of the U.S. cutting off aid to Pakistan.”

The volume of security assistance provided to Pakistan from China is unknown but is likely to increase moving forward, offsetting to some extent the temporary or permanent loss of American assistance, he added.

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The Reality of North Korea as a Nuclear Powerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/reality-north-korea-nuclear-power/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=reality-north-korea-nuclear-power http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/reality-north-korea-nuclear-power/#comments Thu, 11 Jan 2018 11:12:46 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153823 With a track record of six underground nuclear tests between 2006 and 2017, North Korea is desperately yearning to be recognized as the world’s ninth nuclear power – trailing behind the US, UK, France, China, Russia, India, Pakistan and Israel. But that recognition seems elusive– despite the increasing nuclear threats by Pyongyang and the continued […]

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Credit: UN photo

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 11 2018 (IPS)

With a track record of six underground nuclear tests between 2006 and 2017, North Korea is desperately yearning to be recognized as the world’s ninth nuclear power – trailing behind the US, UK, France, China, Russia, India, Pakistan and Israel.

But that recognition seems elusive– despite the increasing nuclear threats by Pyongyang and the continued war of words between two of the world’s most unpredictable leaders: US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Arguing that North Koreans have little reason to give up their weapons program, the New York Times ran a story last November with a realistically arresting headline which read: “The North is a Nuclear Power Now. Get Used to it”.

But the world’s five major nuclear powers, the UK, US, France, China and Russia, who are also permanent members of the UN Security Council, have refused to bestow the nuclear badge of honour to the North Koreans.

North Korea, meanwhile, has pointed out that the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, were perhaps facilitated by one fact: none of these countries had nuclear weapons or had given up developing nuclear weapons.

“And that is why we will never give up ours,” a North Korean diplomat was quoted as saying.

Dr M.V. Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia, told IPS there is, however, hope in the recent placatory moves by North and South Korea.

“I think that the situation can return to a calmer state, although it is entirely possible that this calmer state would involve North Korea holding on to nuclear weapons. I suspect that for the time being the world will have to live with North Korea’s nuclear arsenal,” he added.

“Although that is not a desirable goal, there is no reason why one should presume that North Korea having nuclear weapons is any more of a problem than India, Pakistan, or Israel, or for that matter, China, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, or the United States,” said Dr Ramana, author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India, Penguin Books, New Delhi (2012).

“I think the greater problem is the current leadership of the United States that has been making provocative statements and taunts. I think it is for the powerful countries to start the process of calming down the rhetoric and initiate negotiations with North Korea.”

Also, any peace process should be based on reciprocal moves: one cannot simply expect North Korea to scale down its programs without corresponding moves by the United States, he declared.

Jayantha Dhanapala, a former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs (1998-2003), told IPS there is little doubt that North Korea, (also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), has acquired a nuclear weapon capability and the means of delivering it to the mainland of the USA.

That this is clearly in defiance of international norms and a violation of international law and Security Council resolutions is also clear, he noted.

Those norms, quite apart from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), now include the recently negotiated Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination.

It was adopted on 7 July 2017, but neither the USA nor the DPRK have acceded to it, said Dhanapala a former President of Pugwash (2007-17),

He also pointed out that the persistent efforts of the DPRK since the end of the Korean War to conclude a just and equitable peace with the USA have been rebuffed again and again.

“Past agreements and talks both bilateral and multilateral have failed and we are now witnessing the puerile antics of two leaders engaged in the mutual recrimination of two school-yard bullies asserting that one man’s nuclear button is bigger than the other’s while tensions reminiscent of the Cold War build up alarmingly.”

Such escalation reached dangerous proportions at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis where the historical record proves that the world was saved from nuclear catastrophe by sheer luck.

“We cannot trust to luck anymore,” he warned.

“Some small steps between the two Koreas hold promise of a dialogue beginning on the eve of the Winter Olympics. This must be the opportunity for all major powers to intervene and resume negotiations. The Secretary-General of the UN must act and act now,” he added.

The number of nuclear weapons in the world has declined significantly since the end of the Cold War: down from approximately 70,300 in 1986 to an estimated 14,550, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

According to US intelligence sources, North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is anywhere between 20 to 50 weapons. The US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) estimates a total of over 50 weapons.

Joseph Gerson, President of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security, told IPS that successive North Korean governments have pursued their nuclear weapons program for two primary reasons: to ensure the survival of the Kim Dynasty and to preserve the survival of the North Korean state.

