Getting to Zero Update

This last year has been one of rising hope for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, but finishes with a big question as to whether the two international conferences – the world’s first nuclear security summit of April 12th and the NPT Review Conference in May – will meet expectations. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) follow-on agreement between the United States and Russia has yet to be finalized and then approved by the Senate and Duma -leaving barely a chance for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to be ratified by the United States before Congressional election campaigns get under way later in 2010. The US Nuclear Posture Review is likely to be delayed until at least February, and the situation over Iran’s nuclear program remains at an impasse, with internal unrest making compromise on the program even more challenging.

BASIC and Getting to Zero (GTZ)

Commitments to disarmament and arms control

Country reports

United States




North Korea




Missile Defense

Additional publications


BASIC and Getting to Zero (GTZ)


Towards Zero: Britain’s role in furthering nuclear non-proliferation and multilateral approaches to disarmament

BASIC co-sponsored an event with the Royal United Services Institute and the United Nations Association UK in London on December 3, 2009. The ‘Towards Zero‘ conference provided a forum for a number of proposed methods and measures on furthering the United Kingdom’s leading role in the growing nuclear disarmament movement. Speakers included US Special Representative for North Korea, Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, Advisor to the UK Prime Minister on Nuclear Non-proliferation, Baroness Williams of Crosby, Chair of the Defence Select Committee, James Arbuthnot MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Mike Gapes MP and Director-General of Defence and Intelligence for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Mariot Leslie.


Commitments to disarmament and arms control

START replacement negotiations continue as treaty expires

US and Russian diplomats are still in Geneva negotiating a new agreement that would replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). It is apparently close at hand but a final version would probably not be reached until some time in January. A Russian lawmaker noted that despite “tense, intense, and substantive” negotiations taking place “practically around the clock,” the two sides have been unable to agree on verification procedures. The presidents of Russia and the United States issued a Joint Statement that reaffirmed their commitment to producing a new treaty and that it “enter into force at the earliest possible date,” and agreed to continue upholding the treaty even though it was no longer legally in force.

The two sides had agreed in July that the follow-on to START would include a reduction in their countries’ respective deployed strategic nuclear delivery vehicles between 500 to 1,100 and associated nuclear warheads between 1,500 to 1,675. Once a treaty is agreed and signed, it will need to be ratified by the legislatures of both countries before taking effect. Pressure is expected to remain on negotiators and their governments to ensure that a treaty is in place in time for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in May 2010, when other countries will be looking to these two nuclear powers to commit to these and further reductions as part of their larger commitment to the nonproliferation regime.

Further reading

US says nuclear agreement is near
Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, December 19, 2009

Nearing arms pact, US and Russia look ahead
The New York Times, December 17. 2009

Event transcript: START Follow-On Treaty: Assessing Progress on Nuclear Risk Reduction
Arms Control Association, December 9, 2009

Ros-Lehtinen on arms control
Jeffrey Lewis, Arms Control Wonk, December 8, 2009

Joint Statement by the President of the United States of America and the President of the Russian Federation on the Expiration of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)
The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, December 4, 2009

US-Russia Joint Statement on Expiration of the START Treaty
Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Spokesman, US Department of State, December 4, 2009

Actual warhead reduction is key to successful US-Russia nuclear treaty
Stephen Herzog, op-ed in Patriot News, December 4, 2009

Don’t stop with START
Daryl Kimball, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis, December 3, 2009

House Congressional Resolution 217: Expressing the sense of Congress that the President, in negotiating any new bilateral strategic arms agreement with the Russian Federation, shall ensure the continued deterrence capability of the United States strategic arsenal and flexibility in the allocation of its components in the event that third countries may pursue the deployment of significant and technologically advanced nuclear strategic forces not covered by such a United States-Russian arms agreement.
December 3, 2009, posted on the website of Foreign Policy magazine.

State Department “very disappointed” in Russian response to new START offer
Elaine M Grossman, Global Security Newswire, November 11, 2009

US treaty-monitoring presence at Russian missile plant winding down
Elaine M Grossman, Global Security Newswire, November 20, 2009

Lugar introduces bill to assure arms control inspections continue until new START Treaty ratified
Senate Floor Statement of Senator Lugar, Website of Senator Richard G Lugar, November 5, 2009

Reframing nuclear de-alert: Decreasing the operational readiness of US and Russian Nuclear Arsenals
East-West Institute, October 12, 2009

US President accepts Nobel Peace Prize

US President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on December 10th, awarded in part for his efforts to draw attention to the goal of a nuclear weapons-free world. During his acceptance speech he referred to the expired START agreement and broader commitments to disarmament and nonproliferation:

One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: All will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work towards disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I’m working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia’s nuclear stockpiles.
But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.


Germany will press for US nuclear withdrawal

Germany’s new government has written into its coalition agreement and publicly announced its desire to pursue an agreement within NATO to remove US nuclear weapons from its territory. This initiative comes on the heels of growing pressure within NATO to remove all nuclear forces from Europe and to refine its Strategic Concept to depend less on nuclear forces. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, has declared support for President Obama’s agenda for a world without nuclear weapons and raised the issue during his meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on November 6th.

The current NATO Strategic Concept, written in 1999 and up for review in 2010, currently states that “[n]uclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the alliance.” Although the precise number of US nuclear weapons in Europe is not publicly known, about 200, which are in the form of B-61 gravity bombs, are thought to remain in Europe with an estimated 10-20 of them in Germany and the rest based in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.

Further reading

German nuclear stance stirs debate
Oliver Meier, Arms Control Today, December 2009

Reducing and regulating tactical (nonstrategic) nuclear weapons in Europe
Miles A. Pomper, Nikolai Sokov and William C. Potter, The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Report Prepared for the Unit for Policy Planning and Research, Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, December 2009

Official: Ankara doesn’t need NATO nukes
Jeffrey Lewis, Arms Control Wonk, December 8, 2009

The status of US nuclear weapons in Turkey
Alexandra Bell & Benjamin Loehrke, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November 23, 2009

Time to reconsider US nuclear weapons in Europe
Bob Van Der Zwaan and Tom Sauer, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November 23, 2009

Statesmen’s Forum: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany
Speech delivered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, November 19, 2009

Germany will press for nuclear withdrawal – will not act unilaterally
Martin Butcher, NATO Monitor blog, October 26, 2009

Address by M. Lajcik, at the conference ‘New Challenges – Better Capabilities’ organised on the margins of the NATO defense ministers meeting
Slovakian Minister of Foreign Affairs Miroslav Lajcik, NATO Defence Ministers Meeting, October 21, 2009


Publication of the Report from the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND)

The ICNND was launched in September 2008 by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to invigorate awareness of the global need for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The Commission members were drawn from a wide variety of countries, and the recommendations cover a broad spectrum of policies. The report was published to influence the US Nuclear Posture Review, and the lead-up to the NPT Review Conference in May 2010.

Further reading

Eliminating nuclear weapons: A practical agenda for global policymakers
Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi, Co-Chairs, International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, December 2009


Dutch elder statesmen join push for world without nuclear weapons

Four former high-level Dutch policymakers have added their names to the now long transatlantic list of statespeople who have called for a world without nuclear weapons. This latest group includes: Ruud Lubbers, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands; Max van der Stoel, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Hans van Mierlo, former Minister of Defense and of Foreign Affairs; and Frits Korthals Altes, former Minister of Justice. Their article appeared in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad on November 23.

Echoing the recent calls from Germany, they specifically advocated for the eventual removal of US tactical nuclear weapons from Dutch soil. They also argued for the European Union, especially in the aftermath of the Lisbon Treaty, to take a more visible role on nuclear disarmament and to reach a consensus that would allow the EU High Representative for foreign policy to advocate on Europe’s behalf in support of the nuclear weapons-free vision. For the full article, see: Op naar een kernwapenvrije wereld, or ‘Toward a nuclear weapon free world’. An English translation is available via Pax Christi.)