“As Scott Snyder (a Senior Fellow for Korea Studies and Director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy Council on Foreign Relations) taught us years ago, there is a logic – potentially deadly as is the case with any nuclear weapons program – to the development of North Korea’s deterrent nuclear arsenal.”

Beginning with the Korean War, the United States has threatened and or prepared to initiate nuclear war against North Korea. These threats have added resonance for North Koreans as a consequence of the United States military having destroyed 90% of all structures north of the 38th parallel during the Korean War.

Gerson said it is also worth noting that in the wake of the 1994 U.S.-DPRK nuclear crisis, North Korea was prepared to trade its nuclear weapons program in exchange for security guarantees, normalization of relations and economic development assistance.

The United States failed to fulfill its commitments under the 1994 Agreed Framework, by refusing to deliver promised oil supplies and endlessly delaying its promised construction of two light water nuclear reactors in exchange for the suspension of the DPRK nuclear weapons program.

In 2000, former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright negotiated a comprehensive agreement with North Korea. And President Clinton was to travel to Pyongyang to finalize the agreement, but with the political crisis caused by the disputed outcome of the 2000 Presidential Election, he did not make that trip.

Among the first disastrous orders of business of the Bush Administration was the sabotaging of that agreement. This, in turn, led to North Korea’s first nuclear weapons test, said Gerson, author of “Empire and the Bomb: How the US Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World”, “The Sun Never Sets…Confronting the Network of U.S. Foreign Military Bases”, and “With Hiroshima Eyes: Atomic War, Nuclear Extortion and Moral Imagination”.

While expectations for the meeting of North and South Korean officials, currently underway, are low, said Gerson, the world should be celebrating South Korean President Moon’s winter Olympic-related diplomatic initiatives and the resulting functional Olympic Truce.

By welcoming North Korean athletes to participate in the Olympics and by postponing threatening U.S.-South Korean military “exercises,” President Trump’s “my nuclear button is bigger than yours” –ratcheting up of dangers of war have been sidelined– he pointed out.

Following his inauguration last year, President Moon announced that he had a veto over the possibility of a disastrous U.S. initiated second Korean War. Having exercised that veto and forced Trump’s hand, he has opened the way for deeper diplomacy and peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Gerson said: “There remains, of course, the danger the Olympic Truce will simply serve as a temporary reprieve, with President Trump, beleaguered by the Muller investigation and seemingly endless scandals, again ratcheting up tensions. Disastrous war remains a possibility should the nuclear monarch opt for a desperate and deadly maneuver in his struggle for political survival.”

There never was, nor will there be, a military solution to the U.S.-North Korean nuclear crisis, and as U.S. military authorities have repeated warned, given Seoul’s proximity to North Korean artillery, even a conventional U.S. military attack against North Korea would result in hundreds of thousands of South Korean casualties and could escalate to uncontrollable and genocidal nuclear war.

The way forward requires direct U.S.-North Korean negotiations, possibly in multi-lateral frameworks like the Six Party Talks, Gerson noted.

As the growing international consensus advocates, resolution of the tensions will necessitate some form of a “freeze for freeze” agreement, limiting North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs in exchange for halting U.S. threats to destroy or overturn the North Korean government and to implement previous commitments to normalization of relations.

With this foundation in place, future diplomacy can address finally ending the Korea War by replacing the Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty and building on numerous proposals for the creation of a Northeast Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.

In the end, Gerson said, the only way to prevent similar nuclear weapons proliferation crises is for the nuclear powers to finally fulfill their Article VI Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligation to negotiate the complete elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

As the Nobel Peace Laureate and senior Manhattan Project scientists Joseph Rotblat warned, humanity faces a stark choice. “We can either completely eliminate the world’s nuclear weapons, or we will witness their global proliferation and the nuclear wars that will follow. Why? Because no nation will long tolerate what it perceives to be an unjust hierarchy of nuclear terror.”

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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The Journey to Oslohttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/the-journey-to-oslo/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-journey-to-oslo http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/the-journey-to-oslo/#respond Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:14:33 +0000 Christian Ciobanu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153496 Christian Ciobanu is the senior associate, Global Security Institute.