ElBaradei leaves IAEA, Japan’s Amano takes over

Mohamed ElBaradei stepped down as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on November 29th after 12 years of service. His three terms were filled with numerous challenges and controversies, accused by some in Western countries for being “too soft” on Iran. Notably, ElBaradei and the IAEA won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 “for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way.” The new director general, Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano, has represented Japan on the IAEA’s board of governors since September 2005 and has taken part in negotiations for major arms control agreements, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) reviews and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Further reading

On-site inspections under the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT): Technical considerations
Edward Ifft, VERTIC Occasional Papers 2, December 2009

On-site inspections under the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT): Modalities
Edward Ifft, VERTIC Occasional Papers 1, December 2009

CTBTO head calls for push on treaty’s enaction
Global Security Newswire, November 19, 2009

Marshall Islands ratifies Nuclear Test Ban Preparatory Commission for the CTBT
Organization Release, November 13, 2009

IAEA faces continuing funding troubles, ElBaradei says
Global Security Newswire, November 3, 2009


Country reports

United States

Independent panel of experts says warhead life-extension can keep arsenal viable for decades to come

A prominent group of independent scientists and technical experts, known collectively as JASON, conducted a review of Life Extension Programs (LEPs) for the National Nuclear Security Administration. Their classified report noted that there was no evidence that refurbishment under past LEPs posed any threat to the reliability of the weapons and that the “lifetimes of today’s nuclear warheads could be extended for decades, with no anticipated loss of confidence.” The panel observed, however, that expertise within the refurbishment program “is threatened by lack of program stability, perceived lack of mission importance and degradation of the work environment” and warned that this problem could harm nuclear weapons-related programs such as the LEPs.

Some key leaders, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, have warned that LEPs cannot ensure the future reliability of nuclear weapons and therefore the United States should start replacing its current warheads with new versions. Nonproliferation advocates warn, however, that building a new US warhead could undermine Washington’s efforts to foster international support in preventing nuclear-weapons proliferation and contradict US leadership in calling for a world that would eventually be free of nuclear weapons.

Further reading

Advisory panel says warhead life-extension could suffice for decades
Elaine M Grossman, Global Security Newswire, November 20, 2009

Jeffrey Lewis, Arms Control Wonk, November 20, 2009

Y-12 National Security Complex site-wide environmental impact statement public meetings, November 17-18, 2009
National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy, November 2009

Why we need to test nuclear weapons
Senator Jon Kyl, op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2009

Lifetime Extension Program (LEP) executive summary (posted by Arms Control Wonk)
The MITRE Corporation, September 9, 2009

Donald L Cook, Nominee for Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy, in President Announces More key Administration Posts
December 2, 2009 (Dr Donald L Cook was the Managing Director of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in the United Kingdom from 2006 to 2009.)


Nuclear Posture Review update

The New York Times reported on December 18th that the Obama administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) will focus as much on efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism and proliferation as on deterring an attack by another country. The NPR is supposed to be completed by February, which would coincide with the release of the President’s budget. The emphasis on nuclear terrorism in the NPR would be consistent with the President’s past statements, and is reflected in his decision to lead a multinational summit on nuclear security in Washington, DC, which will take place in April 2010.

While visiting China, President Obama issued alongside President Hu Jintao a Joint Statement on November 17th that included a reaffirmation of “their commitment made on 27 June 1998 not to target at each other the strategic nuclear weapons under their respective control.”

Further reading

The nukes we need: preserving the American deterrent
Keir A Lieber and Daryl G Press, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2009 (Available by subscription only)

Why the Navy should retire TLAM-N
Jeffrey Lewis, Arms Control Wonk, December 13, 2009

Terrorism a focus of nuclear security summit planning meeting
Global Security Newswire, December 4, 2009

US and China agree to pursue nuclear weapons treaties
Union of Concerned Scientists Press Release, November 17, 2009

Reducing the role of nuclear weapons
Joshua Pollack, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, October 30, 2009


State Department launches webpage in support of President’s vision

The US State Department has launched a new webpage, titled “Toward a Nuclear- Free World.” The page includes remarks and analysis by prominent leaders and experts inside and outside of government, as well as news updates and a section for public comment. Amb. James Goodby, BASIC Board Member, was one of the first to contribute a brief analysis.



Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced during his State-of-the-Nation address on November 12th that Russia plans to procure 30 new Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and 3 new nuclear submarines in the coming year. More recently, Russian engineers suffered another failed test of the Bulava missile, which may also be responsible for the decision, made in December, to delay the construction of the Borey Class submarine. The President’s announcement comes amid speculation about the outcome of Russia’s strategic posture review, which is due by the end of the year. According to remarks made by Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev earlier in the fall, Russian officials are considering whether to incorporate preemptive nuclear strikes into Russia’s doctrine.

Further reading

No luck for Bulava
Pavel Podvig, Russian strategic nuclear forces blog, December 9, 2009

Address to the Federal Assembly
Transcript of State-of-the-Nation Address by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, November 12, 2009

Ex-US diplomat: Russia balks at zero nuke talks
Douglas Birch, Associated Press via, October 27, 2009



IAEA Board of Governors issues resolution reproaching Iran

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors voted on November 27th to formally censure Iran for secretly building a uranium enrichment plant at Fordow near Qom until September of this year. The resolution urged Iran to stop construction at Qom, provide the IAEA with requested information and access to sites, and comply with Security Council resolutions and its Safeguards Agreement. The reaction from Iran was strong and unambiguous. It rejected the IAEA’s resolution, saying that the “Agency should stop politically motivated debates.” Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that Iran would cease what he called “voluntary gestures” of cooperation, such as permitting more surveillance of its nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz, but added that Iran would continue to abide by its comprehensive safeguards arrangement.

Western leaders were growing impatient with Iran’s delays in accepting an IAEA-proposed deal in which Iran would export up to 70 percent of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia for further enrichment to 19.5% (sufficient for the research reactor but far below weapons-grade) and from there to France for fabrication into metallic rods for use in Tehran’s medical research reactor. This deal was appealing to the West because it would reduce Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium. Iran conveyed concern over guarantees for the deal based upon past experiences with France and Russia. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, expressed this sentiment: “[t]here is no guarantee they [the West] would give us fuel with 20 per cent enrichment in exchange for our delivered LEU.”


Iran announces enrichment plans

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad added to the controversy by declaring on November 30th that his cabinet would order a study to determine the next steps for enriching its stockpile of nuclear fuel-rather than relying on imported fuel-for use in its Tehran medical research reactor and that Iran would construct ten additional nuclear fuel enrichment plants. Diplomats label Ahmadinejad’s declaration more of a national aspiration than an imminent threat because even if Iran decided to proceed, it would take the country several decades to achieve the goal based upon present rates of construction and development. Iranian officials announced on December 21st that they were testing a new line of centrifuges in efforts to enrich uranium sufficient for the purposes of the research reactor. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, had said a few days earlier that Iran would not have a new generation of centrifuges online until at least 2011 and that Tehran would attempt to buy fuel for its medical research reactor in Tehran, rather than to surrender its current stock of enriched uranium.


Uncovered document allegedly shows Iranian interest in nuclear weapons

The Times (London) reported on December 14th that it had obtained a document from 2007 which appeared to show Iran was planning to test a neutron initiator composed of uranium deuteride – a trigger for an implosion-type nuclear weapon. Questions surround the date and ultimately the authenticity of the document. President Ahmadinejad claimed the document was forged by the United States. During a visit to Japan on December 21, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, called for a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons while allowing all countries the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.


Adm. Mullen on US approach to Iran

US Joint Chiefs of Staff head Adm. Mike Mullen said during an annual threat assessment that the military must be ready with options should the President choose to use force against Iran, but emphasized that “my belief remains that political means are the best tools to attain regional security and that military force will have limited results.”

Further reading

Help Iranians. Stop worrying about the bomb
Nader Mousavizadeh, opinion in The Times (London), December 22, 2009

Document sparks new concerns about a nuclear Iran
Mike Shuster, National Public Radio, December 17, 2009

Response to critiques against Fordow analysis
Ivan Oelrich, Federation of American Scientists Strategic Security Blog, December 16, 2009

Critique of recent Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists srticle on the Fordow enrichment plant
David Albright and Paul Brannan, November 30, 2009

A technical evaluation of the Fordow enrichment plant
Ivan Oelrich and Ivanka Barzashka, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,
November 23, 2009

ElBaradei urges Iran to agree fuel deal by year end
Dave Graham, Reuters, November 20, 2009