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ICAN Meeting with the President of the Norwegian Parliament, Mr Olemic Thommessen.
(From left to Right) President of the Norwegian Parliament, Mr Olemic Thommessen, Ms Beatrice Fihn (ICAN), Ms. Grethe Östern (Norwegian People’s Aid), Mr Akira Kawasaki (Peace Boat), and Ms Susi Snyder (PAX). Credit: Christian Ciobanu

By Christian Ciobanu
OSLO, Dec 12 2017 (IPS)

On December 10 in Oslo, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. ICAN started as a grassroots campaign in 2007. Its aim was to shift the paradigm of discussion about nuclear weapons from security and deterrence to the environmental and humanitarian effects of nuclear explosions. As the prize demonstrates, ICAN has succeeded brilliantly. But, as ICAN acknowledges, this is still only the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.

A key development was the holding of three governmental conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Norway, Mexico, and Austria. At every turn, the nuclear weapon states and their allies would claim the humanitarian narrative was reckless and dangerous. IAN remained unwavering in its message: Nuclear weapons must be banned.

By the conference in Mexico, held in early 2014, ICAN was calling for the commencement of negotiations on establishing an international legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons. After all, land mines, chemicals and biological weapons were banned through their respective instruments, and then global norms were established against their use.

The negotiations for the ban treaty concluded in July 2017. 122 states voted to adopt the treaty. It opened for signature on September 20 and more than 50 states have signed it. It will enter into force when ratified by 50 states, probably in the next one to three years.

At the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, the Nobel Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen praised ICAN and condemned the use and threat of nuclear weapons on humanitarian, moral and legal grounds.

Speaking at the ceremony, ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn stated that it is insanity to allow ourselves to be ruled by these weapons. Many critics of this movement suggest that we are the irrational ones, the idealists with no grounding in reality. That nuclear-armed states will never give up their weapons.

But we represent the only rational choice. We represent those who refuse to accept nuclear weapons as a fixture in our world, those who refuse to have their fates bound up in a few lines of launch code.

She further asserted “It’s an affront to democracy to be ruled by these weapons. But they are just weapons. They are just tools. And just as they were created by geopolitical context, they can just as easily be destroyed by placing them in a humanitarian context.”

Fihn further addressed the nuclear umbrella states, including Norway, in her closing remarks. She stated:

To the nations who believe they are sheltered under the umbrella of nuclear weapons, will you be complicit in your own destruction and the destruction of others in your name?

To all nations: choose the end of nuclear weapons over the end of us!

This is the choice that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represents. Join this Treaty.

Following Fihn’s speech, Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, recounted her harrowing survival of the atomic blast that annihilated her school. She heard a voice in the distance, which told her to keep pushing towards the light.

She explained that “Our light now is the ban treaty. To all in this hall and all listening around the world, I repeat those words that I heard called to me in the ruins of Hiroshima: “Don’t give up! Keep pushing! See the light? Crawl towards it.”

Indeed, the new light and hope is the ban treaty. This treaty must enter into force and it is time for all nations to sign it. All responsible leaders will sign this treaty and history will judge harshly those who reject it as highlighted.

Since humanity now has the choice to either accept nuclear annihilation or ban nuclear weapons, it is vital for all states to sign and ratify the treaty. For the time being, it seems unlikely that nuclear-armed states will join the treaty. As to nuclear umbrella states, the situation is fluid. Such states, including Norway, boycotted the negotiations, with the exception of the Netherlands. In fact, in late March, the Secretary of State of Norway, Marit Berger Røsland, mentioned that “Norway and our allies have an aim for a world without nuclear weapons, but as long as others have nuclear weapons, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance.”

However, the Norwegian parliament is set to take a vote on convening an inquiry in which parliamentarians, with the engagement of civil society, will examine the consequences of signing and not signing the ban treaty. Furthermore, both the Prime Minister, President, and Chair of the Committee on Defense and Security met with representatives of the ICAN in Parliament.

At the press event with the President of Norway, Ms. Grethe Östern, Head of the Norwegian People’s Aid’s Nuclear Disarmament Project, said that it is absolutely vital for the Norwegian parliament to engage in discussions about the utility and the risks related to nuclear deterrence.

Building upon Östern’s statement, Ms. Susi Snyder of ICAN and Pax explained that parliaments in Switzerland, Sweden, and Italy have passed resolutions in which they have instructed their respective governments to explore the ratification of the ban treaty. Snyder concluded her remarks by stating that the parliamentarians will have to think about the consequences of not joining the treaty. They must think about the following question: Are you willing to then be complicit in using nuclear weapons?

We now have the choice to live a world free of nuclear weapons. It is time for the people everywhere to discuss this momentous choice.

Thank you ICAN, for changing the status quo in the nuclear disarmament field.

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Christian Ciobanu is the senior associate, Global Security Institute.

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