New sanctions eyed for Iran
Global Security Newswire, November 19, 2009

Russia denies link between Iran nuclear talks, delay of nuclear plant launch
China View, November 17, 2009

Russia delays Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power station
Guy Faulconbridge, Reuters, November 16, 2009

Is Russia playing both sides on Iran nukes?
Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, November 10, 2009



IAEA rejects Syrian explanation for uranium

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) affirmed on November 16th that no progress had been made with Damascus over investigations around an alleged nuclear reactor facility, often referred to as Al-Kibar or Dair Alzour, which Israel had destroyed in 2007. Syria says that the facility was a non-nuclear military installation. The IAEA has been able to send inspectors to the site only once. The report noted that radioactive residue would unlikely to have come from Israeli munitions, although the Israelis themselves have so far not responded to a request in May 2009 for more details on the munitions’ contents.

The IAEA was also investigating traces of chemically-altered uranium particles found at a routinely-inspected facility in Damascus that includes the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR). Syria claimed that these particles may have originated from indigenous uranium yellowcake, and also from imported commercial uranyl nitrate that they should have declared previously.

Further Reading

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic
IAEA Report by the Director General, November 16, 2009 (posted by the Institute for Science and International Security)


North Korea

On December 8-10, after speaking to a BASIC event in London, US Special Representative Stephen Bosworth visited Pyongyang and delivered a personal letter from President Barack Obama to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, with the key aim of restarting stalled talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. In addition, the letter reportedly contained a proposal for the United States to establish a low-level diplomatic office in Pyongyang if and when the Six Party Talks recommence. Bosworth also urged Pyongyang to refrain from conducting a third nuclear test and revealed that North Korean leaders said that they would now be open to discussing their uranium enrichment program once talks begin again. Earlier in November, Pyongyang had announced that it had reprocessed more plutonium – 8,000 spent fuel rods – and said that it was “weaponizing” the fuel. Although Obama administration officials said that the action violated previous agreements and UN Security Council resolutions, they did not want to let the development further hinder prospects for resuming the Six-Party Talks.

A notable arms seizure of North Korean weapons from a plane stopping in Thailand a day after Bosworth’s visit was unlikely to change the Obama administration’s interest in reviving the Six Party Talks, which also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. North Korea is under sanctions that ban it from exporting all types of weapons and related material. No date has been set for the Talks’ resumption.

Based on the outcome of secret meetings held between the North and South in October and November, prospects appeared dim for a summit between Pyongyang and Seoul to specifically address their stalemate and overall tensions on the peninsula.

Further reading

North Korean hackers may have stolen US war plans
Justin McCurry, The Guardian, December 19, 2009

Kissinger: How to make progress on North Korea
Henry A. Kissinger, opinion in the Washington Post, December 18, 2009

What would happen if North Korea attacked
David Martin, CBS News, December 16, 2009

North Korea arms trade funds nuclear-bomb work, UN panel says
Bill Varner, Bloomberg, November 19, 2009

North Korea denounces US security plan as proof of plan to attack
Global Security Newswire, November 10, 2009

US says North nuclear move violates resolution
Yoo Jee-ho, Yeh Young-june, JooAng Daily, November 5, 2009

N Korea says it has more bomb-grade plutonium
Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times, November 3, 2009

Quiet progress made in US-North Korea talks
Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy, November 2, 2009



Indian nuclear cooperation

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Moscow on December 6th to broker weapons deals and sign another civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia, known as the Bilateral Framework Inter-Governmental Agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The broad-based nuclear agreement would guarantee India continuous civilian access to Russian uranium reprocessing and fuel supply even if India resumes nuclear testing. Russia has started construction on nuclear power reactors at the Kudankulam plant in southern India.

During a joint press conference with Prime Minister Singh in Washington, DC on November 24th, President Barack Obama reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to its arrangement (also called the 1-2-3 Agreement) with India in which nuclear fuel and technology may be exported to India in exchange for the monitoring of its civilian nuclear program. Implementation has been hindered by liability concerns – in particular seeking assurance that India will not export any sensitive materials that it may receive from the United States.

Earlier in November, the Prime Minister had sought to change the minds of Australian leaders, who have so far resisted supplying India because of their fears of the consequences for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The recently released report by the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, which was originally requested by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with Japan, suggests to the contrary that after the decision by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to allow India to trade, it may now be preferable for Australia and other countries to open up their markets to India’s civilian nuclear interests in exchange for New Delhi to commit to disarmament and nonproliferation measures.



Pakistani president cedes control of nuclear weapons

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari announced on November 27th, that he had ceded to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani the highest civilian position within the National Command Authority (NCA) governing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. This may be part of an attempt to deflect calls on him to step down after the expiration of an amnesty that protects officials from being charged for corrupt practices.

Prime Minister Gilani will now serve as the Chairman of the NCA, which also includes “ministers for foreign affairs, defense, finance and interior, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, chief of army staff, chief of naval staff and chief of air staff.” President Zardari’s decision is not expected to have any significant impact on nuclear policy or process because the military has long maintained power over fundamental nuclear weapons-related decisions in Pakistan. On a related note, at least one member of the NCA, the Minister of Defense, Ahmed Mukhtar, has recently been banned from leaving the country because of corruption charges.

Further Reading

Whose hand is on the nuclear button in South Asia?
Michael Krepon, Henry L. Stimson Center, December 3, 2009

The problem of redundancy problem
Geoffrey Forden, Arms Control Wonk, November 20, 2009



Japan to reveal details of US nuclear pact

Japan’s new government, under the Democratic Party of Japan, announced that it will reveal in January the details of Japan’s longstanding “secret” nuclear arrangement with the United States that permitted US ships and aircraft to carry nuclear weapons on stopovers in Japan. The issue is particularly sensitive in Japan because of the US nuclear bombings in 1945 and a Japanese law which prohibits nuclear weapons from its territory. Although both countries have attempted to keep the deal opaque since it was signed in 1960, its existence has been known in a general way because of declassified information in the United States, which includes documents posted on the website of the National Security Archive at George Washington University. The Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs) authorized by George H. W. Bush in 1991 ended the US policy of carrying tactical nuclear weapons on all vessels. The PNIs, along with the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review, effectively resulted in US nuclear weapons no longer passing through Japanese territory. However, the timing of the investigation is said to come at a politically fortuitous time for the new government. Ahead of an election this summer, increased public attention to the issue might harm the opposing Liberal Democratic Party, which had been in power for decades and apparently chose to overlook the law that bans nuclear weapons from transiting through Japanese territory.


Missile defense

The Obama administration concluded a Supplemental Status of Forces Agreement with Poland on December 11th, which would in part allow the presence of US troops to install and operate Patriot and SM-3 missile defense systems on Polish territory. The agreement is connected to the cancellation in September of the previous administration’s plans for basing in the Czech Republic and Poland a system of ground-based midcourse defense against long-range ballistic missiles. President Obama had cited concerns about the technological feasibility, cost, and the appropriateness of a European-based GMD system for missile threats in his decision to cancel the original project.

Further reading

Raytheon awarded 2 missile contracts
The Huntsville Times, December 19, 2009

The Pentagon prepares for a missile attack from ‘Iran’
Mark Thompson, Time Magazine, December 17, 2009

US-Poland Supplemental SOFA Signing, Remarks by Under Secretary
of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, Ellen Tauscher

December 11, 2009

US, Poland status of forces pact deepens military cooperation
Jaroslaw Adamowski, Christian Science Monitor, December 11, 2009

Missile defense test aborted when target fails
The Boston Globe, December 11, 2009

Winning on ballistic missiles but losing on Cruise: the missile proliferation battle
Dennis M. Gormley, Arms Control Today, December 2009


Additional publications

Nuclear Notebook: Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons 2009
Robert S. Norris and Hans Kristensen, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 65, No. 6, November/December 2009

Britain’s ‘independent’ deterrent
Julian Borger, The Guardian Global Security Blog, December 3, 2009

Nuclear policy at sea: a part-time deterrent will not do! (subscription required)
Tim Hare, RUSI Journal, Vol 154, Number 6, December 2009

Atomic obsession: Nuclear alarmism from Hiroshima to Al Qaeda
CATO Book Forum, October 29, 2009

Trident replacement plan no longer credible, says former foreign secretary
Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, October 25, 2009

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